We recently added a new Triumph Bonneville to our collection, we’ll be using the bike at our Ride Like a Pro classes and of course, for riding enjoyment. If you’re not familiar with this bike, it’s made to look very much like the classic Bonneville of the 60’s and early 70’s. The thing that really separates this Bonneville from its classic fore-bearers, it’s as reliable as any Japanese bike and it doesn’t leak a drop of oil.
The Bonnie is powered by a fuel injected 865cc parallel twin and puts out about 65 HP at the crank. With its chain drive, most of that horsepower manages to get to the rear wheel. Since the bike weighs in at only 495 lbs. full of gas, 65 HP is plenty of power for this size bike. As a comparison, your average HD touring bike also puts out 65 HP but weighs between 800 and 900 lbs.
The SE model I purchased come with 17 inch cast alloy wheels with low profile performance tires. This tire/wheel combination combined with the bikes’ low weight makes for a blast on winding roads. Out on the interstate, the Bonnie can easily cruise at 80mph with plenty left over to pass slower traffic. The Bonnie is capable of some severe lean angles before the pegs touch the ground.
While this bike isn’t designed for long distance touring, it is a pleasure on country roads and a 200 mile day ride would be no problem at all. The Bonnie makes for an excellent second bike and with its low 28 inch seat height, a great first bike for both men and women; MSRP $7,999.00.
This morning I also took our Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster Low for a ride just to keep the battery charged up. As I was riding along I thought, why not a little comparison test between the Sporty and the Bonnie since they are both aimed at the same entry rider.
While the 883 doesn’t have the horsepower of the Bonnie, it does have plenty of torque. The Sportster also has a wider gear range than the Triumph. That means its turning over lower rpms at a given speed than the Bonnie. The wider range gears are a necessity on the Sportster since vibration can get a little annoying as the revs pass the 4000 rpm mark and up to its rev limit of 5500.
To be fair, vibration isn’t a problem up to about 65 to 70 mph. Anything above 70 mph will quickly become tiring. The Sportster Low has a 25 inch seat height. That means just about any rider can flat foot this bike. The low seat height is achieved by allowing only 1.3 inches of travel to the rear shocks and some very thin padding on the solo seat. On a smooth road, both the Sportster and the Bonneville have a firm, sporty, ride. However, even a small bump in the road will bottom the Sportster out. The slammed suspension of the Sporty also means a very limited lean angle. In other words, don’t get aggressive on a winding road with this bike.
In conclusion, while both bikes MSRP is right around $8,000.00 bucks, the Triumph will give you more bang for your buck than the Sportster. The Bonnie is smoother at all speeds, faster than the Sportster and offers a lot more of a refined ride. A 200 mile ride on the Sportster would be painful. But, if all your riding consists of short hops around town, and having some fun on a winding road isn’t your forte’, the Sportster may be just fine for you.