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TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK (2018-on) Review

Published: 08 February 2018

Triumph’s Bobber gains a moody look and fat 16-inch front tyre

TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK  (2018-on)

Triumph’s Bobber gains a moody look and fat 16-inch front tyre

  • At a glance
  • 1200cc  -  76 bhp
  • 69 mpg  -  130 miles range
  • Low seat height (690mm)
  • New: £11,650

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The Bobber is good, the 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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 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 5 out of 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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 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.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 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

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…

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2018
Year discontinued -
New price £11,650
Used price -
Warranty term Two years unlimited
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 76 bhp
Max torque 78.2 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 69 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Specification
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 237.5kg
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

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has 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 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Style over substance 1500 miles on...

19 August 2018 by Alan Waterman

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.
Build Quality & Reliability
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 & Running Costs
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.

Photo Gallery

  • TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK  (2018-on)
  • TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK  (2018-on)
  • TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK  (2018-on)
  • TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK  (2018-on)
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