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Triumph BONNEVILLE 800 Retro Motorbike Review

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Triumph Bonneville motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Triumph aimed the Bonneville like an arrow straight at the heart of Harley’s 883 Sportster. With a heritage to rival the Yank’s and a better riding performance the Triumph Bonneville is unquestionably the better motorcycle. The handling is more than respectable, the brakes markedly better and, of course, it’s British.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

For a smooth, no hurries, no worries motorcycle the Triumph Bonneville is hard to beat. The parallel twin DOHC motor pulls nicely, though it’d be a crime not to fit the factory’s aftermarket noisier pipe as this nicely embellishes the whole Triumph Bonneville experience as well as giving a healthy 10 per cent boost to the mid-range. It's also a motorcycle that is easy on oil and easy to service at home. Nice.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

With its low seat, easy-to-reach bars and thoughtfully sited footpegs the Triumph Bonneville makes a pleasant motorcycle to ride for an hour or three. The handling ‘s sweet, with the 19-inch front wheel swinging nicely under your control. The brakes benefit from a good squeeze, but since you’re never going too fast, they’ll do.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

As stock the Triumph Bonneville's pretty bare. But that’s how owners like it so they can customise this motorcycle themselves. To that end Triumph will sell you everything from an alarm/immobiliser (useful) and chrome parts aplenty (cool) to leather panniers (er…).

Triumph Bonneville (2000-current)

Detail Value
New price £6,549
Dealer used prices
£4,450 (2009) - £5,840 (2012)
Private used prices
£4,350 (2010) - £5,250 (2012)
  View full used price info
Engine size 790 cc
Power 61 bhp
Top speed 112 mph
Insurance group 9 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 3.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The finish of the Triumph Bonneville can go off quickly if a rigorous cleaning schedule isn’t adhered to, especially with all that lovely brightwork. This is one motorcycle that benefits from cossetting.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The Triumph Bonneville's motor’s low state of tune means chains go unstretched, oil goes unburned, tyres go unworn and insurance costs are unbelievably low. It’s also a cheap motorcycle to run and cheap to buy and Triumph Bonnevilles doesn’t lose much money past the original hit when bought new. Find a Triumph Bonneville for sale

Insurance

Insurance group: 9 of 17

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Model History

2000: Triumph resurrect Bonneville name for its 790cc parallel twin.
2002: Bonneville T100 launched.
2003: Bonneville SE (for special edition) launched.
2006: All Bonnevilles now get bigger 865cc engine.

Other Versions

T100: As per  Bonnie but with two separate clocks, rubber knee pads, chrome engine covers and two-tone paint.
SE: A Bonnie with a black finish to the engine and a twin-carb set-up.

Specifications

Top speed 112 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.4 secs
Max power 61 bhp
Max torque 44 ft-lb
Weight 205 kg
Seat height 740 mm
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
Average fuel consumption 48 mpg
Tank range 170 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 9 of 17
Engine size 790 cc
Engine specification 8v parallel twin, 5 gears
Frame Tubular steel cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Single 310mm discs
Rear brake 255mm disc
Front tyre size 100/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(23 reviews)

  • It does what it says on the tin.

    m0rgo

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    The reasons for buying a Bonneville have to be the right ones. I bought one because it doesn't look like all the virtually identical Japanese sports bikes. It's more pillion friendly - for bikers who do have friends. It's quite fast enough; I don't want to go over the ton - even though it will - I'd like to keep my licence. It accelerates smartly to overtake at legal speeds It's better finished than most Jap bikes. It's British, English if you prefer - made about 12 miles from where I was born. There's less around than Harley's - at this years Bristol bike show, over 80% of bikes were HDs. I actually like the idea of a Harley, but they are overpriced, underpowered and, sadly, American. They may sound good, but that can be emulated with the right pipes. Yes, you have to hang on over 60 mph; it's a 'naked' bike - so get a screen if it bothers you. I chose the 2007 variant, cus' it looks better with spokes and has the metal tank badges. I'm enormously happy with it. It ticks all the boxes for me. It isn't going to please the average Valentino Rossi wannabe but that's not it's purpose. So, if you want to stand out from the herd, enjoy a proper bike, ride for the fun of it, I'd say it's got to be considered.

