New kid on the block stack up against its predecessor?
This is an exciting time for retro fans. The stripped-back, oldschool-cool scene has well and truly taken off in a full-on battle for the hipster crown. And it’s easy to see why: these bikes are simple, competitively priced, effortless to ride and inherently stylish. So with the likes of Ducati’s impressive Scrambler and Yamaha’s XSR700 flying off shelves faster than tins of tuna in an apocalypse, Triumph have decided to revamp their classic Bonneville range with an all-new five bike line-up, and the first to emerge from the factory gates is the Street Twin.
But before we get to that, let’s go through the story so far. The modern incarnation of Triumph resurrected
the classic Meriden Bonneville name in 2000 with a 790cc parallel-twin, and in 2006 increased the capacity to 865cc. Ten years on Hinckley have revamped the entire range to futureproof it against Euro 4 and bring it into line with a rapidly growing throng of competitors. Sharing no components with the current models, the 2016 modern-classic range now includes a T120 and T120 Black, a Thruxton and Thruxton R and this, the Street Twin. The T120s are the most authentic looking replacements for the current Bonnevilles, while the Thruxtons are the more performance-focused rangetoppers, and all four share the same water-cooled 1199cc parallel-twin (albeit in different states of tune).
That leaves the 899cc Street Twin, which Triumph are pitching as the entry-level bike, aimed at the widest audience possible. The little looker is well styled, modern and the closest to the current Bonneville in engine capacity. Rumours suggest it may even be the first in a whole family based on the new motor. So we grabbed the new kid in town and brought a current special-edition T100 Bonneville Ð the Newchurch Ð and a 1959 original along to see how the new Street Twin fits into its icon-strewn family tree.
Petite and good looking
At first glance the Newchurch and Street Twin look extremely similar, and youõd be forgiven for mixing the two up. The styling changes are intentionally subtle but theyõre there, and the result is a more modern looking retro offering in the shape of the Street Twin. Itõs done away with the T100ÕS chrome cladding and replaced it with a brushed aluminium effect. The same goes for the exhausts; the twin pipes look near identical, except the new 900Õs brushed stainless steel system is actually a dummy outer, cleverly concealing a different pipe routing and a large catalytic converter. And despite being Euro4-compliant, the pipes sound fantastic Ð far more aggressive than the current modelõs.
Other than the shiny stuff, the two bikes share a similar style, except the T100 has straighter, stronger looking lines. Itõs bigger overall, too Ð with a higher, fatter seat and comes across as the more masculine of the two, while the Street is curvier and cuter. Itõs also both smaller and lighter, making it instantly more accessible and
friendlier for shorter riders. The new Street has lost all of those little retro trinkets, which Bonnie fans seem to adore. To keep up with the minimalist stripped- back trend, Triumph have also skimped on the fake carbs that the current T100 boasts. Its fuel injectors are cleverly designed to mimic carbs, replete with a working ‘choke’, while the Street simply has a drilled metal cover to hide its injected blushes. It now has a regular lockable fuel cap instead of a twist top, and the ignition is under the clock instead of on the side of it. And its updated whiteon- black Smiths-style analogue dial boasts a digital section featuring a gear position indicator, clock, trips and range-to-empty. The other change is the seat, Triumph reckon the new one has 25% thicker padding, but all of our testers agree that the older seat is actually fatter and more comfortable.
It’s what’s inside that counts
Despite the design refresh, the primary changes aren’t actually the most visible ones. The new bike is just that: new. Everything from the chassis and engine to the technology is thoroughly modern. While the T120 and Thruxton will both share a beefier 1199cc motor, the Street Twin gets a smaller 899cc liquid-cooled engine, which Triumph have dubbed a ‘high-torque’ motor. The eight-valve twin kicks out 59ftlb of torque at 3200rpm, while the current T100 can only claim 50.2ftlb at 5800rpm. It’s an increase in torque but it comes very low down in the rev range, which is useful for low-speed pottering around town. Triumph also claim an average 75.5mpg from the new engine (our test route returned 51.45mpg) and service intervals have increased from 6000 to 10,000 miles. At 54bhp the Street Twin gives away 14bhp to the Newchurch, which was apparent in our third gear roll-on tests. Click into third gear, shout three, two, one, pin the throttle – and watch the Newchurch fly away every time.
But while it may be down on top- end thrills and outright performance, its generous helpings of technology more than make up for it. The Street gets a smooth and sophisticated rideby-wire throttle, traction control, slip-assist clutch, ABS, an immobiliser and even a USB charging point – all bound to go down well with newer and younger riders. All this extra tech and the smooth liquid-cooled engine may not sit so well with the purists, but it does make the Street incredibly easy to ride.
Well, we didn’t quite make it to Bonneville, but the roads were salty. The snow from the night before left a film of slippery white ice on the tarmac. The morning sun tried its best
Ôthe Street Twinõs pipes sound fantastic Ð far more aggressive than the
to clear it for us, but left the surface with layer of slush instead. Barrelling down country lanes felt far more secure on the new Street Twin with its traction control, ABS and featherlight clutch. Despite its single disc, the twin-piston Nissin front brake set-up has plenty of feel and stopping power. The non-adjustable Kayaba monoshock is well damped, making for a smooth ride – unlike the T100, which is under damped and makes you suffer for its inadequacy. Both the brake and clutch levers are heavy, too, demanding a strong squeeze. The only benefit is the T100’s power, which pulls it forward with more aggression at the top end. But while the T100 may be quicker, the new boy handles better and is so much smoother, more manageable and responsive. The only gripe Bruce could pin on the Street Twin was a clunky gearbox, which doesn’t feel as refined as the current T100’s.
But new is better, right?
Not necessarily. The current 865cc Bonnie has been around since 2006 and it’s certainly time for an update, but the Street Twin isn’t necessarily it – despite being the closest in ca- pacity of the new range. Of the bikes announced to date, the new 1199cc T120 will be the bigger, more powerful replacement as it retains the original Bonneville style more than the more modern, minimal Street Twin. The Street is clearly targeted at a different audience, one that isn’t searching for the authentic retro look, and while it borrows a smidge of Bonnie style, it’s far more neo-retro. Plus it’s friendlier, easier to ride and much more modern in both style and technology.
So if you’re considering chopping in your current Bonnie for more power and speed then you’re better off waiting for the new T120. And if neither bike fulfils your brief, because you want something between the two, then you need to hang on until the end of 2016 to find your dream new Bonneville.
Modern clock now shows gear position Even the name mixes the old with the new The 21st century Twin gets LED rear light LCD window shows mileage and trip Bonnieõs Ôcarbsõ mask its fuel-injection Just a regular old bulb and lots of chrome Dinky Street
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