WORLD FIRST TEST TRI­UMPH T120 BLACK and beau­ti­fully styled’

‘Re­fined to ride, com­fort­able, Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Jon Urry MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

ow on earth do you go about re­design­ing a ma­chine is as evoca­tive as the Tri­umph Bon­neville? Well, for a start, you look very closely at the mar­ket and iden­tify ex­actly who you are want­ing the bike to ap­peal to. And it is this key de­ci­sion that has formed the whole at­ti­tude of the new T120 Bon­neville mod­els.

Back in the day, the Bon­neville was a sports­bike – and an ex­tremely fine one at that, which is why its name has re­mained so highly re­garded all th­ese decades later. But that was yes­ter­day’s Bon­neville; to­day’s Bon­nie is a very dif­fer­ent mo­tor­cy­cle, bought by a very dif­fer­ent sort of rider. It’s a time ma­chine, bristling with mod­ern tech, but

Hstylis­ti­cally hark­ing back the orig­i­nal’s hal­cyon days.

You have to hand it to Tri­umph, the styling job its de­sign­ers have done on the T120 is ab­so­lutely top-drawer. Like the Thrux­ton we tested in last week’s MCN, ev­ery box has been ticked to en­sure the T120s re­main as faith­ful to the flavour of the orig­i­nal Bon­nies as pos­si­ble, while sub­tly in­cor­po­rat­ing the mod­ern tech­nol­ogy buy­ers ex­pect. In sil­hou­ette the new T120 looks ev­ery bit the clas­sic Bon­nie, and that’s a ma­jor part of its ap­peal. But ap­pear­ances can only get you so far, and Tri­umph have been clever in en­sur­ing the new T120 more than meets ex­pec­ta­tions when it comes to the ride.

When you look at the Bon­nie your brain will take mere mil­lisec­onds to form a men­tal im­pres­sion on how it will

The con­ven­tional fork has no ad­just­ment while the twin shocks are only preload ad­justable. The rear wheel is a 17in item while the front is an 18-incher to keep the retro style. Both are shod in Pirelli Phan­tom Sports Comp tyres, which have been de­signed specif­i­cally

for the T120.

The two-pis­ton Nissin slid­ing calipers grip solid mounted discs and are con­nected via steel braided lines to a con­ven­tional mas­ter cylin­der. The set-up should work bet­ter than it does and we found it lacked feel dur­ing our test. ABS is stan­dard

fit­ment and it is switch­able.

The 1200cc par­al­lel-twin is es­sen­tially the same as in the Thrux­ton, but is tuned for midrange and low-end torque, us­ing a heav­ier crank for more in­er­tia and dif­fer­ent fuel maps. Tri­umph claim 63mpg, and it’s longer geared than the Thrux­ton for more re­laxed

power de­liv­ery.

The T120 has the same rideby-wire, trac­tion con­trol and ABS sys­tems as the Thrux­ton bikes MCN tested last week, but only has two fuel modes – Rain and Road. Heated grips are stan­dard fit­ment, as is an im­mo­biliser and USB

charg­ing socket.

There are two solid colours – red and black – as well as two twotone schemes of black/white and red/ sil­ver, each com­mand­ing a pre­mium of £300. Metal­lic colours also cost a £150 pre­mium. The T120 Black here comes in black, or graphite, with black de­tails and a

brown seat.

The foun­da­tions of the T120’s chas­sis are the same tubu­lar steel cra­dle as in the Thrux­ton’s, while the Bon­nie gets a steel swingarm in­stead of the alu­minium one used on the sportier café rac­ers. Its wheel­base is also 30mm longer, re­sult­ing in

more re­laxed ge­om­e­try.

The T120 is in­spired by the revered 1959 and 1968 T120s. Twin peashooter ex­hausts are dual skinned, mean­ing they look like a sin­gle pipe de­spite branch­ing off into the un­der-en­gine cat­alytic con­verter. Rubber kneepads, retro plug caps, and bench seat – the T120 has the

full monty.

The most no­tice­able dif­fer­ence is the High Per­for­mance en­gine on the Thrux­ton, which not only makes more power, it picks revs up faster. This sen­sa­tion of speed is en­hanced by lower gear­ing. The Thrux­ton uses an alu­minium swingarm where the T120 has a steel unit. The Bon­nie also has a 30mm longer wheel­base. Elec­tron­ics are sim­i­lar but the Thrux­ton gains an ex­tra ‘Sport’ fuel mode, to add to

Rain and Road. feel. Those wide bars, large flat seat and the re­laxed rider ge­om­e­try all tell you that sit­ting on it will be a com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence, while the ef­fort­lessly cool retro im­age re­in­forces its laid-back out­look on life. Where the Thrux­ton’s clip-ons and solo seat shout ‘sporty’, the Bon­nie gen­tly whis­pers in your ear that the sun is out and now would be a great time for a gen­tle ex­plo­ration of some clas­sic Bri­tish B-roads. And that men­tal snap­shot of the T120 is ex­actly how it rides in re­al­ity.

The new par­al­lel-twin may boast 1200cc, but its out­put has been tuned for ease of use, not thrash­ing, and it’s one of the most ef­fort­less en­gines I’ve ever rid­den. You don’t need to go hunt­ing for an elu­sive well of torque – as long as the rev counter is above 2000rpm the T120 is ready to waft you for­ward with min­i­mal fuss. It’s silky-smooth in its throt­tle re­sponse and trans­mits vir­tu­ally no vi­bra­tions, cer­tainly not enough to make the Mickey Mouse ear mir­rors do any­thing so un­gainly as to shud­der. The gear­box, which does still ex­hibit a char­ac­ter­ful clunk when it en­gages a cog, has the same in­ter­nal ra­tios as the Thrux­ton – but thanks to longer fi­nal ra­tios it lacks the sportier bike’s fran­tic na­ture or rapid bursts of ac­cel­er­a­tion. And it is a sim­i­lar story with the chas­sis.

You don’t re­ally want to rush a T120. Its chas­sis is more than ca­pa­ble of carv­ing through the bends, but it has far more lim­i­ta­tions im­posed on it than the Thrux­ton when it comes to cor­ner­ing. For a start you only get 40-de­grees of lean un­til things start to scrape, which isn’t a great deal, but more no­tably the bike has an 18in front wheel. While this helps keep the tra­di­tional looks on mes­sage, it does give it a slightly pon­der­ous feel­ing from the front end. The Bon­nie’s not bad han­dling at all, it just re­quires a bit more ef­fort to get it into bends and hold it there, and will feel mildly odd to any­one more used to a 17in set-up. But few own­ers will find it of any con­cern, and nor should they. The same is true of the sus­pen­sion.

On a bike cost­ing just shy of £10,000 you might ex­pect fully-ad­justable units front and rear, but the Bon­nie only

Run­ning retro Stop­ping power Ef­fort­less re­fine­ment Clocks are a hand­some blend of clas­sic and mod­ern Elec­tronic con­trol Em­bossed filler cap is a cute and au­then­tic touch Big­gest Bon­nie en­gine yet, and the most re­fined Rigid mounted discs and switch

Choose your Bon­nie Rear light looks to­tally retro, but it’s fully LED Spine of steel Get the look Take cor­ners with too much gusto and ground clear­ance can be an is­sue The Bon­nie’s all about re­laxed fun

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