    03 November 2009

  • Test ride

    Paul49

    Average rating rating is 2

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    I had a test ride on a Bonnie scrambler for a day while my Sprint was being serviced. My first thought was that it was firing on one! The power characterisics of a 500 AJS single. It did pick up between 40 - 80 but I could not get it over 98? This bike is far too heavy for its power output. The horsepower must be in Fellabellas.

    26 August 2009

  • Bonneville R

    krs72

    POOLE , UK

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    I own a 2009 Bonneville that was customised by 3X motorcycles in the colours of the speed triple r! it has Tripple r bars and bar end mirrors and arrow 2-1 exhuast. Runing it in at the moment and it gives me serious smiles. definitley become a sports bike convert as well as hopefully a clean licence holder! great fun bike comfy and does what it says on the tin with no surprises.

    02 June 2009

  • 1st Triumph

    scorpiomia

    Average rating rating is 4

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    My first bike was another classic British twin, the Yamaha XS400 ;) but that was back in '84 & 11 bikes ago. My '07 Aluminium Bonnie is my first REAL Triumph, and I flat love it. It's possibly the 2nd slowest bike I've owned, but after removing the AIS and installing D&D pipes I really have no complaints - it sounds great & has a lot of soul in the midrange, all I need in town and the B roads where I do 99% of my riding (15k miles in 13 months so far). Only using the top half of yer motor 5% of the time, like I did with previous bikes, gets old. I've added all sorts of gear to her: Parabellum fairing, Leatherlyke bags, Silverneck caseguards for hiway pegs, backrest, luggage rack, gaiters, centrestand, -1T countershaft sprocket, barclock, and the aforementioned D&D slip-ons with union jack AIS bolts - but the biggest change was switching to ME880 tyres recently - she was held back by the stock Lasertec/MEZ2 combo. Sure the ME880's don't look retro, but they cured the headshake and stick like rubber should. I ride in Arizona with a MC and need make no apologies for my Trumpet, and anyone who asks why I made a tourer out of her gets told 1) I'm inspired by the 1981 Bonneville Executive & 2) I don't have a car. Her name is Celeste in case you want to search for the pix. Cheers, Scorpio Sober Riders MC Tucson

    24 May 2009

  • Let her breathe

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I am the happy beholder of a '02 Bonneville, a bike scarcely equiped as stock. It does however carry the essentials, unless you count a tacho as essential. Most importantly it rides well, pulls nicely through the rev-band, brakes adequately (for this kind of ride anyway), looks the part and feels the part. Ownership is to my experience a walk in the sunshine; no worries regarding durability, no big expences in either maintainence, depreciation or insurance, and servicing is fairly cheap. If you are a bit handy you can do most of the servicing yourself. However, I found my stock Bonneville a bit too stock for my liking, so I have had a few tweaks done, all of which in my opinion makes the bike even better. Although I do not consider the Tachometer an essential on a bike of this kind, it does not mean I do not find it useful. Of course I do. So I fitted the tacho you find on the plusher T100, for both practicality and appearance. I tend to think it looks better with twin clocks rather than a single clock. I also fitted chromed engine, clutch, crankcase and cam covers (again as you find it on the T100). All of these tweaks weren't required if I only took the trouble of getting a T100 to begin with. Which I didn't. Hence the upgrades. The one upgrade I would have had to perform whichever guise my bonnie came in, is the exhaust system. This is by far the most successfull upgrade I made. I felt the stock mufflers made the engine sound feeble and knew right away it would need fixing. It just gave away too much of the lovely parallel twin, and thus sounded disappointingly. I fancy the looks of the original mufflers though, and would not go for anything radically different, like an arrow-system for instance, or Predators, although they all sound nicely as well as enhancing power output. Some, I've learned has opted for the Norman Hyde Peashooters. However, these aren't that differnt looking from the Predators. Rather then I would consider the Togo mufflers from Norman Hyde. They look more like the stock pipes. And sound good too. Which is more than half the point. Finally it all came down to Triumphs own aftermarked (off-road) mufflers. Boy do they sound good! And there is nothing setting them visually apart from the stock pipes, which to me is a good thing. I also had changes made to the airflow filter to allow the engine better breathing. These two tweaks changed the feel of the bike entirely. Now it sounds as it should have sounded in the first place, and as a healthy bonus it performs notably better in the mid-range. Upgrade well done! Not fitting your Bonnie with better breathing pipes is close to crime given the potential of that beautiful parallel twin engine.

