Skip to content

Triumph BONNEVILLE 800 Retro Motorbike Review

Find By Make/Model

1 of 12
Triumph Bonneville motorcycle review - Riding
Click to enlarge
Previous image Next image

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
£4,620 (2009) - £5,360 (2011)
Private used prices
£4,200 (2009) - £5,180 (2011)
  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

Compare motorcycle insurance quotes now

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)

  • 12 months in

    cy8rm4n

    Average rating rating is 2

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Please completely disregard my previous rose tinted I've just been converted to Triumph review. I'd remove it if I could. So after 12 months owning the engine is run in & sweet as a nut. It's surprisingly nippy considering the hp & will do ton up easily (not that I have of course). You get admiring glances & comments from white van man, road workers etc etc. That's the good bits over with. No locking fuel cap means you can't leave it anywhere & return in confidence your tank's not going to have been syphoned. Yeah I can buy a locking one for £50 but shouldn't have to, it should be standard. Seat removal is via 2 awkward alun bolts which are hard to line up & easy to drop. I have luggage panniers which means anyone with an alun key could undo the seat & remove the £350 bags. If they don't have an alun key there is one stored under the side panel which can easily be undone with a coin. Separate key for steering lock means it's easy to leave key in ignition & again fiddley to use. I have brushed aluminium engine casings which have started to corrode terribly. Nothing would work cleaning wise so I took it to Triumph to enquire about warranty claim. I'm advised that these are bare metal & there is nothing to protect them from the elements. Triumph say it's the owners responsibility & not covered under warranty (they apparently used to put laquer on but it cracked & resulted in warranty claims so their solution is not to protect it at all & as it's corrosion it's not covered under warranty). Having read the problems people have with the spoked wheels on here too Triumphs warranty doesn't sound worth diddly squat. I thought I was buying into a brand & getting a quality product but 12 months later my advice unless you want to clean it more than ride it & only want to take it out on nice days where your not going to park & leave it anywhere don't touch the bonneville with a long smelly stick!

    02 June 2014

  • Route 66 to Shropshire

    jenko1

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Further to my previous review, I have indeed put my money where my mouth is. Having ridden a 2013 T100 Bonnie across Route 66 I came home to UK and looked for one. I bought a very low mileage 2009 SE 865. What a brilliant bike. It had been used for all year commuting in London, and the weather had taken a toll on the finish on the alloy wheels, but everything else was ok. I rode it standard for a bit, went 2-up touring in France, came home and decided that Bonnies should be messed with. So off came the Air Injection System, out came the airbox baffle, off came the airbox intake snorkel (replaced with a Triumph Twin Power TTP bellmouth), off came the exhaust and O2 sensors (replaced with an Arrow replica from ebay), out went the standard air filter (replaced with a Pipercross filter.) I also used the TuneECU program to re-map the ECU. What an amazing difference! It now sounds brilliant. Not in a mid-life crisis Harley kinda way, just sounds like a British twin should. The performance is so much better now that the EU emissions rubbish is ditched. Dyno shows it's kicking out just over 80hp at the wheel. Much more torque too. Vast improvement over the standard 65hp, for only a cost of £200 after I sold all the standard bits I took off. Highly recommended. I can't praise this bike enough. 7000 miles in 4 months, and I'm getting to know it better. If you've got one and want to improve it, speak to Triumph Twin Power. (Google it) They really know their stuff. Easy riding!

    30 November 2013

  • 865 not 800

    cy8rm4n

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    About time the MCN review was updated as these bikes have been sporting a 865 engine for quite some time. Anyway, this bike gets 10 out of 10 for character, it just oozes it. Personally I'm unable to sit on it without the opening notes of Summertime Blues or C'mon Everybody going through my head. Okay so it's pretty basic on the equipment front. Fuel cap doesn't lock, allen bolts instead of a simple lock to remove the seat to name just a couple of things. The build quality seems top notch, the engine grumbles away quite happily & it's a dawdle to ride but fun at the same time. It looks so retro & oozes character & prestige. I had looked at some other manufacturers bikes but boy am I glad I went for the triumph. Fuel consumption seems to be getting better now that I've run her in. I'm just sorry it's approaching salt on the road time so she's not going to be out much for the next few months. Anyway have I mentioned she just oozes character........

