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Practical Bonnevilles

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by PatB, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. As I hacked my way through Perth's traffic on my morning commute, it suddenly occurred to me just how many Hinckley Triumph Bonneville variants I'm currently seeing in use as everyday commuters. I must see half a dozen regularly, just on my own commuting route. As such, they easily outnumber pretty much every other bike model that I can recognise. The only things that even run them close are various flavours of Hyo taken collectively and a plethora of BMW boxers ditto.

    Is this just a Perth thing (or even a me thing) or has anyone else noticed it?

    I can certainly see the virtues in the Triumph twin for everyday use. Torquey, tractable engine, slimmish dimensions, not too heavy, decent fuel economy and no super-wide (hence expensive) soft compound rubber. On the downside, I can see cleaning being a biatch, but maybe it's not that significant 'cos I don't do it and the average Bonnie buyer seems to be the sort of pervert who enjoys it :bolt:.
  2. I had a test ride a while ago,there not as torquey as you might think,no where near the original Bonnie's,I used to own a 76 and a 64.I found not a lot of poke below 4000rpm.What makes me laugh though is when John Bloor{sp} started up Triumph they said there was no interest in ever making twins.
    BTW there was dozens of them at the Resent Ton Up Rockers Run in Sydney,great day except from the huge push bike ride that was on the same day in mid 30c heat,lots of smoking motors.There is a vid on utube featuring all those twins at Harrys Cafe de wheels at Tempi 2 weeks ago
  3. Agree. I went to an IMechE evening back in the early 90s, which was a talk by Hinckley engineers on the design and manufacturing aspects of the new Triumphs which were just showing their sales promise at the time. During the subsequent Q&A session, a member of the audience (who may or may not have had the initials PB :D) asked about the possibility of an up to date twin and was on the receiving end of one of the politest but firmest slapdowns I've ever heard. Much emphasis on looking to the future and not the past, avoiding comparisons with Turner's 1930s masterpiece, bikes for the 21st Century etc. etc.

    Ironically enough, when the twin did happen (presumably just to shut people like me up :D), it looked a whole lot more like a Meriden Bonnie than I'd ever envisaged :LOL:. When I asked the question in that long ago lecture, I'd actually been thinking more along the lines of a modern sports twin like the TRX850 or the BMW F800 later turned out to be. Not a Bonneville built in the 1990s but a 1990s equivalent of what the Bonneville was in 1959, if you see the distinction.
  4. Thats why I tested The Thruxton,I cannot help myself.My 64 Bonnie had a set of 32 Delordos on it etc etc.I expected a stump puller on the test ride and it ended up being a typical modern high revving buss bomb.I suppose the need to make them rev to get descent power.Great looking jigger though.I get the same thing riding modern big bore 4 banger dirtbikes after starting out on XT500s.The early Bloor concept borrowed from Doug Helm,{sp} with there modular Triples being 3 off there Modular 4 cylinders had merit,probably the only way for a new small manufacturer to get lots of engine types on line,they have done well over the years but thankfully there over that now.
  5. Perhaps the engineers at Triumph *did* want to break the links with the past, but were overruled by someone with less interest in technology and more savvy in marketing :)
  6. I think at the time the engineers at Triumph were not primarily out of the bike industry.I cannot argue with there success but that trick had been tried before at Triumph in the early 70s with major problems being the result then.Big difference between the iconic 69 and the not so iconic 72.
  7. To be honest, I think that was a major element of their success. The 80s seemed to be the decade of "The Latest British World Beater". Maybe the 70s were the same but I just don't remember them. The Hesketh springs to mind, but there were other attempts that I remember seeing being promoted around the traps from time to time. All these had two things in common. One was that they were designed and built by enthusiasts. The other was that, if not actually rubbish, they were invariably disappointing, overpriced and with major development and QA problems that would embarrass Sachs, mostly due to a complete lack of financing.

    Along comes Bloor, cashed up and interested in the exercise only as a money-making operation, with no preconceived ideas but considerable experience at making business ventures actually work. He put together a team who, bike background or not, managed to develop and productionise a range of distinctive, modern motorcycles that worked tolerably well and were priced competitively with the Japanese. Worked well enough, anyway, to keep the company afloat while further, better models were developed.

    I remember some criticism of Hinckley along the lines that all they'd done was copy the Kwak GPZ900R and its descendants. Dunno how true that was, but even if it were, copying the bike that rewrote the book on what a big sports motorcycle could do strikes me as being a pretty minor engineering sin. Whatever the facts, I think they've come far enough on their own now that it's no longer valid.

    Could well be. I wouldn't have minded seeing their take on a modern Bonneville though, rather than the retrobike that actually emerged. Ducati beater anyone? :D
  8. Those 70s problems were shockers,frame designs that needed the rocker boxs off so the engine would fit.High seat hights and my favorite,the twin leader conic hub brake that was much weaker than the earlier type twin leader.All the product of a think tank of non riders,the last nail in the coffin for the then industry
  9. I'll acknowledge that there were some major problems with the Slumberslade Hall OIF bikes (although, given what seat heights were to rise to in the UJM era, I think some of the criticisms a mite unfair) I'm not entirely convinced that they were simply a result of the design team not being riders.

    For example, a brake design either works or it doesn't. Whether the designer rides a bike or not makes not a blind bit of difference to whether the brake develops the required Gs or not. The performance can be measured by objective means and, if it doesn't work or is demonstrably worse than an existing design, you redesign it. If you don't won't or can't, that's not rider vs non-rider, it's basic competence as an engineer.

    Similarly, if you can't design basic serviceability into your product (the rocker box issue), that's a competence issue too. Serviceability matters outside the bike world. Probably more so because, at least in the OECD, most bikes are not revenue earning tools in industry. I would contend that an engineer who fails to make the engine removeable without taking the rockerboxes off is the same engineer who would design an industrial pump whose impellor cannot be removed without dismantling half the plant. The difference is that he would be rightly beaten about the professional head for inflicting the revenue loss caused by such idiocy on industry (assuming it survived the checking and QA process in the first place) but was tolerated in the British bike industry of c1970.

    IOW, the Slumberslade team came up with rubbish, not, primarily, because they were non-riders but because they were crap engineers and would have thoroughly ballsed up any product design they were entrusted with. Come to think of it, given the general state of British design and manufacturing in the 1970s, it would appear that they did.

    The trouble with letting riders design bikes is that they will, invariably, design the bikes that they want to ride. Given that not all riders want to ride the same kind of bike as all other riders (as shown throughout biking history by regular stoushes between opposing camps, from "engine over front wheel" enthusiasts vs "engine on bottom bracket" proponents to the Sports vs Cruiser vs Dirt shitfights today) it follows that a bike designed by a rider has a very good chance of failing to appeal to sufficient other riders in order to turn enough of a profit to sustain a successful manufacturing concern.

    That is not to say that riders should not have input into mainstream motorcycle design. Of course they should. But I would contend that they should not have overall control of the process because, historically, that tends to be a recipe for commercial disaster.

    [Edit] I may be being too hard on the Slumberslade engineers. At least some of the problems could have stemmed from constraints placed on them by management. Nonetheless, it doesn't take a rider to spot whether something actually works or not.
  10. blah blah blah, bunch of old blokes talking about old bikes ;)
  11. I sold them @ Sunstate for a while.
    All in all a good bike. Comfy, reliable and competent as long as they are kept within their design brief.
    And they have that little X factor.
    They don't look the same or sound the same as all the other retro's.
    Think the bonnie put out 69 ponies in 07. Not quick. But very well balanced,and I'll take that over power any day.