Story: Heath “The Chief”, Bike Photos: Heath “The Chief” riding shot “Christina Cofran”
“Here he comes, he’s really moving along, ladies and gentlemen we might just have a new land speed record here at Bonneville, YES, he has done it, a new land speed record, set right here before your very eyes and ears people.” – As the announcer tells the onlookers at famous bonnevile salt flats in Utah in 1956 as John Allen breaks the land speed record at 193.730 miles per hour on his Triumph 650cc motorcycle.
It was that inspirational open piece of land that led Triumph Motorcycles to name their newest motorcycle in 1958. It was in November of that year at the London Earls Court show where this infamous bike was launched and without a doubt the most famous of all Triumph Twins.
As the years went on and Triumph went through some major changes, ups and downs the Bonneville was produced from 1959 -1983, then again from 1985-1988. The third run of these now new modern Triumphs started to come to life in 2001 and continues to be a top selling motorcycle for Triumph.
One of the most notable aspects of the Bonneville was the Air Cooled Parallel Twin motor. Originally the Bonneville was released as a 650cc engine and now is sold in 2014 with a very smooth running 865cc power plant.
Before I get into the specifics of this bike, I have to explain some of the history I have with the Triumph Bonneville. It was 2004 and I really was looking at getting my first motorcycle. I had been a fan of Evel Knievel since I was a little kid. I was playing with the toys, pretending I was him on my red white and blue BMX bike jumping other friends bikes and sometimes well, friends. I remember watching Evels old movies and I always wanted to own a bike similar to his. After watching some many images of him jumping and flashing the HARLEY DAVIDSON logo all over the place, I remember watching the most famous jump he ever made, CEASERS. I remember looking closer at the bike and when I found out it was a Triumph, I knew that was the bike I had to get. Jumping ahead and all this and that, I bought a 2004 Triumph Bonneville that I had painted to look like one of Evel’s bikes and to this day still ride and race it and the bike has over 100,000 miles on it. The only time it ever broke down was this year 2014 and it was due to a dead battery. NOT BAD HUH?
So as I got the call to pick up a new 2014 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, (the T-100 name was originally brought up to celebrate Triumph’s 100 anniversary in 2002), I was very excited to get a chance to ride a new stock Fuel Injected Bonneville. From 2001-2007 were carbureted. From 2008 to now the bikes are fuel injected, but if you look at the bike you see something that looks like Carburetors on the bike. Well… They are not, but really gives the bike a new nostalgic feeling. Anyways, what I was trying to express is that It had been a long time since I had ridden a stock Bonneville and was stoked to give the bike a go for a few weeks. I was able to put in about 400 miles in on the bike and got a great feeling for how the bike handled and ran.
First thing of course as you will have with any stock bike is how damn quiet the bike is. I mean I felt like I was riding a sewing machine. It was just hmmmmmmmmmmm and mmmmmmmmmming along. BORING… But ya know, that’s the deal. I am not a fan of the big Mickey Mouse ear mirror’s or the stock suspension as it is just too mushy for me. The fuel-injected bike definitely has more PEP out of the box then the carbureted version. Maybe it was how the bike was set up but it just seemed like I had to rev the motor pretty high when taking off from the line, or else it would just bog out a bit. Who knows, that was the only thing I didn’t really like, or maybe was just not used to. The bike runs smooth and quick thought the gears and it’s pretty funny to have the old timers come up and say “Oh wow, I had one of those, what year is that “Bonnie”? Triumph really did a great job keeping the classic Triumph look alive with modern features.
The stock 865cc Four Stroke Parallel Twin motor is able to push out 68 PS at 7500 rpm and 68Nm of torque at 5800. It’s not too bad and with the other upgrades you can do; it can be beefed up a bit. The bike has a standard 5-speed transmission. The classic PEA SHOOTER exhaust is a bit of a whisper, but really has the classic style that the original bonnies used to come with. The mid area foot controls and very cool and comfy seat give a basic riding position that is quite comfortable. I would find on long trips it’s comfortable to put my feet on the rear pegs for long distance riding. 😉 The paint job on this 2014 T-100 is called “JET BLACK and LUNAR SILVER”. The cool part I like is the gold hand painted striping on the tank. The big headlight bucket still keeps the CLASSIC look intact and the now standard fork gaiters help give it a solid overall look. The bike also comes stock on the T-100 with spoked wheels and a nifty seat grab rail. The T-100 also comes with a matching Speedo and Tachometer, which nicely gives a nod to the classic analog, gauges the bikes used to come with. The controls are all very basic and just in place where they need to be, nothing on the bars is oddly positioned. The gas tank holds 4.2 gallons and Triumph is claiming 43-57 miles a gallon. I think you could get it out of that if you were going 30-50 MPH, but I don’t know about that much on normal riding. On average, I would go about 100 miles and fill up normally, sometimes the fuel light wouldn’t come on for longer, just really depends on what kind of rider you are and how much of a THROTTLE MONKEY you like to be. With the bike just below 500 lbs and with the seat about 30 ½” off the ground, it’s a good overall bike for almost anyone.
Honestly, I couldn’t’ think of a better FIRST BIKE for anyone that has the style, the comfort and history that this Triumph T-100 offers. And with the bike going for about $9,000, it’s pretty damn affordable for a new bike. It’s crazy how I was looking at pictures of my bike when I first bought it to what it looks like now, and honestly it doesn’t look anything like it. One more thing I’d like to bring up in my pitching this bike to potentials riders is that this bike can really do almost anything. I have raced my 2004 bonneville, drove it 1015 miles in under 24 hours, rode it from Long Beach to Canada, jumped it about 4’ in the air, ridden it though mud, sand, salt, rain,snow and heat and crashed it 2 times, and here I am still riding it almost everyday. A great bike, get out and test one. See how many of your own records you can break on this bad boy.