Friday, 21 March 2014

Triumph Bonneville T100: First Indian review

Triumph Bonneville T100: First Indian review
The Bonneville T100 is the second most affordable Triumph motorcycle that’s sold in India. It looks simply stunning in the flesh. It’s overall design shouts classic  ’60s styling – with spoke wheels, embossed Triumph tank badges, two-tone paint job, long, flat seat with white-piping, chrome engine covers, twin chromed peashooter exhausts. But a closer inspection reveals modern engineering and great attention to detail.

The ignition switch is located on the left side of the headlight assembly like the bikes of yore. There’s even a separate key to lock the handlebars on the opposite side. The hand-painted lines on the tank, the inscribed rubber on the foot-pegs, the badging on the rear of the seat and the round mirrors are classy touches to the retro-design motorcycle.

The handlebars, and consequently the grips, aren’t very wide, but the latter have a nice, chunky, grippy feel. The plastic switches are of good quality and feel great to use on-the-go. There’s a kill switch that cuts off the engine and shuts power to the instrument fascia, but the headlight, parking light and tail light remain on even with this switch engaged. There’s a switch to toggle between high and low beam, there’s no switch to kill the lights up front when not required.

The exposed black instrument cluster atop the handlebars looks elegant, and houses a tachometer and an analogue speedo, both circular, and the speedo features a digital odometer and two trip meters. There are some warning and indication lights but no fuel-level or engine temp indicators. Clearly, a lot of effort has gone into sticking to the retro theme – note the fuel injection system that’s been made to look like a pair of carburetors.

The riding posture is very relaxed, with the long seat allowing both rider and pillion enough room to adjust position. This Triumph feels like a comfortable bike to employ on a daily basis and for long distances.

Inside its simple tubular steel cradle, the T100 houses an air-cooled, 865cc parallel-twin motor good for 67bhp and 68Nm. There’s plenty of low-end grunt on tap to get past slow moving city traffic while it felt really well-balanced, light and easy to manoeuvre in tight spots.

The engine is mated to a slick 5-speed gearbox that doesn’t jerk during shifting. Power delivery is smooth and progressive, pulling sweetly from as low as 1,800rpm all the way to the 8,000rpm redline. There’s very little vibration through the handlebars, thanks to the balance shafts in the crankcase.

Only after the 5,000rpm mark do you feel some vibes through the grips, which tells you you’re picking up pace. With tall gearing and more than adequate torque on tap, the T100 doesn’t demand a lot of gear shifts in traffic. The large clutch and brake levers are light and easy to use. The Bonneville pulls away from 40kph very nicely in fifth gear. The twin exhausts crank out a pulsating cruiser thump at low revs and sound progressively potent and thrummy as you move up the powerband.

Riding a Triumph motorcycle that is named after the Utah salt flats in the US, where land speed records are regularly set and broken, we simply had to give this Bonnie the beans. On an open stretch of road we did just that, and weren’t left feeling disappointed. The T100 isn’t bat-out-of-hell quick, but we found the Bonnie quite nimble on its feet, thanks to the chassis and tyre setup. Sure, it’s no surgically precise corner carver, but it will take those long sweeping corners in well its stride.

The T100 feels more at home cruising at a relaxed 80-100kph at 3,000-4,000rpm in fifth. Besides looking particularly retro chic, the adjustable Kayaba suspension setup absorbed bumps and undulations commendably well even while cornering, while the Nissin disc brakes and Metzeler tyres provided great stopping confidence, even with no ABS.

We expect the Triumph Bonneville T100, priced at Rs 6.6 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), to pose a serious threat to its already established arch-rival Harley-Davidson here in India.

The numbers
865cc, air-cooled, parallel-twin, 67bhp, 68Nm, 5M transmission, 230kg, Metzeler 100/90 R19 (f), 130/80 R17 (r) tyres, 16 litres fuel tank, 190kph (approx.) top speed, Rs 6.6 lakh (ex-Delhi)

The verdict
The Bonneville T100 is very smooth and stylish, ideal for city folk transitioning from a small motorcycle to a large one. It’ll appeal to those who fancy classic-styled motorcycles. And at this price, it’s a good value-for-money 800cc package.

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