Triumph has long been one of the most recognized motorcycle brands in the world, and though fans can name a whole host of worthy models, the Bonneville family stands out as one of the most beloved.

The Bonnie DNA evolved from the TR6 Trophy and has persisted through three generations, and a few different factory owners, since the original came out in 1959. Nobody could ever accuse Triumph of neglecting its roots, indeed it would be closer to the truth to say they nurture and embrace them, an assertion I am comfortable making considering the looks of the new family of Bonnies.

Join me while I take a look at this particular incarnation in the form of the 2015-16 Bonnevillle T100, T100 “Black” and T214 Special Edition built as a nod to the record-setting run at the Salt Flats back in 1956.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville T100, T 100 Black and the T214 Special Edition.

Design

Triumph Bonneville T100 / T100 Black / T214
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By all accounts, the Bonnie falls within the Standard category, and fits, indeed defines, the Universal British Motorcycle genre. It exudes English style in a way you can only find in a plate of bangers and mash, or a pint of lager.

While the exposed struts on the front fender aren’t as clean as most contemporary bikes, it serves as a thread to tie into the past and adds to the charm, rather than detracting from it. Tank design also takes a page from history, with its distinctive “knee pockets,” pads and tank badges. The bench seat is typical, and while I confess I like a stadium perch for my passengers and rely on the scoop formed by that detail to keep myself from sliding right off the back once I twist into the funzone of the powerband, it is in keeping with what I expect on a Trumpet like this.

This may sound like a mundane thing to be excited about, but one of my favorite features is the throttle bodies that look like the old carburetors. From an engineering standpoint, such a detail was totally unnecessary, but it adds a crucial detail that those in the know will notice and appreciate. Nicely done, lads.

Adding to the T100 family, the T100 Black comes in a blackout theme — hence the devilishly clever name — and the T214 Special Edition comes in a Caspian Blue/White colorway to commemorate its speed-record-setting past. In 1956, Johnny Allen rode a Triumph-powered Texas Ceegar Streamliner across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats at 214.40 mph, which was jaw-dropping at the time, to establish Triumph as the force behind the World’s Fastest Motorcycle. Go Johnny! The T214 was made and named with you in mind.

Chassis

Triumph Bonneville T100 / T100 Black / T214
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Given the classic look the factory was going for, it was a given that it didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, or frame as the case may be. Tubular-steel members make up the double-downtube, double-cradle skeleton, and once fleshed out with skin and muscle we see that classic Triumph stance.

The steering head is set at a 28-degree angle with 4.33 inches of trail, which looks fairly typical on paper but leaves the Bonnie feeling a little wooden in the corners. To me, a little stiff is better than too squirrelly since riding techniques can go a long way toward compensating for the former, where the latter can be a little unsettling to say the least. What isn’t unsettling is the rider triangle that encourages an upright riding position

A set of 41 mm Kayaba forks support the front end on 4.72 inches of travel, and a pair of coil-over, Kayaba shocks with adjustable preload float the rear on 4.17 inches of travel. Laced rims mount the 19-inch front hoop and 17-inch rear. I like laced rims, not just for their aesthetic appeal but for that extra little bit of give that takes some of the edge off the bumps, a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

The Bonnie weighs in just under 500 pounds soaking wet, which really encroaches on the safety envelope for a single front brake, so it is no surprise that these Bonnies respond somewhat reluctantly to control inputs at the brake levers. That said, the single, 310 mm front brake disc is almost as big as they come at 310 mm while the rear disc runs at 255 mm with twin-pot Nissin calipers to bind both ends — sufficient, but you had better give yourself plenty of stopping room with the added weight of cargo and a passenger.

Drivetrain

Triumph Bonneville T100 / T100 Black / T214
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Some manufacturers treat the engine as just another component, but to Western/European eyes, the lump serves to bolster the aesthetic appeal of the overall machine. Such is the case with the Bonnie mill. Built to emulate the style of the old Trumpets, the air-cooled, parallel-twin engine runs a considerably over-square configuration with a 90 mm bore and 68 mm stroke for a total displacement of 865 cc.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to mine eyes, this engine is pure sex-on-wheels. Best of all, it delivers its power with considerably less vibration than riders of V-twins are accustomed to, something I can certainly appreciate after a trip on my hard-mounted Sporty, to be sure.

Electronically controlled, sequential fuel injectors within the carburetor-looking throttle bodies maintain the stoichiometric ratio while keeping emissions down and fuel economy around 43 mpg in the city and 57 mpg at 56 mph. Air-cooling does away with the water-buffalo radiator, but a much smaller and less conspicuous oil cooler adds another layer of thermal protection for the engine.

Power flows through a wet clutch to the five-speed tranny, and an X-ring chain carries said power to the rear wheel. Speaking of power, this engine seems to punch a bit above its weight with 67 ponies at 7,500 rpm and 50 pounds of grunt at 5,800 rpm. Somewhat mild by some standards, but certainly enough for some thrills on your commute or weekend jaunts.

