For every modern Bonneville sold from the Hinckley factory, Triumph sell four Bonneville T100s. T100 is the most popular Bonneville model and there are now five modern classics to chose from-Scrambler 900, Thruxton 900 and three versions of the Bonneville in the T100 shape. In 2007 the 865cc engine from T100 also benefits the lowest spec Bonneville.
Words: Tor Sagen/Photography: Claire McHugh
Bonneville Black and Bonneville T100 are the two first 2007 models Triumph are releasing this year. After increasing demand from the dealers Triumph decided to make them available two months prior to the planned release. All Bonneville models now feature a version of the 865cc parallel twin engine from T100, which replaces the 790cc version in the most basic Bonneville models. T100, as the name suggests, can do the staggering speed of 100 mph, the true ton. Bonneville was the world’s fastest motorcycle at the end of the sixties and it is this image Triumph has refreshed with the T100. Bonneville is located in Utah, USA and many a land-speed record has been set on those salt plains.
In 2007 no one blinks an eyelid at 100mph and it is the classic good looks that sell the Hinckley Bonnie. T100 is part of Triumphs “Modern classics” range that is designed to attract both young and old for different reasons. Bonneville T100 is a great looking machine with painted steel mud-guards, loads of chrome, Pee-shooters and hand painted petrol tank.
The seat height is 775mm and the handlebar is placed so that the seating position is upright and comfortable. The dry weight is a claimed 205 kilos, but the T100 does not feel too heavy, rather solid. The classic double seat is surprisingly comfy and not much tempts me to ride the ’07 Bonnie like a superbike. The handlebar is narrower than a cruiser and the foot pegs higher. But 30 years of development have made the Bonneville a pure nostalgic choice for the buyer that remembers the sixties. With new and trendy “sixty8” accessories Triumph are targeting the younger buyers too, particularly the ones that live in a city. Bonneville sort of seem to attract the same sort of people that likes how a Vespa and VW bus from the sixties looks like.
Steel tubes keep everything in place in the bends and Bonneville feels massively more like a riders bike than any classic looking cruiser. Looking down at the instruments I notice that there is also a rev-counter next to the speedometer. It allows me to analyse what I have already understood; the engine gives smooth acceleration all through the rev-range, but above 6.000rpm there are little extra to be gained. Max power is 67bhp@ 7.200rpm, but after max torque @ 6.000 rpm the smooth delivery allows you to gear up achieving almost the same as revving the engine out. The engine buzzes silent as a sowing machine and it is hard to admit, but I do miss some more noise and character from the 865cc parallel with standard pipes. After trying a Thruxton 900 with loud pipes back-to-back with the T100 I now know what was missing. Triumph states that the T100 should sound the same as Thruxton 900 with the replacement exhaust. The engine features double electrically heated carburettors. These days’ carburettors are more expensive than fuel injection and Triumph has had to go to great lengths to make the carburettor fuelled classics range clean enough for the first stage of Euro 3 that goes into effect in 2007. It involves burning off un-burnt fuel before it reaches the atmosphere outside of the engine. Triumph has added an air injection unit near the spark plug to achieve this. As a direct cause 1bhp is lost on its way between the Keihin carburettors and the rear wheel. The air injection kit barely saves the 2007 models, but already in 2008 Triumph will have to change the fuelling again. By then only fuel injection can save the modern classics range. Bonneville T100 features the classical 360-degree firing order.
The only Bonnie classic that differs from that configuration is the Scrambler with its 270-degree firing order. The engine keeps 3.900 rpm when cruising in 63mph (100km/h) in fifth gear. The five-speed gearbox feels smoother than the gearboxes that I am used to on the triple models and there’s hardly any “clunk” sounds when gearing up. Once upon a time, at the latter half of the sixties 100mph equalled the same as 186mph does today. The 2007 T100 reaches the ton effortlessly even on some of the mile long uphill parts on the M1 around Nottingham. But even when pushed in top gear for several miles you could hardly justify giving the T100 the new name of T110 looking at the speedometer. These days it’s not very PC to use top speed as a sales argument, but Suzuki Hayabusa would have been the T186 after the old Triumph terminology. There are hardly any vibrations at all from the parallel twin engine and the mirrors stay clear in any situation. The bottom end is good, but the acceleration struggle to impress. There are few surprises, which suits if you like a predictable life on two wheels.
The brakes are two-pot on a 310mm disc up front and one powerful 255mm disc with two-pot calliper at the rear-powerful because I found it too easy to lock up the rear wheel on the T100. When riding the Thruxton 900 just after the T100 it was different in that department as the chance of locking up the rear wheel was less. With modern Metzeler Z2 tyres the braking forces can be concentrated on the front wheel with benefits such as being able to stop quicker. The Metzeler tyres sits on spoked wheels, 19inch front and 17inch rear with a 130/80 tyre. Ground clearances is more than good enough for some fast Sunday morning rideouts, but get the Thruxton 900 for the TT’s. The suspension is firm enough and good quality with a 41mm fork and double dampers at the back that can be adjusted for preload. Stability in the bends is good and predictable. The swingarm is also made of steel and contributes to the stable feel.
A big part of the whole Bonneville experience is staring at the machine at home in the garage before and after a ride. It is comforting with the Triumph badge rather than say Kawasaki (ref W650) despite the fact the Hinckley plant is a far cry away from the old Meriden plant. The polished engine covers are bigger than the average mirror in your home and the surface looks easier to polish rather than loads of small details in chrome. The chain sits on the right-hand side and to test how far the nostalgia goes I flicked a finger at the chain guard to verify it is of metal rather than cheap plastic. The chromed headlight is big and gives sufficient light when it is dark. With a bit of WD-40 I would have been able to use the steering lock, which is separate from the ignition on the right hand side of the steering head.
The quick Bonneville guide
Triumph calls the range of modern Bonnies Modern Classics and there are five different models.
Bonneville Black: The cheapest and most basic version of the Bonneville and as the name suggests it is all black. Should suit you if you don’t fancy too much chrome and can make do without a rev counter. New for 2007: 865cc engine (same as T100). Black painted engine and polished engine covers as well as adjustable clutch lever. Cost: £
Bonneville: Same as Bonneville Black, but with more paint options. Cost: £
Bonneville T100: The top Bonneville model with 865cc engine, polished engine covers, speedometer and rev counter as well as hand painted petrol tank in two tones. Cost: £
Scrambler 900: Retro offroad model with trail tyres and a high exhaust. The engine features a 270-degree firing order rather than the 360 on the other Bonneville models. The engine has got a claimed 54bhp. Steve McQueen would have chosen this. Cost: £
Thruxton 900: The most powerful Bonneville with sportsbike handling and seating position. 70bhp with a chequered stripe on the petrol tank. Cost: £
Bonneville heritage, style and the Triumph badge on the petrol tank
Not enough character from that lovely parallel twin in standard trim.