Triumph Bobber Black Kawasaki Cafe
The fact that Triumph’s Bobber – another take on the lovely 1200cc Bonneville donk with associated cycle parts changes – has been such a runaway sales success proves it hits the mark for a large chunk of the market.
And this offering removes the agonising decision of what colour to choose, because there’s just black. As in Monty Python’s black pudding sketch, even the white bits are black, or should that be bright bits? Casting an eye over the package, I am impressed with the thinking; like how the single shock has been hidden under the seat to create the illusion of a rigid rear end. I like rigids – I learned to ride on one, way before they were called Bobbers. Drop into the low (690mm) seat and the immediate impression is that it is as firm as a face slap, but I doubt that many (any?) of these will be called upon for long distance touring. Yes, its
natural habitat is the city, and its manoeuvrability, combined with the flexibility of the big twin engine, makes it a perfect urban scoot. Speaking of that engine, what a stonking piece of work it is. A 270 degree crank creates vee twin-like power delivery, with stacks of torque, and when you open the taps, it don’t half go. This is quite an achievement, given that it complies fully with the uber-strict Euro 4, which can muzzle, muffle and strangle the hairiest power plants.
So let’s go for a ride, but first, the lesson on where everything is and how to operate it. There are two riding modes; Rain or Road, easily switchable. The engine mapping means there’s no actual difference in the Rain or Road modes, it’s just that the throttle bodies open slower in Rain. The big single instrument looks like a plain old speedo, but it has an inner soul. Use the button on the left side handlebar switch to cycle through the various readouts that appear on the bottom of the speedo dial; gear indicator, rpm, odometer, fuel level, fuel consumption, distance until empty, the obligatory clock, plus the riding mode and traction control settings. It pays to keep an eye on the fuel readings, because the tank holds just over 9 litres. And make sure you don’t lose the key, because this item incorporates an immobiliser that is coded to the key. Out on the highway, you can forget sixth gear for anything other than 100km/h+; it’s happier buzzing along in 4th or 5th and will pull cleanly from as little as 2,300 rpm in top. The gearbox is very light and precise, and the clutch has a torque assistance feature, meaning the harder you accelerate, the greater the pressure on the clutch springs, and vice-versa. With an eye on the weather, I was apprehensive about the fat Avon tyres fitted, but I need not have been. These Avon Cobras look like doughnuts but have a surprising amount of grip, and impart an incredibly light feeling to the steering. In fact, the handling is one of the Bobber’s strong points. And if you’re called upon for a crash stop, the front end bites like a badger; the combination of the big tyre, the well sprung Showa fork and the Brembo brakes hauling the whole plot down predictably and with no fuss. Even in standard guise, the Bobber Black is a good looker with careful attention to detail, like the old style battery case that could have come straight from the ‘sixties. But Triumph sees the Bobber Black as a palette for individual expression, and to this end there is a huge catalogue of accessories and options, from silencers, high-rise handlebars and cables to suit, front mudguards, seats, bags and all sorts of bling to make the bike yours alone.
ABOVE The low-slung Bobber is a delight to flick through corners. INSET RIGHT It’s all in here.
A neat piece of subterfuge.
Brilliant engine has stacks of torque.