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Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride

Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« on: April 21, 2019, 12:44:15 AM »
Working late shift at the factory has one bonus: I can ride into Gloucester, take a different bike back home on a test ride, return the long way, get a couple of part-exchange quotations on my current bike and still get into work on time.

The ride to Thunder Road Motorcycles on the Explorer was somewhat eventful with cloud still wreathing Ruardean and clinging to the top of Plump Hill; an emergency braking incident at Little London somehow resulted in no deaths but left two streaks of rubber as a semi-permanent reminder on the well-patched tarmac. Yet more thanks were given to my guardian angel.

Greg at TRM had the black T120 Bonneville filled up and waiting, so I set off into the morning traffic back to the Forest. First impressions: good looks, great sound, minimal technology. Although weighing in at 224kg this bike feels really small: easy to swing even my short leg over. There are two riding modes, Road and Rain, swapped over by one button press. Perfect! With admirable simplicity the starter is also the kill switch and the ‘i’ button scrolls through the trip and economy options in a linear fashion; this really is technology made easy.  The hazard light switch is located well away from the headlight switch unlike on the Explorer, so no more switching hazard lights on instead of high beam in heavy rain at midnight.


The black option

The deep sound of the twin, firing at 270 degrees rather than the traditional 180, is audible from start-up to journey’s end; it’s like riding a bass speaker on wheels though the only vibration is from sound waves beating on my ribcage – none through bars or pegs. Takes me back to my first real (working) bike in my teens, the venerable 350cc Triumph 3TA. Except this one doesn’t require a well-judged kick to start, nor does it drip oil or lose rocker caps.


My favourite bike so far: the 3TA

The riding position is quite tucked up, presumably as a result of the low 785mm seat height, but comfortable – no strain on the wrists after 90 minutes riding bumpy Gloucestershire and Herefordshire highways and byways. This bike wouldn’t require my usual mandatory Rox Risers: the handlebars are relatively narrow but the lack of mass at the front means that manoeuvring the bike at low speeds is a doddle while the naked-induced air-pressure on my chest keeps my hands light on the bars at faster rates. The six-speed box engages smoothly through a silky light clutch but the rear brake pedal is a bit low for emergency stops.

At higher speeds the steering is just a little lazy compared with the razor-sharp Explorer but once the mental calibration is made this aspect recedes – it just needs slightly earlier input or a little extra body movement. In fact this could be my exercise for the day, hanging my arse off the seat as the twisties unfold ahead. I learnt to ride the old 3TA by hanging my whole body off it as it weaved around bends, so this is a kind of coming back to my roots. But with a somewhat more powerful and smooth steed.


New Bonnie, old styling

Following a line of traffic uphill from Huntley to Longhope in fourth gear, I only needed to open the throttle a little to shoot past them – this bike is the HT (High Torque) version of the 1200cc engine: it only makes 79bhp but the 77.5 ft-lb torque maxes at 3,100 revs, which is a blast. The gearing is quite high, so 3rd and 4th gears were used for most of the ride to Lydbrook, where my steep driveway was negotiated with no problem. Debs got on the back and proclaimed it less comfy than my current bike, but much easier to mount. The excellent level of finish was noticed: great paint job, excellent welding, and quality touches such as Triumph logos on various parts – Triumph have upped their game on this new generation of Bonnies.


Small and torquey  ;D

After the photo-shoot it was onto the A40 dual carriageway to Ross, just to see if I could stretch my arms a bit. Well, it cruises quite happily at 70 – 80, with nice clean airflow giving an even pressure on the chest; the mandatory ton was achieved quickly without resorting to lying on the tank but top speed is not the point of this bike. I’m sure it could attain its advertised 130mph on the autobahn but I won’t be attempting it. This is a naked retro cruiser which handles fine; in a group ride I would probably be one of the back markers, but it would be with a smile on my face and not a shit given.


Black heart, black bike

As mentioned, it’s not as quick as the Explorer nor as sharp handling so most adventure- and sports-bike riders would probably find it lacking, but for me this is a return to what biking is about: the gorgeous sound, great looks and the deep blackness…

In the light of my long-held intention (thus far not achieved) to ride slower as I attempt to keep my licence and reduce the incident of near misses, I arranged to part-ex my well-loved Explorer for a black 2016 Triumph T120 before going into work that afternoon. I love shift-work.


