Bonneville Bobber: Brit heart but American soul
What is it?
Low slung stance, flat handlebar, solo seat, chopped fenders and the open road. Welcome to the world of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber, a quintessentially British motorcycle built in the classic traditions of an iconic American genre. Although popular lore will have us believe that the Bobber culture had its roots in the USA of the 1920s and became an established motorcycle format within the course of a couple of decades, truth is that early Bobber builders used American and British machines in equal measure. Needless to say, Triumphs were there too. So, from a historical point of view it is entirely logical that Triumph should build a Bobber. It is also a clever piece of product planning. Should you consider the American motorcycle buying population, you’ll quickly realise that the vast majority of American motorcyclists are looking to ride machines that will transport them to a purer mechanical era devoid of all that is synthetic. With this Bobber iteration of the Bonnie, Triumph will now suddenly have an interesting offering for those across the pond, as well as the rest of the globe.
The motorcycle is based on the T120 and as such shares the same 1200 HT (High Torque) engine and the steel cradle frame. Triumph developed an all new bespoke chassis for this bike, including that gorgeous looking swinging cage that hides a KYB monoshock, giving the Bobber its characteristic hard tail look without making you suffer from a sore bum and a broken spine. There have been tweaks to the rake as well (more raked out) without increasing the trail, and the wheelbase is slightly longer too.
Complimenting the package is the T120’s engine, albeit with some mild adjustments. In the case of the Bobber, the grunt (76bhp and 106Nm) has been re-distributed with more available towards the bottom and the middle of the rev range. Despite its vintage styling, the engine is a thoroughly modern liquid cooled eight-valve piece with a single OHC. In a somewhat reversal of process Triumph has engineered a bit of rawness into this engine, which is great because too smooth running an engine would have been completely out of character with the Bobber.
Fun to ride?
The motorcycle is very capable when it comes to riding dynamics and indeed comfortable too on the question of ride quality and ergonomics. Indeed it is capable enough to make you want to head for a corner and scrape the feeler bolts on those foot pegs off, something we all ended up doing on the twists and turns of the Spanish mountains where Triumph had taken us to sample its latest creation. The geometry of the bike has been refined to a level where you will not be trading in abilities for getting something so utterly irresistible to look at. In our 180-plus mile circuit (nearly 300km), we had a fair stretch of motorways as well and the Bobber’s engine performs as beautifully on the long straights as it does while powering out of bends on the twisties.
And when you do open that ride-by-wire throttle, the glorious sound from those twin slash cut peashooter silencers, ensures that others turn to look. And look they will for a long time, for that vintage silhouette, combined with the solo rider sitting on a well padded floating seat in a delicious looking aluminium pan cuts an incredibly cool figure.
So the Bobber does have a great many things going for it then – the best of British motorcycling heritage combined with one of the most iconic forms of American biking, a modern machine with classic looks, comfort, capability and innovation. The Bobber is for the man who wants aesthetics but without compromising on capability. And for this lot of people, the Triumph Bonneville Bobber is a perfect fit. Not to forget, it’s probably the coolest bike on the planet.
evo rating: 4/5