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REVIEW: Bringing back that British 1960s feel - Here's why the Triumph Bonneville T100 is such a special bike

2018-10-20 08:32

Dries van der Walt

Bonneville T100

Image: Wheels24 / Dries Van der Walt

Triumph’s venerable Bonneville nameplate dates back all the way to 1959 when it started off as the 650cm³ T120 designed by Edward Turner.

It was discontinued in 1975 in favour of the bigger-capacity T140 but brought back in 1200cm³ guise in 2016. One year later, Triumph introduced the T100, with a 900cm³ mill and fewer standard options.

A wealth of quality

Visually the T100 is hard to distinguish from the T120 since the former is essentially a smaller motor in the latter’s frame. As a premium bike, the T100 boasts a wealth of quality finishes, such as brushed aluminium engine covers and bolt-on Triumph badges.

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Like its bigger sibling, the T100 retains the classic 1960s British twin look, from its rounded headlamp to the separate side covers to the lack of a fairing linking the seat to the taillight. Shiny old-fashioned spoke wheels, a rarity on street bikes these days, round off the classic appearance.

Bonneville T100

                                                                        Image: Dries Van der Walt

There was a case to be made for the ergonomics of "standard British" bikes – the seating position is comfortably neutral, giving you the distinct impression that spending hours in the seat won’t be an excruciating experience.

'Standard British' bikes

The dashboard features suitably old-fashioned analogue clocks, but that’s where the homage to yesteryear stops – the two clock each incorporate an LCD panel operated by a button on the left handlebar.

Bonneville T100

                                                                            Image: Dries Van der Walt

Information available on the panels includes gear position indicator, odometer, two trip settings, a service indicator, fuel level, fuel range, average and current fuel consumption, a clock and traction control settings.

The concessions to modern technology doesn’t stop at the instrument panel – the Bonny 100 is equipped with ride-by-wire and switchable traction control. It also sports a torque-assist clutch to reduce clutch lever effort.

Bonneville T100

                                                                Image: Dries Van der Walt

An LED rear light, engine immobiliser and a USB charging socket underneath the seat round off the standard equipment. Cruise control and heated grips are available as optional extras.

Engine specs take us right back to the 1960s with just over 40kW on tap, but that’s offset by a respectable 80Nm of torque at 3 200rpm. While the power output seems decidedly underwhelming on paper, in real life the low-rev torque means that the Bonny takes off like a scalded cat.

Nimbler and more responsive

While the T120 offers considerably more power, the difference is only noticeable in a side-by-side comparison. Neither are fast bikes and in both of them, the power feels adequate and in keeping with the bikes’ retro character.

Bonneville T100

                                                                       Image: Dries Van der Walt

However, the difference between the two bikes is noticeable in everyday riding. Although the T100 is only marginally lighter than its 1 200cm³ sibling, it feels considerably nimbler and more responsive.

The front end of the T100 especially feels much lighter than the T120’s, making cornering on the smaller bike a lot less hard work. While the T120 seems the better option for highway cruising, the T100 is more pleasant as a back-roads bike.

Bonneville T100

                                                                            Image: Dries Van der Walt

In view of the fact that the price margin between the two bikes is very small, and that the T120 offers more power in a chassis that is not much heavier, it would seem to be the obvious choice.

However, this is another case of a smaller bike being more fun, and the T100’s nimbleness makes it much more serious competition for its bigger sibling than the spec sheet would suggest. 

If you find yourself in a Triumph dealership with the intention of buying a Bonneville, do yourself a favour and take the T100 for a test ride – you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Manufacturer: Triumph
Model: Bonneville T100

Type: Four stroke, 270° Crank angle parallel twin, DOHC, 8 valves
Displacement: 900cm³
Maximum Power: 40.5kW @ 5 900rpm
Maximum Torque: 80 Nm @ 3 230rpm
Fuel supply system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Fuel type:  Premium unleaded 95 Octane RON

Type: 5 speed sequential
Final drive: Chain

Overall length x width x height (mm): 1 450 X 715 X 1 100
Dry weight: 213 kg

Passengers: 1+1
Fuel tank: 14.5 L

Front: Single 310mm disc, 2-piston floating calipers, ABS
Rear: Single 255mm disc, 2 piston floating calipers, ABS

Front: 41mm Kayaba telescopic forks
Rear: Twin sided swingarm, Kayaba spring twin shocks with adjustable preload

Wheel, front: 32 Spokes, 18 x 2.75 in
Wheel, rear: 32 Spokes, 17 x 4.25 in
Tyre, front: 100/90-R18
Tyre, rear: 150/70-R17

PRICE: R141 000


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