Video: An Honest Review of the Triumph Bonneville

12/11/2013 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS


Is there truth in motorcycle reviews? That seems to be a debate that crops up time and time again, as it is hard to believe the journalistic veracity of publications that are entirely dependent on the dollars that flow forth from the major motorcycle OEMs. The conflicts of interest are high, the deadlines are tight, and there is of course the small matter of people having a difference of opinions, which all leads to public mistrust.

So it is refreshing when we see a frank motorcycle review that is free from the entanglements of typical motorcycle assessments — you know, a real honest impression of how a motorcycle is built in the factory and rides on the open road.

With a review as honest as this about the Triumph Bonneville, our protagonist has almost assured himself of a short career in motorcycle journalism. Still, it certainly provides some worthwhile entertainment, as long as you are not easily offended. It is possibly not safe for work as well — not that you read A&R from the confines of your office chair of course.

Source: On Two Wheels via Bikes in the Fast Lane

  • Chris Blair

    That was AWESOME!

  • starmag

    He obviously thinks he should have gotten a Multistrada for his $8K. Jeez, I thought I was nit-picky and cynical. He strangely doesn’t make any mention of selling it. His recommendation at the end makes him seem more than slightly bi-polar. Alternatively, he could have actually loved the process and it’s just click bait. Someone spent a lot of time editing.

  • You really know how to suck the fun out of a colostomy bag with that sense of humor.

  • Chris Blair

    I was thinking the same thing. He must ride a Triumph. A Bonneville in particular.

  • starmag

    Your implication that I eat feces has been received. Are you sure you want to show that off?

  • Br549

    I had a 2004 T100. I loved it. One of the few standards still available.

  • starmag

    Chris Blair says:
    December 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    “I was thinking the same thing. He must ride a Triumph. A Bonneville in particular.”

    Sorry about your theory Chris, ZRX1200, KLR650, CB900f.

    Hard-core “truth” telling is for videos but not for the comments. Got it.

  • Kenny

    Hahah! I had forgotten about this guy. Check out his video on how to change oil on a SR500.

  • gabe

    As the owner of a bike that gets too much undeserved loved from its owners and too much derision from others, I know exactly how this guy feels (1993 Katana 750)

    It is possible to love a bike that is nowhere near perfect for anything.

  • Jeremy C.

    Great review! Thanks for your honesty.

  • Jake F.

    Jemaine Clement’s Australian cousin is a pretty funny guy!

  • Jordan

    I really enjoyed this video. It was funny and effective at pointing out the flaws that appear to be overlooked in the retro/chic circle jerk you see in common reviews. It also illustrated one of the strongest attributes of the bike, such as when you put the work in to rectify the bike’s shortcomings, you can relish in the reward of something that works so much better.

    This guy should write for ‘Bike’ Magazine.

  • Norm Fraijo

    I like any statement that ends with “Got it” minus a question mark.

  • Jw

    I bought a brand new 1978 Bonneville, it was made in Englund. I had no idea this new bike is made in Tiawan. This review is a masterpiece!

    Talent like this should find its way into some form of motorcycle journalism

  • Drew

    Awesome video! I have a Triumph Speedmaster and think many of the same things about it. It’s truly unremarkable, but is a nice, dependable bike. It also has lots of little quirks that need to be ironed out before one can be truly happy with it. I’d love to see more owner reviews like this. To paraphrase one of our founding fathers, “I hold it that a little sarcasm now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the motorcycle world as storms in the physical.”

  • Brian Stevens

    I kept my Bonneville for about 8 boring months until I test rode and bought a Ducati Hypermotard 796. A while later I got what i had been looking for : the HM 1100 Duc. Have never looked back. Fun fun and more fun. The Bonnie might look good, but beware ! It is just a very watered down copy of the original.

