Retro at its coolest

Un­der the skin, the Bon­neville hides a lot of mod­ern comforts

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - DRIES VAN HEER­DEN

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.

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