Triumph have shocked the world with their glut of exceptional new modern classics over the past twelve months, and this new Bobber is both the latest in the range, and the first to move dramatically away from the established model line-up.
It’s a logical but bold move from Britain’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer, taking an existing engine platform, and shoehorning it into a completely new style of bike for the Hinckley firm. They may have had cruisers and customs in the range for many years, but none have boasted the single-minded design purity or cohesion of the new Bobber.
But this focus doesn’t mean Triumph have sacrificed usability, comfort or rideability in the pursuit of style over substance – in fact it’s quite the opposite. While Harley-Davidson’s purest bobber, the fantastic Forty-Eight, rocks a tiny 7.9litre fuel tank and archetypally raked-out feet-forwards riding position, the Bobber is a far more practical offering. The riding position is notably more conventional and instantly comfortable with mid-position footpegs, a fore/aft sliding rider’s seat that allows a degree of ergonomic personalisation, and bars that are unlikely to prove too much of a stretch even for shorter-limbed riders (while the optional ape-hangers might be).
The adjustable seat has a tangible effect on the riding position, too. In its most rearward position it’s also at its lowest, providing the most authentic laid-back bobber riding attitude for cruising boulevards and back roads. Loosen two bolts, and the aluminium seat pan will slide forward to nestle up against the tank, turning the seating position from laid-back cruiser to a more roadster-like position. With a seat height of 690mm at its lowest position, and a narrow waist to the seat, the stand-over is excellent, meaning the vertically challenged have nothing to fear at traffic lights and junctions.
The large single clock boasts a quick release lever nestling underneath, which allows the rider to adjust the clock unit to their preferred altitude. You can set it to lay almost flat with the face pointing skyward, or flick the lever and pull the clock up to almost vertical – meaning that you can still see the clock when you’re in fully laid-back cruising mode.
The tank size hasn’t been confirmed yet, but looks to be marginally smaller in size to the other T120s, and is likely to be around 11.5-litres – meaning an average ride shouldn't need more than one trip to the pumps. There’s no word on fuel consumption either, but based on the Thruxton’s real-world figures, we’d expect around 120 miles from full to the fuel light, depending on how many high-street drag races are run.
While it’s hard to work out where Triumph have hidden all the electronic gubbins and control systems, they’re certainly all in there. With no seat unit to secrete them in, the battery gets its own tastefully old-school battery box tucked in behind the engine, complete with stainless steel strap. The more complex control systems are hidden in the side pods, continuing the bike’s impressive packaging. Just like the rest of the firm’s latest glut of modern classics, the Bobber manages to hide the vast majority of its wiring, and you wouldn’t guess from its extremely clean and stripped-down styling that this bike boasts ABS, traction control, rider modes and a ride-by-wire throttle – but it’s all there.
Maybe more impressive than the spec and packaging – or even the fact that Triumph have stepped so forcefully into the bobber segment of the market – is just how classy, authentic and well put together it looks. The detailing is fantastic, and bears no resemblance to the less resolved previous Bonneville models. From the seamless integration of all the shared parts common to all the T120 range, through to the beautifully engineered ‘swinging cage’ rear swingarm and shock linkage, to the bars, clocks, dinky headlamp, side-mounted ignition barrel (which includes a key-activated immobiliser), and the delightfully authentic hoop-style rear fender stay – the Bobber is a genuine visual delight. If you don’t want to ride it in the lashing rain – and we wouldn’t blame you – you can simply grab a mug of tea and a chair, and stare at it in the garage and you’d be no less disappointed.
There’s no word on price yet, nor a full confirmation of the specs, all of which we expect to be revealed at the bike’s riding launch in December.
2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber – in detail
The Bobber’s aluminium seat pan comes with a comfy saddle as standard, but there are several accessory options available, too. Amongst the options are a deeper touring saddle for more comfort, and a thin brown leather option for style. The seat is adjustable fore and aft by around 8cm, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it makes a big difference in reality.
The rise and fall
While the back end might look like a hard-tail – intentionally so – it’s actually a fully suspended swinging cage, which uses a monoshock mounted up under the rider seat on a beautifully crafted shock linkage. It’s an elegant solution, and the use of a monoshcok delivers a level of control that’s harder to achieve with twin-shock set-ups.
Bring the noise
Okay, so it’s not that loud, but as a production bike it obviously has to conform to noise regulations. But it does sound fantastic, and with all the catalytic converters and silencing hidden underneath the engine thanks to the clever twin-skin exhaust system, you could actually remove the slip-on cans and have what looks like straight through pipes.
The Bobber comes on laced rims, as you’d expect, which wear a set of bespoke Avon Cobra AV71/72 tyres in 100/90 R19 front, 150/80 R16 rear sizes.
The power to move you
The excellent 1200cc High Torque engine from the Bonneville T120 is an 8-valve, Single Overhead Cam parallel-twin, with liquid cooling, a 270° firing order and six-speed gearbox. While the basic architecture is the standard T120 unit, it has been retuned with a dedicated ‘Bobber Tune’ for even more torque and power low down and across the rev range.
The adjustable single clock unit has an analogue speedo and an LCD display that reveals: odometer, revs, gear position, range to empty, fuel level, and consumption, clock, trips service indicator and traction control settings. If the accessory heated grips or cruise control are fitted, the settings are also viewed through the clocks.
Fuelled for the ride
The beautiful tank comes in either single colours of Morello Red, Jet Black, and Ironstone, or as a two-tone Competition Green and Frozen Silver – complete with hand-painted coachlines and the signature of the person who painted them. There’s no confirmation on tank capacity yet, but it looks a little smaller than the Bonneville, so we’d guess at around 11.5-litres.
Your electronic friends
The Bobber gets a ride-by-wire throttle, which enables the provision of rider modes (Road and Rain) and switchable traction control, while there’s also ABS, an immobiliser integrated into the ignition key, and LED lighting for all but the headlamp. Heated grips and cruise control are optional extras.
Make it your own
Triumph say there are over 150 accessories for the Bobber, including everything from seat choices to Ape-hangers, clip-ons to rear fender conversions, monoshock upgrades to heated grips and cruise control. The list is enormous.
Check out highlights from Triumph's Bonneville Bobber launch party too:
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