  • Paul McM

    That is the most candid and clever bike video review I’ve ever watch. Bravo. I should attempt a matching video on my Honda VFR 800 — described by countless sycophantic bike reviewers as “best sport touring bike ever made” or alternatively the “Second Coming of Christ on two wheels”. I love the build quality of the VFR and the silky smooth gearbox. But it is gutless under about 6800 rpm — requiring double downshifts on the highway for spritely passing maneuvers. It is overweight for its class, with poor shock performance in the rear. The seat seems OK at first, but the angle pushes your junk into the tank and the bad shape and crappy foam makes it seem like your tailbones are riding on metal rods after 45 minutes. Sport tourer par excellence? Umm, it doesn’t handle soft bags very well at all. It’s choppy as heck on freeway expansion joints, constantly jolting the rider. My girlfriend hates riding on the back because the pillion is small, pitched forward and the rear pegs are so high. Yes the VFR 800 is reliable as a rock, and the motor is sweet at high revs, but it is far from the brilliant “all-rounder” machine the press made it out to be. My 1984 FJ1100, though porky, was a far better mile-gobbler and had way, way better seats for both rider and passenger. That 30-year-old FJ had phenomenal roll-on performance, and got significantly better mileage than the VFR to boot. The VFR is a good, not great sporty bike. But a decent “sport-tourer” it is ain’t — not by a long-shot.

    Somebody should have a subscription-based website with honest owner reviews only. Jensen — domain name is available. I’ll be the first to pay $20/year!

  • Chris Blair

    Not at all Mr. Mag. But I will clearly leave the telling of truth to you.

  • jet

    I have to admit guy’s that beside’s my Ducati i have another love,she is my work horse and grocery hauler and has never left me stranded,it’s my 2002 Honda 250 Rebel ! lol cause i can hear you.Bike’s like this here Bonneville are just super cool and comforable,it’s an escape and if i ever did and i did get teased by a single or group of hog’s wanna-be’s i would just smirk and know that what’s in my dungeon on a tender under a blanket and cover is my weapon of chioce.Having a nice grocery ride is not to be takin lightly for i know i wont get a ticket on her,lol.I don’t know what caused me to confess,fawk it..

  • Brian

    Brilliant, it reads like early Jeremy Clarkson car reviews, when he was doing a regular column for the Sunday Times. This is exactly what the world needs, caustic reviews that challenge the sugar the PR departments spew out. I loved it.

  • Tanker Man

    Every bike mag needs a reviewer like that.

  • meatspin

    actually reads more like yahtzee’s zero punctuation reviews over on the Escapist.

  • This was great. Honest and pointed out the parts that suck. Spot on!!

  • Ruger

    Funny piece and well done.
    Suggestion: Buy a used Honda rectifier/ regulator on eBay and fit it down in the rear wheel fender.
    Better looks and better rectifier. (It gets plenty of air – I’m in SoCal and no problems with heat).
    Now you have room to drop your headlight and flatten out the gauge cluster using a lay-flat bracket.
    Also, have your dealer (or yourself) install proper shocks and fork springs on day one.

  • Pinktoe

    Liked his honesty about the bike but his cut in images and commentary are racist and I hope he is unable to find a job anywhere as a journalist.

  • Stupendous video!

    Makes you realise, All that glitters is not gold!

  • Judge

    @Pinktoe Sense of humor required. “I equate the sound of my exhaust to a kindly black man’s voice”. That’s hilarious!!

    Or was it “should provide years of reliable service” old lady that offended you?

    Priceless. More please!

  • Craig

    Really? Who doesn’t get this for what it is… GREAT humor with no boundaries and really true overview of this bike. All cheap bikes need STUFF… My SV650 for instance… Penske and Springs / Emulators in the front make all the difference…
    I can appreciate his point of view 100%.

    As far as racist or whatever… Some on this log need to take the beam out of your own eye before pointing out the twig in someone else’s…

    Loosen up and if you can’t… well, quit typing!

    Cheers and Merry Christmas!!!

  • Chris Blair

    All hail Craig! Champion of common sense and unfortunately much needed interpreter of comedy.

