Key West, the southernmost point in the US is only 90 miles from Cuba and surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico. This was the starting point for our 150 mile ride to Miami to test out the capabilities of the new, 2017 Bonneville Bobber.
It was a perfect riding day – 86°F with a slight breeze wafting across the 4 mile wide island.
A large group of Triumph enthusiasts – otherwise known as Triumph Champions, the chosen representatives from Triumph Dealers across the country – eagerly awaited the day’s ride.
We were set to ride from the lowest tip of Key West to Miami Homestead Speedway where we would trade our Hot-Rod, Bobbers for the Game Changing new Street Triple 765 for an immersive track experience on the top level RS model.
Geared up and ready to go at 7am, we loaded our luggage (full of race gear) into the support trucks and set out to the car park (parking lot) and greeted by a line of Bobbers, glistening in the morning sun, physically these bikes look tiny, low and slim but at the same time they carry a certain presence, a feeling of power that continues as you swing your leg over the single seat, reach down to the key dangling just under you knee, just where it should be on a cruiser, reach forward to low and flat drag bars that hint to the aggressiveness of the bike and thumb the starter into life. A low rumble emanates from the engine and blipping the throttle rewards the listener with a sharp bark as the engine freely revs up.
The engine is derived from the highly successful 2016 T120 but you can immediately tell that the new dedicated Bobber tune is producing more torque down low. The digital rev counter on the single gauge is a nice touch and power delivery comes as low as 2500 rpm. 20-30 rev happy champions rolled out of the lot and off we roared. Once we finished with the obligatory blipping and hard starting from light to light we were able to appreciate how smooth the bike was trundling through town, its light steering, progressive brakes and super strong engine are a perfect blend whether you are just cruising through town, garnering attention or racing from light to light.
We stopped for a picture at the sign for Cuba, a short 90 mile swim, before jumping back on the bikes and turning around to head up to Miami Homestead, about 150 miles away. Checking my fuel I was met with 30 miles to empty, looks like yesterday’s group used up the majority of the 2.4 gallon tank but checking the average mpg (the bike’s digital dash includes trip meters, miles to empty, average speeds and average consumption as well as a clock and the traction control settings which is switchable) showed a respectable 56mpg. Rather impressive for a powerful 1200cc and giving a theoretical range of 134 miles, I’d be lucky to get that out of an 865 air cooled Bonneville with a larger tank and cost me about $4 more each time.
We cruised along US-1 to 7 mile bridge before stopping for a photo op. The views are amazing with water on both sides and the 7 mile long bridge spanning out ahead of us. I couldn’t see the end! The bobber makes plenty of grunt between 2500 and 4500rpm and spins up so fast that redline comes in fairly quickly but so does the speed. This bike has real world performance and easily hits the ton with plenty more left. At 70 miles per hour in top gear the bike lopes along at a sedately 3k rpm and only requires a quick twist of the wrist for easy overtaking in any gear. Weighing only around 500lbs it’s a real lightweight compared to larger cruisers but packs just as much punch. Compared to the Thunderbird Storm the Bobber feels just as powerful and being 200lbs lighter is much more nimble.
Now this is no cruiser, the Bonneville Bobber is still in the classic family and it makes no apologies about what it is. A dedicated single seat accepts the rider only, the seat is firm and low and the handlebars are flat and forward, a perfect recipe for a hot-rod drag bike designed for racing from light to light, switchable traction control for hard starts and plenty of power down low this bike roars off the line and keeps pulling hard all through the gears. This does not however mean that the bike is uncomfortable. The hard tail look hides a conventional rear shock soaking up any bumps just as well as it’s sibling the T120. The seat is adjustable forward and back as well as up and down and there are available optional handlebars to change the seating position – ape hangers for cruising and clip ons for racing. At 5’9 i felt just right but some of the taller guys I spoke to felt the seat was not correctly adjusted for them and 150 miles was more than enough time in the saddle for them.
I could see myself riding this bike around Bear Mountain, tearing up Route 22 and cruising through White Plains. Whilst there are other bikes more capable of carrying massive amounts of luggage cross-country (Rocket Touring, Thunderbird LT, Tiger Explorer) like any bike I could see myself fitting the Triumph accessory panniers and taking a several hundred mile trip on the Bobber, sure I would have to stop for fuel twice as much but it would still be an absolute hoot. Buy this as a second bike to compliment your supersports for when you aren’t attacking the twisties or for your big tourer for those days you just don’t feel like lugging around 800+lbs. Or buy this as your only bike that is not only capable of silly straight line acceleration but also happy to commute on every day and be an absolute blast.
