The new Triumph Bonneville is a fine blend of substance and style. Nikhil Bhatia has the details

After displaying its line-up for India at the Auto Expo 2012, British bike maker Triumph Motorcycles has finally launched its products in our showrooms. We got our hands on the entry-level bike for Triumph’s India line-up, the Bonneville, which is priced at Rs. 5.7 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

For the money, you get arguably one of the best turned out retro street bikes on sale today; the Bonnie is an attention magnet with almost universal appeal. Classic details abound in the round headlight, chrome-rich twin exhausts and simplistic tail-light, while the dual-tone paint and smart alloy wheels only add more character to the design. Triumph has even maintained the vintage look by giving the Bonnie a fake carburettor body that camouflages the fuel-injection hardware. There’s a single analogue speedometer too (with a digital display for the odo and dual tripmeters) but a tachometer isn’t part of standard equipment. Also, all Bonnevilles to date have had a common quirk — the ignition key slot is positioned beside the headlight and is inconvenient to access.

Once astride, though, riders of all sizes will immediately feel at ease on the bike. A large part of the credit for this goes to the Bonneville’s seat that is positioned at just the right height and is also large enough to accommodate a pillion in great comfort. In fact, the Bonneville’s nice, upright riding stance and well-placed footpegs are other factors that add up to make the Bonneville among the easiest big bikes to live with.

Coming to the heart of the matter, the Bonneville is powered by a four-stroke, air-cooled and fuel-injected 865cc parallel twin. The other numbers of interest are for power (67bhp at 7500rpm) and torque (6.93kgm at 5800rpm). Performance is brisk from the word go and the wide power band only eggs you to keep the throttle open with the dual exhausts letting out a refined hum. Do note, the Bonneville will not break land speed records as its illustrious name would have you believe, but it won’t leave you disappointed on this front either. The bike readily crosses the 150kph barrier with vibrations creeping in only as you rev hard in each gear. Smartly spaced gear ratios, a smooth gearbox (though first gear was a bit notchy) and a well-weighted clutch also help you make the most of the performance at hand.

What does slightly detract from the experience is the handling. Equipped with an old-school double-cradle frame, the Bonnie isn’t the liveliest of bikes in a series of quick corners, feeling better suited to long, sweeping bends. But then the Bonneville wasn’t designed for the track. In town, though, the fairly large turning circle could be a bother. Ride quality is nice with the suspension (telescopic front forks and dual shock absorbers at the rear) coping well enough with the average Indian road. All said the Triumph Bonneville is a bike that charms you from the moment you set your eyes on it. And there’s substance behind the style too. Chief among the Bonneville’s list of strengths are its sheer ease of use and accessible performance. If top speed and track dynamics are not high on your priority of must-haves for a big bike, the Bonneville could be just the motorcycle for you. That it’s also relatively affordable by big bike standards should only make your decision easier.