2016 Triumph Bonneville Street Twin first ride review

    First off, let me tell you this – I think the new Street Twin looks fantastic. It looks a lot more modern than the older Bonneville, which purists might call treachery. But I think it looks pretty great. It seems like a Bonnie that has arrived in the modern age and that’s a good thing. It gets a fresher more contemporary look. Pretty much everything is different, yet remains the same. It has become more stylish but still retains that old school charm.

    But the Street Twin isn’t all about the new look. The whole bike is all new. This means that the engine and chassis are all new.

    The motor is a new 900cc unit that makes “more power and torque” (keep reading to find out why the quotes). It is a parallel twin like before but is now completely liquid-cooled. You might ask why the fins are there then. Well, thanks to the extra cooling from the fins, the radiator can be a rather small one. And of course, those fins are trademark Bonnie, so you can’t do without them. The engine also gets ride by wire that is connected to a single throttle body. The ride by wire also lets the Street Twin have traction control.

    The 900cc motor makes 55PS at ,5900rpm and 80Nm of torque at 3,230rpm. If you notice, that is much lesser peak power than the outgoing Bonnie, while the torque is up by 12Nm. Before you cry foul, let me tell you about the reason behind this. The Bonneville being the Bonneville, Triumph knows that most of the people who buy it are not going to be the type that revs the life out of the motor like us auto hacks. Most Bonnies live their entire life in the low to mid range rpm. This being the case, it made sense to pull all that power from near the redline and distribute it in the usable rev range. Which is what they have done.

    So essentially, the Street Twin makes 22 per cent more power at 5,900rpm than the Bonnie did at the same engine speed (hence the quotes). The result is a motor that feels way more alive in the mid range and low revs than before. Progress from standstill is quick and there is tons of torque available in every one of the five gears. Even from low revs.

    Of course, more power is great, but what is even better is that this power has come without any compromise in refinement. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying this new motorcycle is way more refined than the older Bonnie.

    There is a problem though. While the ride by wire is a very smooth unit, it is a bit too friendly. There is a bit of lag in the unit and for the first one-eighth of the throttle movement, there isn’t a lot of response from the motor. So at low revs in first, and sometimes in second gear, if you make throttle corrections mid corner, there isn’t anything happening initially. Then when you give more gas and you cross that threshold, the power comes on suddenly. This can get a bit unnerving at first, but after it happens once or twice, you get used to it.

    Overall, the Street Twin retains the friendliness that I loved in the Bonnie. Plus, in the process of liquid cooling and updating the motor, Triumph has also managed to make the motorcycle close to 35 per cent more fuel efficient. Which is a good thing considering the tank size has gone down by 25 per cent.
    The Street Twin’s chassis is an all new unit that has been designed specifically for the bike. Variations of this unit will be seen in the other Bonnevilles that will soon roll out. On the Street Twin though this chassis gets changes to its geometry that make it handle a lot better. The steering head angle has been changed and the wheelbase too has gone down. This, when you combine with the drop of 11kg in weight makes for a motorcycle that turns in a lot quicker than its predecessor.
    The suspension too has been changed. The springs are now dual rate which gives it a smooth ride over small bumps and undulations while also preventing it from bottoming out over the harder stuff. The bike gets new rubber that has been specially developed for classic motorcycles with Pirelli (which gives reasonable traction even in the wet, I must say).

    Together with the new frame and suspension Triumph has managed to retain the neutral handling of the old Bonnie but make it a lot more sporty to ride.
    This sportiness is carried forward in the ergonomics as well. The Street Twin has had some changes in riding position. The handlebar has been moved a bit forward, the seat lower and the foot pegs are higher and more rear set. So, you end up sitting more leaned forward which is really nice.

    One issue I had with the old Bonnie and continue to have with the Street Twin is that the front end doesn’t communicate a lot with the rider. There isn’t a lot of feedback coming at you and when I really started pushing it, I found this a bit of a bother. But again, most Street Twins will not spend their lives scraping foot pegs (which the new bike doesn’t do as easily as before, just by the way – yay!). But considering how well every other bit of the bike’s handling is, the lack of feedback is something that I can gladly overlook.

    What is a huge improvement over the older bike, though, is braking. The bike actually doesn’t feel all that much like a drum-braked old British twin anymore. And together with the ABS, it puts your mind so much at ease when you want to go fast.

    The new Street Twin, then, is a really impressive motorcycle. It feels the like the ideal way forward for the Bonnie. It stays true to everything that the Bonnie was and adds a whole lot of modernity to that mix. More importantly, as the first of the new Bonnies, it gives all motorcycle enthusiasts a lot to look forward to. If the Street Twin is really this good, I can’t wait to see how good the T120, T120 Black, Thruxton and Thruxton R will be.

    Related Items


    Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster launched in India, prices start Rs 11.11 lakh

    Triumph Motorcycles has launched the Bonneville Speedmaster in India. This latest entrant to the Bonneville range, the Speedmaster is based on the Bobber platform. The design is, however, more leaning towards laid-back style and touring capability.

