Above Bonneville Black, Below Bonneville America

                    I had a Bonneville when I was a lad.



Do you often wonder why motorcycles are not advertised on Television? Maybe its cost! Triumph should take a leaf out of the Ducati book who shared an advert with Xerox! When I park up my impressive Triumph Rocket 3 Touring, ex pats and older tourists come over and reminisce about the days they had a Bonneville, unaware that many versions of the Bonneville are still made!


Not only is the Bonneville still made, all Triumph bikes are made at the UK Hinckley factory. A couple of people I met were convinced they were made in Japan, what an insult to British engineering! Even Norton returned a couple of months ago, but that’s another story.


Both Meriden and Hinckley Triumph factories have made Royal Bonneville’s for the Silver Jubilee, Royal Wedding and Golden Jubilee. The first 2 were made in the old Meriden factory and the Golden Jubilee at Hinckley as a kit.


In 1977 the Meriden Co-operative built 1000 for the Queens Silver Jubilee and demand outstripped

the supply of the specially finished 750cc T140J so they had to build 1400 more. Many of them were kept and stored by dealers for future profit. In 1981 a much smaller run of limited edition bikes were introduced for the royal wedding. The last Royal Bonneville special was made in the form of a conversion kit for existing bikes in 2002. This was probably due to the tough type approval laws coming in in 2003 where every motorcycle built had to be whole vehicle approved as cars had been for many years. If owners or dealers modified their bikes after buying them it got round the new laws.


                                                                  BONNEVILLE 2002 JUBILEE



Basic Bonneville’s are Triumphs cheapest bikes and look very similar to the early 60s and 70s models. The external view of the engine also looks the same while internally many changes have been made mainly to comply with new EEC emission and noise regulations. One old feature that still remains on all the Bonneville’s are the twin carbs. In 2009 tighter emissions made it almost impossible to use them so Triumph concealed an injector in each Bonneville carb. Push rods have been replaced by over head

cams. Modern Bonneville’s are heavier and longer than their predecessors with an extra gallon in the fuel tank. Top speed is now 113mph from 110mph with fuel consumption improved to 53mpg from 50mpg. The old dry sump with attached leaky oil pipes and oil tank replaced by a wet sump.  Engine size has gone from 744cc to 790cc and now 865cc.




Triumph commitment to the Bonneville is without doubt having a range of over 8 models. They currently include the basic Bonneville, Bonneville T100, Bonneville Scrambler.


                                                                    BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER


Bonneville Thruxton Café racer named after the famous Thruxton race track, The Bonneville SE, Bonneville Sixty limited edition, the nearest you can get to the original sixties models with spoked wheels and pea-shooter exhausts. All of these models have the original 360 degree crank for a smooth engine performance.



                                                                    THRUXTON CAFÉ RACER.



OK that’s only 6 models so far. The remaining 2 Bonneville’s are completely different and were aimed at the American market while being very successful elsewhere including the UK and Spain. One model is the Bonneville America and the other the Bonneville Speedmaster although with these 2 models the name Bonneville is little used.


The America and Speedmaster are Cruisers, physically longer and wider with feet first rider foot pegs.

The standard Bonneville’s have 130/80 rear tyres however the America and Speedmasters tyres are a massive 170/80. The wide Bonneville Cruiser fuel tanks are 5.1 gallons. Maximum torque is at 3300 rpm whereas the standard Bonneville maximum torque is at 5800 rpm.




Triumph have always aimed heavily at the American market and the 2 Bonneville Cruisers will certainly appeal to Harley riders. Like the Thunderbird the America and Speedmaster cranks are 270 degrees giving that V engine feel and grunt without the shake at low revs.

Oh, by the way, Leandro at Motor Evasion in Alicante is currently offering the America with €1000 off the list price bringing the price down to little more than the standard Bonneville.




In 1966 I could only afford an old 250cc BSA on my M.o.D. pay of three pound fifty a week. I remember being very jealous when my friend Ian Brooks bought an old 750 Bonneville. No super bikes in the mid 60s, so his bike looked massive to me compared with my 250 BSA. My bike would do 90mph and Ian’s 110mph which was faster than a Lotus Cortina’s top speed of 108mph and GT Cortina’s 98mph.

However like me and my BSA he often got a very warm wet sock when the oils tank pipe came off.

Not so with the 2010 Bonneville, instead of a wet sock and a seized engine you get a wet sump needing no external oil pipes.


When I got on the new Bonneville I felt I was on an old style classic but knew it was modern technology as soon as I started the engine! The upright riding position and well places foot pegs make you feel at home as soon as you sit on it. A bit of a spluttery start until I realized there was a manual choke under the tank. All the controls, with the exception of the choke are within easy reach on the handle bar. It’s necessary to familiarize yourself first, where the choke is under the tank, so you can turn it off safely while riding if you don’t have the time to wait for the engine to warm up.


                                                                                    CHOKE LEVER


As with my Rocket I had to use my ear to judge the revs on the standard Bonneville (Rev Counter included with the SE model!). At a guess I never went much over 4000rpm all the performance I needed seemed to be at low revs easily passing a few cars on the N332 return trip to Calpe.

I remember the old 60s bikes feeling like push bikes on bends, not this Bonneville. It gives you the confidence of a big superbike whilst having the comfort of a touring / commuter bike. For longer trips a thicker softer seat would help, however 50 miles or more, no problem. The standard seat is also long enough for a passenger with room to spare! This bike is so nimble in traffic and certainly surprised a few locals when they were left standing at traffic lights. This old iconic classic is now available with modern technology and in so many different models. YES, the Bonneville is alive and well and still BRITISH through and through. Thanks once again to Leandro at Motor Evasion Alicante for the loan of the Bonneville.  Story by:- Keith (OLD GIT BIKER) Lloyd.


















































































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