Triumph Bonneville T120 First Ride Review

17 August 2016, 01:59 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

In the world of retro motorcycles, Triumph has a stronghold, thanks to its iconic brand – Bonneville. Since its inception, the Bonneville hasn’t changed much design-wise but mechanically it has.  And that’s what makes this bike special. It has managed to contain its character, feel and its fan following. The Bonneville T120 in its latest avatar, still manages to be the same old retro motorcycle outside, but inside, it is the one of the most advanced premium bikes to be ever sold in India. And thanks to this, the Bonneville T120 isn’t the most affordable Triumph bike in India anymore. The Street Twin has taken this mantle.

How does it ride?

Relaxed, calm and comfortable- that’s what you feel once you’re on the saddle of the T120. The credit goes to the seating and ride of the motorcycle. The upright handlebar, centre-set footpegs and the seat – all aids this experience and that’s what you need from a subtle, retro motorcycle right?

The suspension setup is on the softer side. But we decided to set it up little firm as we headed to Lavasa for some corner craving. Because, around the corners, the T120 didn’t feel at home. Every time you enter a corner, you feel the weight at the front and that spoils the lean experience. The lean angle has decreased a bit, as the front foot-pegs are placed little lower on the new T120. But honestly, the T120 isn’t a bad handler at all. Within city limits, it’s easy and stress free to steer this 244kg motorcycle. Even with a slightly firm setup, the T120 didn’t disappoint us at all on bad roads. It absorbed all the undulations without a sweat but when it came to bad potholes, your back might take a hit.

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 9,97,600

Let’s come to the heart of this bike – its engine. It’s new, heavily worked and gets 1200cc displacement. This parallel-twin engine is not about top speed at all. Rather its focus is usable torque, and that’s why Triumph calls it a ‘High Torque’ motor. This mill churns out 79bhp of power and 105Nm of peak torque at just 3100rpm. Twist the throttle and the torque is felt immediately. Power delivery is flat and the mid-range is excellent. This is bound to make your life very easy in city riding conditions. This new engine is refined and feels smooth, but post 3500rpm, vibration kicks in on the handlebar and the footpegs. The six-speed transmission is crisp and the adjustable slipper clutch feels light too.

The T120 gets larger dual 310mm brake discs with Nissin two-pot calipers and single 225mm disc at the rear. This system provides ample braking power, however, there’s lack of feedback on the front brake lever. With the rear, there’s no problem at all. And yes, the front brake lever gets the adjustable function too. The T120 runs on Pirelli Phanton Sport Comp tyres which are supremely grippy. These set of tyres helps in improving the overall riding experience as they heat up quickly.

Anything else I should know?

There’s lot for you to know about the Bonneville T120 but for now, let's focus on the safety pack. This retro bike gets antilock-braking system (ABS), switchable traction control and ride-by wire system (road and rain). Road mode is where you get to access the full power with smooth throttle response. Switch to rain mode and the throttle response dulls down little bit, which proves useful in the wet conditions.

The Bonneville T120 also gets heated grip, which is quite useless for markets like India. In fact, in our test bike, it wasn’t working (maybe Triumph had disconnected it). To flow with the smartphone age, the British manufacturer has equipped the bike with USB charger which is placed under the seat.  We loved the instrument console on the new T120. It is round with chrome externals, yet is very modern when it comes to giving out information. The backlighting too, is perfect for day and night operations.

Why should I buy one?

Because you would love one. Not kidding! The Bonneville T120 is an excellent offering from Triumph. New engine, better chassis, a hell lot of electronics and like we mentioned before, has a neat safety pack too. Yes, design wise, the T120 doesn’t excite you nor does it look outstanding, but that’s what this Bonneville brand is all about. Subtle and simple. But,  Triumph has delivered a master stroke by equipping the Bonneville T120 with modern features. Buy the T120 not because there isn’t a lot of options for you in the market, but because it is worth it.

Where does it fit in?

The Triumph T120 is priced at Rs 10.1 lakh (on-road Mumbai). At this price, there aren’t many options for you, at least right now. The closest one is the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom, which retails at Rs 10.4 lakh (on-road Mumbai). Wait a second! There should definitely be a comparison between the two, no? We will get down to it soon.

Photography by Kapil Angane

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