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

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