Triumph T120 Bonneville Review + Video


Having spent the last few months blitzing around a racetrack, trying my hardest to stay upright off-road, and just generally trying not to crash, it was nice to see an invite to the launch of the Triumph Bonneville come through the post. 

No circuits, no mud. Just a picturesque, sedate ride on the new T120. 

As a 24-year-old I have to admit I'm probably not the usual target market for a Bonneville, but as I ran my eyes over the new lines of the machine, even I could appreciate what a great looking bike it is. The authentic, vintage whiff that the T120 exudes is hard to dislike.

But the old Bonnie had the same thing going for it, so how's this one any different? Well, for starters, it now goes as well as it looks. The old 865cc air/oil cooled parellel-twin wasn't slow, but it certainly wasn't eager. You needed to work the engine hard to get any real speed out of it.

The new 1200cc high-torque couldn't be any different. Power is up to 79hp and 105nm of torque, with 50% more power at 4,500rpm. It sound great at all engine speeds, burbling like an authentic British twin at low rpm, with more and more bark as you climb up towards the red-line. It's great, and it's fast too. Not surprising when you consider it uses the same engine as the new Thruxton, with only a few tweaks to help seperate how the bikes deliver their power.

The Bonneville isn't really about outright speed though, so unlike the Thruxton you don't get any fancy suspension (just RWU stuff with fork gaitors), the brakes are adequate but that's about it, and it's composed enough to chuck it around but clearly no sports bike. 

What you do get with the T120 is attention to detail. Machined fins on the head to give it that air-cooled look (even though the new engine is water-cooled to meet Euro 4 regulations), an LED headlamp, a twin-skin chrome exhaust with chrome exhaust clamps, a steel mudguard, and brushed aluminium engine covers. Combine that with the fact that all T120s now come with ABS, traction control and heated grips as standard, and it starts to make sense what Triumph are attempting to achieve with the bike: that sweet spot between full-on retro and useful mod-cons.

If I had one grip it would be the price. At £9,600, I do struggle to see what extras you get over the significantly cheaper Street Twin, besides the Bonneville name obviously. Both bikes sound great, would probably be similar in speed across a normal B-road, and both are pleasing to the eye too, but the Street Twin costs over £2,000 less.

Triumph has been machine-gunning out new models this year. The Speed Triple, the new Explorer, the Thruxton... and not one has been remotely disappointing. 

The same goes for the new T120. It's now one of those bikes that rides just as good as it looks.