Fake, drilled air cleaner covers, an ignition key tucked away below your ‘butt’, exposed battery case and pear-shaped rear light unit. Deep, deep chrome engine covers, one bearing a black triangle with ‘Made In Great Britain’ at its centre and, on full display, a rubber-backed logo on each flank of the petrol tank. Welcome one and all to the Triumph Bonneville America.In the flesh the Bonnie America is a looker. That lumpy, misshapen twin-cylinder motor doesn’t dominate the bike, but does have a presence. Walking around the Bonnie America you do notice just how long it is thanks to those kicked-out front forks and twin rear shock absorbers. Shiny rims – 18in front, 15in rear – wear old fashioned-looking and high profile tyres while two long, low exhaust pipes make like running boards down either side of the bike. Park the Bonnie America up in Main Street, Georgia (USA) and watch ’em stream out of the clapboard houses and pick-up trucks… "is thayut a Tray-umph? Well ah had muhself a one o’ those in thuh seventies… shure is better than suhm jap crap, uh boy?" There’s no doubt the good ol’ boys remember Triumph and what the marque meant to them. They also liked what they saw in the new Bonnie America, and they all wanted to know what it was like to ride. "Whut sorta horsepower dus it make?" one was keen to know. “Er, not many.” The answer’s a claimed 61bhp, but the truth – and this was a tough one to get across to him – is that the Bonnie America looks the part alright, but is so safe, strangled and soul-less that it leaves you devoid of any riding impression, even after only five minutes off the bike. Other than mild back-ache.It’s not all Triumph’s fault – emissions and noise regs are draconian (though Ducati seem to have more skill at bending them). The factory’s had a pop at injecting some attitude into their DOHC 790cc Bonneville engine by altering the firing order to a Ducati-like 270° (as opposed to 360°) therefore staggering the power pulses, with redesigned twin balancer shafts quelling the vibes. New cam profiles work in the four-valve heads, giving more torque lower down while the five speed gearbox gets a taller, slightly more relaxed fifth gear. Maybe it’s because the engine is so smooth and can’t be hurried that it feels so, how should I put this… gutless? Slap on some slash-cut mufflers, pep up the twin 36mm carbs and I’m sure the Bonnie America will feel (and sound, which always helps) like a different bike, but Triumph have built a bike that’s just too sanitised in stock trim to stir the soul, even a little bit.If the engine’s a little disappointing, the rest of the Bonnie America is standard issue cruiser. Any journey over 45 minutes and your lower back will ache, the nape of your knees will be crying out for normal footpegs and your arms – which suspend most of your upper bodyweight against the windblast – will be calling time. Keep local, at around 60mph max, never stray onto a motorway, and you’ll be fine. It handles well enough, but the single front disc – stopping a motorcycle with a dry weight of 226kg – barely copes and needs a four-fingered squeeze back to the bar with a big stamp of rear disc thrown in to slow the thing down, sharpish. It’s marginal, and that’s being fair.In the States, the Bonneville America will be seen as an entry-level machine suitable for beginners or as a second bike. It looks much better than it rides which could be said of 80% of cruisers, but that doesn’t matter to most of the folk that are likely to be interested in it. And the price, at around $8,000 (£6,200), is very right. Judging by the amount of US citizens who’s heads were turned by the Bonneville America, I don’t think Triumph will have a problem selling every one of the 3,000 bikes destined to be shipped over the Atlantic. Which is jes’ fine.
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