Imagine if a motorcyclist of the 1960s slipped through time straight into 2021. The only familiar thing to that poor soul might be the Triumph Bonneville. Modern fans of the Bonneville also love it for its timeless appeal and handsome styling. Some even feel that, in the Bonnie's saddle, they can almost slide back through time to the 1960s.
Historically, aesthetic changes to the Bonneville tend to be subtle so as to preserve its elemental appearance. For example, when fuel injection finally reached the Bonneville, Triumph did their best to make the bikes look like they still wore carburetors. Alter the Bonneville too much and it disappears like a mirage in the salt flats.
The Bonneville also disappears if it fails to meet EURO 5 emissions standards, which was a major driving force behind the latest Modern Classics update. Triumph made some other tweaks and upgrades while they were at it, so let’s take a look at the Bonneville T120, T120 Black, T100, Street Twin (and Street Twin Limited), Speedmaster and Bobber.
Triumph’s design brief for the new Bonneville line reads: “to always deliver today’s best Bonnevilles” and to “give fans what they want [while introducing] the next generation to a motorcycle icon.”
Most of the work was done in the engine department. When most manufacturers work to meet an emissions standard, Triumph explained, they usually add weight with more emissions equipment or reduce power by altering the tuning, perhaps punching out the displacement to help with the added weight or milder tune. Triumph rejected these approaches and vowed to meet their emissions targets, increase power, and decrease weight for the next generation of Bonnevilles.
This was made possible by removing some heft from the crankshaft, engine covers, clutch, and balancer shafts. The lighter rotating mass makes the engine feel livelier, Triumph claims, even though most of the engine is actually shared with the previous version. They’ve also added a secondary air injection system for a cleaner burn. Service intervals are every 10,000 miles on these engines.
Bonneville T120 and T120 Black
The Bonneville T120 ($12,050 USD), in Triumph’s words, sits at the heart of the Bonneville line. Although the overall silhouette is unchanged, those internal engine revisions should make the bike more eager to rev. They’ve also “added lightness” with new aluminum rims, so in all, the T120 dropped over 15 pounds over the previous model.
Other big news includes cruise control, Brembo calipers, new ride modes, traction control, and lovely chrome tank badges. The gauges remain a blend of analog and basic LCD, although the new 3D dial faces are a nice touch.
The Bonneville T100 ($10,500 USD) is the T120’s lighter, more accessible sibling. Again, the overall appearance is exactly what you’d expect from the Bonneville line, but the improvements under the surface are a lot more interesting for 2021. The T100 picked up about 10 horsepower for a total of 65 at 7,400 rpm.
Torque’s up to 48 foot-pounds at 3,750 rpm. (For Europeans, an A2 kit is available for use with a learner license.) The fork is further improved with cartridges for improved response. A new Brembo brake setup makes an appearance here, too. Throw in a nine-pound weight reduction, and the T100 is a more compelling bike than ever.
Street Twin and Street Twin Gold Line Limited Edition
The Street Twin ($9,400 USD) is the best selling modern classic (more than 30,000 sold since 2015!), and it’s priced the lowest, too. Coincidence? I think not. With its 900 cc HT engine, low seat, and equivalent power to the T100, the Street Twin remains the most affordable Modern Classic in the twin lineup. Triumph has graced it with new wheels, a better seat, and lightly revised bodywork. Will the Street Twin remain as popular now that the Trident's on the scene?
There’s also a new Gold Line Special Edition ($TBA), decked out in classy black and hand-painted gold. It gets a heritage logo, certificate of authenticity, and artist’s signature, limited to 1,000 pieces worldwide. This feels like an extension of the Triumph Factory Custom line, even if it isn’t branded as such.
The Speedmaster ($13,150) returns for 2021 with no loss of power or torque from the 1200HT engine it shares with the Bobber. It picks up a slick new LED headlight with a DRL to modernize its appearance. The DRL is dimmed for U.S. models, but at least we get it.
The Speedmaster also boasts a 47 mm cartridge fork from Showa, a comfier seat, a quick-detach passenger seat, and the new instrumentation we saw on the T120 above. While I suspect the Speedmaster will continue to serve as an underrated cruiser alternative for 2021, these updates should help it hold its own against the competition.
Triumph offered two variants of the Bobber when they first introduced it a few years ago: the base model with a larger front wheel, and the Bobber Black with its special finishes, better parts, and fat 16-inch front wheel. Triumph quickly realized that customers really liked the Bobber Black’s style, and they had the sales numbers to prove it. That’s why the Bobber line has been rolled into a single model for 2021 that most closely resembles the up-spec Bobber Black.
The new Bobber ($13,150) features a twin-disc Brembo brake setup, a 3.2-gallon tank, a Showa fork and the popular balloon-tire style up front. Seat height is a stumpy 27.2 inches for that authentic Bobber riding experience (adjustable up and down, accessory forward controls are also available). The Bobber also gets road/rain ride modes, ABS/switchable traction control, and a torque assist clutch.
Accessories and overall direction
The whole range gets 320 accessories that carry the same two-year warranty as the bikes. Triumph found that an astounding 86 percent of their customers modify or alter their motorcycles to suit their individual style. While the Bonneville has always been something of a blank canvas, the levels of customization available today would make our time-traveling rider salivate. Triumph even offers a configurator on their website so that customizers can see what’s available for their bikes and how the accessories will look.
With 367,000 Bonnevilles sold since 2001, the future looks bright for "the original British superbike" and one of the finest modular platforms in the industry. More news is coming, too, for the Modern Classics lineup; look for an updated Scrambler 1200 XC/XE and Street Scrambler to be unveiled in April. The bikes featured in this article, however, will hit dealerships this spring: the Street Twin, Bobber, Speedmaster, and Bonneville T100 in March, T120 and T120 Black in May, and the Street Twin Gold Line Limited Edition in June.