    08 February 2009

  • Interesting bike - not ...

    paulllllll

    Average rating rating is 2

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    Engine

    I bought a Bonnie on the rebound from owning a Blackbird, which I found to be too threatening to body, soul and licence - and I have already had one hernia. The Bonnie was a disappointment. It looked the part at face value, but doesn't come across as genuine over time - it pretends to be something it is not. The finish I found to be quite good, not too difficult to clean and brushes up quite well. I didn't have any mechanical or reliability problems either - starts first push every time. The engine is positively asthmatic and has no virtues. I am not into speed, but I am into bike competence at speed, and I found the bike to become increasingly incompetent the faster you go. Handling becomes unsure, there is no oommph in reserve, and the brakes lack assurance. Equipment is dull, even for retro, it is dull - and clocks mist up in the damp. They are not expensive to buy, but for the money there are much better bikes around. I have had a lot of bikes over the years, and this is one that I have enjoyed the least. In fact, if you want a bike that puts you off biking, this is probably the one ... and I love biking. It obviously attracts buyers, and has a fan club. But - caveat emptor - if you are looking for something with character and retro - this is not it.

    15 October 2008

  • must try harder

    4teddies

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    bought a 04 t100 brand new 4 years down the road wheels starting to pit same with the rear shocks paint on back mudgaurd gone slightly crazed engine block coating bubbling black on bottom of cylinder pinged off come on triumph you can do better than this

    01 June 2008

  • 865cc model bonneville 2005-2007

    tamlin23

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    It's hard to find review of the 865cc model and I'm not entirely sure why. It's comfortable, has classic looks and makes you feel like a true biker! Theres no auto choke, no fuel warning lights, no digital gizmo's, just you, an analogue trip counter, the bike and the road! (I gave the bike 5 stars for equipment, because it has all you need). The Bonnie has superb acceleration, yes it will top out before most other nakeds, but naked bikes can rarely be ridden for any real time over 80-90mph comfortably, with that in mind, the Bonnie is actually a direct competitor! There is an instant feel of solid build quality, when first coming in contact with the bike. It also feels light and easy to ride. The fuel consumption is exellent (as would be expected) and its basic engine design gives supreme confidence in its ability to run forever! The front brake is a bit wooden, and does lack power at pretty much all speeds. The Bonnie I have has not been ridden much however, and the lacking 'feel' could be down to something on the pad/disc surface. Aftermarket upgrades are obtainable should the owner desire improvements in this area. Though ironicaly, most upgrade parts for our British bike, are only available from America! Recommended alterations would be; removal of the air injection system (cost of £25 for parts from Triumph), it makes the engine run cooler and prevents 'blueing' of the downpipes. Triumph's own race silencers are a must! It wakes the Bonnie up and makes it the bike it was always supposed to be. Removal of the air box and the installation of a couple of nice pleated filters should finish it off, freeing up the Bonnies breathing further. The latter must be baught as a kit, as there are replacement jets and brackets to get it right. I have had many bikes, naked and sports. I can honestly say, hand on heart, I have never had such a desire to go riding, as I do with the Bonnie. This bike, is biking!

    10 April 2008

  • Back on the road after 20 years. The T100 was a perfect reintroduction.

    mabow

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Easy to manage, give it some welly it responds, people love to look at it. A great commute and weekend bike. Strengths: Build, style, sounds a lot better after 2-3000 miles.   Weaknesses: Low tank range 100 -110 miles. Not good for commuting. Also needed to fit a small screen to ease windblast, but its a naked bike. what do you expect?

