Triumph Bonneville T100 First Ride Review

22 March 2017, 11:17 AM Ranjan R. Bhat

What is it?

The girl-next-door.This is a sweet-natured, dependable and low-key motorcycle, one with whom you would want to have a deep and meaningful relationship rather than a casual fling. With the expansion of the Bonneville range, the Bonneville T100 has now become the new entry-level model in the family. It offers best of both world, the powertrain of the Street Twin with the elegance of the big daddy – the Bonneville T120

How does it ride?

The Triumph Bonneville T100 not only looks the part, but also offers the performance to suit its laid back personality. Under the skin is the same 270-degree parallel-twin engine architecture which has breathed new life into Triumph’s modern classic range. Triumph has been thriving off parallel twin engines since 1959. While the focus might have shifted to inline triples in the past few years, the parallel twin continues to be an important powertrain for the company. 

For an everyday motorcycle, it is the torque that counts. And the Bonneville T100 delivers this in spades. The Bonneville T100 is powered by a low-revving 900cc liquid-cooled engine, delivering 54bhp and 80Nm of torque. Off the mark, the light clutch and low-end torque gives you a silky smooth start. The torque is linear and keeps building right up to the 7000rpm redline. It lacks the ferocity or the urgency that we have come to associate middleweights with. The Bonneville T100 gets the safety net of a traction control system which abruptly cut power every time I got too aggressive with the throttle. Triumph does not offer the three riding modes on the Bonneville T100, though the ride-by-wire has been retained. 

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 8,87,400

The 900cc parallel twin has to make do with a five-speed gearbox. It gets a 'slip-assist' clutch which makes for slick gear changes. I especially like the way the ratios are configured. The first ratio is tall enough to propel the Bonneville T100 till 75kmph and comes handy in city traffic. The second and third ratios are short while the fourth and fifth are again tall. The '100' in the moniker stands for the number of miles per hour the bike is capable of, and the Bonneville T100 can manage this without breaking a sweat. 

The suspension has been set up for a soft ride, and the Bonneville T100 irons out all kinds of bumps and potholes. However, this has affected the handling of the motorcycle. Mid-corner bumps cause the motorcycle to wallow which can be quite unnerving for the rider. Even with the steering inputs, you need to be gentle and progressive, as the Bonneville T100 doesn't appreciate being muscled around. The brake setup consists of floating Nissin callipers gripping a 310mm front disc and a 255mm rear disc. The brakes do not have strong initial bite, but the progression and feel compensate for its shortcoming. Also, knowing that ABS has your back gives you an extra bit of confidence.

Once you go past 3000rpm, the footpegs, handlebar and the tank develop a buzz, which refuses to subside till you hit the limiter. My other complaint was with the light throttle. Yes, it makes things easier for highway cruising. But couple this with the jerky on/off transitions, and riding through stop-and-go traffic can become cumbersome. Also, the engine tends to heat up a lot in slow-moving traffic and the radiator fan blows the hot air directly on to your legs – something that wasn’t a problem with the previous-generation air-cooled motor.

Anything else I should know?

The Bonneville T100 uses the retro recipe of a round headlamp, indicators, mirrors and gauges which hark back to the original Bonneville from the early 1960s. The rear section gets a clean and minimalistic look, with the LED tail lamp assembly providing the sole bling factor. The low seat height and generous cushioning of the optional seat on our test motorcycle make it a very comfortable motorcycle to ride, and the neutral and upright ergonomics further help its cause.

 

On the face of it the Bonneville T100 seems like a fantastic deal. It even managed to return 26kmpl on highway runs, which makes it easy on the pocket. But here is the catch, and this is a big one. The whole appeal for a bike like Bonneville is personalisation. The problem starts when you leaf through the accessory catalogue and feel like a kid in a candy store. And these parts don't come cheap. A pillion back rest can set you back by Rs 18,000, the ribbed seat by Rs 28,000 and those pretty LED indicators – Rs 13,000. With more than 130 accessories on offer, sky is the limit and you might end up burning a pretty big hole through your pocket. 

Why should I buy one?

It is difficult not to be smitten by the girl-next-door. The Bonneville is all about accessibility and the engine behaviour reflects this. The Bonneville T100 is the ideal upgrade for someone wanting to step into the big bike territory or for someone looking for an understated motorcycle that does not scream for attention. Of course the Bonneville T100 has its own set of drawbacks, but then it is a small price to pay.

Where does it fit in?

For a buyer willing to shell out Rs 10.85 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), there are quite a few options from different segments. If you want something exotic, then the Ducati Scrambler Classic ticks all the right boxes. If road presence is important, then there is the Kawasaki Z800. The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is the perfect example of an attention magnet. And if performance is what you are looking for, then upcoming Triumph Street Triple S might just be worth the wait. However, none of these can match the charm of a Bonneville T100. So if practicality and old-school charm are what you are looking for, then the Bonneville T100 would be the perfect big bike for you. 

 

Photography by Kapil Angane

Gear Check

1. Icon Airmada helmet – 

Comfortable, aerodynamic, lightweight and a well-ventilated helmet with a wide peripheral vision. Oval headform fit might not suit everyone though. Price - Rs 15,000.

2. Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3.0 jacket – 

An extremely versatile all-weather jacket. In this guise, it is being used as a ventilated mesh jacket, though it ships with two more liners - waterproof and thermal. Price – Rs 20,000.

3. Ixon Moto HP gloves – 

High quality full gauntlet leather gloves suited for city riding, touring and track use. Offers good ventilation and a high level of protection. Expensive though. Price - Rs 9,500

4. AGV Sport Airtex pants – 

Riding pants with mesh in the crotch, calf, back of legs and thigh areas which is a real boon in our hot weather. Price -Rs 6,500.

5. Sidi B2 boots – 

All-round street and sportbike riding shoes also suitable for track days. Not ventilated, which can make it uncomfortable for everyday use. Price - Rs 17,000

Photography by Kapil Angane

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