FROM THE FRONT
Atip of the hat to Stuart Urquhart, whose terrific tale about a Triumph opens this month’s issue. The bike’s a Royal Wedding Bonnie, one of Meriden’s occasional attempts at boosting the appeal of their only slightly archaic twins by latching onto a little patriotic appeal. Or not – those Bonnies sold well overseas, as well as in the UK. And indeed, Stuart’s test victim is an export model. I have some fond memories of those, too.
Many years ago, I was an unwilling participant in a decently destructive traffic accident, one result of which was that I couldn’t walk for quite a while and couldn’t ride for a while longer. And the first bike I rode after the shunt was an export T140 LE Royal Wedding, exactly like the one in this month’s story. I loved it – but understood even then that a bike with so much shine was never going to have an easy life in The Shed. Cleaning and polishing have never been my forte.
The bike’s owner suggested that I might prefer the UK version? I looked around his showroom and failed to see one. He agreed that my eyesight hadn’t entirely failed or become too selective for its own good. He didn’t have one in stock, but he knew where there was one for sale. Good salesmen usually do know things like this. Of course the UK bike duly arrived, and I duly rode it. Silver frame, chrome tank, cast wheels and twin discs, as well as an almost entirely black-coated engine and a noted lack of spurious bling. I bought a TR65 instead. Caprice is as capricious does, they say.
But I never forgot it. Many, many years later, another trader friend showed me another Bonnie, and at first I thought it was another of the Royal Wedding machines, and displayed my resounding expert knowledge of Triumph twins by sharing it. ‘Not quite,’ suggested my friend. ‘It’s a Royal.’ And indeed it was. The Royal was a lot less glam than the UK Royal Wedding, but just as functional. I bought it on the spot, having a rare impulsive moment.
It ran really well, that Triumph. I tried really hard to like it. But I didn’t. I just didn’t. In the end I sold it to another friend who didn’t like it enough to keep it either, so he sold it on again. These are great bikes, these late Triumph twins. They really are. But that doesn’t mean we all have to like riding them. Because we are not all the same, despite what some might tell you…