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.
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.