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Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Road Im­pres­sions Jim Scaysbrook

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.

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