Triumph’s iconic Bonneville, now in its third generation of production remains deeply rooted to its origins. Named after the historic salt flats of Utah, the ‘Bonnie‘ as it is fondly known, has little to do with the salt surfaced ‘land of speed’ records.
Dating back to the 1950s when the first gen T120 broke cover, the Bonnie ran on a parallel twin engine as it does currently. At the time, it displaced 650cc. Displacement capacity has nearly been doubled now, and original iconic details and features are still retained. A cursory glance at the original design is enough to fathom how Triumph has cleverly updated its cycle parts without skimping on the charismatic Bonneville template.
The classic and distinctive character of T120 strongly presents Bonneville DNA in its beautifully sculpted tank and wire spoke wheels. T120 design, even today remains as British as fish and chips. We put it through its paces on long straight motorways, serpentine ghats, and some coastal roads, and returned impressed, and, longing for more. Is this the Ultimate modern classic? You bet!
120 is built on its timeless design, easy to identify, relate to, more like a Porsche 911. The motorcycle is replete in retro appeal thanks to smart disguising of modern bits in to this historic brand. The classic chrome ring headlight houses a LED DRL. The bulb shield is embossed with the Triumph logo. A chronometer styled LED instrument pack houses speedometer and a tachometer, twin digital displays for fuel gauge, and other tell-tale lights. Its attractive slab seat not only looks cool, but is well padded to enhance ride comfort. The offset chromed fuel filler cap works in tandem with the beautifully crafted tank, which remains the backbone of this flowing silhouette.
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The liquid cooled engine retains cylinder cooling fins with a very discrete radiator nestled between the tubular steel cradle chassis. Finned exhaust header clamps and throttle bodies disguised as original dual carburetor cylinder heads are hard to miss, just like the NGK style spark plug caps. Abundant chrome splashing, and hand polished aluminium finish on the crank case and other bits are top draw in quality terms.
Equipped with ABS braking system, pulser rings are discreet, not giving any hints. In contrast, the chrome pea shooter mufflers scream ‘classic. KYB 41mm cartridge forks have rubber gaiters. Suspension is handled by preload adjustable twin shocks mounted on the exposed chassis. The alloy brace with Triumph stamping on the front fender is a classy touch. The rear houses a LED stop lamp inside a retro looking lens.
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Heart of the matter
The Bonnie is powered by a altogether new 1200c 8V SOHC HT (High Torque) parallel twin cylinder engine. A 270 degree firing interval gives it a distinct exhaust note, not to mention higher peak torque at lower engine revs.
105Nm at 3100 rpm and 80PS at 6550 rpm may not seem worth bragging until one rides it to experience the manner in which power is served. Coupled with 6 tall-ish ratios, Bonneville is topnotch when ridden in the mid realms of the rev range. Engineering brilliance shines in this parallel twin’s free revving nature, which is devoid of bothersome vibrations. The upgraded ECU is fed in with inputs by an impressively crisp ride by wire throttle. It also packs in traction control, ride modes (Rain/Road).
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T120’s timeless design together with high build quality makes it an object of desire that compels one to pout over its every detail, piece by piece. 6 cog transmission assisted with torque assist clutch makes pulling away and battling traffic with constant clutch-ins a less tedious affair. Shuffling between ratios on the 6 speeder is effortless thanks to precise shifts from the gearbox unit. The bonnie revels in relaxed cruising. Its meaty torque delivery propels it ahead without sounding busy when pushed into action.
Ride and Handling
T20 is suspended on standard 41mm cartridge forks at the front, and pre-load adjustable shocks at the rear. Once past the initial hesitation to turn in, the Bonnie is enjoyable when ridden along fast flowing turns. Ride quality is compliant, without being overtly wafty.
Braking is via twin 310mm discs up front gripped by two piston Nissin calipers, and two piston Nissin caliper over a 255mm disc out back. Designed specifically for the Bonneville range, Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp OE tyres do a fantastic job in the T120, which rides on 100/90 – 18 M/C 65H TL front, and 150/70 R17 M/C TL 69H rear wheels.
T120 offers 2 drive modes, rain and road. Mode selection doesn’t reduce power, and works in conjunction with traction control and ride-by-wire throttle in the way throttle inputs are interpreted. One thing we noticed is even when slotted in Neutral, the clutch needs to be pulled in to start the motor.
T120 is equipped with heated grips, a bonus. Relaxed engine spinning patterns ensure you needn’t be a throttle jockey to be quick. In turn, fuel economy numbers are pleasing. Instantaneous fuel consumption tethered fuel economy in between 3-6 l/100km. T120 returned overall fuel economy of 25kmpl over a ride distance of over 700kms.
– Ride By Wire
– Switchable traction control
– 2 Riding modes
– Torque-Assist Clutch
– LED DRL Headlight
– LED rear light
– Heated grips
– USB charging socket
– Centre stand
– Passenger grab rail
Available at a price of Rs 9.20 Lakh (Ex showroom – Mumbai), there aren`t any direct competitors to Triumph Bonneville T120. On a price parameter, options one could think about are Ducati Scrambler, HD Forty Eight, and Kawasaki Z900. Rest assured, T120 remains in a class of its own that charms the rider with an overall package rather than outright screaming performance, or sportsbike like handling.