There are few bikes that can be defined iconic and the Bonneville belongs here.
That typical parallel twin is what you would find on many vintage racing posters, old celebrity pictures, and movies. It’s an all time classic and as Miles Perkins (Head of Brand Management for the Bonneville range) would say: “if you ask a child to draw a motorbike, he would draw a Bonneville”.
The first Bonneville or Bonnie, if you like, hit the road in 1959 taking the name from the famous salt lake in Utah, the perfect theater for land speed records. The Bonneville evolved over the years and despite Triumph’s financial problems the production of this bike never stopped.
The First Impression
I zipped up my jacket and put my helmet on, I was ready to ride. I was never the type of classic nostalgic rider but at first look, the Bonneville looks neat. The attention is in every detail like the injectors shaped to look like carburetors. The seat is big enough to comfortably fit a passenger without compromising the style. The sitting position is relaxed and the ground is reachable also for shorter riders without appearing small.
It has a 900cc parallel twin engine that develops 55 HP and it’s liquid cooled by a well-hidden cooler. There are hidden modifications like the 270° crank instead of the old 360°, the ride-by-wire, and the ABS.
The Bonnie on the road
When I was riding the Bonneville T100 on a country road in South Germany, I immediately felt some limits. The riding isn’t precise like other Triumph’s models, I thought the throttle response could have been more reactive but then I realized one important thing. My pace was a bit too fast so I slowed down a bit and used more the mid-range and it was another bike. The power is immediately there and it became smoother and I understood a lot more about the T100. The brakes are good and progressive without attacking the single disc in the front. The chassis doesn’t like to be forced into the corners or pushed but it’s very forgiving and so is the throttle response. It doesn’t want to rush. It reminded me of my old drawing teacher, a tall man with a gray beard and a slow reassuring voice.
This is a machine the essence and the soul of the old Bonneville and it reminds me of how motorcycles used to be many years ago. They weren’t super specialized like today, they allrounders. This is the feeling you get riding a Bonneville, you can use it for the daily commute, travel or have fun on a twisty country road. And on top of that, it looks beautiful.
Who is the Bonneville T100 for?
Obviously, if you’re an experienced rider who likes speed, this is not the bike for you. But if you’re a beginner and you’re looking for a ride that you can handle, easy to ride but you still want a good sound and great look, then the Bonnie T100 is the bike for you. If you are new to motorcycles and you don’t have a clear idea about the kind of rider you will be, the Bonneville is the best place to start.
A final thought
The Bonneville is not just another good looking retro bike. It is the one who kept Triumph alive during the dark ages of the company. This is an important bike.