Anyway back to our ride – I was having a lot of fun on the Bobber and I really, really like it but we had just arrived at Homestead Speedway in Miami and had to hand the bikes over to the other group of Champions who had been warming up the tires for us at the track already, it was their turn to ride the bikes back down the way we come whilst we tried out the now ‘broken-in’ street triples.
The sun had settled and the wind picked up just enough that we didn’t roast whilst standing around in our full race leathers (actually very comfortable to ride in!). I don’t own a 1 piece suit so I had to borrow one from the track, if you see pictures try not to laugh, I looked like a reject from the power rangers but at least I found one in my size and hopefully I wouldn’t get to find out how much protection it provides.
Riding the Bobbers on the street was fun, but stepping onto the track was like entering a whole new world. This would actually be my first track experience having been a strictly street rider for the past 10 years so I was pretty excited. If you have never done a track day I would highly recommend it, you get a chance to really learn more about yourself and your bike in a safe environment, no traffic to look out for; junctions, wet leaves mid corner, speed traps hidden just over that hill etc.
The model Triumph had for us was the top spec ‘RS’ with the all-new 765 engine derived from the Daytona and with 80 all new parts to increase low and mid-range performance.
We definitely felt the improvements, I was astonished at just how quickly the engine spins up thanks to the shorter gearing in 1st and 2nd. The revised geometry leads to instantaneous (with the quickshifter) slick changes up and the new slipper clutch handles them on the way down. My first few laps I was turning into corners in way too high a gear and slicking them down mid-corner because I was having so much fun with the new gearbox.
Getting on the power the 128bhp in the RS model starts to kick in very early, throttling out of the corners (even in the wrong gear) catapulted us down the short straight aways before stomping on the incredibly sharp ABS powered (switchable) range topping M50 4-piston Brembo front brakes. Those bad-boys bring the speeds down quicker than I was expecting and had great feel through the adjustable lever. The Street Triple R will be equipped with a ‘stronger than the outgoing R model’ M4.32 monobloc 4-piston radial Brembo whilst the base model Street Triple S will have a Nissin 2-piston calipers, all 3 bikes will be equipped with the same single piston sliding Brembo caliper on the rear which delivers solid trail braking when I cooked it too hot through a few corners when I was distracted by the screen…
Ah, the screen – Triumph’s party piece. A 5 inch – full colour (yes, we Brits spell it with a ‘u’) TFT screen displaying all the necessary information (and more!).
Scrolling through the options with the new joystick control mounted just under the turn signals on the left switch cube (which is very compact and clean with new integrated switches) made selecting the various menus extremely easy even whilst on the move.
The range topping RS comes equipped with 5 riding modes; Road,Rain,Sport,Track and a Rider configurable to set up things like the throttle map and traction control/ABS settings to your riding style. The display has an auto brightness and a high contrast (night) mode to switch from day to night with ease and allow the screen to be easily viewed no matter what the lighting conditions are.
The first thing I started to mess with was the Themes, the display was configurable to show gear indication, speed and rpms in various designs. One theme had the rpms shoot across the screen like a rainbow with mph dead center, another had rpms shooting from the center and out to both the left and the right with mph above and gears off to the side. There were at least 6 themes that I could count and each with a high contrast option to flip the color scheme.
The display was easy to see at speed and in all light conditions, the option to dim the brightness for night riding is a genius idea! Some bikes are just too damn bright for night riding whilst others are just plain unreadable in direct sunlight leaving you to guess your speed (sorry officer it felt like only 30mph honest).
After several sessions out on the track our day came to a close, I could have kept riding that Street Triple all day had they allowed me but then I would have missed my flight out of there back to cold and snowy N.Y.
Triumph has been pumping out incredible model after incredible model every year and they have really pulled out all the stops with their recent releases. Built from the award winning T120 from last year the new Bonneville Bobber provides immense torque and just plain ‘grin from ear to ear’ fun whenever you throw a leg over the low slammed seat and rip the throttle. A true hot-rod bike with the attitude and performance to match. Get down to the showroom now and see one for yourself!
The sleeker, more beautiful, more powerful and higher spec Street triple range provides huge performance in a small, light and easy to use package. With now more power-to-weight than the Speed Triple from the top model ‘RS’ (Speed still wins on pure pulling power with higher torque) it makes for an incredibly fun ride. Get the R or the RS with the TFT screen and spend days playing with and setting it up the way you like it or stick it in sport mode and giggle inside your helmet as the instant response from the ride-by-wire throttle propels you forward at ridiculous speeds…55, that is, officer.
Check out these videos from my GoPro