Price

Triumph Bonneville T100 / T100 Black / T214
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The 2015 Bonneville T100 “Black” has the distinction of rolling for the least amount of cheddar at $9,299, while the same year T100 came out for $9,599 in Intense Orange/Jet Black or Caspian Blue/Jet Black. At $9,999, the T214 comes in Caspian Blue/White with a racetastic checker pattern on the side cover.

For reasons that are unclear to me, the 2016 T100 and T100 “Black” are exactly one dollar more than the ’15 models. The ’16 T100 comes in Fusion White/Aurum Gold or Jet Black/Cranberry Red, while the ’16 T214 sports the same livery for the same price as last year at $9,999.

Competitor

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt
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2016 Moto Guzzi V7 II
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My first inclination was to consider the Iron 883 Sportster, or one of the Star Bolts as a competitor, but decided that was a little too predictable, a trifle too pat. So, I instead looked to the V7 II Stone ABS from Moto Guzzi for my head-to-head.

Both fall within the Standard category, and visually have much in common, down to similar bench seats, tank indents and rider posture. Sure, the shape of the Stone’s tank is more about easing the visual transition between the protruding engine components and the rest of the machine whereas the Bonnie sports an indented tank for handling purposes, the end result is the same — both tanks carry an unusual, if fetching shape.

Styles diverge sharply when we look at the engines. Trumpet runs a classic parallel-twin mill that is typical of the family, while the Stone carries the equally typical-of-the-brand, transverse-mount, 90-degree V-twin. Engine design is one of my most-favoritest features on both bikes, as both tie into their respective history, and show a depth of character that perpetuates what most would consider to be defining features from each family.

The Bonnie mill displaces a total of 865 cc, while the Stone’s lump measures out at 744 cc, and the performance numbers reflect that size difference. The Stone cranks out 48 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 44.2 pound-feet of torque at 2,800, a shade under the 67 horsepower and 50 pound-feet from the Bonnie. In spite of the rubber mounts on the Stone, riders can expect a bit more vibration out of MG’s V-twin, just an unfortunate by-product inherent with that engine configuration.

MG manages to offer the ’16 Stone for $8,990, a little lower than Triumph’s $9,300 sticker on the T100 Black, and it sports an ABS feature that is a nice feather for its cap, but to me, isn’t worth the power you give up with the MG mill. You will have to decide for yourself where you land on that point.

He Said

“At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have always liked the classic Bonnie design, and this incarnation is no exception. As far as I’m concerned, this style of bike was perfected by the time the early ’80s rolled around and is impossible to improve upon, so Triumph gets major kudos for sticking with it and thumbing their nose at the more “progressive” designs flooding the market. Some may call that a risk, but those persons probably don’t “get it,” and never will. I would ride/own the T100 in a heartbeat were I to find myself in a position to score a second bike. ’Nuff said.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says "Back in 1959, the Bonneville T120, built for the American market, was a real boon for Triumph. Fifty-plus years later, the Bonneville name still conjures up the glory of salt-flat speed records. It’s a classic style with modern tech to give us modern performance, which in my opinion is always a plus."

Specifications

Engine and Transmission:
Type: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360º firing interval
Capacity: 865cc
Bore: 90mm
Stroke: 68mm
System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Exhaust: Stainless steel headers, twin chromed silencers.
Final drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox: 5-speed
Oil capacity: 1.2US Gallon
Chassis Running Gear and Displays:
Frame: Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, tubular steel
Front Wheels: 36-spoke 19 x 2.5in
Rear Wheels: 40-spoke 17 x 3.5in
Front Tires: 100/90-19
Rear Tires: 130/80 R17
Front Suspension: Kayaba 41mm forks, 120mm travel
Rear Suspension: Kayaba chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 106mm Rear wheel travel
Brakes front: Single 310mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Brakes rear: Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Instrument display and functions: Analogue speedometer and tachometer with odometer and trip informat
Dimensions and Capacities:
Length: 2230mm
Width handlebars: 840
Height without mirror: 1100mm
Seat height: 775mm
Wheelbase: 1500mm
Rake: 28º
Trail: 110mm
Tank capacity: 4.2us gallon
Wet weight: 225 kg
Dry weight: 214 kg
Performance:
Max power ec: 68 7500
Max torque ec: 68 5800
Fuel Consumption:
Urban: 43us mpg
56mph/90kph: 57us mpg
Color Options:
2015 T100: Intense Orange/Jet Black, Caspian Blue/Jet Black
2016 T100: Fusion White/Aurum Gold, Jet Black/Cranberry Red
T100 Black: Jet Black
2016 T214 Special Edition:
Price:
2015 T100: $9,599
2015 T100 Black: $9,299
2016 T100: $9,600
2016 T100 Black: $9,300
T214 Special Edition: $9,999
What do you think?
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