On the road MO­TOR­WAY

RiDE (UK) - - Road Test -

B-ROADS

There’s no get­ting away from the fact that the Bob­ber puts style firmly at the top of the agenda. Its sil­hou­ette is pure hot rod: the seat is low, hung back from the main frame and sus­pended over the 16in rear wheel, which it­self ap­pears to be bolted into a rigid chas­sis. Up front, flat bars sit atop a con­ven­tional fork that holds a 19in wire-spoked wheel. All this sounds rather al­lur­ing but years of road test­ing have con­firmed time and time again that heav­ily styled bikes usu­ally lose their ap­peal as soon as they’re rid­den. The dy­nam­ics of a mo­tor­cy­cle are fairly frag­ile and stray­ing away from con­ven­tional ge­om­e­try gen­er­ally causes se­ri­ous han­dling is­sues.

Not so the Bob­ber. De­spite its rather ex­treme-look­ing stance, the dy­nam­ics are sim­ply bril­liant and it han­dles as well as a nicely set-up con­ven­tional road­ster. It swings through the bends with no hint that there’s a 19in wheel with a tall 100sec­tion tyre up front. Tri­umph has made the Bob­ber im­pres­sively agile with none of the vague feed­back and slow steer­ing that mars most cruis­ers with this kind of set-up. The han­dle­bar feel is light and well bal­anced, with beau­ti­ful sta­bil­ity through­out the speed range. On the back­roads, the Bob­ber can be hus­tled through bends in a way you wouldn’t ex­pect from such an out-of-bal­ance look­ing bike and the grip from the Avon Cobra tyres, with its Bob­ber-be­spoke 150/80 16in rear, is impressive too.

In spite of its post-war styling, the Bob­ber is no stranger to mod­ern elec­tronic rider as­sists, with two pre­set throt­tle modes (Road and Rain), as well as trac­tion con­trol and ABS. Road mode gives full power with trac­tion con­trol ready to step in if the rear wheel spins up on un­seen haz­ards. In Rain mode, the engine has softer power de­liv­ery and slightly more trac­tion con­trol.

The Bob­ber’s 1200cc par­al­lel twin has plenty of straight-line po­ten­tial, though when you’re charg­ing through the gears the rev lim­iter stops the engine spin­ning beyond 6900rpm. And if scream­ing neck mus­cles don’t stop you first, the ECU lim­its top speed to an in­di­cated 115mph. Nev­er­the­less at th­ese higher speeds the Bob­ber re­mains as­ton­ish­ingly sta­ble, the han­dling doesn’t de­cay, it stays man­age­able and it still re­sponds per­fectly to all of your in­puts.

What re­ally helps is that while the bike looks like a hard­tail, there is a rear shock clev­erly smug­gled be­neath the seat so you don’t have to worry about your spine tak­ing a pum­melling. How­ever, the ride starts to feel a bit choppy if the road sur­face be­comes un­even,

“It swings through bends with no hint of its 19in front wheel”

es­pe­cially when push­ing on and there’s no way to dial this char­ac­ter­is­tic out as both the shock and forks are non­ad­justable. But for kick­ing back and cruis­ing, which is what this bike’s re­ally all about, the ride qual­ity is spot on. Wide bars and noth­ing in the way of body­work don’t stop the Bob­ber of­fer­ing a com­fort­able 75mph cruis­ing speed. At this ve­loc­ity, the im­pres­sively smooth 1200cc Bon­neville-de­rived par­al­lel twin is just top­ping a lazy 3000rpm in sixth gear. The big twin has a slightly dif­fer­ent tune in Bob­ber form, with more power at low revs than the T120. Torque has been in­creased to 78lb·ft too, so it stays re­spon­sive in spite of the tall gear­ing. In fact, the engine’s so ur­gent that you’d swear there was more than just 76bhp on of­fer.

The fact that the engine is un­stressed means it re­turns de­cent fuel econ­omy too, at around 60mpg. This is just as well be­cause the length of any run is dic­tated by the tiny 9-litre fuel tank, the re­serve fuel warn­ing light il­lu­mi­nat­ing at only 65 miles from full when rid­den in a spir­ited fash­ion. Rid­ing such short dis­tances between fuel stops is a bit of a pain be­cause the Bob­ber is ac­tu­ally quite com­fort­able, that big, scooped sad­dle cup­ping the rider’s bot­tom just so, with enough ad­justa­bil­ity to tai­lor the reach to the bars and pegs for the per­fect fit. If you’re the type of per­son that doesn’t have any anx­i­ety about run­ning low on fuel, you can press the ‘I’ but­ton on the han­dle­bar to dis­play the re­main­ing fuel range on the clock and push on… Do­ing this on test took the Bob­ber to nearly 115 miles with less than five miles re­main­ing on the in­di­cated range.

At night, the ana­logue speedo il­lu­mi­nates with a soft, off-white glow. The head­light gives an ad­e­quate spread of light with the dipped beam cut­ting the beam off cleanly ahead of the bike.

TOWN

Con­sid­er­ing that the Bob­ber is, by def­i­ni­tion, a stripped-down bike with no body­work or rear sub-as­sem­bly, it’s sur­pris­ing to see a fairly hefty 228kg dry weight on the spec sheet — but that weight isn’t no­tice­able when rid­ing. At low speed around town it feels im­pres­sively light, frisky and agile — helped by its low cen­tre of grav­ity and wide bars. Fil­ter­ing past slow­mov­ing traf­fic is easy, the ‘Slip As­sist’ clutch giv­ing the lever ex­cel­lent feel and a light ac­tion.

At the other end of the scale, the clutch is tough enough to hook up the ‘High Torque’ ver­sion of the 1200cc Bon­nie engine and hot-rod it away from traf­fic lights like a sports­bike. With a good por­tion of the torque avail­able from low down, the Bob­ber’s ca­pa­ble of breath­tak­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The feel and power of the sin­gle pis­ton caliper rear brake is a good match for the bike’s weight and per­for­mance, help­ing with low-speed rid­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, the sin­gle-disc front brake lacks out­right power for hard stop­ping at higher speeds. The feel is fine but it takes a re­ally hard squeeze of the lever to coax enough power from it.

The Bob­ber is sur­pris­ingly adept on B-roads as well as mo­tor­ways

690 800 WHEEL­BASE 1510MM RAKE 25.80 TRAIL 87.9MM

Sin­gle seat is com­fort­able and ad­justable for fit Lack of body­work doesn’t mean it’s un­us­able at speed

Tra­di­tional speedo and LCD multi-func­tion trip com­puter

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