TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Like standard Bobber, but better
  • Retro cruiser charm
  • Excellent performance and handling

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £160
Power: 76 bhp
Seat height: Low (27.2 in / 690 mm)
Weight: High (524 lbs / 238 kg)

Prices

New £11,650
Used £8,800 - £11,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The Bonneville Bobber is good, but the Triumph Bobber Black is even better. A fantastic modern take on the bobber style that delivers on every single front so well it could actually convert those who previously sneered at this kind of bike to bobber fans.

During 2017 MCN ran a standard Triumph Bobber on the long-term test fleet. We found that while it might appear impractical, it's actually a seriously impressive everyday bike. There were some build quality issues, however... 

The Bobber Black makes for a fantastic custom bike too, as shown with Triumph Glasgow's 135bhp project.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Bobber Black rolls into the second and third gear corners with complete neutrality and total stability and tracks through the bends with precision. Being a bobber ground clearance is always a limiting factor, but you don’t have to be scraping the Black everywhere to gain a thrill, the whole riding experience is so pleasurable that you are more than happy to ride at the brisk pace the clearance allows rather than push too hard and scuff the pegs.

The non-adjustable forks and shock deliver quite a firm ride, meaning that over sharp bumps they can feel a bit harsh and unforgiving. It’s a trade off for the bike’s stunning look and only really makes itself felt on particularly aggressive undulations, for general road riding the suspension is excellent and remarkably plush.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Powered by an identical Bonneville HT motor as the Bobber, the Black retains the same spirit and character as its sibling. In the Bonneville T120 this version of the parallel twin is a bit too refined, but the Bobber’s unique tune (which is 10% more powerful lower in the rev range compared to the Bonnie) and slash cut exhaust system gives it a lovely feeling and sound all of its own.

There is a pleasant bit of vibration thanks to the 270-degree crank, but nothing that causes the mirrors to wobble or your hands to go numb. And the modern electronic systems such as the traction control and ride-by-wire throttle are subtle enough in their operation so as not to detract from this old-school motorcycling-inspired experience.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The overall level of finish is excellent on the Bobber Black with a lovely attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from a Triumph modern retro model. The major service intervals are pleasingly long at 10,000-miles and overall the Bobber Black appears a quality product. There are no reliability issues with the parallel twin motor, so it’s a safe buy.

So far we've got two Triumph Bobber Black owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars. There have been some reliability concerns, particularly around the quality of some parts, but owners seem to love their bike's handling and performance. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With a price tag of £11,650 the Black is £1050 more than the standard Bobber, but you do get cruise control, LED and daytime running lights, Showa forks and an extra brake disc with Brembo calipers, so that’s not bad value at all. But it’s a shame you then have to pay £125 more for matt paint! In the market it is a bit more than the air-cooled Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight (£9995), but it packs way more technology and is cheaper than the firm’s premium Fat Bob model (£14,295).

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Black is impressively equipped for a stripped-back bobber and has switchable traction control, ABS, two-power modes and cruise control as standard as well as LED lights with DRLs. The bar-end mirrors are a neat touch and while the new Showa forks and KYB shock lack adjustability, you do at least get twin Brembo two-piston calipers to boost the Bobber’s stopping power. Colour choice is limited to black or matt black, Henry Ford would be proud…

Specs

Engine size 1200cc
Engine type Four-stroke, liquid-cooled SOHC 8v parallel twin
Frame type 47mm conventional Showa forks, non-adjustable
Fuel capacity 9 litres
Seat height 690mm
Bike weight 238kg
Front suspension 47mm conventional Showa forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension KYB monoshock, non-adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm disc, two-piston caliper Brembo; ABS
Rear brake 255mm disc, one-piston caliper ABS
Front tyre size 130/90X16
Rear tyre size 150/80x16

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 69 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £160
New price £11,650
Used price £8,800 - £11,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 76 bhp
Max torque 78.2 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 130 miles

Model history & versions

Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK (2018 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £160
5 out of 5 Stunning retro.
27 May 2020 by Stumo

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £160

I have my bobber black for 18 months so it is a good time to review it. In my opinion one of the best looking retros there is. It will cruise around town with ease but will also snap you back into the seat from the lights when you feel naughty. I think it is important how the bike makes you feel and this one has a massive feel good factor about it. It draws a fair bit of attention and sounds good on standard pipes. There is the obvious small tank and single seat, but you know this and buy in to it for the look. I have no regrets buying the bobber black and would highly recommend one.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Im quite light and I have no problem with the factory ride set up. I do know the heavier rider would probally need to uprate the rear shock as it does bottom out quite easily, however I have spent hours at a time on there in relative comfort. I was suprised overall on how well the bike goes through the corner and bends and accelerates very well. The brakes are ok but I still find them a bit lacking if you have to come to a stop quickly. For a cruiser-esque style bike it is an absolute hoot to blast around on through the Welsh twisties.

Engine 5 out of 5

Its a big twin with plenty of tourque and pulls like a train. Its obviously no sports bike but it still gets you to naughty speed quickly enough to put a grin on your face. I have had no issues so far with reliability and long may that continue. The throttle is a little twitchy at low speeds but a spacer in the grip control sorted that right out.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Overall very good. Well crafted parts and frame giving it a good solid feel but it is a little on the heavy side when pushing it about. My bike was an ex demo and had some corrosion on the break discs and some of the metal finished parts may tarnish. However this is my only bike and I have used al year round and has stood up very well to the elements. My only real moan is the plastic rear light. Everything else was painted and well finished it looks like an after thought.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

The servicing costs are not to bad with £160 at the dealers. With my dealer this gives a life time engine warranty which is always good. The fuel cost about £10 a tank for about 100 miles with a reported 65mpg.

