Stun­ning new bike will blow away ri­vals with sub­stance and style

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - MICHAEL NEEVES SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER michael.neeves@mo­tor­cy­cle­

You’re look­ing at one of the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated Tri­umphs ever. The new £10,500 Bon­neville Bobber was only un­veiled in Oc­to­ber, but de­posits are al­ready gush­ing into deal­ers – dou­ble the amount placed for the Thruxton R last year.

And af­ter rid­ing the Bobber at its world launch in Madrid it’s safe to say that each and ev­ery one of those new own­ers is in for a treat.

Styled to mimic those pared-to-the­bone 1940s-style cus­tom bob­bers, the new Tri­umph looks the part with its sin­gle seat, cut-down front mud­guard, flat bars and hard­tail-style rear end. There’s a riot of classy de­tail touches ev­ery­where you look, from the ad­justable float­ing seat pan and clocks, to the bat­tery box, rear mud­guard loop and hand-painted tank coach line on our green and sil­ver test bike.

But let’s for­get about the way it looks for a mo­ment, be­cause the Bobber ac­tu­ally goes, corners and steers like a sweet-han­dling road­ster. It’s hard not to be in a con­stant state of dis­be­lief that some­thing that looks so bob­ber­some can per­form so well.

Easy rider

There’s noth­ing dif­fi­cult about rid­ing the Bobber. The slip-as­sist clutch is light and ac­cu­rate, the throt­tle re­sponse flaw­less and the gears slip ef­fort­lessly through the six-speed box.

Shorter rid­ers will love the low 690mm seat, but taller ones like me will still en­joy all-day com­fort. Ev­ery­one will ap­pre­ci­ate the plush ride qual­ity, the un­clut­tered view in the snazzy bar-end mir­rors and the neatly hid­den elec­tron­ics. Two rid­ing modes (Rain and Road), trac­tion con­trol and ABS of­fer a fat slice of 21st cen­tury safety to this Dad’s Army poster bike.

Cruise con­trol and su­per-hot heated grips are avail­able as ac­ces­sories.

Re­fined ride

Tra­di­tional bob­bers were cut-and­shut cus­toms, but the Tri­umph isn’t a hacked T120. The Bobber has a new tubu­lar steel cra­dle frame, be­spoke KYB sus­pen­sion and, al­though the mo­tor is the same 1200cc par­al­lel twin-cylin­der High Torque mo­tor lifted from the Bon­neville T120 (with it’s 10,000-mile ser­vice in­ter­vals), it makes 10% more power and torque at 4500pm.

The tweaked mo­tor is more flex­i­ble and ur­gent on the throt­tle than the T120, but still un­threat­en­ing and smooth. It purrs around town, is al­most silent off the throt­tle and cruises at just 3500rpm at 70mph. It might only have a 9.1-litre fuel tank, but Tri­umph claim 69mpg, which should give a range of 138 miles, al­though the fuel light will come on at around 100 miles.

Hid­den per­for­mance

But the Bobber re­veals a tougher side when you poke it as it drives out of corners with such un­fet­tered ur­gency you’re glad it has trac­tion con­trol when con­di­tions are tricky. With more revs comes a harder, deeper en­gine note and a rum­ble from the slash cut ex­hausts.

A bike with a 100-sec­tion spoked 19in wheel up front and a 16-incher at the rear sim­ply shouldn’t han­dle this well. But it does. It may look un­bal­anced with all its bulk ahead of the rider and the rear wheel some­where in an­other county, but it feels short and squat. It steers lightly and carves through corners and over bumps with the pre­ci­sion and easy poise of a Thruxton R. It’s more fun­than it has any right to be.

You need a hard dose of back brake to com­ple­ment the sin­gle disc twin­pis­ton front when you’re push­ing on, but dab­bing the rear keeps the Bobber more set­tled mid-bend and the an­ti­squat ef­fect im­proves ground clear­ance.

You can get your off-the-peg bobber kicks for less from Har­ley, Moto Guzzi, Yamaha and In­dian, but put sim­ply, the new Tri­umph is the slick­est bobber ever built.

‘You poke it and it drives out of corners with un­fet­tered ur­gency’

Tri­umph have got the st yling bob-on

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