TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER (2017 - on) Review
- Classic bobber styling
- 1200cc High Torque parallel twin engine
- Low seat height
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
In the Triumph Bonneville Bobber (also known as simply the Triumph Bobber), the British firm have created a machine that combines post war styling with modern day performance – a trick they’ve carried over from the rest of their Bonneville range.
- Latest news: 2021 Triumph Bonneville family unveiled
- Latest news: 2020 Triumph Bonneville Bobber TFC revealed
- Related: Triumph Bonneville Bobber long-term test
- Related: Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black review
It’s not the cheapest bobber out there, but it’s the classiest and packed with cool design touches and character. It takes the cool, slow-speed cruising stuff easily in its stride, but it’s surprisingly fun and capable, too.
2020 Triumph Bonneville Bobber TFC review
Designed by the style-conscious Triumph Factory Custom team in Hinckley – but still built at the operation in Thailand – and boasting a host of premium features, the TFC Bobber is not only exclusive, it also packs improved performance. Limited to just 750 units worldwide, it is the most desirable Bobber yet, but is it worth the £5000 premium over a stock model?
Triumph opened their exclusive TFC department in 2014 when they unveiled the Bobber and Scrambler prototypes before following them up with the 2019 Thruxton TFC and Rocket 3 TFC limited-edition models, which were available for the public to buy.
An exclusive factory custom bike should feel special to ride and the Bobber TFC most certainly does. The fact it boasts genuine updates rather than just a flash paint job means it justifies its price tag and the improvements give it a unique modern bobber character as well as look.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable and harsh to ride on anything other than a smooth road but it is worth suffering a bit of discomfort as it’s a genuinely beautiful machine that is truly special.
Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an online club to speak to likeminded folk. We'd suggest the Triumph Owner's Motor Cycle Club.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
With its bespoke chassis and suspension, the Bobber actually goes, corners and steers like a sweet-handling roadster. It’s hard not to be in a constant state of disbelief that something that looks so bobbersome can perform so well.
A bike with a 100-section spoked 19” wheel up front and a 16-incher at the rear (150) simply shouldn’t handle this well. Especially one that weighs 228kg dry and has just 80mm of suspension travel, which could bottom-out at the drop of a hat.
But it does. It may look unbalanced with all its bulk ahead of the rider and the rear wheel somewhere in another county, but it feels short and squat. It steers lightly and carves through corners and over bumps with the precision and easy poise of a Thruxton R. It’s more fun than it has any right to be and rest assured, you’ll never get left behind by your sportsbike-riding mates on the road.
Ground clearance is limited on such a low bike and you’ll sometimes graze pegs on tarmac, but only occasionally when you’re pushing hard and taking advantage of the superb grip from the bespoke Avon Cobras.
You need a hard dose of back brake to complement the single disc twin-piston front when you’re pushing on, but dabbing the rear keeps the Bobber more settled mid-bend and the ant-squat effect improves ground clearance.
Shorter riders will love the low 690mm seat, but taller ones will still enjoy all-day comfort. Everyone will appreciate the plush ride quality and the uncluttered view in the snazzy bar end mirrors.
2020 Triumph Bobber TFC
Where the Bobber has flat bars, the TFC comes with clip-ons, making what was already a strange riding position even more weird. The mid-set footpegs and lower bars hunch you up over the bike and, when combined with the unforgiving seat, it means you are fairly thankful that the Bobber only has a 100-mile range from its tiny nine-litre tank. Comfortable it most certainly isn’t.
Twin Brembo monobloc calipers linked to a Brembo radial master cylinder are the sort of set-up usually found on sportsbikes and not cruisers and on the Bobber they are total over-kill.
Due to the bike’s raked out front-end, weight and skinny 19in wheel, when you apply them hard they push the front Avon rather than digging it into the ground, resulting in a squeak from the rubber and the ABS starting to get involved.
It’s certainly a case of style over function but they do look fantastic and alongside the inverted Öhlins forks give the TFC a modern bobber vibe where the stock bike is very much old-school in its silhouette.
Does a bobber need Öhlins suspension? Not really but the TFC is a premium model and that means turning to Sweden’s finest. The fully-adjustable forks are set quite firmly but give a good ride quality. Even Öhlins, however, can’t counteract Triumph’s design at the rear.
The problem with the Bobber’s ‘hard-tail’ back end is that the shock has very little stroke, meaning it doesn’t have the travel to damp out any hard impacts. Hit a harsh bump in the road and the resulting jolts are transferred right through the unique ‘real leather statement seat’ and into your spine, causing you to let out an involuntary yelp of discomfort.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Bobber uses the same 1200cc parallel twin-cylinder ‘High Torque’ motor as the Bonneville T120 (with it’s 10,000-mile service intervals), but it makes 10% more power and torque at 4500pm. It’s more flexible and urgent on the throttle, but still unthreatening and smooth.
It purrs around town, is almost silent off the throttle and cruises at just 3500rpm at 70mph. It might only have a 9.1-litre fuel tank, but Triumph claims 69mpg, which should give you range of 138-miles, although the fuel light will come on around 100-miles.
The slip-assist clutch is light and accurate, the throttle response flawless and the gears slip effortlessly through the six-speed box.