Triumph oil runs in my blood  8)
« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 01:09:42 AM by elessimo »



Radar

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Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2019, 12:01:40 AM »
I have to say that bike looks lovely and suits you well, good luck with the 2016 model. Really look forward to seeing it!

Great review too and good to see you posting again after the photobucket fiasco!
 

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2019, 12:12:22 PM »
I have to say that bike looks lovely and suits you well, good luck with the 2016 model. Really look forward to seeing it!

Great review too and good to see you posting again after the photobucket fiasco!

Thanks Radar, the bike is fun. Had to open up a new Photobucket account as my old one is full up (four times as many free images in it as I'm allowed  ;D ).

Must arrange a meeting in May....  8)

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2019, 12:15:09 PM »
Could this almost be the perfect bike to take over to watch the Manx Classic?

Obviously only beaten into second place by the Thruxton High Power version  ;D

 8)

Radar

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Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2019, 08:29:47 AM »
Could this almost be the perfect bike to take over to watch the Manx Classic?

Obviously only beaten into second place by the Thruxton High Power version  ;D

 8)

It would be great for that and I really do fancy the idea of a return to the Island

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 12:06:37 AM »
Could this almost be the perfect bike to take over to watch the Manx Classic?

Obviously only beaten into second place by the Thruxton High Power version  ;D

 8)

It would be great for that and I really do fancy the idea of a return to the Island

Well, lets chat about it - are you going to the Indian dealers with the burger van (Midwest Motos?) this weekend, Radar?

Radar

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Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2019, 09:05:26 PM »
Could this almost be the perfect bike to take over to watch the Manx Classic?

Obviously only beaten into second place by the Thruxton High Power version  ;D

 8)

It would be great for that and I really do fancy the idea of a return to the Island

Well, lets chat about it - are you going to the Indian dealers with the burger van (Midwest Motos?) this weekend, Radar?

I was away in Scotland with the Thundercat owners group, so I missed the Open Day. Did you go?

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 01:04:14 AM »


Well, lets chat about it - are you going to the Indian dealers with the burger van (Midwest Motos?) this weekend, Radar?
[/quote]

I was away in Scotland with the Thundercat owners group, so I missed the Open Day. Did you go?
[/quote]

No Radar, my old mate John came out to the Forest for the first time in 4 years on his lovely Kwacker 636. We did a trip to The Red Lion at Wainlodes via Ledbury for Debs' first rideout on the Bonnie.







The Bonnie is so different from the Explorer - the burbling twin is audible at all times, whatever the revs; with the big triple I could only hear that lovely howl when I revved it hard. Which meant that I kept going too fast.
And the Bonnie feels so small and low that it felt natural to launch it onto some gravel and over a grassy hummock when we got to the pub. On dry grass it feels rock solid. I reckon it would do South America really well  :D (long as I invest in warmer clothes!).



 8)

Radar

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Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2019, 10:10:37 AM »
It looks lovely  and I am glad you are enjoying it so much. I tried a Yamaha 700 Tracer GT and a 900 Tracer GT yesterday. Got to say I loved the 900 GT

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2019, 10:54:54 AM »
It's a very cool bike, especially all in black. Hope you enjoy it as much as the 350, sounds like it'll be easier to live with  :)

Road and rain modes sound interesting. What do they actually change?

Re: Triumph T120 Bonneville test ride
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2019, 12:40:05 AM »
It's a very cool bike, especially all in black. Hope you enjoy it as much as the 350, sounds like it'll be easier to live with  :)

Road and rain modes sound interesting. What do they actually change?

Hi Dave, the Rain mode apparently just alters the sensitivity of the throttle and how quickly it opens, rather than changing the amount of power available. This is the HT (High Torque) variant of the 1200cc twin - it certainly reacts well when the throttle is twisted  ;D.
Haven't yet tried Rain mode though.

It seems be the best of the old Trumpets (looks, sound, small size) with the best of the new (quality of finish, reliability, engineering). Great Fun!  8)