MCN Fleet: 8000 miles with the Triumph Bobber

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My time with the Triumph Bobber has come to an end. It arrived in the middle of May with just a couple of hundred miles on the clock, and leaves having covered over 8000 miles.

If you’ve read any of my updates both here and in the print edition of MCN, you’ll know it’s been an up and down year with the Bobber. It doesn’t take a genius to work out using a bike like the Bobber as every day transport isn’t the best way to use it, but I had no choice.

The Bobber was pressed straight in to service, covering 1000 miles in my first two weeks. The one major bug bear reared its held almost immediately; the size of the fuel tank. The Bobber isn’t a particularly thirsty bike – in fact I’ve averaged about 55mpg all year – but the fuel tank is just 9.1 litres. Yeah, I know, it’s all about style, but I would like to look stylish and cool for more than 100 miles at a time.

In all honestly, I spent most of the summer frustrated with the Bobber. Frustrated at the tank range, and other niggles, such as the oil filler cap. But I now realise that frustration could have been lessened if I just made a change to my riding attitude. I just needed to relax in to the Bobber attitude. Set off a little earlier, chill out a bit more.

So, what have I learnt after 8000 miles? Well, despite how impractical it looks, the Bobber can easily be used everyday. There’s nothing that stops it owning the commute, so long as your commute isn’t too long and you don’t mind wearing a rucksack. Triumph do actually offer official panniers for the Bobber, but they look really awkward stuck on to the side of the gorgeous, minimal rear end.

The 1200cc High Torque engine might only produce 76bhp, but it’s more than enough to fire you between gaps in traffic on the commute and is more than enough on the open road, too. The engine has a great character that makes it a real pleasure to open the throttle and catapult forward. It’s no superbike, obviously, but it still produces a grin. A great engine doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t have the sound to back it up, and the Bobber sounds amazing. I’ll never know how they got the bike through noise regulations, but, my God, it sounds beautiful.

Coincidentally, I ended up chatting to the man at Triumph who worked on the noise of the Bobber, and he was incredibly chuffed that I found the sound so good.

Look at the Bobber and I know what you’re thinking; ‘that’s a bike that’s all style and no performance.’ Wrong. Not only does it go like stink, as I’ve already mentioned, it also handles well. Obviously, it’s not on par with something like a BMW S1000RR, but for a cruiser it handles exceptionally well and is a lot of fun to hustle on smooth back roads. 

When it comes to performance the only thing that’s really lacking on the Bobber is brake power. The single 310mm disc up front is pitifully underpowered and a big does of rear brake is required to stop in a hurry.

8000 miles is a lot for a bike like the Bobber to cover in six months. Let’s be honest, very few will cover that many miles in two or even three years. Sadly, those miles have taken their toll on the finish of the Bobber.

Even after a couple of weeks, spots of rust started to appear on the inner edges of the brake discs. The metal engine cases quickly dulled, and spots of rust appeared in other areas, such as the header pipe fins and valve stems. I know the Bobber is a fair weather bike, and it’s had a tough year riding in all conditions and spending the nights outside under a cover, but even so, the finish should hold up much better than it has.

Will I miss the Bobber? I don’t think I will. As good as it is, and as cool as it is, it ultimately brought me more frustration than enjoyment. £10,000 is a lot of money for a bike, especially one as single-minded as the Bobber. If I won the lottery there might be a space for it in the garage, but I think I’d rather have a completely custom bobber.

Ultimately, the rider and bike were mismatched.

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Liam Marsden

By Liam Marsden

Former MCN Web Producer