Triumph Bonneville T100: Road Test Review
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The T100 slots in between the city-slicking Street Twin and the highway-centric T120, while attempting to offer the best of both worlds
Rs 78,000, that’s the difference between the Street Twin and the motorcycle you see in the image above. The T100 is the T120’s younger sibling (in case you didn’t figure that out already), but really, it’s a retro alternative to the more ‘millennial’ looking Street Twin. So is the alternative design all you’re paying for or is there more than meets the eye?
Put the T100 next to its bigger sibling and the differences aren’t stark. Both have the same classic styling and won’t grab too much attention unless you pick a loud paint shade. Speaking of which, the T100 gets some nice colour options and the Fusion White/Aegean Blue of our test bike looked particularly lip smacking.
Apart from that you get the same round headlamp, but no daytime running LEDs and the exposed faux carburetor, unlike the T120 or even the old T100, isn’t there anymore. The bike gets the same 32-spoke wire wheels (18’’ front, 17’’ inch rear), twin-pod analogue instrument cluster and pea-shooter pipes as big brother, but oddly, its 1,450mm wheelbase is 5mm longer!
The T100 has more road presence than the Street Twin, thanks to the more extensive detailing and chrome touches. Also, it gives you the ‘big bike’ feel that can’t quite be matched by the Street Twin. Why? While the latter’s handlebars are wider set (785mm vs 715mm), the T100 has a bigger tank (14.5-litre vs 12-litre) and the 790mm seat height is a full 40mm taller too. That seat height may seem daunting, but in reality, it’s comfortable for riders across height brackets.
All said and done, what’s consistent throughout the range is the quality and attention to detail. The Triumph branding near the spark plugs and ahead of the headlamp bulb is subtle, but shows some pride in heritage. Also, while the design inspiration is the original 1959 Bonneville, the overall quality is a contrast to British motorcycles of the era. You get the sense that nothing on the T100 will fall apart a few years down. Globally, the Bonneville has never been a machine to draw any superlatives, but it has found thousands of takers for its reliability. Credit for that goes to the engine.
While the T100 and Street Twin look worlds apart, they get the same 900cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine that makes 55PS @ 5,900rpm, a full 11PS less than the older and smaller 865. However, it isn’t something to get upset about because the Bonneville isn’t about outright high-speed performance. A fact evidenced by the 80Nm of torque, which is not only 12 Newtons more than before, but is delivered a lot earlier in the rev range too (3,230rpm vs 5,800rpm).
The benefits are reaped the second you let go of the clutch with barely any throttle input needed to potter about at city speeds. The engine’s heat is managed better than in the old T100 too and while crawling traffic will make things a bit toasty, it’s not draining like before. While the T120 (80PS/105Nm) is a breeze to ride even for novices, the tamer ‘100’ is even more so and feels more relaxed. The engine’s ‘high torque’ label is no marketing gimmick and when you throw in the torque-assist clutch, if the motor knocks, you’d have to be on a mission to make that happen. Speaking of engine noises, the note from the pea-shooter pipes is quite refined and sounds best while accelerating at low-speeds in higher gears. In this scenario, the smooth, bassy note from the engine is well-pronounced and while it isn’t too loud, it still turns a few heads.
The T100, albeit fun to ride, doesn’t have a sense of urgency in its performance and is focussed on smooth in-gear acceleration over outright 0-100kmph sprints. That said, not only did it go from 30-70kmph in under 3 seconds, 0-100kmph came up in 6.05 seconds. Throttle response is great and if you get too twist happy, traction control cuts power off quite early, which is good for novices, but can be an irritant for seasoned riders. In case you are the latter, yes, it can be deactivated too, but that’s not the case with the standard ABS.
The 5-speed gearbox is super-slick too. The gearing’s quite tall too and you can get it all the way up to 76.6kmph in 1st gear! It’s only on the open highway where a 6th cog would come in handy. Not that the transmission feels underserved, but an added ratio would help make performance post 100kmph more relaxed and aid efficiency too. Speaking of which, our road tests got us 21.3kmpl in the city and 24.36kmpl on the highway. So you can expect a real world tank range of around 300-320km.
Swing a leg over the Bonnie and the first thing that strikes you is its neutral ride stance. It’s relaxed and more comfortable than say, the Iron 883. This makes it very convenient to maneuver through narrow city lanes and makes it equally comfortable on the highway.
With 120mm of travel at the front and rear, the T100 is as bump-friendly as the Street Twin, and the long seat is pillion friendly too. If you do plan to ride two up though, best get a backrest or a grab rail fitted. The ride quality is compliant and it soaks in most of what Indian roads throw at it. Miles better than its predecessor and it’s only one of those high speed bumps (like badly made bridge joints) that can send a jolt, though that never unsettles the bike itself.
Track-tool? Well, no, but it is game for a bit of corner carving. At 213kg, it’s 11kg lighter than the T120 and while it still feels quite front heavy, steering it into and out of a hard turn is a nimbler affair. It’s also quite agile through crawling traffic and doesn’t feel overbearing like you’d expect a near litre-class machine to be – a statement made after spending nearly two hours zipping through peak hour traffic in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
The front 310mm disc brake offers good bite and feedback, but the rear 255mm disc lacks both and is mainly meant for crawl speeds. Overall, though, there’s adequate retardation on offer and our road test saw the T100 go from 80kmph to a dead stop in 31.26 metres/3.18 seconds
A ride-by-wire throttle, switchable traction control, ABS, an under-seat USB charging point and an LED tail light come as standard like the Street Twin. Since you get the same dials as the T120, the MID reads out data like the distance-to-empty, two trip meters, traction control status and real-time fuel economy display. However, unlike its big brother, the T100 doesn’t get ride modes, heated grips, an LED DRL, pillion grab rail or centre stand.
Like the Street Twin, the T100 is a city bike that can be used for a bit of light touring as well. While the Street Twin’s more spunky and neo-modern design puts it in Ducati Scrambler territory, the T100 is for someone who wants the same qualities in a traditional, arguably purist package. Even in India, it is genuinely usable as a daily ride and it’s a great partner for those 200km breakfast runs on the weekend too.
The added price over the Street Twin is mainly for the more extensive retro detailing and bigger tank and at Rs 7.78 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, you get most of the T120’s traits for around 1 lakh less. However, if you are looking at extensive long distance/touring usage, we recommend getting the bigger Bonnie instead, as the higher price is good value for the added kit and a more capable powertrain.