    12 November 2013

  • Route 66

    jenko1

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I just sold my spare bike, a Harley Sportster, to hire a Bonnie and ride Route 66. What a decision. The only thing I regret is buying the HD instead of buying a Bonnie in the first place. What was I thinking? On Route 66 the Triumph outperformed the HD Fatboy my pal hired, it was more comfortable, easier to ride, more economical and attracted far more interest. Reliability was 100%, fuel economy was around 50mpg, and the fun (remember that before the BMW go-around-the-world and Jap crotch rockets?) factor was 100%. It was so easy to ride, I just jumped on it and felt straight at home. The Bonnie I hired was a 2013 T100 (USA) and completely standard. It left the HD for dead every time. The handling was brilliant, and on Highway 2 in north L.A. it was amazing. So nimble. Route 66 has lots of dead ends and the Bonnie was so easy to U-turn. Parts of the Mother Road turn to gravel and dirt tracks and the Bonnie was so easy to ride on these sections. After some gruelling days riding across the desert states, the temp reached 47.8 degrees celsius and the Triumph didn't miss a beat. Never a worry, and always a joy. If it can handle that it can cope with anything. Also had to deal with torrential rainstorms in Illinois and it felt surefooted and sweet then too. From one extreme to another. If I was being extremely fussy the only negative point I can think of was the exhaust note, it's way too quiet. Easily sorted though. I loved it so much I'm looking for one to buy now I'm back home in UK. I rode it for two weeks and 3068 miles and I think that's a pretty good test ride. I absolutely loved it.

    20 June 2013

  • Two wheel heaven

    burningbush

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Bought my new T100 last year after writing off my Royal Enfield Bullet...feck that hurt. The Bonnie (or Trumpet as I call her) is a brilliant bike. All the joys of a Brit twin with no need to be a grease monkey. Not so much a fanny magnet as an old geeza magnet, Trumpet always has a group of mutterers around her when I park up. The Triumph rack is a worthy accessory as there is nowhere to tie anything to. If you fancy a bike for lazy days in the countryside that looks the business and performs well enough get a Bonnie, you will not regret it. The Bonnie has a lot more soul in my opinion to the W800. End of line colours are a good bet when buying new, I wanted a British racing green (Forest Green) one and managed to haggle £650 off the price as Hinkley weren't making any more (work that out if you can) AND I got £500 worth of useful accessories thrown in too. My Trumpet is my dream bike I totally love her! Come on MCN, update your review and for God's sake remove the pic of the original Bonnie, it's only 50 years + out of bloody date!

    08 July 2012

  • Brilliant Bonnie

    DavidKing747

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    First 100 miles on brand new Bonnie - simply brilliant

    16 May 2012

  • Outdated MCN Review

    vannvanner

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Come on MCN, this review is ancient. Please update for the EFI bikes. I have a 2011 Bonneville SE and it is simply an amazing motorcycle. Really deserves a test ride.

    06 July 2011

  • Basic black Bonnie

    petervoros

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Got this bike new end of May and have done 2500 enjoyable miles so far. I added a Tacho and a chrome rack. I put a Scottoiler on to take care of the chain. The injected engine is a peach redlines at 7000 and pulls well from 2500. Handling is better than the T100 probably because of the smaller front wheel. Suspension is a little on the hard side but not enough to spend money on until it needs replacing. The seat is another story I am sending it off to get 25mm added to the height and a new cover with better quality material. I love this bike for what it is basically a fun fair weather bike that you can take in the scenery with and a hint of it's ancestor without the hassle of constant maintenance. I fancied trying a Sportster but this is more fun has heritage and is British.

    10 September 2010

  • 865cc Carbs T100

    BikerBookworm

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    This bike is all about no worries / hassle-free FUN! Yes; compared to many its basic but this is actually a good thing - you don't get bogged down / overwhelmed by the tech. No; its not a rocketship, but unless you spend most of your time eating up miles on a motorway or dual carriageway, it has plenty enough grunt to wisk you around. On minor roads its a joy. Where my Sprint struggles for grip on bumpy country lanes covered in muck and slime the Bonnie just fills the rider with confidence; the grip is excellent, the suspension just right and the riding position a revelation (I'm 6ft 4)- its comfortable, big feet fit between the pegs and the gearchange (without having twist your foot and ankle into strange angles) and for about the first time in 12 bikes, I can see the road behind in my mirrors... Want some fun on country lanes? Get a Bonnie! Want confident handling in winter? Get a Bonnie. Low speed manoeuverability? Yes

    (Written by: BikerBookworm)

    19 January 2010

  • Bonneville T100

    davemdixon

    Average rating rating is 5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Bought my Bonnie T100 in March 2007. It has performed faultlessly for almost three years now. Easy to handle,good acceleration cheap to run & easy to service. The seat is a bit hard but you get used to it. Brakes are superb. People will come and chat as you fill it up and also whilst waiting at traffic lights! One person thought I had made a super job of restoring a 60s bike! Fitted a Scottoiler from day one and have never had to adjust the chain in three years. Original Metzeler tyres suit the bike well. The finish is superb but you must clean and polish weekly. Keep an eye open over the winter for wheel chrome pitting. I have been offered almost what I paid for it so you wont loose a packet when you change.

    03 December 2009

Page

Discuss this

Add your comment
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

Show all comments

Read full MCN road tests

Most popular

Rate my bike

Related News