The Tri­umph Bon­neville Bobber Test

We were in­vited by the folks at Tri­umph USA to wing on over to Madrid, Spain, and ride the all-new Tri­umph Bon­neville Bobber. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t very en­thused by just hear­ing the name, but I am not one to judge a book by its cover or a bike by its fo­cus group-in­duced name.

Hours af­ter land­ing in the land of the Spa­niards I threw a leg over the Bobber and peeled off a cou­ple hun­dred kilo­me­ters on it. Over the Span­ish vil­lage cob­ble­stones the 41mm KYB front shocks and a sin­gle ac­ti­vated KYB link-as­sisted rear shock soaked up all the high­fre­quency road bumps. When it came time to hit some of the twisties the Madrid coun­try­side had to of­fer, the sus­pen­sion was plush over big bumps, pot­holes, and ruts, yet the Bobber was still very re­spon­sive in even the tight­est of curves.

The Tri­umph Bobber’s peppy 1,200cc, wa­ter- cooled, eight-valve, par­al­lel-twin mo­tor puts out 77 hp and 78.2 pound­feet of torque. The en­gine was tame when cruis­ing through the vil­las but churned out some great grunt­ing power when the throt­tle was twisted in any sort of ag­gres­sive mat­ter. The Bobber’s en­gine sucks air through a set of mul­ti­point se­quen­tial elec­tronic fuel-in­jec­tion units, which are meant to look like vin­tage Amal car­bu­re­tors. It ex­its its spent gasses through a set of stain­less head­ers cou­pled to a pair of slash- cut muf­flers, which have a great tone right from the fac­tory. As far as the driv­e­train was con­cerned I was re­ally im­pressed by how well the clutch and trans­mis­sion en­gaged and shifted through its six speeds. And the fact that the bike has a fi­nal drive chain I feel is a very good thing. It also adds a lot to the Bobber’s clas­sic good looks.

The 19-/16-spoked wheels shod in Avon Co­bra rub­ber stayed planted on the Span­ish pave­ment even when wet. The bobber had am­ple brak­ing in the forms of a front sin­gle 310mm disc, two-pis­ton Nissin float­ing caliper plus a rear sin­gle 255mm disc, sin­gle-pis­ton Nissin float­ing caliper.

All the afore­men­tioned is well and good, but I believe the nim­ble hand­ing of the Tri­umph comes from a twin cra­dle frame with a rake of 25.8 de­grees and a trail of 3.5 inches. Cou­pled with its “hard­tail” ap­pear­ing swingarm the Bobber has a very ma­neu­ver­able 59.4-inch wheel­base in to­tal.

The looks of the Tri­umph Bobber is where many peo­ple will fall in love, and the drag bars start the looks off right. The 2.4-gal­lon Bobber-spe­cific tank fits per­fectly on this

bike and does a great job of hark­ing back to Tri­umph mo­tor­cy­cles of the past.

The ribbed front fender is a nod to the famed Was­sel fend­ers of the early 1950s, whereas the rear “bobbed” fender setup is the epi­cen­ter of this bike’s styling and the essence of this bike’s name. I can at­test that Tri­umph did a great job in mak­ing this rear por­tion of the bike do ev­ery­thing mod­ern yet look like it was born in the late 1940s.

The only real gim­micky thing on the bike is an ad­justable seat where the seat height can be slid around from its start­ing po­si­tion of 27.2 inches. I am sure it will ac­tu­ally be a great sell­ing point of the bike, but be­ing 5-foot-10 in height and feel­ing that the bike’s er­gonomics fit me very well in the stock po­si­tion is one I am per­son­ally luke­warm about. If you are taller than me (or have longer legs), you just may well find this a very handy thing in­deed.

Yes, the Tri­umph Bobber looks very vin­tage or “retro” (pick a des­ig­na­tion of your choice), but it is chock-full of stan­dard fea­tures such as an as­sort­ment of rid­ing modes, ABS, switch­able trac­tion con­trol, a torque­as­sist clutch, LED rear light, in­di­ca­tors and num­ber plate light, and theft ig­ni­tion im­mo­bi­lizer.

The fit and fin­ish of the Tri­umph Bobber is re­mark­able, and the amount of de­sign­ing it must have taken to hide all the ugly lines, reser­voirs, and wires com­mon to a pro­duc­tion bike made in 2017 is a feat in and of it­self.

We all know what a pre- and post-war Bobber was. And we all know that moniker has been wa­tered down so much over the past decade that who even knows what the hell a Bobber-style mo­tor­cy­cle is in the present tense. What’s in a name any­way, right? Be­cause this bike’s strong­est suit is the way it rides not the way it looks. If you are look­ing for a racy lit­tle bike with “all mod cons” in a vin­tage-look­ing pack­age, this bike should be at the top of your test-ride list, as I would place the Tri­umph Bobber at the top of the 1,200cc mo­tor­cy­cles I have rid­den in 2016. SC

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