    Read More

    Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride Review: Classic Cruiser Done Right?

    The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride impressions show several aspects of the latest Triumph that is set to launch in India in the coming months. We ride it in California to get a taste of what is to come. And what a place it was to test out the new Speedmaster. We rode a distance of a tad bit over 170 miles, which is about 275 kilometres, in San Diego which threw a mix of sceneries at us. We had long flowy corners, sharp turns, switchbacks, highway, inclines, declines, a little bit of the city and of course, riding along the vast stretches of road that take us along the coastline. Such diverse riding conditions are more than enough to test the mettle of any motorcycle, no matter what kind it is. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-3Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) Let’s begin with the design of the Speedmaster. Now, this one is a Bonneville which means it needs to look contemporary and yet fresh. In order to do that, at first glance it seems that Triumph has combined two of their existing Bonnevilles – the T120 or the T100 along with the Bobber Black to make the Speedmaster. It seems so because the Speedmaster does carry over several elements from both of them, especially the Bobber black and that’s evident in the stance of both these motorcycles as they are really similar. But then, there are several unique elements to the Speedmaster as well. This includes the likes of the new headlamps which are all LEDs and come with a unique DRL design. The tail lamps and the indicators are LEDs as well. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-5The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster sports all-LED headlights with Daytime Running Lights. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) Then, there are the spoked wheels which sport the dual 310mm discs with Brembo callipers. There’s a new handlebar and the footpegs are now forward set for more cruiser-like riding ergonomics. The best part? The Speedmaster comes with a twin seat, unlike the Bobber siblings and thankfully, the rear seat, as well as the chrome-finished grab rails, are removable. So, if you want, you can still have a single seater look and yet have the option to switch back to a double-seater – something that a lot of people wanted with the Bobber. The fuel tank has grown to a 12-litre capacity and the dual paint finish on it looks fantastic. And yes, those lines on the fuel tank are painted by hand. When you look closer, though, you will find some finely detailed elements in the Speedmaster – like, the retro-styled battery box, the carburettor styled throttle body, the drum brake inspired rear wheel hub and the finned exhaust clamps. So overall, the design looks familiar but still a bit different and with the neat and clean lines that the Speedmaster sports, it will age very well and look good even after years. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-6The finish and detailing on the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is fantastic. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) On the mechanical front, the star attraction is the engine of the Speedmaster. It has the liquid-cooled 1200cc parallel twin engine which is the same as the one you would find on the T120 and the Bobber. But the engine comes over in the exact same state of tune as the Bobber. This means, the Speedmaster generates 76 BHP at 6100 RPM and a respectable 106 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM, and it comes mated to a 6-speed transmission. There’s ABS, switchable traction control and also ride-by-wire on offer which makes way for dual riding modes – Road and Rain. What’s new is the addition of Cruise Control which is operated through a single touch button, which makes it easy to use and the system works wonders when you need it to. Also, just like the Bobber and the Bobber Black, the Speedmaster gets the hardtail look too but it has a KYB monoshock suspension hidden underneath the seat. The rear suspension is preload adjustable which means carrying a pillion or luggage is going to be a bit easier on this one. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-2Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has a hard tail look. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) When it comes to riding, the bike is actually a treat. No matter how you ride it, easy or hard, the bike feels confident and will commit to the line you take. And at this point, there’s a confession to make. The roads to the Palomar Mountain in Northern San Diego is filled with exciting turns and when it came to carving mountain roads, we just had to push the Speedmaster hard. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-1The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is an engaging motorcycle to ride. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) And when did, the bike was a pleasant affair. The feedback from the brakes is just right and the bite is great as well. The transmission was smooth and never did we miss a gear or had a false neutral. No matter what RPM you lug the engine at, the power band is wide and very usable. The fuelling is good too which gives it a smooth and progressive throttle response and overall, the Speedmaster is very friendly to ride. Yes, at a dry weight of 245.5 kilos, it is not the lightest bike around and yes, the stubby front tyre and the beach bars demand considerable rider input but that’s the fun part as the bike always feels engaging to ride. But, if you ride it too hard, you will end up scraping the footpegs way too easily and the wind bursts that follow are enough to tire you out. We would highly recommend the adjustable wind deflector which comes as an accessory with this bike. And while the instrument cluster shows almost everything you would need to know, it is not tilt-adjustable like it is in the Bobber and that’s something we missed. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-4The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has an informative instrument clsuter. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) In short, the bike requires takes some input from the rider but it is also a pleasantly rewarding experience. At least in California, how it performs in India – that we will have to find out once the bike is launched here and we do our road test. Well, to wrap up the whole Speedmaster experience, we rode it for quite a substantial time and distance in California and it one has left us mighty impressed. It does come across as a complete motorcycle in almost every way but what remains to be seen is the kind of price tag that it comes with because that will be essential to its success in India. If they get it right, this one might just be the best Bonneville to make its way to our country. And perhaps, one of the best value for money cruisers in the Indian market.

    Read More