Some will call it Triumph’s best motorcycle and others will ask you how many decades ago it was manufactured, but it will surely not pass unnoticed. After all, the Triumph Bonneville is the most successful English motorcycle of all times.
Triumph seems to build motorcycles from two different eras, not only characterized through their looks, but with the help of their engines, also. They have the three-cylinder engines, fitted on modern day motorcycles, and than the two-cylinder units which equip every single Triumph that is built basing on older models, or is even brand new. The beauty of these filled-with-heritage two-cylinder motors is that they come, in a way or another, from Triumph’s most famous and beloved motorcycle, the Bonneville. This is proof of the bike’s reliability, but what truly makes the Triumph Bonneville stand out is the combination of classic British style with modern day engineering.
If there is something that the Bonneville enjoys most, than we are definitely talking about the model’s long pages of history which started being written back in 1959 together with the production of the English manufacturer’s most successful product. The Triumph Bonneville made its entry as a great looking motorcycle featuring a 650cc parallel-twin engine. It was the bike’s glory period, the one in which it became extremely popular thanks to its great performance for that time. In fact, its name is strongly related to speed as the Bonneville location hosted motorcycle land speed record attempts and at many of them it was all about Triumph.
At the end of the ‘70s Triumph could feel the effect of the Japanese motorcycles on its sales charts and although the bike did keep up, it needed an upgrade. The response was a displacement increase up to 750cc, but the bike would stop being produce in 1983.
So you might be asking why this review says “2008 Triumph Bonneville”. It is because the Bonneville suffered a complete revamp and started being produced again as 2001 model year. The idea was to base the new on the old so the Bonneville featured the same parallel-twin only that it now displaced 790cc. It was a true replica of the early days Bonneville and the success was immediate. Triumph didn’t have much left to do but enjoy the models success and, as I mentioned earlier, base its parallel-twins on the Bonneville’s engine.
For 2007 model year, the engine was displacing 865cc and this is basically the most important change in the bike’s modern history.
By simply taking a look at the 2008 model it seems that Triumph has never stopped producing the Bonneville at all (at least that’s what I like to think). No motorcycling fan will ever have a hard time identifying it as the bike features timeless British design from the sixties.
Best characterized through its stylish fuel tank and fenders, the Bonneville speaks about times long gone when café racing was in vogue and the girls couldn’t wait to get behind one of the bad boys. Concerning the last aspect, things aren’t very different today.
Also beautiful and kept unchanged on this roadster are the chromed mirrors, spoke wheels, the exhaust system, and the spring twin shocks. Hmm, did I mention the headlight and taillight? The Bonneville likes to blink in style so it implements a round headlight and oval taillight. Everything supporting these elements is covered in chrome, as well as the signal lights attached to them.
The only things that “betray” the sixties look are the disc brakes which may not give the impression of a reconditioned Triumph, but they sure come in handy out on the streets.
All that chrome had to contrast something so the colors available for the 2008 Triumph Bonneville are Claret, Fusion White and Aluminum Silver.
Getting my hands on such a baby sure meant a lot to me as I have a soft spot for the Triumph Bonneville. My father used to own a 1975 Bonnie and I was his favorite passenger, one that gathered sympathy with every single mile that it rode on its father’s back.
I quickly fired up the two cylinders for a quick sound check and the Triumph Bonneville seem brought from the past. Only that this time it disposes of better performance thanks to its reliable and excellent performing, carbureted 865cc, air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360 degree firing interval engine. You simply cannot love it once you’ve heard it.
But the road is the true tester so I headed towards leafy country roads where I know it feels best and it soon pulled the words out of my mouth: “Yes, it’s a Bonnie!” The engine pulls smoothly and confident, allowing you to keep it easily at 60mph, but also having the ability to be taken up to 80mph in a few seconds. If you want more, it can deliver, but the numbers that I presented to you are the most appropriate for passing cars and staying far from the vibrations which don’t make an entry until 100mph are reached.
I was fascinated by the bike as it provides an awesome riding experience and it intends on giving you a clue on how motorcycles felt in the early days. Bulletproof built and damn comfortable. As soon as you jump on it, you know that this is not going to be your usual harsh ride, as the handlebars are high and at quick reach, seat is very comfortable, and the footpegs located like on a true roadster.
Handling the Bonneville through twisty roads is an absolute joy because it does it with ease and great fun. Without a doubt, this is the bike that makes you say “Once a Triumph, always a Triumph” and the way it handles has much to do with this. It is stable through high speed corners and feels light even at slow speeds.
I enjoyed going through the five gears because the gearbox is precise and easy to operate, resulting in no missed gears. The clutch doesn’t make a bad impression either as it is smooth, and easy to deal with.
