Retro at its coolest
Under the skin, the Bonneville hides a lot of modern comforts
THE Triumph Bonneville has been in production since 1959 and the T120’s nameplate, which in the sixties referred to its top speed in miles per hour, now indicates its engine capacity.
It is part of Triumph’s current Bonneville range which includes the Thruxton R, winner of the 2016 Pirelli SA Bike of the Year award and at least one other international Bike of the Year title. My initial impression of the bike was that it was much smaller than I had expected. I am no stranger to modern compact superbikes, but for a 1200 cm³ roadster the T120 seemed tiny — considerably lower and narrower than my own Kawasaki Z1000SX. The next thing I noticed was how cleverly Triumph has disguised the bike’s modern underpinnings. Retro as the looks may be, there are concessions to the modern world, such as an LED stoplight and running lights, heated grips and digital displays in the retro chrometrimmed clocks. Mechanically, it is a modern bike with disk brakes, ABS and traction control. While the Bonnie doesn’t exactly handle like a sports bike, the decidedly retro-looking suspension copes reasonably well if you ride it as Triumph positioned it — a “gentleman’s conveyance”.
Not to say that hooliganism is totally out of the question, though — with 105 Nm torque on tap (and about 90% of that available practically at idle), a good twist of the throttle will see the T120 reach highway speed with almost unseemly haste.
You can easily spin the back wheel or hoist the front if you are that way inclined, and the low rev torque will propel it out of corners with surprising earnest.
The bike weighs 224 kg, has a 14,5-litre tank and sells for R147 500. — Wheels24.
The Triumph Bonneville is gentleman’s cruiser that can still let the hooligan out.