RiDE (UK) - - Road Test -

IF A BAD ex­pe­ri­ence rid­ing a fac­to­ry­built cus­tom bike has put you off ever own­ing one, or you have pre­vi­ously dis­missed cus­tom bikes as not your cup of tea, the Tri­umph Bob­ber is a bike that could make you look and think again. The short­com­ings that blighted other ma­chines — such as poor weight dis­tri­bu­tion, awk­ward han­dling, un­con­vinc­ing de­sign and ques­tion­able build qual­ity — do not ap­ply to the Bob­ber. It stands head and shoul­ders above its cus­tom ri­vals.

Add in an impressive ar­ray of of­fi­cial ac­ces­sories — from clip-ons to pipes, cut-down mud­guards to full-on ape hang­ers — and you’ll be able to make your mass-pro­duced Bob­ber stand out from the crowd, es­pe­cially as the Tri­umph on­line con­fig­u­ra­tor is re­fresh­ingly easy to use. Liv­ing with a test bike for a cou­ple of weeks has en­gaged me — a die-hard sports­bike lover — as a po­ten­tial cus­tomer and I’ve al­ready con­fig­ured my vir­tual bike: clip-on bars, with Vance and Hines pipes, Fox shock, hand-painted tank, short guards and mini-in­di­ca­tors. Or maybe I’ll change my mind — again — and just go for the ape hang­ers…

It would be wrong to call the Tri­umph Bon­neville Bob­ber a prac­ti­cal cus­tom — partly be­cause that makes it sound dull and util­i­tar­ian, which it most cer­tainly is not, but also be­cause it is lim­ited in terms of use­ful­ness and tank range. But bikes like this aren’t built to be prac­ti­cal and this at last is a cus­tom you can live with. It blends its au­then­tic looks with an en­gag­ing, torque-laden engine, housed in a chas­sis that en­gages the rider at al­most ev­ery level. It will not only turn heads on the city streets but also work as a mo­tor­cy­cle out on the coun­try lanes. In fact, the only thing that lets the Bob­ber down is that rel­a­tively puny tank range. Apart from that, it’s an ideal mix of show and go.

While per­fectly ride­able in all sit­u­a­tions, the Bob­ber is at home in the cool ur­ban sprawl

Turn the page for six cruis­ers worth con­sid­er­ing as used al­ter­na­tives

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