Triumph Bonneville America review

The Triumph Bonneville America turns out to be a surprisingly good baby cruiser offering gentle, if slow, fun.

Good for gentle fun
Not the fastest

Triumph Bonneville America: Design 

The Bonneville America is a bike I admit I didn't understand until I rode it. I couldn't work out why it existed. Triumph Bonnevilles are all about the retro scene - you know, rekindling the flames of youth and all that, but doing it with a machine that starts everyday on the button (no kickstarters here to catapult you over the shed roof when it backfires). So where does a cruiser fit into this scene? Simple, it doesn't.

Because the Bonneville America is Triumph's answer to Harley-Davidson's 883 range. A cheap, light, good-looking cruiser with a famous name on the tank aimed at riders who want to kick back and enjoy the experience without busting the bank.

Which is where, for me, the 883 range is a let down. I find nothing pleasant about riding an 883 and would only recommend one to a dedicated Harley dreamer. The America, however, is different.

For a start the Triumph feels substantial, not spindly like the Harley, and sitting on the sculpted rider's seat you feel like you're on a 'proper' cruiser, not a small capacity wannabe. Well, until you start the engine, that is.

Triumph Bonneville America: Engine

For 2007 Triumph has given the America the bigger 865cc motor while keeping the 270-degree firing order of the old motor. Apparently this configuration gives a more 'cruisery' twin sound. Not that you would know this, like most of the modern Bonneville range the America sounds pretty flaccid with stock cans on. I'm told a set of Triumph aftermarket ones sort this out, but as standard it really is a wet drip of an exhaust note.

On the go the motor is, again, typical Bonneville. It's not inspiring but gets on with the job in hand in a quiet and unassuming way. The carburetion (yep, it still has them) is flawless as you would expect and the gearbox, although not click-click precise, is fairly light and doesn't seem to have any false neutrals.

As a baby cruiser it isn't really built for speed so you can forgive the America for not being that fast. Experienced riders will find themselves using the throttle as a bit of an on/off switch but I'm sure its target audience will find the America quick enough. But even new riders would probably appreciate slightly stronger braking performance than the single front disc provides.

Triumph Bonneville America: Suspension and Handling

The handling is what I would expect from a cruiser, lacking in ground clearance but good enough considering the speeds involved. New riders will appreciate the low seat height, and the riding position is laid back and comfortable.

Should I buy the Triumph Bonneville America?

Having not expected a great deal the America was a refreshing surprise. I would definitely recommend it over the 883 for newer riders as it's a far more pleasant bike to ride. Older, or more experienced, riders may find the performance of this little twin a bit lacking but for gentle Sunday afternoons it really is fun.

  • PRICE NEW - ¬£5799
  • POWER - 54bhp@6750rpm
  • TORQUE - 51lb.ft@4800rpm
  • WEIGHT - 226kg
  • SEAT HEIGHT - 720mm
  • TOP SPEED - 100mph
  • 0-60 - n/a