Dear MOby,

I’ve decided it’s time to move up from my CBR250 first bike to a Triumph, I can’t decide if I want an old one or a new one? I don’t mean an old, old Bonneville from the ’70s, but an old new Bonneville from 2007. A friend of a friend wants to sell me his T100 for less than half what I’d be paying for a brand new 2017 Street Twin. It’s been garaged, looks like new and has 18,000 miles on it. I could swing the payment on a new bike, but I could also pay cash for the old one (after I sell the CBR). The real question is, I’m not much of a mechanic though I wouldn’t mind learning a little at a time. The ’07 still has carburetors. Are they going to be a constant problem? What are the other perils of a 10-year old motorcycle?

Torn Between Two Triumphs
San Jose, CA

Dear Torn,

The last year for carburetors on the Triumph Bonneville was 2007, and by then Keihin had the technology pretty well dialed. They shouldn’t be a problem. Carburetors look complicated in diagrams, but are basically simple mechanisms with a slide inside that moves up and down as you pull on the throttle cables. Your Triumph only has two of them and they’re easy to get to should you need to clean or futz with them. The rest of the engine, at just 18,000 miles, shouldn’t be a problem either. The main thing you’ll be missing is the “new bike” feel, as things like swingarm and steering head bearings and things loosen up over time. It also might be time for a new chain and sprockets soon – but all those are easy enough to adjust and/or ignore when the price is right.

The new Street Twin is lighter and tighter, though, and its big boost in torque down low more than makes up for the older bike’s slight horsepower advantage on top. The new one also gets better than 60 mpg in moderate use, its fuel-injected engine (with just one throttle body) won’t let you down on cold mornings, and its 270-degree crankshaft gives it a much gnarlier exhaust note than the old bike’s 360 crank. We liked the Street Twin very much when we tested it against a couple of other bikes last year. The 2017 bike is lighter, shorter of wheelbase and trail – and in general is a more sporty ride than the old bike, incorporating everything Triumph’s learned in 10 years of development. It’s really comfortable at the same time.

2016 Triumph Street Twin

Yours truly got to attend the intro for the new Street Twin two years ago.

Having said that, if you’ve never ridden the new bike, you’ll never know what you’re missing if you buy the old one. I’m super happy with my paid-for 20-year old Jaguar XJ6, but probably only because I’ve never driven a new one (not that a new Jaguar is an option for me). Paying cash for the old bike means you can carry minimal insurance, and the fact that you’re not making a payment every month more than negates that the old bike doesn’t come with a warranty.

I guess it comes down to your finances. If you can easily swing the new Street Twin, it’s a better, more fun motorcycle and nothing beats new. If money doesn’t grow on a tree at your house, you’ll love the old bike too. And if you don’t, somebody else will. Used Bonnies are easy to sell. Good luck!


Send your moto-related questions to AskMoAnything@motorcycle.com. If we can’t answer them, we’ll at least make you feel temporarily better by thinking you’re talking to somebody who knows what they’re talking about, even if we don’t. It’s the thought that counts.

What’s The Best Way To Ride Safe On Busy Freeways?
Where’s the Missing Horsepower?
What’s Up with Snatchy, Abrupt Throttles?

  • JMDGT

    Well said well done.

    • Born to Ride

      No need to add to that.

  • Gruf Rude

    I’d go used in a heartbeat based on JB’s thoughts and add another: the used bike’s major depreciation is behind it. If you decide to move up, down or sideways in a couple of years, you’ll be able to sell that used Triumph for close to what you paid for it.

    • john phyyt

      Absolutely… But don’t ride the new one.
      Because we ride for the thrill and the experience. If you wanted “only” to save money you should keep the CBR 250. I had one and it is a very good bike.
      But we only get a brief time on this earth and motorcycles are part of what makes “the rest of the S/sandwich” bearable. The Author of this article has written extensively on the subject.
      Sounds like you can swing the new one. And if you love it half as much as others who own them. Well. Think of what you will save on Bourbon, alone.

      • Gruf Rude

        John, I generally agree with everything you post and I don’t really disagree with you here BUT I’ve been having wonderful adventures on really old used bikes for years.
        I rode my ’69 CB750 to Indy for the MotoGP and Cycle World’s Rolling Concours from Cheyenne and had a ball a few years ago; have ridden all over the country on my ’84 R100RS and made it to Alaska on an old KLR for a bucket list adventure. In addition I got my kids through college and started in their professions debt-free; I fish, hunt, shoot, invent things in the garage and generally have kept myself grinning – on a budget. Oh, but I have to admit after 45 years of hard drinking, I did give up bourbon ;>)
        (full disclosure: I did buy the 1969 CB750 brand new and it was WONDERFUL)

    • W Donald

      Agree , I have an 06 Bonneville and love it , super reliable and a brilliant ride , even when I do 400 mile breakfast runs , on mine I have the Triumph aftermarket silencers , Pipercross air filter and jetted to suit , I would seriously recommend the Motobatt battery for them .

  • John B.

    “… if you’ve never ridden the new bike, you’ll never know what you’re missing.” Truer words have never been spoken!

  • Jason

    “The ’07 still has carburetors. Are they going to be a constant problem?”

    In short – yes.

    I’ve never had an older bike that the carbs didn’t give me trouble. You will get tiny flecks of dirt or rust stuck on the float valve. That will cause the float to overflow, flood the carb, and gas to run onto the ground. If you are really lucky that valve will fail in the middle of the night and you will walk out into your garage to find your bike has dropped it’s entire tank of gas on the garage floor. People say you can fix carbs with simple tools (which is true as long as you can still get the rubber parts) but the trade-off is that you will always have to fiddle with them to keep the bike running right. Then there is the cold start issues and rejetting for altitude. All of this is compounded by the ethanol in today’s fuel which evaporates out of a carburetor’s float bowl quicker than straight gas did.

