Triumph Bonneville Bobber review: Just a retro-chic poser or is there more to it?
Bobber is based on the company’s new Bonneville T120, which is one heck of an impressive bike. So maybe there’s more to the Bobber than meets the eye.autos Updated: Jan 28, 2017 15:26 IST
Going purely by looks, there’s little doubt that Triumph’s new Bonneville Bobber is tailor-made for bearded, plaid-shirt-and-skinny-jeans-wearing hipsters. But this Bobber is based on the company’s new Bonneville T120, which is one heck of an impressive bike. So maybe there’s more to the Bobber than meets the eye.
Actually, even what meets the eye is quite remarkable. The styling is reminiscent of the stripped-down ‘bobbers’ that entered the American custom motorcycle scene in the ’30s. In fact, barring the engine, there’s no way to tell that this is based on the T120. Triumph managed this by taking the T120’s frame and modifying it to the point where it’s technically all-new. Also, to keep the whole ‘bobber’ look going, both wheels are wire-spoked and the rear is 16-inch shod with chunky 150-section rubber.
The Bobber’s real party piece is its rear end. It might look like a hardtail (bikes without rear suspension), like bobbers of yore, but Triumph has very cleverly installed a monoshock hidden under the seat while maintaining the bike’s clean looks. Speaking of the seat, it’s pretty ingenious too. The rider-only floating seat is mounted on a rail that allows for adjusting its position depending on the rider’s preference. Also adjustable is the instrument pod which features a simple quick-release mechanism that allows its viewing angle to be changed in a jiffy.
There are also some classic design touches that make the Bobber really distinctive. These include its sculpted fuel tank that has some attractive colour schemes, a rear-wheel hub that resembles an old-school drum brake and even an ignition barrel that’s located near the right side panel to name a few. On the whole, Triumph has struck a wonderful balance between modern and classic with the Bobber and this ‘factory custom’ is sure to entice even those who have no love for old-school motorcycles.
This Bobber packs the same 1200HT (High Torque) motor from the T120, but it is in a slightly different state of tune. The 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin motor now makes 77hp, which is a little bit less when compared to the Bonneville T120, but it’s tweaked to dish out power at more useable engine speeds. While the motor is quite free-revving, it’s at regular speeds where it really shines. Coming out of turns, as soon as you get the motor on the boil, the Bobber shoots ahead in a manner that’s almost uncharacteristic for such a classic-looking motorcycle. And with its ‘sawn-off’ twin exhausts, you’re greeted by a wonderful noise reminiscent of old-school hot-rod motorcycles, every time you open the throttle!
In a straight line, the Bobber is an absolute hoot. It accelerates hard and reaches triple-digit speeds in no time at all. And the properly old-school, low, leaned-over riding position (the seat height is just 690mm) makes the bike feel even more thrilling at speed. While the bike itself has no problems cruising at triple-digit speeds, there’s nothing to shield riders from wind blasts. And so, high speeds will be limited to short bursts of throttle-wide-open action.
Now looking at the Bobber, you’d expect it to not have much cornering prowess. However, the Bobber is quite a delight around bends. The low-slung nature and the larger 19-inch front wheel and flat, wide handlebar mean that steering it into turns requires a bit of effort. However, once turned in, it’s absolutely planted, providing plenty of confidence for you to get on the gas as soon possible. The bespoke Avon Cobra tyres it comes shod with play a crucial role in the terrific levels of grip the bike has, as does its low centre of gravity.
However, being this low-slung has its problems too. Lean into a corner a lot and the foot pegs tend to ground quite hard. That said, it’s really surprising how the Bobber never feels unsettled even when you’re dragging the foot pegs over the tarmac, with sparks flying in your wake.
The other downside to this low-set design is low suspension travel, and understandably, the bike’s KYB shocks are set up slightly on the stiffer side. Now, while the stiff suspension won’t pose a problem on smooth roads, for heavier riders, the rear is likely to bottom out over bumps, and when it does, be prepared for a painful jolt through your spine.
- Engine 1200cc, parallel twin 4-stroke, liquid-cooled
- Power 77hp at 6100rpm
- Torque 106Nm at 4000rpm
- Gearbox 6-speed/1-down, 5-up
- Dry weight 228kg
- LxWxH NA/800/1025mm
- Wheelbase 1510mm
- Seat height 690mm
- Fuel tank 9.1 litres
- Price not announced yet
One seriously weak link in the Bobber’s otherwise fairly strong suite is braking. The Bobber uses a single 310mm disc at the front which simply isn’t adequate to bring this 228kg bike to a quick stop. It’s a shame considering just how quickly this bike accelerates and just how much fun it is when going fast.
This Bonneville Bobber is set to hit Indian shores in a couple of months with pricing expected to be between that of the T120 and the Thruxton R, which means in the Rs 9-10 lakh range. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful bikes in Triumph’s current line-up, but the best part is that it’s not just a pretty face, it’s genuinely fun to ride and can even hold its own in corners. It also exudes a sense of high build quality that’s synonymous with Triumph’s motorcycles.
To top things off, Triumph offers some incredible customisation options in the form of ‘inspiration kits’ to make the Bobber feel more retro or even set it up like an old-school drag bike. Hipster or not, the Bobber is one motorcycle that’ll be a fine addition to anyone’s garage.