WHO’S A BON­NIE BABY THEN?

FIRST TEST

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Jon Urry MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

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

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