The Gateway Drug: In this modern age of time, mobility plays a huge part in driving the Philippine economy, progress is squeezed in every tight spot and corners, at the very least, the daily grind in Metro Manila. The Senate took charge in deliberating the motorcycle taxi services which almost came to a halt, but the interest of the general public gained the upper hand and secured comfort that, indeed motorcycles alleviate the traffic crisis. Now where am I heading?
The motorcycle industry has never been this high, over the last 5-10 years, and it won’t down-shift anytime soon (it just did, thanks to CoVid-19 – Ed).
The flourishing automotive industry has created waves of interest, radioactive signals that were well received by international manufacturers, now, moving the crosshair to the Southeast Asian market, where big names start to work with Asian companies to create more vehicles fit for a well-studied demographic, and a well-receiving economy, allowing currency to move freely.
In less than 5 years, the offering for small and big displacement motorcycles expanded. A thirsty riding market, eager to cross the tollway barriers, play a show and tell with MC importers, and Motostrada is ahead of the ballgame.
The Caloocan based company, previously hailed as ‘Dreambikes’, who were pioneers in the industry, returns with a bag full of goodies after years of hiatus. They were responsible for filling the streets with CFMoto, with over a thousand units released over the past 2 years. The icing on the great comeback was also securing MV Agusta in their own yard.
With the momentum attained, Motostrada is set to introduce another brand – Benda Motorcycles, founded in 1994 – Zhejiang Changling Binjiang Motorcycle Co., Ltd. (Benda Motor Group, China), one of the oldest motorcycle companies in Zhejiang.
The first time I encountered Benda was last quarter of 2019, when I paid the Motostrada showroom a visit to drool at CFMoto and MV Agusta models. Two bikes were sitting in the middle of an office, creating attention and arousing curiosity to those who notice.
The Benda Box 400 appears to be a small-package cruiser. A water-cooled, 394cc, 6-speed, inline two cylinder, 19-liter tank that draws a lot of cue inspiration to Indian and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. At first glance, it appears to be a compact, Asian tailored cruiser/bobber, slapped with off-the-shelf parts, and is outright interesting.
The Benda Box 400 aims to rake in custom bike enthusiasts, offering a good value, 400cc cruiser base bike for bobber and chopper projects. Motostrada dips a toe in a sea of motorcyclists. Throw a new flavored bait and see how much ripple it makes.
When we took this bike up for a Luzon North loop, I wasn’t quite sure if this bike would make it. Yet it did. No major engine breakdowns, electrical faults or wearing brakes. Well at least for about 2,500 kms of beating the heck out of it, made me think how much Chinese-manufactured bikes improved over time.
The bike has a short 1445mm wheelbase, only weighs 172kgs, with a pretty high bit forwarded footrest. It is agile and can corner well with CST dual sport tires. I am 5 foot 6, and sitting on it, both my feet are well planted. The side cover is a bit bulky and annoying. The bike can run up to about 150kph plus-minus wind drag and the power output can be felt at around 4000rpm, and the power output delivery is linear in the mid-range, with a slight acceleration delay in the lows and highs. The bike can maintain speed and is well balanced on the handles. The tank can hold up to 19L of fuel, that consumes 100KM ≤3.4L.
The switches and knobs feel fair and do what they must do. It does have a hazard button, and a round LCD panel that resembles that of a Yamaha XSR. Not much to offer but makes up for all necessaries. The main seat is wide and quite comfortable. It also has a separate cushioned pillion seat.
This bike bites on pavement well and comes with front and rear discs, standard ABS. I’ve had some quick braking situations up north, and the bike halts whenever deemed necessary.
Offered at the unofficial base value of P209,000, the same initial price when NK400’s were launched in 2019. Is this feng shui? A magic number where the CF Moto brand took off and soared heights? It comes as one of the most affordable, expressway-permissible motorcycles in the bobber/cruiser segment. A good platform to start off custom bobber/chopper projects, with a very good value proposition. As far as reliability is concerned, the bike lent to us did survive a lengthy trip, when we first acquired the bike with only 500kms on tab. No overheating problems encountered.
The only problem, if you are a tall person, this may not feel comfortable and feels short for you. You may have to extend the pegs further forward. Also, the cruiser handlebar angle gives a throttling strain that needs correction. The front suspension bottoms, and the rear suspension is a bit too short. The bike being too low, scrapes a lot underneath on bigger humps, you’d have to slow down upon approach. The panel is oddly placed in between the tank and handlebars.
The question that surmises, what does ‘Made in China’ mean nowadays? The OEM is now OBM (Original Brand Manufacturing). In this bike, we can say how much the design is heavily influenced by other models, but the quality stands modest, it works.
The Benda Vendetta is well packaged, great value, first in the 400cc class and a gateway drug to big displacement cruisers and a new platform base model for custom bobbers/chopper projects.
Engine: liquid-cooled, parallel-twin cylinder, dohc, 8 valves, 4 stroke
Max Power: 34 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque: n/a
Seat Height: 670 mm
Fuel Capacity: 19 Liters
Tire, Front: 120/80-17
Tire, Rear: 140/70-17
Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc/Disc ABS
Curb Weight: 172 kg.
Top Speed: 150 Km/h (as tested)
Price: PhP 209,000
+: Surprisingly good build quality, available ABS, predictable handling
-: Awkward handlebar angle, limited leg room for tall riders
C! Rating 8 / 10