Welcome to triumphbonnie.com
You've come to the right place for Triumph Bonneville information, from the Meriden age through to the modern Hinckleys. You'll also find prints & posters, real-time live Bonneville auctions, a great selection of video clips to experience bonnies in action and thousands of bonnie images! So, dig in! But first some background ....
The Triumph Bonneville was introduced to the world in 1959 by the legendary Triumph designer Edward Turner. This was Turner's last Triumph, and arguably his best.
At that time, Triumph had purebred racing machines streaking across the salt flats of Utah at 150 mph, so it was decided to name the new bike after this famous landmark.
The exciting new street model was powered by Triumph's famous 650-cc twin, but it now inhaled through a pair of Amal carburetors rather than just a single carb.
The Triumph Bonneville came along at a time when America's hunger for horsepower in everything motorized was insatiable.
They could easily top the magical 100-mph mark, that imaginary dividing line that separated the men from the boys.
As might be expected, the "Bonnie" received very favorable reviews and grew into one of Triumph's most popular models.
While smaller Triumph singles and twins had featured unit construction (engine and transmission in one case) for some time, the 650's had always had them as separate entities, and early Bonnevilles continued this trend.
They were converted to unit construction in 1963, which resulted in a more compact design; otherwise, little was changed from the earlier versions.
Today, however, "pre-unit" Triumphs are highly coveted and much sought-after on the collector market.
There are three distinct model lines of this notable British motorcycle. They share a parallel-twin four-stroke engine configuration, but the latest motorcycle to carry this name is of a totally new design and is manufactured by the modern successor of the original Triumph company.
The early 650 cc capacity production Triumph T120 Bonneville, often known as the duplex frame model, was replaced in the early 1970s by the T140 Bonneville which was the same basic machine but with a 750 cc engine. Later T120 Bonnevilles used a new frame which held the engine oil instead of a separate tank; this development of the Bonneville became known as the oil in frame version.
Since the arrival of the current model Triumph Bonneville, the earlier T120 and T140 have been popularly named 'Meriden Bonnevilles' and the modern version is known as a 'Hinckley Bonneville', reflecting the location of the two factories and to differentiate between the distinct types.
- T120 Bonneville
The original Triumph Bonneville was a 650 cc parallel-twin (two-cylinder) motorcycle manufactured by Triumph Engineering Co Ltd and later by Norton-Villiers-Triumph between 1959 and 1974. It was based on the company's Tiger 110, and was fitted with the Tiger's optional twin 1 3/16 in Amal monobloc carburettors as standard, along with that model's high-performance inlet camshaft. Initially it was produced with a pre-unit construction engine which enabled the bike to comfortably achieve 115 mph without further modification, but later (1963), a unit construction model was made which was more compact and added slightly to the stiffness of the set-up, together with additional bracing for the steering head and swinging arm. The steering angle was altered and improved forks were fitted a couple of years later, which, together with the increased stiffness enabled the overall performance of the Bonneville to match that of its rivals.
- T140 Bonneville
Developed from the later 'oil in frame' (based on that of the BSA A65) version of the T120, the first few T140's, designated T140V, featured a larger capacity engine of 724 cc, a five-speed gearbox option and indicators, but still retained drum brakes and kick-start. Shortly after, the engine was further bored-out to 744 cc and front disc brakes were fitted. In 1975, along with engine modifications, the gearchange lever was moved from right to left to comply with regulations introduced for the American market. Several T140 models followed featuring various modifications and refinements until production ceased with the closure of the Meriden works in 1983.
The new Triumph Bonneville produced by Triumph Motorcycles Ltd was released in 2001, and has a 790 cc parallel-twin engine of the same configuration as the original "Bonnie" as they are collectively known. The 01-07 Bonneville engines use a carburettor (as opposed to fuel injection), chain-type final drive, and other features consistent with the original production Bonneville. All models from 2008 will be fitted with Electronic Fuel Injection to comply with emission regulations, except in the United States where EFI will debut in 2009. The Bonneville serves as the base from which all of Triumph's "Modern Classics" line is derived, which includes the T100, Thruxton, and Scrambler.
In 2006, Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. launched the "Sixty-Eight" line of Bonneville accessories. These include both vintage and modern aesthetic modifications to include seats, seat covers, cam covers, sprocket covers, petrol tank covers, tank badges, panniers, and other items. The Sixty-Eight line provides a complete set of OEM parts that allow Bonneville owners to create a truly distinctive and unique motorcycle for less cost than traditional customisations. As of 2007, all Bonneville motorcycles have the larger 865 cc engine which offers slightly more power than the 790 cc unit but with no additional weight.
The Bonneville is held by many to be a "nostalgia" bike that serves as a reminder of the 1960s-era Bonnevilles, and is marketed towards the demographic of motorcycle riders who previously owned older-model Bonnevilles, but who also want the convenience of electric starting mechanisms, fewer oil leaks, and better fuel economy. Thus, "new" Bonnevilles have a reputation for being ridden by older motorcyclists and those who enjoy this bike's timeless appeal. This claim is, however, unsupported by any concrete data, and some have reported that in major urban settings, Bonnevilles have begun to acquire a following among the 35-and-under crowd.
The Bonneville America:
In 2002, the 100th Anniversary of Triumph Motorcycle production, Triumph boldly entered the cruiser market with the introduction of the Bonneville America. (in 2003 the name was shortened to America), a laid back relaxed cruiser with the same motor as the Bonneville (with the exception of a 270 degree crank). In 2003 Triumph introduced a leaner, meaner and sportier version of the America and called it the Speedmaster. Destined to be all time classics, as they reflect the heritage of past Triumphs, both bikes continue to be an essential mainstay of Triumph and fierce competition in the American cruiser market.
The 1960s saw a stream of Hollywood and home-grown celebrities riding Triumphs and cementing the marque's global cult status: Steve McQueen (The Great Escape), Marlon Brando (The Wild One), Clint Eastwood, James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause) and Bob Dylan (who famously crashed his Bonneville, sustaining serious injuries in 1967), to name a few. In England the Triumph was, and still is, infamous for its connection to the "Rocker" culture centered around the Ace cafe. Additionally, the Triumph Bonneville was cemented in its legendary status due to numerous land speed records set at the Utah salt flats beginning in the 1950s and continuing through to today.
In the 1970s the Triumph Bonneville was closely connected to the actor Henry Winkler and his role as the "Fonz" on the hit show "Happy Days". Additionally, the Triumph Bonneville is mentioned in various songs by Jethro Tull and Judas Priest.
In the 1968 the stunt man Evel Knievel chose the Triumph Bonneville for his attempt at jumping the Caesar's Palace fountain. And today, the Triumph continues to thrive with the connection it maintains with many high-profile figures, such as Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughy, Hugh Laurie, Nicholas Cage, Pink, and Joseph Fiennes, choosing to ride Triumphs. Recent requests from leading motion picture and television studios to Triumph Motorcycles have resulted in key motorcycle placements within blockbusters including Mission Impossible II, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Daredevil, Tuck Everlasting, Torque, and Terminator III.
* Some information and images courtesy Wikipedia 2008