Quantcast

First ride: Triumph Bonneville T100

First ride: Triumph Bonneville T100

We head off into the English countryside with Triumph’s latest Bonneville

I HAD A revelation recently: I’m an exceedingly civilized sort of chap.

Deep down, I’d always known it, but that lightbulb moment of conscious realisation didn’t happen until I coasted in to Bourton-on-the-Water on the new Triumph T100 on a chilly afternoon last week.

The Bonneville T100, announced at Intermot, sits between the entry-level Street Twin and T120 with power coming from the Street Twin’s 900cc engine (as opposed to the 1200cc unit in the T120), and looks being firmly in the T120 camp. Unlike the T120, the T100 is also available for A2 licence holders.

The T100 is a little more basic than the T120; so while it has traction control, it lacks riding modes and has just a single front brake. It dimensions are slightly different too – it has a 5mm shorter wheelbase (1450mm), narrower bars and lower weight (213kg dry to the T120’s 224kg dry weight).

At £8,600 (and £8,300 for the T100 Black - you can probably work out why its called that), it’s also cheaper than the £9,800 T120.

There's a reason the T100 made me feel civilized and refined - it's an elegant looking package. As with the Bonneville T120, the T100’s styling tips its hat to the original 1959 Bonnnie and it apes the original bike’s shape and silhouette to fine effect. It’s very well finished and details like the brushed aluminium engine covers, bolt on badges and use of chrome on the mirrors, dual face clocks and headlight surround make it feel worthy of everyone’s attention while you sip your tea at your favourite Sunday morning cafe. The T100 and I looked like a class act as we burbled through numerous quaint Cotswold villages, although to be honest, the bike could probably take most of the credit for that.

The looks are matched by a great sound. The two pea shooter exhausts emit a deep, lazy burble that gently builds as the engine gets in to its stride. It’s a bike that sounds like it looks and it gives off the kind of noise you’d expect to hear from a bike in an old film.

So thanks to some dapper looks and a nice soundtrack, the T100 score tops marks when it comes to pottering through town and feeling civilized but I’m most partial to making hedgerows rush past in a blur. I was pleased to find that the T100 is equally civilized and enjoyable once out of town and past the national speed limit sign.

The 54hp 900cc liquid-cooled eight-valve parallel-twin engine starts to deliver its 59lb/ft of torque as soon as the throttle is opened.

With peak torque arriving at 3,230rpm, there’s no waiting around, instead the T100 is a bike that shoves you forward on a wave of smoothly delivered grunt. It’s a power characteristic that suits the style of the bike and is sure to make it a lot of fun in the city. However, although the torque is immediate and easy going, show T100 an open stretch of road and it can feel like it runs out of puff too soon. Considering how much this bike costs, 54hp and 59lb/ft is disappointing. Perhaps that’s where Triumph tries to sell me the more powerful T120, which also has a six-speed gearbox over the T100’s smooth five-speed unit.

Tasked with slowing things down at the front is a single front Nissin two-piston caliper and 310mm disc. It’s a combination that gives adequate performance although the lever requires a decent tug before the caliper gets to work with intent and the front felt a bit wooden. Seeing as it’s the end of 2016, I won’t bother to mention that fact that yes, it’s got ABS.

The T100 handles nicely and it felt stable and confident regardless of whether I was carving along flowing country roads at speed or working my way through a more built up area. Although the KYB forks are budget items, they’re well damped and supportive, and the front felt neutral, controlled and reassuring at all times. The rear was pretty good too, but the twin shocks delivered a few jolts through to the seat as they occasionally compressed too quickly over the worst surfaces and potholes. It wasn’t a big deal for me and altering the preload should be able to dial that out. Grip from the Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp rubber was reliable in the dry and wet (and cold).

It’s slow speed and filtering manners are good too, which they need to be because when the T100 isn’t taking in the countryside at the weekend, its natural habitat will be posing in the city. I’ve got no doubt its balance of style and substance will excel there, unlike on the motorway, where my neck soon began to get tired above 70mph thanks to the lack of wind protection.

Triumph says the T100 has a ‘comfort seat’ and after a day on it, I had no complaints but the most comfortable thing about the T100 has to be its riding position. When I swung a leg over the 790mm-high seat, the gear lever and rear brake were right where right where my feet expected to find them. The high, gently swept-back bars also fell nicely to hand, in the same way as a set of imaginary bars would as if I was acting out riding a motorcycle, if you see what I mean. It’s a position that creates an excellent feeling of balance and control, and is something that disguises the T120’s 213kg dry weight; although it’s not a light bike, once on the move, it feels lighter than it is.

As an entry in to the Bonneville family, the T100 is the most premium offering. It might be more than £1000 more expensive than the Street Twin but it feels that bit more special because it’s finished to a higher standard and is adorned with many of the T120’s quality touches.

It’s cheaper than the T120 too, but still delivers that same Bonneville heritage. Considering its modest power, style has to be the main reason for desiring one and I dare say that it could tempt a few prospective T120 customers who are more bothered about looks, not power and weight. Either way, there aren’t many bikes out there that exude the same kind of class and civility at the Bonneville T100.

Tested: Triumph Bonneville T100

Price: £8,600 and £8,300 for the T100 Black

Engine: 900cc liquid-cooled eight-valve SOHC parallel-twin

Power: 54hp at 5,900rpm

Torque: 59lb/ft at 3,230rpm

Suspension: Front – KYB 41 forks / Rear – Twin KYB shocks with adjustable preload

Brakes: Front – Nissin two-piston caliper and 310mm floating disc / Rear – Nissin two-piston caliper and 255mm disc

Weight: 213kg dry

Tank capacity: 14.5 litres

Seat height: 790mm