Images: Alessio Barbanti, Matteo Cavallini, Paul Barshon & Freddie Kirns
The new Triumph Bonneville Bobber could very well be the Steve McQueen of the two-wheeled world. Confused? You see, like Steve, the Bobber has charisma and style. And, like Steve, the story doesn’t end there. Instead it’s backed up by genuinely capable machinery. On the beautiful roads of Spain where Triumph took us to sample this motorcycle, that svelte silhouette never failed to attract.
Designers at the iconic British motorcycle manufacturing company have successfully removed the stiff upper lip of the Bonnie and created a super sexy hot-rod. Its stretched out low slung stance, minimalist rear and that fabulous floating solo seat in a superbly finished aluminium pan make it desireable beyond measure. You want that in your garage because the bike looks so cool and badass.
To create this piece of art, Triumph canned the rear end of the old Bonnie T120 and swapped it for a brand new swinging cage that makes it look like a hard tail Bobber but hides a KYB monoshock to save your bum. The chassis was then lowered and the wheelbase increased to provide that hunkered down and stretched look. The rake on the front forks was increased marginally too. Then of course, there is Triumph’s attention to detail, such as those fabulous bar end mirrors, that analogue-digital single large instrument, that small round headlamp, that exposed LED tail lamp or that machined fuel tank cap that looks vintage but is lockable and therefore entirely practical (especially from an India perspective). The end result is a motorcycle that cuts a brilliant profile.
All these changes to the overall geometry of the bike also results in a slightly aggressive riding posture that I found easy to fall in love with. It’s comfy (even for someone tall) and at no point during our day long ride did I feel cramped or uncomfortable. A special nod to that solo seat here, for although it looks thin the firm foam padding is actually quite deep. So, no sore butt syndrome. The seat itself can be slid backwards and forwards, depending on your choice of riding posture, which is great. What is not, is that getting the thing to slide isn’t nearly as easy as Triumph would have you believe.
The most dominant part of the bike (even visually) is that 1200HT engine that the Bobber borrows from the T120, albeit with some changes. Apart from the fact that both power and torque are up in this version of the 1200cc liquid cooled parallel twin, the unit has been tweaked to allow the rider to access peak power at a lower rev. And voila! You have a bike with an engine so tractable that it will pull you out of a corner even if you’re in a gear too high.
But in the world of motorcycle journos, patience for scrutinising tractability is in short supply. We were far happier thrashing the thing around, be it on the Spanish motorways or on the twisties. On the straights, the bike felt super stable (no small thanks to those extra millimetres in the wheelbase). Progress is brisk, and even though harsh acceleration won’t really pull your arms out of their sockets you’ll still feel the strain on your shoulders as the needle cuts a smooth arc on the speedo and heads towards the top. I remember clocking 110mph (177kmph) on one section with the engine showing no signs of letting up.
The twisty mountain roads revealed another side to the Bobber. Unlike many of its ilk, this bike actually likes a good corner. Sure, it’s a little hard to turn in, courtesy that long long wheelbase, but once you’ve hustled it in to the turn, the bike holds its line with confidence. But at the end of the day, it’s still a classic bike and is more rewarding to ride when you follow the slow in, fast out rule for tackling corners.
The Bobber is a classic case of how a nice bike can be turned into something entirely different, and a whole lot tastier. On the desirability scale, it’s right up there while on the capability front, it’s definitely a few hundred yards ahead (if not a mile) of its competitors. Good looks and ability in one great package. No, we’re not complaining.
We expect the bike to be priced around Rs 9.5-10 lakh when it rides in to India later this year. Admittedly, that’s not exactly throwaway money but can you think of another bike that is as good looking and as capable at that price point? We can’t for sure.
|Triumph Bonneville Bobber|
|Type||1200 cc, Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin|
|Bore x Stroke||97.6 x 80 mm|
|Fuelling||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection|
|Maximum Power||76 bhp @ 6100 rpm|
|Maximum Torque||106 Nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Frame||Tubular steel twin cradle with twin sided tubular swingarm|
|Front Suspension||KYB 41mm forks, 90mm travel|
|Rear Suspension||KYB monoshock linkage, 77mm travel|
|Front Brake||Single 310mm disc, 2-piston Nissin floating calliper|
|Rear Brake||Single 255mm disc, 1-piston Nissin floating calliper|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||9.1 litres|
|Price||Rs 9.5 – 10 lakh (estimated)|