  • gord lalonde

    loved this review/ hilarious/ #funny ;)

  • Hayabrusa

    Jensen –

    Better hire this guy before someone else does! Awesome review! Any biker knows you need to tinker with your ride, so his discussion of the bike’s shortcomings (and how to fix them) is totally warranted. I can think of a few American Cycle Mags that their reviews pretty much claim most bikes are perfect – it’s refreshing for someone to tell the truth!

  • MikeD

    GOOD JOB, Sr. The motorcycling world could use A LOT MORE “regular Joe with some common sense” reviewers like yourself.

    I sure appreciated how he pointed and mentioned all(or most of) the + & – and how to fix said negatives or at least improve it.

  • Joe Sixpack

    I loved this video. He’s right about the suspension and brakes. Sorted with springs, shocks, pads and SS lines.

    I’m surprised he didn’t change the bars. Wakes the bike right up.

  • sam0000kent

    Read the comments before watching the video – excellent video and very entertaining. Great comments on here about cutting through the BS too.

  • paulo

    True the suspension. That was the biggest improvement I could recommend on my new-owner survey.

    I disagree with the brake complaint and fueling issues. Mine (2012 w/23k miles) stops very well and the fueling is spot on. Never stalled or exhibited any other bad manners at low speed or high.

    It certainly isn’t strong- high speed acceleration is definitely lacking.

    Lack of tie down points, no helmet lock and stupid second key for the fork lock all valid points, but I honestly never noticed the bracket behind the head until this video. I had to go look at mine to see- it’s painted black!

    Overall very enjoyable review. I appreciate the effort that went into it.

  • Very funny stuff and some it very accurate. But many of the criticisms could be made of most similar bikes. Full time journos are jumping on and off of different bikes all the time so have a proper reference to judge a bike by. This guy doesn’t appear to have that experience. It doesn’t make his comments invalid but the context has to be considered. For instance he has ridden one Triumph Bonneville, on a product launch most journos would ride two or three or more different bikes. An individual bike can have a specific problem.

  • Marlon

    Hey everyone! Thanks for your kind comments…

    Joe Sixpack – since the video I’ve changed to Renthal Ultra Low bars and man, the thing feels fantastic in corners now. Much more direct feeling to the steering. (I’ve also put an aftermarket dash on it, changed the headlight ears, moved the ignition etc.)

    Paulo – glad to hear you haven’t had any problems with your bike. Maybe you got a good one? Or I got a dud? It’s pretty well sorted now though and I’m going one tooth down on the front sprocket to try and get rid of the ‘slight’ jerk (ahem) when I roll on the gas.

    Paul McM – you need to chuck something up on YouTube about the VFR. All I’ve ever heard about the bike is how damn fantastic they are. I’ve had a play inside one and mechanically it was gorgeous. But people get overly-enamored with bikes sometimes and struggle to admit their faults.

  • Marlon’s pre-purchase research must’ve consisted of reading a couple of reviews while at a BBQ getting blasted on cheap beer surrounded by the distraction of the Swedish Bikini Girls.

    While I haven’t read any reviews that treated the suspension as harshly as Marlon did, EVERY review of the Bonnie (and siblings) I’ve read pans the suspension. EVERY one.

    And as far as the low speed throttle issues go, THAT is a problem with almost every fuel injected bike. Only in the last few years have the makers been able to reduce, but not eliminate, it. Most of the problem is because of the legally mandated emissions crap, which Marlon took off…. I don’t know anything about that 400 he had before, but I’d venture it was probably a carb’d bike.

    Now, many of the rest of his complaints strike me as being legit. Stupid place for the ignition key. Idiotic to use so many different fasteners, but my Honda has the same foolish engineering. Oh, and I have to pivot BOTH cans out of the way to change the rear wheel.

    Hopefully, Triumph is busily engineering a new New Bonnie that will sort out these problems, especially many of the niggling and simple one’s for the maker to solve. Lose weight on the bike. Improve the fueling. With all that said, remember that until the announced new 250cc bike hits the market, THIS is and has been Triumph’s least expensive bike since it was introduced.

    (No, I don’t have one. Yes, I do want one. I’m holding off to see what T has in store for the next gen.)

  • Dave