Modern classics take us back to the era when one motorcycle did it all, from racing to touring to city riding. Back then motorcycles were not categorised. Today, a rider is expected to know exactly what 'type' s/he is. You could be a cruiser kind, the adventure tourer kind or sports or maybe super/hyper territory is more to your liking, or if you're blessed with heavy bank balances, you could afford to have one of each in your garage.
But what if you're looking for a bit of all that in one motorcycle, and you get looks to swoon over as an added advantage. Comes in the Triumph Bonneville T100. With pure British elegance dripping off each side, the T100 makes a gorgeous looker. It is identical to its elder brother, the T120, but the more eagle-eyed will be able to tell them apart, especially as the T100 gets a single disc up front and back.
Triumph has kept the design authentically classic and hasn't strayed into the confusion of merging a classic and modern design and failing at both. The engine has been given fins that make it look like it is air-cooled, which it isn't. It gets a liquid-cooled 900cc parallel twin with four valves per cylinder. The twin peashooter exhaust looks and sounds fantastic, however the noise is quite subdued, which is not a bad thing.
You might say this review focuses too much on what the motorcycle looks like, what it sounds like. A simple reason behind that is if you've been eyeing a 900cc motorcycle that is capable of taking on a race track, this is simply not what you're looking for. Roughly, in this price bracket, you'd then rather go buy yourself a Kawasaki Z900. The T100 is more for a rider who likes to take things easy and look good doing it but every now and then also be able to feel the thrill on a highway. Having said that, I must also add that at no point did the T100 feel under powered.
One word that echos in my head when talking about this motorcycle is smooth. Well, because it really is. It gets ride by wire throttle and a torque assist clutch, which make the process of setting off and shifting up and down very sublime. There are no unnecessary vibrations, none. In fact, at times it felt like a bit more of feedback from the motorcycle would've been welcome.
The T100 makes for a very comfortable ride, supported with relaxed riding position, a soft seat and soft travel suspension. Riding through bumpy roads, which we have quite many in our country, is like sitting over a sponge cake, however the same thing when did on higher speeds, you will be bouncing off the seat a lot, along with losing some traction. Braking too is not very edge-of-your-seat instant.
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It is absolutely a no hassle handler in city traffic and highways are its favourite terrain. While twisty bits are fun on it, there's only so much you can lean before you scrape the footpegs, but then again it was never designed to take on corners like a sports motorcycle. The T100 is not a cross country tourer but will make pleasant weekend tours possible with a 14.5 litre fuel tank and an approximate efficiency of 25 kmpl.
The T100 sits in the middle the T120 and the Street Twin. The frame comes from the T120 and the engine is shared with the Street. At 213 kg, it sounds heavy enough but it is actually lighter than the T120, and maneuvering it is lot easier, and it instills greater confidence to use all of its power. The T100 will let you enjoy a top speed of over 160 kmph. While the T100 doesn't really ever feel lazy, if you're looking for a slightly more nippy throttle response but with the same classic appeal, the Street Twin would perhaps be a better choice.
Underneath the classic apparel, the T100 is at par with modern motorcycles with electronics like switchable traction control and ABS. The instrument cluster is fairly simple and gets two greyscale screens that have the fuel gauge, fuel consumption, range before empty, gear position, odometer, traction control status, cruise control status, a clock and a lot more. There's an indicator for ABS, oil, and the speedo and tachometer are thankfully analogue. The climbing needle just looks more classic. It also gets an immobiliser and a power socket.
It is the entry level Bonneville, and the only reason why you'd opt for the T120 instead is if you want more torque. The T100 churns out 54 bhp and 80 Nm of torque. However, I would rather buy a T100 and kit it with some of the 150 accessories that the brand has to offer. From chrome badges to better seats to heated grips to cruise control. Frankly, the only instance where the 1200cc engine from the T120 was missed was when there was a pillion on board the T100.
In terms of pricing, the T100 can be pitted against the Ducati Scrambler, which does have a lot better capability to off-road. The baby Bonnie, on the other hand, likes clean tarmac under its wheels. If Ducati launches the Scrambler Cafe Racer in India, it would be more of an appropriate contender to be sent in the ring against the T100.
Should you buy the Bonneville T100? For similar or a smaller price tag than Rs 7.78 lakh (ex-showroom), there are motorcycles available in the market that are faster than it. But there in lies the answer. This isn't meant for the performance hungry, this is meant for someone who appreciates the heritage and the classic DNA. This could very well be your step forwards towards heavy, more powerful motorcycles or it may as well be a secondary motorcycle for times you don't want an intensely eager engine. With this motorcycle, you get permissive power, poise, panache, plump comfort, posh classic appeal - a pure British motorcycle.