    Or…. you could get a bike with fuel injection and just thumb the starter and ride away.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I agree with you entirely. Only fuel injection for me.

    • TC

      There are plenty of good used bikes with fuel injection. BMW started using it around 1988. I bought a 2005 BMW R1200ST last year for $4600, literally looked and ran like new. It was $16k new. And there are still current model bikes with carburetors, the 650cc dual sports come to mind.

    • W Donald

      I must admit that on my personal bikes I haven’t had issues with carburettors , then again I also use Visufilter fuel filters on all of them , those that don’t have vacuum fuel taps I switch the fuel tap off . Jetting is easy enough and the loss at altitude is minimal , likewise cold starting , and once set up correctly I haven’t had to do any further adjustments .
      But , in my workshop the most common problems I have found with carburettors has been when owners have fiddled with them , or on bikes that have gummed up from standing too long , and that is hardly a design fault because I have come across fuel injected bikes where the injectors had gummed up from standing and needed replacement , not a cheap excercise .
      Sure , carburettors may not be as efficient as fuel injection , but when properly set up they will offer years of good service and performance .

      • RMP52

        Millions of miles have been ridden on carbureted bikes. Occasional problems? sure, but usually easily remedied. — Yes, on a whole, injected bikes are better, but if there is a problem be prepared to pay. Technology is expensive. Now having said that, I would prefer injectors, but I sure wouldn’t shy away from a nice carbureted bike that I wanted.

  • Steve C

    Whats a new bike?

    • sgray44444

      It’s the bike you see in the showroom, before you ride off and it loses 30% of its value.

      • Obdurate Verity

        Not to mention bartering future favors and concessions from the wife for the privilege of losing at least 30% of that shiny things value…

  • clasqm

    First of all, well done on getting the little Honda for your first bike. That is precisely the sort of thing newbies should start out on. Now, to business.

    This is going to be your second bike. But the bug seems to have bitten you so it is unlikely to be your last. And a Bonneville is a great second bike. You are going to ride it for a few years and then you will be starting to look at those gorgeous 1200cc Thruxtons …

    The new water-cooled Bonnevilles are just that, new. There have been product recalls already. Nothing to get alarmed about, it happens with all new products these days, but by 2007 the air-cooled model was long out of that phase. I ride a 2015/16 T100 Spirit and its reliability approaches that of a stone axe. Someone has to go through the bug-fixing phase, but why should it be you?

    I would go with the old one, but get it checked out by a real Triumph mechanic at a real Triumph dealership. If he says that some of the carb interior bits are a bit worn (shouldn’t be, at that mileage, but still) you will have an estimate on how much it will be to fix and you can use that as a bargaining chip when you talk to the current owner. Also have all the bearings checked out, as mentioned.

    Parts availability on a 10-year old Triumph should not be a problem – this is a very popular ten-year old bike we are talking about, not exotica from 40 years ago. Get those carbs set up properly now and they will go on working for years and years.

    Enjoy your bike, and open a new bank account in which you put aside money for the next one.

    • sgray44444

      Very true about the recalls and such. Triumphs are great bikes, but they aren’t Japanese bikes. Having owned both a modern Triumph and a lot of Japanese bikes, I can testify that there is a quality difference. I probably won’t be buying another Triumph. Great character, so-so build quality.
      The older bike is a sure bet if it’s running right. Carbs aren’t that big of a deal. Make sure you get gas at stations that have reliable fuel quality, use a fuel stabilizer during storage months, and you really shouldn’t have any problems with them, as long as you are riding fairly often and not letting the bike sit.
      That said, EFI is a wonderful thing for those who just want to ride with no hassle. I definitely prefer it. I’ve been through a few carbs on my older Hondas (including synching the carbs on a V-4) and it’s not a huge deal, but these days I would rather ride than wrench, so give me EFI.

  • Larry Kahn

    Really just depends on your bank account. I have a 2007 T100 also, it’s somewhere around my 70th bike since 1968 and one of my all time favorites. About 30,000 miles, never had to touch the carbs. Or any other issues at all. After your Honda 250 it will be a glorious ride. The new one could certainly be better, but twice as good? Doubt it. But if the money is not an issue, why not.

  • DeBee Corley

    Chuck the Keihin carburetors, buy Mikuni’s. NEW! precise!

  • Mahatma

    Unless price is not a factor,go with used.The depreceation is just sick on new bikes,and modern bikes (post ’90s roughly) is solidly buildt with little or no gremlins if properly looked after-atleast an ’07 Triumph.Buy the used,and use the saved dollars on petrol and rubber.

  • therr850

    Do not worry about the carbs. I rode a 1979 Suzuki GS850G for 26 years, 100,000 miles and never had a carb problem. I do add 1/4 oz of StarTron at every fill up to control ethanol problems with the added benefit of stabilizing the gas for up to two years if you don’t ride every week. Let your heart decide. 2007 Triumphs are very reliable, fun bikes and 2017 Triumphs are very reliable, fun bikes. Enjoy the ride.

  • DickRuble

    Buy a cb500F for $4500 with 500 miles on it.. You’ll find a few on craigslist… ABS, FI, what else do you need.?

    • john phyyt

      Exactly.. Perfect choice. I agree.. Nicer ride and much lighter than older Triumph.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    We buy new cars for long warranty period, because they became extremely complicated and expensive to repair. Also there is a lot of difference between new and used interior. Bikes have no interiors and no quadro-turbo-2000 bar-diesel engines, so why the hell would you want new? Better get 2 used ones!