Stop us if you’ve heard the story about ’60s hearthrob Steve McQueen and his friendship with Hollywood Triumph dealer/racer Bud Ekins, who went on to be a great stunt rider/driver in a slew of McQueen moving pictures. Stop us even if you haven’t heard it, because it’s in Triumph’s press release below. These cool Bonnevilles are Bud’s payback.
The California Air Resources Board has published executive orders certifying a number of unannounced 2020 Triumph models. These include the Thruxton RS, which Triumph has already started teasing, a couple of Bud Ekins tribute Bonnevilles and two new versions of the Tiger 1200.
Within Triumph’s Modern Classics line there was always a sizable gap between the Bonneville T120 and the Thruxton. The Bonnie had a nice standard riding position and more sedate power delivery, while the Thruxton had a much more committed rider stance and sportier performance. What about riders who wanted an upright riding stance but craved more get up when the go knob was twisted? Well, the good folks in Hinckley have answered the call with the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin.
This is an unusual Ask MO Anything, as this question was delivered not by a reader but by me. During the presentation for the T100 Bonneville I rode last week, I asked why Triumph chose a 270-degree crank for its new Bonneville parallel-Twins rather than the 360-degree orientation of Triumph’s originals. Miles Perkins, Triumph’s Head Of Brand, attempted to give me a satisfactory answer but admitted I’d be better served by a response from one of Triumph’s powertrain specialists.
Triumph’s efforts at reinventing the Bonneville platform (which includes the Street Twin and Thruxton along with the T120 Bonneville) deserve huge kudos. It’s one thing to create a terrific new motorcycle that meets contemporary emissions and performance standards, but it’s another to do so while making the bikes look almost like they stepped out of a showroom from 50 years ago. They appear more authentically retro than the previous air-cooled generation, which is a massive accomplishment for bikes with contemporary liquid-cooled motors.
For 2016, the ground-up new Triumph Bonneville comes in two visually disparate color options: the T120 and T120 Black. There are no performance differences between the two unless you consider back-in-black badassness to be a performance advantage. Both models begin with a base model price of $11,500, rising in $250 increments according to paint options.
UPDATE: Triumph has announced U.S. pricing for its 2016 Bonneville lineup. The Bonneville T120 and T120 Black are available in Jet Black for $11,500. The Cinder Red Bonneville T120 is priced at $11,750 while the two-tone Cranberry Red/Aluminum Silver and Jet Black/Pure White options will be sold for $12,000. The Bonneville T120 Black will also be available in matte Graphite for $11,750.
Suppose you ran a motorcycle manufacturer lucky enough to have produced one of the most iconic motorcycle lines of an era. For the past 15 years your factories had assembled a popular family of motorcycles based on that previous generation to steady increase in sales, ultimately totaling 20% of the company’s international purchases. Still, progress marches onward, global emissions laws change, and the time is ripe for refreshing and broadening the model line. Having stewardship over an icon carries a special weight, making any revision fraught with risk. However, where there is risk, often there is great opportunity nearby. Triumph Motorcycles found itself in just that position with the Bonneville and set about the task of updating and broadening the family to meet today’s motorcycling while remaining true to its heritage.