Inside John Westlake’s engine, JP adds protection, Hugo performs a strip tease.
IT SEEMS LIKE the chuntering of a jibbering fruitcake. However, I’d like to declare for the record that Triumph’s low-slung, stripped-back, custom-tastic Bonneville Bobber is mighty fine transportation during a British winter… I’ll accept that the Bobber’s basic design means practical limitations. Weather protection isn’t a strong point, meaning riding clobber performance is frequently tested, and I’m a familiar face at the local jetwash. Despite several thorough searches I’ve failed to locate a suitable surface on which to place my tailpack. Triumph have also fitted a small beaker instead of a proper-size fuel tank. All of which is insignificant on a slick and chilly February morning, thanks to the eye-opening rideability supplied by the Bobber in less-than-favourable conditions. Suspension is firm and has a feeble amount of travel, so there’s a fabulous connection to the tyres and road surface – feel through the steering inspires confidence even on the greasiest of days. There’s loads of traction-finding big-twin grunt from the 1200cc lump, plus ample mechanical grip and a tenacious pair of Avons. The headlight is ace despite its diminutive dimensions (and it’s the same height as car mirrors, so you feel safe filtering), and even though there’s lots of shiny bits it hasn’t dissolved either. The 1200cc thudder is averaging 59mpg too, which goes some way to overcoming the laughable 9.1-litre fuel load. Ten years ago you’d leave a Triumph parked out in the cold for a couple of nights and the battery would throw in the towel. Yet the Bobber starts first touch after a long weekend under ice, despite always powering my excellent Gerbing heated jacket liner and gloves (which actually make the lack of fairing irrelevant). I’m quite sure Triumph didn’t intend this ‘lifestyle’ motorcycle to be ridden by textile-clad dayglow commuters. But the very things that make it such a dynamically-impressive retro-custom-cruiser are also what make it truly great in slippery, soggy conditions. With the odometer now past 4000 miles I have to wonder if there’s any circumstance where the Triumph might fail to out-perform expectations. Maybe I’ll get myself booked in for a practice day at the local motocross track.
Bobber shrugs oheavy icing Go for the heated grips every time: £189, plus tting
Socket too ’em: the only way to deal with January mornings