The newest member of the Bonneville family is a bike that looks like it’s stuck in the past, but rides like it belongs in the future.
I never heard the term ‘Bobber’ before in my life! Yes, I’m a huge Triumph fan – but I’m no British classic or custom motorcycle connoisseur. Even though I’m a senior automotive journalist, I take pride in admitting when I don’t know something – because I really do enjoy learning something new. So, when I was told that I was going to be riding the latest motorcycle from the Bonneville line-up, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I found out it was (slightly humorously) named the Bobber.
When I arrived for the International press ride I was immediately surrounded by journalists in deep conversation about custom motorcycles and the history of ‘Bob-jobs’ – another quite interesting term I thought. But I soon found out – without even asking a single question – that Bobbers are essentially custom motorcycles. Yup, that’s it! A Bobber was a term that originated in the 1930s for any motorcycle that had been stripped of any unnecessary parts, and re-designed with the purpose of making it go faster. But, my understanding of a Bobber only began to become clearer when I first laid eyes on the new Triumph Bobber.
There have been very few moments in my life where I’ve come face-to-face with a motorcycle and immediately fallen in love with it – this was one of those moments. The Bobber is a proper modern classic in every sense of the term, and it looks like a beautiful masterpiece. Every inch of the bike is perfect. It certainly retains the Bonneville DNA, but it’s also very unique in many ways. It’s got an entirely new frame, new fuel tank, bigger tyres, flat handlebar, new exhausts, and the rear section is nothing but a tyre. Even the rear suspension is now a monoshock, and it hides right under the floating aluminium single seat unit. There’s no wiring that’s visible, and the attention to detail to make it look like a proper vintage is astonishing. It’s premium all the way, and extremely gorgeous from every angle.
When I got on the bike I certainly didn’t think the tiny seat was going to be comfortable, but as the day went on – and I rode the bike for several hours – I couldn’t have been more wrong. The seat is actually brilliant and a person of any size will appreciate it. While the riding position is more on the sporty side – much like a Harley Roadster – the seat can be adjusted into another position, which puts you a little lower and an inch further away from the handlebars. I liked both positions, and felt comfortable at all times. You can also adjust the speedometer, so it’s always easy to see no matter how you’re seated. It’s a great balance of comfort and ergonomics.
The engine of the bike might be the same as the Bonneville T120, but it definitely sounds different – and it has a lot more attitude. It’s been retuned, and has a new twin airbox system with a different intake and exhaust system – which increases torque and horsepower in the lower sections of the rev range. The ride-by-wire system allows for two riding modes – Rain and Road – which offer different throttle maps. I really think that Triumph has nailed it with this tune, and the Bobber’s engine is outstanding.
The engineers and designers at Triumph really had a tough choice when it came to combining modern riding capabilities with authentic classic looks. But they’ve done an excellent job to make sure the bike rides beautifully. Besides the high levels of refinement, the bike is really quick and it handles like a dream. The ground clearance is low, and the foot-pegs will certainly scrape the tarmac if you lean into corners too much – but it’s still an extremely well balanced motorcycle, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would have ever expected a Bobber to move around like this one does.
We rode on some incredible mountain roads, and I was amazed at how gracefully and easily the Bobber moved through the twisty sections. On the highway too, the bike is very calm and composed and ready to give you added power on demand. Even in the city, it’s comfortable – and the rear suspension also offers plenty of travel. There was no compromise made by Triumph to make this a super cool looking, and super smooth running, machine.
The Bobber is definitely my new favourite in the Bonneville line-up. It certainly has the best personality and street presence. And while some may not agree with me, I personally think it looks better even than the Thruxton. It certainly offers you more than the Street Twin and the T120 in terms of performance, and it’s also more usable than the Thruxton – and also more accessible. It really is an awesome motorcycle and a great overall product. Stay tuned for its India launch in the first couple of months of 2017.
If I were to buy a motorcycle right now, I would go for this Bob-Job Bonneville – end of story!
- Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 76bhp @ 6,100rpm
Torque: 106Nm @ 4,000rpm
X-Factor: Everything about this bike is simply amazing, but what makes it stand out is
the classic design and immense detailing – which will make it a timeless masterpiece.
Also read: Triumph Thruxton R Review: First Ride