But the Bobber reveals a tougher side when you poke it and it drives out of corners with such unfettered urgency you’re glad it has traction control when conditions are tricky. With more revs comes a harder, deeper engine note and a satisfying rumble from the new slash cut, pea-shooter exhausts.
2020 Triumph Bobber TFC
The TFC team have added 10bhp and 3lb.ft of torque to the friendly parallel twin (making it the most powerful Bobber to date) as well as reducing engine inertia by 39% through lightened internal components.
The HT (High Torque) engine still has that lovely thump you expect from a retro Triumph, but feels more ready to accelerate to its 500rpm higher rev limit.
It’s not a dramatic difference as it is quite a lazy-feeling motor by design, but there is certainly more pep. Accompanied by the sound from the road-legal Arrow pipes, which are throatier than the stock system, it all adds up to a lovely riding experience that is noticeably different from the stock Bobber.
The addition of an exclusive ‘Sport’ riding mode to the existing ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’ is pretty pointless, although all three are now linked to the ABS and TC and adjust them accordingly, which is good.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Triumph haven’t cut any corners wit the Bobber and it’s quality throughout. No major issues have been reported on the rest of the Bonneville range, so the mechanically similar Bobber should give you miles of happy biking.
We've currently got three Triumph Bonneville Bobber owners' reviews on the site, and the overall score of 5 stars out of 5 shows buyers are thrilled with their purchases.
2020 Triumph Bonneville Bobber TFC reliability
The attention to detail Triumph have lavished on the Bobber TFC is stunning. All over the bike are lovely small touches that make it feel special and exclusive but far from gaudy.
From the unique Bobber logos to the fact the TFC badge pops up in areas such as the clocks and top yoke, it is subtle, classy and beautifully understated.
Unless you really know your bikes, you wouldn’t pick it out in a crowded carpark as such a rare and exclusive model, which is really appealing to those who like to remain under the radar.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
You can get your off-the-peg bobber kicks for less: there’s the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, Yamaha XV950 and £10,499 Indian Scout. They all have style and character, but they’re all itchy wartime blankets compared to the duck-downed-duvet-opulence of the Triumph.
Styled to mimic those pared-to-the-bone 1940s-style custom bobbers, the new Triumph looks the part with its single seat, cut down front mudguard, flat bars and hardtail-style rear end.
There’s a riot of classy detail touches everywhere you look, from the adjustable floating seat pan and clocks, to the battery box, rear mudguard loop and hand-painted tank coach lines on the two-tone models.
Hidden away are two riding modes (Rain and Road), traction control and ABS that offer a fat slice of 21st century safety to this Dad’s Army poster bike.
Cruise control and super-hot heated grips are also available as two of over 150 official accessories and two Inspiration Kits.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel cradle|
|Fuel capacity||9.1 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm, KYB forks non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single KYB rear shock, non-adjustable|
|Front brake||310mm disc with Nissin two-piston caliper|
|Rear brake||255mm single disc with Nissin single-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||100/90 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||150/80 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||69 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£140|
|Used price||£8,000 - £10,500|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||76 bhp|
|Max torque||78 ft-lb|
|Top speed||115 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||138 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2017: Triumph Bonneville Bobber arrives in dealers. T120-engined ‘40s-style bobber follows a year after Triumph launches its new-generation Bonneville range, including two T120s, Street Twin and two Thruxtons.
- 2020: Triumph Bobber TFC launched.
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: 3000 miles with Triumph's Bobber
I've now covered over 4000 miles on the Triumph Bobber (it's been a high mileage week since we recorded the video) and despite the fact the Bobber isn't especially well suited to the type of riding I'm using it for, we're getting on well. Summer isn't over yet, either, so there's plenty more to come…
Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER (2017 - on)
5 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER (2017 - 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Fabulous bike to ride, handles better than you would initially think
It’s a basic bike, it doesn’t have much equipment
Annual servicing cost: £100
Lovely bike to ride yet not that practical because of lack of pillion seat and difficult to take luggage
Single disc is weak
Very good mpg
Annual servicing cost: £175
Yes, great bike, excellent handling, bags of tourqe, many reviewers on you tube criticise the front brake, well I can't fault it, work fine on my bobber
as I've already said before, brakes are faultless, & handling is great
engine is powerful enough for me, ride by wire throttle is excellent very responsive
no rust anywhere, very well built bike
I haven't had the bike for a full year yet so I've just entered the annual service cost
I've had forward controls & apehanger bars fitted to my bike, very laid back riding position, standard tyres are fine
Buying experience: I bought this bike from the Triumph dealer in Cheltenham
Superb looks cool good engine and gearbox
Seems ok though single front brake could be better
Can’t fault it sounds well good torque very smooth.
Very good build quality no issues with reliability
Small fuel tank could be a issue on long trips if your passing a fuel station it’s wise to top up.
Single seat means no storage etc plenty of optional and aftermarket goods but some are very expensive.
Buying experience: Excellent experience from Youles Triumph Blackburn.
Probably not the bike for you if it's your only bike, if only because of the single seat, but it is always entertaining to ride and never fails to make me smile. Just as happy tootling around town as scraping pegs on fast A roads.
Front brake could be stronger but you soon get used to it.
A real peach.
No issues in the first 1500 miles.
Too early to tell - just eight months old.
Buying experience: Dealer really helpful and despite being unable to source black engine cases for delivery date - Triumph sent chrome... twice - they swapped out at the first service and all turned out well.