    21 October 2006

  • TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 790CC 2001

    GRAHAM44

    Average rating rating is 1.5

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    I BOUGHT THIS BIKE IN JULY 2005 AFTER A LONG PERIOD WITHOUT SO I WANTED SOMETHING THAT WOULD NOT KILL ME ! IT IS A LOVELY GREEN AND SILVER MODEL . MY FIRST IMPRESSION WAS OF A VERY NICELY BALANCED AND COMFY RIDE WITH A GOOD LIVELY PERFORMANCE . I ALWAYS LIKE TO CHANGE A FEW ITEMS ON ANY BIKE SO THE FIRST MOD I MADE WAS A MOTOTWIN AIR ELIMINATION KIT TO PREVENT THE EXHAUST POPPING, IT WORKED WELL, THE NEXT WAS TO FIT SOME MOTOTWIN SS SILENCERS, I HAD TO REJET THE CARBS (EASILY DONE BUT FIDDLY) AND ALSO FITTED A UNIFLOW AIR FILTER, I NOW HAVE A BIKE WITH A LOT MORE POWER THROUGHOUT THE REV RANGE BUT ESPECIALLY LOW TO MIDRANGE AND THE SOUND AND LOOKS ARE FANTASTIC . NEXT I FITTED SOME MOTOTWIN LOWER HANDLEBARS TO IMPROVE RIDING COMFORT AND GIVE THE BIKE A MORE SPORTY FEEL . I NOW HAVE A WONDERFUL BIKE THAT LOOKS GREAT AND IS A JOY TO RIDE. Strengths: I FREQUENTLY GET ASKED ABOUT THE BIKE AND IT ATTARCTS ADMIRERS EVERYWHERE IT GOES, THE QUALITY OF BUILD AND FINISH IS FAR SUPERIOR TO JAPANESE BIKES, IT IS A SUPERB TOWN BIKE DUE TO THE LOW CENTRE OF GRAVITY MAKING MANOEUVERABILITY EASY AND THE LOW DOWN PULLING POWER MAKES IT QUICK OFF THE MARK . THE TRIUMPH NAME AND TRADITION ARE STRENGTHS AND THE BIKE ACTUALLY MAKES YOU THINK YOU ARE RIDING SOMETHING SOLID AND WITH A QUALITY FEEL. Weaknesses: THE ONLY REAL WEAKNESS IS THE LACK OF OUTRIGHT PERFORMANCE WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER MODERN MACHINERY BUT THIS IS MORE THAN COMPENSATED BY THE STRENGTHS .

    24 September 2006

Discuss this

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mobit

mobitsays

Third Photo is a 1957 Triumph

As others have commented, MCN need to pull their finger out and update the review (eg the SE as a twin-carb model). But the best bit is the third photo of a 1957 Triumph T100 Tiger !!!

02 April 2014 03:15

neophyte

neophytesays

You've been showing a 1960s Bonnie in pic 3 for over 5 years now. Still,  it's better looking than the Hinckley gut bucket. Lard in motion (just).

01 March 2013 01:43

petervoros

User's Badge

petervorossays

Out of date review

C'mon MCN. This review is hopelessly out of date, you can show that you actually check out the content of discussions by doing an up to date review on an injection Bonnie soon. Or is it in the too hard box???

28 November 2012 20:42

DaveSallnow

DaveSallnowsays

Downsized from a BMW GS 1200 now that Im getting a bit older and just love my 2011 T100. My two gripes are 1. Why fit bars that cannot take the Oxford heated grips and 2. A bit of a shock to realise the T100 is not made at Hinkley but in Thailand.

08 February 2012 17:14

sprag

User's Badge

spragsays

790cc Bonneville

Having owned a series of bikes over the last 12 years includung a couple of 1200 Bandits, a 1200  Harley sportster and 1584cc Dyna Glide, a Hayabusa and a BMW 1150GS a health issue made it important I down-size so the little Bonnie was bought second hand in March and following a short period of getting used to the size and [relative] lack of power compared to my previous bikes I now love the thing and would be lothed to part with it [altho a 1050 speed tripple could be a bike that would.lol] anyhow, the Bonneville.......... a great little bike, fun to ride, easy to chuck about and makes a great sound thru its Triumph aftermarket pipes [sounds almost like my old 68 Meriden Bonnie I had all those years ago].

29 August 2011 09:30

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