Equipment 5 out of 5

There are a ton of high quality bolt on accessories from triumph and numerous after market companies. The base bike is a blank canvas and is designed to customise at will.

Buying experience: I bought mine from Youels Triumph who have been great so far. I had a budget and was managed to get an alright deal. They also have been excellent during the covid lockdown period keeping me on the road. Cheers chaps.

5 out of 5 If your happy and you know it .
25 April 2020 by Nigel Slater

Year: 2018

Great looking bike , great handling bike , powerful engine , all very good , nice accessories available to personalise the bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The bike was a bit disappointing at first as it was very firm , but has softened up a bit now and is great

Engine 5 out of 5

Plenty of performance , and now the catalyst has somehow disappeared the engine note on standard exhausts is perfect , ( who needs Vance and Hines )

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

No issues at all , but I think you need to stay on top of the cleaning as I have seen some scutty looking engine side covers on bikes

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Don’t really do many miles , so no big expenses yet , lube up the chain and polish !

Equipment 5 out of 5

Love the heated grips and the cruise control , very disappointed that you can’t get a genuine wind deflector , but there are very good alternatives , pannier bags are overpriced and it will put people of buying them , which makes the bike far mor practical to get , milk , chips , booze

Buying experience: I got really excited and wanted a bobber straight away , but didn’t take the decision , glad I didn’t as the bobber black has better brakes ,but to black .eventually bought a bike from a dealer miles away who had an ex Triumph bike which had been used for the journalists reviews , good p.ex on a royal Enfield bullit

3 out of 5 Style over substance 1500 miles on...
19 August 2018 by Alan Waterman

Year: 2018

I love the look of a Bobber and Triumph nailed this and my bike draws a crowd wherever she sits and I like that and the conversations that ensue. However some reliability issues and tank range (90 miles) make this less practical than a comparable Harley-Davidson. Finish is good, but I fear build quality of the engine and some ancillary rider aids like ABS and TTS system are dubious. Sufficiently so that I will never purchase another Triumph. I owned a Speed Triple in 2001 and that had significant issues now 17 years later it appears Triumph quality control has yet to improve. It also seems that to perform the most basic tasks such as topping up coolant, undoing the oil filler cap require sockets, grips and it is a two person job to get the battery in - that strap arrangement is a joke. Also be aware that the side-panels are a stinker to fit securely and at £200+ to replace you should take care when refitting. I am not sure if the oil filter is accessible without the bike on a lift either as I have yet to try. Mirrors are excellent though.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Standard rear shock is not great, I have been shot out of the saddle on more than one occasion. Brakes are good but I cannot trust the ABS as it is possible to lock the front wheel in very hot weather. Traction control can also go missing from time-to-time in hot weather also. I learned to ride in the 80's so do not rely on these aids preferring to use my wits, but the idea they may let me down in a dire situation is not confidence-inspiring in the slightest. I have ridden 200 miles in a day and it is pretty wearing and you need to stop for gas every 80 miles, planning a trip around fuel stops is not fun and if you are in a group it becomes tiresome for your companions. I was also bothered that the rear wheel is held in place without a castle nut and split pin. This is simply unacceptable from a safety point of view, so buy yourself some threadlock.

Engine 4 out of 5

The engineer pulls very strongly, which I love and having grown-up with the sound of '70s Bonnevilles it stirs my soul, however I find that the engine is extremely rough between 3300rpm and 3800rpm. There is sufficient vibration to cause very numb fingers particularly when running at say 70ish for long periods, I rarely use 6th as it is very tall, unless I am on a motorway. If you are in 6th you will need a downshift (or two) to overtake smartly and safely 3rd and 4th are my preferred gears out of town on A/B roads as that keeps things brisk. Fuel consumption is around 45mpg in the real world, so be prepared to stop a lot if travelling any distance.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Oil leak, seriously Triumph, you can take authenticity too far. Bike under warranty so will be returned in next fortnight. Reading various forums this is not at all uncommon on the 1200 Bonneville unit. Frankly I find this unacceptable if touchingly authentic. The engine runs extremely hot and coolant seemingly evaporating, also the fan stops once the ignition is off, this cannot be correct or if it is, I consider it a design fault?

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5

See previous comments regarding ABS and TTS. The fuel gauge only ever registers 3/4 full and the pessimistic fuel light will come on after around 65 miles, ignore this at your peril. The only sure way I trust fuel level is knowing 45mpg and using the trip meter. The LCD display is very good and all the relevant info is available. The indicators are not self cancelling which is a step backwards for any modern vehicle. 40 years riding means turning them off is like muscle memory, but may befuddle the younger riders out there.

Buying experience: Buying experience was good, but then the dealer wanted my £12,000, dealer experience has always been helpful and courteous although I have yet to see their reaction when I call in about my oil leak. Dealer service wholly unsatisfactory with the rear wheel nut not set even close to 110nm torque and the battery/frame earth strap not fixed correctly post 500 mile service.

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