WHO’S A BONNIE BABY THEN?
Triumph’s new T100 Bonneville takes the engine from the successful Street Twin and puts it in a more traditional chassis – and it looks like folks from Hinckley will have another hit on their hands. We take the new Bonnie for its first UK outing.
‘Easy on the eye and wallet, Triumph’s small capacity Bonnie comes packed full of retro charm’
Since Hinckley Triumph revived the Bonneville name 15 years ago, the bike has won over a whole new fan base. Stylish, easy going and above all reliable and oil tight, the new Bonnie quickly became a mainstay in Triumph’s range and provided the platform from which the Scrambler, Thruxton, Speedmaster, America and T100 models developed. Yet when Triumph launched the Street Twin last year, a Bonneville variant was conspicuous by its absence. For 2017 this has changed as the new T100 and T100 Black hit the streets.
Triumph describe the T100 as far closer in character and feel to the larger Bonneville T120 than the Street Twin. This bike is, essentially, a smaller capacity T120 that is not only £1500 cheaper than the 1200, it is also 11kg lighter, easier to manage at low speed and yet just as handsome. Yet, and here is the real killer point, it handles, stops and goes like the Street Twin.
This may upset a few people, but after riding the T120 and then a Street Twin, I actually enjoyed the Street Twin more. The larger capacity bike is excellent, but its low-revving engine is relaxed to the point of being lethargic. In comparison the Street Twin’s 900cc motor brought a pleasing amount of poke and a free-revving spirit. If I took pillions a lot or was after gentle hassle free riding then I totally understand the character of the T120, but for solo blasts it isn’t that thrilling compared to the smaller machine. This is why I was looking forward so much to riding the T100, if Triumph nailed the T120’s styling and successfully blended it into the Street Twin’s fantastic basic platform it would be a winner.
You don’t need me to tell you the T100 looks smart. With its peashooter exhausts, wire wheels, long mudguards and two-tone tank it brings every bit of T120 quality with it. For fans of the traditional Bonnie styling it ticks every box and for riders like myself who want a bit of modern handling and performance it doesn’t disappoint.
The riding position is more ‘traditional’ than the Street Twin’s and the pegs are set low with the bars wide and flat. It feels correct and is pleasingly relaxed and spacious next to the more compact Street Twin yet it manages to retain the Twin’s improved handling.
I found the T120 a bit sluggish to turn, but despite the T100 sharing its chassis and having the same 18in front, the reduction in weight has taken away most of this feeling. The T100 feels very light at low speed yet turns and holds a line through a bend with more agility than the larger T120. And, thanks to better suspension and tyres, it easily tops the older air-cooled Bonnie when it comes to enjoying corners.
Like the previous small capacity Bonnie, the T100 comes with only a single front disc and two-piston sliding caliper. While this set-up still requires a good old tug on the lever, the fact it now incorporates ABS makes its slight lack of feel largely irrelevant. On the older model you never had this reassurance and the lack of ABS meant you couldn’t just grab a handful, especially if the road was wet. Now, thanks to modern electronics, you can. And that is the overall story with the new T100, it’s very much a traditional Bonnie that has been brought into the modern world.
The water-cooled parallel twin still thumps along like an air-cooled unit but is smoother than before with a pleasing mid-range and even a bit of a top end zip, yet working behind the surface is traction control. The brakes have ABS and the clutch is lighter than any previous Bonnie. But the T100 doesn’t shout these facts out, and in my book that’s what makes it so good.
Same fun engine as the Street Twin but with proper Bonnie styling. It’ll be a surefire hit
Purists will baulk at the radiator but that engine is a peach
Retro yet modern. It even has traction control
Shared with the Street Twin, the 900cc engine has an engaging, revvy nature
Chromed exhaust looks the business even if it isnõt as loud as a ' 60s Bonnie
Only a single disc and basic caliper but ABS means you can grab a handful