The Modern Triumph Bonneville Experience

The Modern Triumph Bonneville Experience

I purchased a 2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 in April of that year.  The following situation has occurred so often that I almost laugh when it starts…again.

Someone, usually a man, notices the bike, whether at a stop light or when I am parking it at the store or getting ready to leave from some place.  A long stare commences.

Then comes the first comment, and it is almost always one of the following,

“Wow.  When was that restored?” or

“I did not know Triumph still made motorcycles.  What year is it?”

I respond with a smile; “It’s a 2016.”

The person usually looks a little astonished, and then goes on to relate their personal connection to the Triumph Bonneville.  They had one, or Dad did, or Grandfather, or a relative.  The stories are always slanted a bit with the golden rays of reverie.  Evidently none of the originals ever broke down, crashed, or leaked oil!

Then there will be a remark or two about how beautiful it is, and then my favorite part – the questions!

“650cc?”

“1200.”

“Really?  I think the originals had 48 or 55 horsepower, something like that?”

“This has 84.”

“Really!  4 speeds?”

“Six.”

Then I start reeling off the improvements.  “It also has ABS brakes, triple discs at that, fuel injection, ride modes, heated grips, several instrument displays, an easy clutch pull, and 10,000-mile oil change intervals.” And sometimes I gush more.

“Must be great for around town.”

“Oh, it’s wonderful, but I’ve also taken it on several rides of one to two thousand miles.”

By now the person is back to staring.  They usually wish me a good day, and then wander off, turning back a few times to gape at the bike some more.

Sometimes they’ll add, “I’d love to get one, but I’m too old to ride motorcycles.”  Every person who has said this is younger than I am, often by a lot.  (I am 72)

Why do people react this way?  For one thing, the Bonneville is a beautiful bike in the mode of classic bike looks.  Jay Leno is reputed to have said “A real bike you can see through.”  But there are lots of beautiful bikes.

I think Triumphs have a look that communicates fun and adventure and friendly.  People assume the rider is friendly.  Lot of Harleys are beautiful, but they can also look intimidating or unfriendly depending on the example. I used to ride a lot of Harleys as part of my job at a dealership, usually showing off a new model at an event, and while people did talk to me (which was why I was there), it was much different and more restrained.

I owned a scorched yellow Speed Triple for eleven years, and it was a fantastic bike that hardly anyone ever commented on.

I go on lots of rides with small groups of friends.  They all have nice motorcycles, but none get the reaction mine does, except for the friend with multiple old – Triumph Bonnevilles.  My friends often make amused comments about the delays in our ride when we stop or go to leave, because of these conversations.

Certainly not the reason to purchase one, as there are many better ones, but a pleasant little sidebar.

Ride fast, ride safe, and ride often!

Copyright 2019                              David Preston

About david

I am a 69 year old motorsports nut who lives in Bothell, Washington. After a 31 year career as an English teacher, I segued into a self-created job in the motorsports business. Now retired, I was involved in customer relations for Ride West BMW in Seattle, after almost 10 years of similar work for the Cycle Barn MotorSports Group. I have been married forever and have two grown children. I own, at the current time, a Triumph Bonneville T 120 , a Triumph Thruxton, a Fiat 500S and a VW Tiguan. What else would you like to know?
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