The Bonneville name is perhaps one of the most famous of all classic motorcycles. The Triumph Bonneville is built by British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph and has been in production for over three generations. The first production run started from 1959 till 1983, the second from 1985 till 1988, and the third, in its modern form, from 2001 till 2015. The Bonneville name itself is derived from the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA where motorcycle land speed records are attempted by Triumph and other manufacturers, to be broken over the years.
The third generation Bonnevilles, the modern ones, got even more modern with the introduction of fuel injection sometime around 2008 and continued in production till 2015. Now, in its fourth generation, Triumph has completely revamped the entire Bonneville range for 2016, introducing five new models - the Street Twin, Bonneville T120, Bonneville T120 Black, Thruxton and Thruxton R. Out of these, two models are available in India - the Street Twin and the Bonneville T120, and the third, the Thruxton R will be launched soon.
The Street Twin is the entry-level Bonneville and this modern classic gets even more modern in its 2016 edition. It's a completely new motorcycle with new design, new chassis, new suspension and an all-new 900cc liquid cooled engine. What's more, the Street Twin now comes with electronic rider aids like ride-by-wire throttle, ABS and even switchable traction control.
Design and Features
The Street Twin retains the classic lines of the Bonneville, yet it manages to look quite different, in a classic, but modern way. Overall, the silhouette is classic, and the Street Twin gets clean lines, minimal bodywork and a sleek rear end. Triumph seems to have deliberately kept the styling minimalistic, considering how the base Bonneville is a favourite among custom builders across the world. So, there's plenty of scope to personalise, not only with aftermarket custom jobs, but also with the addition of custom body-kits offered by Triumph.
Overall fit and finish is top notch and the bike's got high quality bits, like the simple, but informative speedometer and a unique retro looking LED taillight. A tachometer has been given the miss, the large single, analog speedometer taking pride of place in the cockpit. A small LCD screen displays a wide range of information, including a fuel gauge, gear position indicator, two trip settings, odometer, service indicator and other information like a clock, distance to empty, fuel consumption and traction control settings. All these can be toggled with a simple button on the switchgear. The switchgear also gets a handy hazard light switch on the right.But the most attention to detail has been showered on the engine - it looks classic, incorporating styling cues from the legendary Bonneville engine silhouette, but Triumph designers have taken pains to carefully hide the modern bits. The single throttle body has been hidden from view, but misses the faux carb treatment which its larger sibling - the Bonneville T120 gets. The engine covers are traditionally shaped, and the head retains the air-cooled cooling fins for that authentic 'classic' look. The small-ish radiator is tucked away neatly without exposing any of the plumbing.
Engine and Performance
The engine is all-new on the Street Twin, and gets a displacement bump, up from 865cc in the outgoing model to 900cc. However, the single most defining difference in the engine is that it now gets liquid cooling. Triumph calls the powerplant the 'high torque' 900cc engine and it lives up to its name - making 80Nm of peak torque at a low 3200rpm.
So, open the throttle and you feel the surge of torque pulling you, and that wave is spread out evenly over the rev range, so there's ample usable power at every gear and at all kinds of street speeds. And while you're at it, you cannot ignore the refinement of the parallel-twin - at all revs and all speeds, the engine retains its finesse and refinement.
Overall, peak power is reduced on the Street Twin - down from 61bhp to 54bhp - but it really doesn't matter. There's plenty of power and torque available across the rev range, so riding in the city is quite enjoyable, the bike pulling cleanly from stop lights, with enough grunt to surge ahead effortlessly. In fact, the Street Twin is a delight to ride in traffic. The light, torque-assist clutch makes riding effortless and is quite handy while manoeuvring bumper to bumper traffic on the daily commute.
The shifts are slick, well-spaced out, and precise - as precise as the best ones out there - on the five-speed transmission. Hit the highway and there's adequate performance to keep you entertained. Of course, the wind blast gets to you if you're doing consistently high speeds, but there's no dearth of power and torque for the average rider. Only at the top of the rev range do you feel a slight loss in power, but that's only if you're winding it out and going like the devil's on your tail. Frankly, that's not advisable, and outright top-end performance isn't to be expected from the Street Twin as well.
Handling, Suspension and Braking
The chassis is all-new too and the Street Twin offers a level of stability that is intuitive and instantly likeable. Dip it into a corner or make corrections mid-corner, it's a forgiving experience and one that will be welcomed by all sorts of riders - whether you're a newbie or an experienced hand. The suspension is plush, and soaks up all sorts of bumps on the different road surfaces we threw at the Street Twin.
So, whether you're riding solo, or with a pillion on board, the Street Twin offers a plush, comfortable ride, without any jarring bumps transferring to your body. The suspension - 41mm Kayaba forks at the front, offer 120mm of travel. The rear is also from Kayaba, the twin shocks offering 120mm travel, and come with adjustable preload. We didn't tinker with the settings, but suspect a little tautness would give this already excellent handler a bit more edge for more aggressive riding.
Braking is taken care of by a single 310mm disc at the front, and a 255mm single disc at the rear. But the dual channel ABS works like a dream, so shedding speeds or coming to a quick halt is without drama and there's ample bite and progression from the ABS-equipped brakes.
The Triumph Street Twin has indeed upped the game of the base Bonneville. Clean classic looks, a motor with smooth and entertaining performance complemented by superb handling make it a package that is certainly difficult to ignore. At Rs 6.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Street Twin is the least expensive Triumph on sale, and at that price, it competes against the likes of the Ducati Scrambler and even the Harley-Davidson Iron 883.
What it offers is a wholesome package - classic looks and a level of technology that could hardly be called "entry-level". It may not be the fastest Triumph, but whether you're a new rider, an experienced one or even one who wants to get back into motorcycling, the Street Twin could be all the motorcycle you need. It's a fun bike, and a very good all-round package that certainly lives up to the Bonneville name. But don't get fooled by heritage - this is a new bike for a new breed of riders - whatever your age or riding style may be.
(Photography: Surya Karan)