Triumph hits another home run with this stripped-down classic
Story by Glenn Roberts
Photos by: Kingdom Creative
The bobber phenomenon has been around since the end of the Second World War, when American servicemen returned home only to find there weren’t any new motorcycles to be had because production had been relegated to the war effort. Not content with simply returning to a civilian lifestyle after spending time at war, these soldiers craved excitement, and motorcycles were one way to acquire that exhilaration.
But what’s an adrenaline junkie to do? American motorcycles of the day were slow and heavy. Since performance parts weren’t available, the only way to find the thrill of speed was to modify their bikes by stripping them of unnecessary parts, making them lighter, and thereby faster. British-manufactured bikes at the time were no strangers to the bobber phenomenon. They had smaller engines, but were much lighter and more agile than their American Harley and Indian counterparts, making the British bikes an ideal platform to create a lightweight hot rod.
Always in Style
Styles come and go, but much like blue jeans, the minimalistic bobber has never disappeared from the custom scene, being a de facto go-to for its attitude and unique style. In late 2016, Triumph cashed in on the hot rod genre by introducing the 2017 Bonneville Bobber, and the all-out demand for the model has cemented it as the fastest-selling Triumph in the company’s 115-year history.
This year, the company has released its second Bonneville Bobber in its Modern Classics lineup. At first glance, the Bobber Black might look the same as a fully blacked-out standard Bobber, but there are some significant changes to the Black model.
The Bobber Black carries a fat 16-inch front tire on the working end of a 47 mm Showa front fork, as compared to the skinny 19-inch rubber and 41 mm KYB fork on the regular Bobber, giving the former a more muscular-looking front end. The front brakes are substantially beefier with a pair of high-spec Brembo calipers squeezing twin discs, and also up front is a full LED headlight with a distinct daytime running light signature so everyone knows you’re on a Triumph.
Less Is More. Or Is It?
There’s no question that appearance-wise, the Bobber line is minimalistic through and through, but there’s more under the hood, once you take a closer look. Like the regular Bobber, the Black comes standard with two ride modes – Rain and Road – ABS, switchable traction control and a torque-assist clutch. All of the bike’s front-end components make for a considerable upgrade, and possibly the most unexpected item to be included on the Bobber Black is the single-button cruise control, which is the most discreet and easiest cruise control I have ever used – push to turn it on, push the button again to set the speed and push it again to cancel. So easy.
During this press launch, we were to take the Ronda Road from the southern Spanish city of Marbella north to the town of Ronda on one of the best motorcycling roads in the world, I was told. Our ride was postponed a few times in the morning as we waited for the rain to pass. It was also quite cold in the mountainous region we’d be riding through, and cold and rain on twisty mountain roads don’t mix well. As predicted, the rain stopped, and as we began our ride, we could see pockets of blue sky in the direction we were travelling, but the cold persisted, made evident by snow on the side of the road at one point and a tractor that was flinging salt behind it onto the road at chest height – pass with caution.
My first impression of the bike when I threw a leg over it was it’s small stature, mainly because of the lack of extraneous parts. The bike is basically wheels and an engine, just like a bobber should be. To really put the size in perspective, it looks small when a rider is seated on it or even standing beside it, even though it actually has a 64 mm longer wheelbase than its Bonneville T120 sibling.
The cantilevered solo seat pan and well-padded seat is comfortable, and the mid-mount foot pegs and slight reach to the bars puts the rider in a …