Bobber v Bobber COMPARO
We toss two power-packed bobbers into the black-top ring in a fight to the death. They will have to brave sharp corners, chaotic traffic, and (borderline) wild animals in their quest for two-wheeled supremacy. Which one will come out on top?
It’s a duel between the Triumph Bonneville Bobber and Moto Guzzi’s V9 Bobber
STEP RIGHT UP folks, step right up; we have quite the treat for you today. Two heavyweights of the motorcycling world go head-to-head for all the plaudits. In the Morello Red corner, weighing in at 228 kg, hailing from Hinckley, Leicestershire, the brutal British beauty: Triumph Bonneville Bobber. And, in the Girgio Sport grey corner, weighing in at 199 kg, from Mandello del Lario, the feisty Italian: Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber.
Both competitors are looking fit and raring to go, so let’s get right into it. Round one — the looks, and ding, ding, there’s the starting bell. With its looks inspired by hardtails of yore, the Triumph has a retro-styled motif running across its design philosophy. The classically round headlamps, flat handlebars, minimalist circular bar-end mirrors, sculpted tank, wire-spoke wheels, chromed-out twin pipes, and minimalist steel mudguards all look the part. The absolute standout element has to be that floating single seat, which when taken in conjunction with its recessed rear monoshock almost fools you into thinking that the Brits have gone all-out and made an actual hardtail. The overall effect is one of a bike that sits low and is the epitome of cool.
The Moto Guzzi too has classic bobber aesthetic traits. You get a more modern interpretation of spokes here, with those 16-inch cast-aluminium wheels wrapped in oversized tyres (130/90 up front and 150/80 rear). Trimmed mudguards, a spherical headlamp, and an all-matte paint job, and drag-style handlebars and that offset instrument cluster bring in the visual appeal. You can’t ignore the protruding cylinder-heads from the big V when talking of the V9’s style quotient; however, the grey paint job on the bike with red chequered flag embellishments is the star of the show, and really ramps up its kerb appeal. Both bikes have attributes going for them in the looks department, and after a bit of sparring, come out even-stevens in the first round.
Round two is all about features, ergonomics, and build quality, so let’s get stuck in, shall we? Both bikes come with a single-pod instrument cluster with an analogue speedo and digital info for
everything else. The V9 Bobber gets points for the traditional black lettering on white background design; however the Bonneville Bobber steps in with a quick one-two combo for providing riders with a fuel indicator and rev-counter, neither of which the Guzzi can boast of. The Bonnie Bobber also shows distance to empty, and doesn’t have the confusing two-layer speedo with readouts in both kilometres (km/h) and miles per hour (mph). Switchgear quality is pretty even on both bikes and of a high standard, too, and the same can be said about the fit-and-finish of both bikes as well. The Guzzi gets a swift right hook in for providing a conveniently placed USB charging port, and another one for providing the bigger fuel tank at 15 litres as opposed to the Triumph’s 9.1-litre tank.
It is still anyone’s bout as we enter round three, and things are beginning to heat up. Swing a leg over the saddle and you will find that both bikes have an upright riding position. The V9, though, has slightly more forward-set pegs and results in your shins knocking against those aforementioned cylinder-heads that jut out on either side. The Triumph’s seat is adjustable to a great degree too, allowing for a riding position that can be fine-tuned to suit individual riders further. Another drawback on the V9 is that its stand position is a bit further back and is awkward to flick down, which makes it the more annoying of the two to park.
Seat comfort isn’t a highlight on either bike, especially on longer stints. However, the V9 rallies with the more comfortable seat of the two and the better rear-view visibility with its larger mirrors. The fourth round saw the match swing one way, then another, but now we’ve made it to the crucial fifth round.
Straight to the performance then, and let’s get ready to rumble — quite literally. Speaking of the ‘rumble’ the Bonnie provides more auditory appeal. The Triumph comes out of the corner fighting, as it is powered by a 1,200-cc liquid-cooled, SOHC parallel-twin engine that produces 77 PS at 6,100 rpm and 106 Nm of twist at 4,000 rpm. The engine is lifted straight out of the Bonneville T120 with a
The Triumph has got the Moto Guzzi on the ropes now with its superior performance characteristics, and lands the knock-out blow with its price
new twin-airbox intake system tossed in, and a tweaked exhaust allowing the engine to acquire a more torque-y character. This character is evident as soon as you twist the throttle, as the Triumph pulls away cleanly from as low as 2,000 revs. The acceleration is urgent and the bike pulls comfortably till it hits its 6,100-rpm threshold for peak power. The six-speed gearbox is slick and the gear ratios are pretty well-sorted as well.
The Moto Guzzi is powered by an 853-cc, aircooled, 90° V-twin that churns out 55 PS at 6,250 rpm and 62 Nm at 3,000 rpm. While the latter is nearly 30 kilos lighter, that’s still quite the chasm in terms of power, and it shows. The V9 fires up with a bit of shake but settles down as you get going. While the Guzzi is quick off the block it doesn’t feel as rapid as the Triumph, and this is exacerbated by the fact that it isn’t a high-revver and encourages you to short-shift up through the gears which makes it less fun to ride in traffic. The six-speed shaft-drive transmission isn’t as smooth through the gears either, and even the clutch action on the Triumph is that little bit lighter and more supple.
In terms of ride setup, the Triumph has Kayaba telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the back which is adjustable for preload. The Moto Guzzi has telescopic shocks up front as well; however, it has twin shocks at the rear instead of a monoshock and also comes with preload adjust. The Triumph is the more forgiving on the bumps at lower speeds; however, when you hit a pothole while carrying pace and the suspension happens to fully compress, your seat will hit the frame below which is an uncomfortable experience. Even though the Triumph has a longer wheelbase of the two, it is the better handler. Easier to flick around corners and not suffering from the V9’s signature V-twin gyroscopic effect that tends to pull the bike to the right, the Triumph shines through on the handling front.
Braking performance on both bikes is decent, but here too the Triumph feels that little bit more urgent when compared to its Italian rival. Both bikes have ABS and two-level traction control (wet and dry).
The Triumph has got the Moto Guzzi on the ropes now with its superior performance characteristics, and lands the knock-out blow with its price. Carrying a sticker of Rs 11.85 lakh (OTR, Pune), it is just over Rs 5 lakh cheaper than the V9 which will cost you Rs 16.96 lakh (OTR, Pune). This means the winner of this battle of the heavyweight bobbers is the Triumph, and takes home the championship belt for the ultimate bobber available in India today. Both bikes are stylish, enjoyable to ride and echo the heritage of those classic American-style bob-jobs. However, the Triumph is that little bit better in all aspects of performance, and the big one: the price-tag.
Both bobbers have old-school dials but the Triumph’s is easier to read
The Bonnie’s 1,200-cc parallel-twin churns out 77 PS
Both bikes feature aesthetically pleasing chisseled tanks, the V9’s carries more fuel though The Triumph’s seat is the better looker; the Moto Guzzi’s the more comfrotable one for long rides