design-driven auto/moto mix!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Triumph Bonneville T120

Triumph Bonneville T120

The Triumph Bonneville is a truly iconic motorbike! Definitely, the best-known of the 'Brit Bikes' - and, arguably, the most celebrated classic motorcycle ever built - its very name is liable to induce weak knees in its devotees. The 'Bonnie' invokes visions of a time when the material world was made out of metal - plastic a brittle blip on the horizon. Now, the future of the planet comes before that of classic motorcycles ... but the petrols and oils of yesteryear had a 'spirit', which today's sanitised synthetics lack. Such products are part and parcel of the design icon that is the Triumph Bonneville.

It is ironic that a bike that so epitomises Sixties Britain should reference the USA in its name ... to wit, Utah's Bonneville salt flats. Back in '56, Johnny Allen had climbed aboard a Triumph Streamliner, and propelled it to 214mph. The Bonneville roadster was good for roughly half that. Still, 110mph was more than enough for most 'rockers' and 'ton-up boys'. That left 10mph margin ... in case of headwinds! For Bonnie aficionados, the bike would become virtually a part of their anatomy!

In Triumph's glory days, the Bonneville was the beacon for the brand. Some quarter of a million Bonnies passed through the firm's Meriden factory gates. On the Isle of Man, a Bonneville won the Production TT, in 1967. Two seasons later, it was a Bonneville which recorded the first 'proddy racer' 100mph lap of the 'island'. How the ton-up boys must have rejoiced! Even on less celebrated roads, the Bonneville was a legend in its own landscape! So, when the rockers decamped to the seaside, on that historic day - to do battle with the mods - it is a safe bet there was many a 'Bonnie' seen blasting down to Brighton beach!

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