Over the years I have tested the whole Triumph modern classics and cruiser range. All but one, that is. I had blissfully ignored the America. I had already tested the new 865 in the Bonneville T100 and Thruxton 900. Still people kept asking me whether I would test the America.
The America is the most laid-back in the range with forward-mounted foot pegs, raked-out fork and a comfortable seat. The seat is the first thing that I did notice, along with the foot pegs. The engine is also very quiet, so I lulled myself into cruiser mode after kicking up into fifth gear, which is the top gear on the America.
There is one thing that keeps surprising me about the 54bhp 865cc parallel twin engine and that is how little vibration there is. Everything is just smoother than smooth. I am a bit tempted to say that the big Triumph is a bit like a Honda in that respect (Did I just say that?).
'Everything is just smoother than smooth.'
The engine is up to 865cc from the 790 from last year, but itís still fed by two carburettors rather than fuel injection. The carburettors are of the electrically heated type to avoid icing in cold weather. As it happens I got a rough deal on my one long journey on the America. Returning from the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the South of England I rode all the way up to the Northwest in constant rain showers. All the way it rained and rained. After more than 120 miles of constant riding at highway speeds it seemed that the carburettors just drowned in rain somehow and burrrp, the engine died right there.
I had a déjà vu moment there from pre-fuel injected Harleys that threatened me to stop in the same way without actually doing it. I am not sure exactly what happens, but it seems to happen if the throttle has been opened fully for a number of miles in pissing rain with little fuel left in the tank. I left it for a minute or so and hit the starter button again.
The America started fine and I hoped we could ride a few more miles to the next garage to fuel up. But no, burrrp again. This time I left it a little bit longer before starting the engine again, crossed my fingers and luckily got all the way to the service station this time. It never happened again after this and I stopped slightly more frequently for fuel just in case. To be fair to the America, itís not that often that it rains as heavily as it did for so long as this day. When arriving home after this journey I felt like I had swam the odd 300 miles rather than riding them.
You might have guessed that the America is not the most exciting motorcycle on the motorway. I was happiest on the A and B roads where I could slow the pace down and just cruise along and sometimes look at the countryside view with one hand on the throttle and the other scratching myself. This is what the America was made for and in the US where the 55mph A roads stretch endlessly in a straight line thereís plenty of time for scratching (itís not just me is it?).
Riding in fifth gear is possible at most speeds as 69Nm of torque peaks at a low 4,800rpm. The double cone chromed silencers are placed low and contribute to the looks of the America. The sound coming out of them is not very American, though. We tested the idle noise next to a standard Harley Sportster 1200.
'...Iíd say that the Bonneville America is the perfect born-again motorcycle.'
There is no competition here, Harley-Davidson is doing resonance research and ads complicated meshing to the inside of its engine covers. I am not so sure Triumph is as advanced in this area in the cruiser market. If you donít like noise the America is perfect as it is. I did a little pillion comfort comparison too on the Sportster and America and here the America won by a very good margin. Even though I carried a very light passenger, she still had great impact on the slow-speed handling. This tells me something about the weight distribution which perhaps should be slightly more towards the front than today.
Triumph is aiming at a customer group well grown up with the America. After spending a lot of time on one Iíd say that the Bonneville America is the perfect born-again motorcycle. Whether itís perfect for Americans too I donít know, but the forks look fat and raked out and the wheels are solid, so I guess it is.
The solid cast aluminium wheels are new for 2007. An 18-inch front wheel with a beefy 110/90 tire sits on the beefy front fork. The rear wheel is a 170/80-15. The tubular steel chassis along with the cast aluminium wheels rides pretty good through the corners too. Chromed twin rear suspension with adjustable preload is in place and the 41mm fork is wide and solid with lashings of chrome. It is actually fun to throw the 498-pound Bonnie America around a bit and it handles well for its size. But letís not forget, Triumph has got the Bonneville T100 or Thruxton 900 on offer should you want more handling than cruising.
The new 865cc parallel twin is a welcome addition to a model such as the America. More torque is always good on a cruiser and enables more extensive usage of the top gear. Bonneville America handles well and does not shy away from tight B-roads. I didnít like having to stop on a rain-soaked motorway, but blame the carburettors and they will be replaced by fuel injection next year anyway. All in all it was a pleasant acquaintance meeting the America, but for me it is a bit too bland. For some that is just how they want it and my final word is that the America is just easy going.
2007 Triumph Cruisers Press Introduction