The Triumph Bonneville is a great performer also thanks to the disc brakes. In the early days, drums were the key, but now riders can stop faster and benefit of more safety thanks to 310mm disc up front and a 255mm one at the rear, both featuring two piston calipers for efficient braking power. Braking feel is, as expected, powerful and reassuring without any down points.
If I was to speak about the Bonneville as I would about a puzzle, I’d like to say that this one had its pieces sorted out and positioned good from the start, the “player” only being needed to remove the old ones, bring in some new pieces, but definitely keep the spirit and the image.
The big advantage is that you virtually buy a piece of Triumph’s history, not to mention the actual motorcycle for an MSRP of $7,599. There is also a cheaper way to enjoy the beginning of the year and it is known as the Bonneville Black, offered for the suggested retail price of $7,299.
Ever since it presented the 2001 Bonneville Triumph proved to have only excluded the down points, creating a true work of art which is completely functional and great fun for its riders and passengers, even for children who maybe some day will see their way on the model and start writing themselves. Wouldn’t that be great?
Engine and Transmission
Type: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360 degree firing interval
Bore x Stroke: 90 x 68mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel System: Twin carburetors with throttle position sensor and electric carburetor heaters
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, tubular steel
Front Wheel: 36-spoke, 19 x 2.5in
Rear Wheel: 40-spoke, 17 x 3.5in
Front Tyre: 100/90 19
Rear Tyre: 130/80 17
Front Suspension: 41mm forks
Rear Suspension: Chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload
Front Brakes: Single 310mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 255mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Width (Handlebars): 33.1in
Seat Height: 30.5in
Rake/Trail: 28 degree/110mm
Weight (Dry): 451lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.4 gal
Maximum Power: 66bhp at 7,200rpm
Maximum Torque: 52ft.lbf at 6000rpm
Colors: Aluminum Silver, Fusion White, Claret
The Bonneville’s air-cooled, parallel twin cylinder engine offers a cubic capacity of 865cc for excellent midrange torque. Both pistons rise and fall together via a 360° crankshaft firing interval so the classic character of a British twin-cylinder engine is retained, whilst twin balancer shafts provide civility and refinement. 90% of peak torque is maintained from around 2500rpm through to redline providing smooth, effortless acceleration throughout the five gears.
Twin carburetors with throttle position sensor and electric carburetor heaters.
A pair of classically styled peashooter pipes handle the exhaust gases and enhance the retro feel of the bike.
The braking set-up of single front 310mm disc and 255mm rear, both worked on by powerful twin-piston calipers, offers sensitivity, control and ample stopping power.
The Bonneville’s seat is generous with plenty of room for two and elegantly embossed with the Triumph logo.
The Bonneville’s low seat height (30.5inches) and similarly low center of gravity, make it a manageable motorcycle that all riders – ranging from those with little experience to those with lots – can appreciate. The tubular steel double cradle frame and box-section swingarm are incredibly strong and the relaxed steering geometry allows composure at speed as well as ensuring the Bonnie needs only light input at the handlebars.
Triumph Bonneville T100
Apart from the model that I presented to you, Triumph also manufacturers the Bonneville T100. Practically the same motorcycle, the T100 is distinguished by its fuel tank which features hand painted coach lines and the chromed engine covers. As you can see, it is all about paint so the colors available for 2008 are Jet Black/Fusion White, Jet Black/Tornado Red, Claret/Aluminum Silver, Forest Green/New England White.
If you are already caught up and willing to buy the Bonneville T100 than money aren’t suppose to be the impediment. The suggested retail price is $8,299, 1000 bucks more than the Black version, but a simple look at it is sometimes enough.
The T100’s full-blooded and responsive 865cc parallel twin-cylinder engine delivers throaty acceleration, amplified by the mellow backbeat from its twin peashooter exhaust pipes. Maximum power of 67bhp arrives at 7500rpm, with peak torque of 51ft.lbf delivered at 5800rpm.
Twin carburetors with throttle position sensor and electric carburetor heaters.
A pair of chromed stainless peashooter-style pipes handle the exhaust gases and enhance the traditional appearance of the bike.
The T100 features a classically styled dual colored tank, with hand painted coach lines, rubber knee pads and ‘60’s inspired chromed tank badges.
The braking set-up of single front 310mm disc and 255mm rear, both worked on by powerful twin-piston calipers offers sensitivity, control and ample stopping power.
The chassis – a tubular steel frame, 41mm telescopic forks and chromed twin rear shocks – offers secure road-holding, effortless steering and easy-going manners, just as you would expect of a bike derived from Bonneville hereditary. It’s topped by a generous seat, with plenty of room for two and an elegantly embossed Triumph logo.