First ride: Triumph Bonneville T100

Published: 15 November 2016

Triumph describes the T100 as being far closer in character and feel to the larger Bonneville T120 than the Street Twin.

This bike is, essentially, a smaller capacity T120 that is not only £1500 cheaper than the 1200, it is also 11kg lighter, considerably easier to maneuver at low speed and yet just as good looking thanks to sharing many of its components. Yet, and here is the real crunch point, it handles, stops and goes like a Street Twin. And this fact matters a great deal.

The riding position is far more ‘traditional’ in its stance when compared to the Street Twin and the pegs are set low with the bars wide and flat, which is exactly what you would expect of such a model. It feels correct and is pleasingly relaxed and spacious when compared to the more compact Street Twin thanks to its larger seat and T120 riding position.

Yet it does all this and manages to retain the Twin’s improved handling.I found the T120 model’s front end a bit sluggish to turn, but despite the T100 sharing its chassis and having the same 18-inch diameter front wheel, the reduction in weight has taken most of this feeling away.

The T100 feels very light at low speed yet turns and holds a line through a bend with more agility than the larger T120. It’s not quite as sprightly as the Street Twin due to its longer forks, and does lack ground clearance as its pegs are set for comfort, but thanks to better suspension and tyres it easily tops the older air-cooled Bonnie when it comes to enjoying corners. And it stops better too thanks to the addition of ABS giving you the confidence to really haul on the slightly wooden feeling single front disc with its two-piston sliding caliper.

The water-cooled parallel twin motor, which is identical to the Street Twin’s engine, thumps along like an air-cooled unit should but is smoother than before with a pleasing mid-range and even a bit of a top end zip. Yet working behind the surface is modern technology such as traction control and ride by wire to make it more user-friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there, the T100 has a lovely light clutch action and even has a neat ‘anti-stall’ rev rise much like Suzuki has incorporated in the new SV, which I didn’t spot on the Street Twin but I assume is also there.

Overall, the Bonneville T100 is far more than simply a retro-styled Street Twin. It is a bike that has all the relaxed nature and beautiful look of the larger T120, but placed a smaller, lighter and arguably more fun and engaging package. Fans of the previous Bonnie will love it and I’d urge riders looking at the T120 to also take the T100 out for a blast, you may well find it more to your liking.

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