2015 Triumph Bonneville T214For those of us living in the upper Midwest’s snowbelt, we will use any excuse to say spring is just around the corner. And we say that a lot.For a motorcyclist, the arrival of a new bike is just one such excuse. For me, it’s even more emphatic this winter considering I just purchased my first brand motorcycle since 1976 – a zero-mile, full-factory warrantied 2015 Triumph Bonneville T214.
I first fell for the T214 when we covered the series of limited-edition Triumphs rolling out of Hinckley for the 2015 model year. After writing the T214’s First Look, I was hooked. There will be only 1,000 of these bikes built, and even though mechanically they are basically the same as the Bonneville T100 Black, the aesthetics and special touches are something special.The red, white and blue paint scheme echoes the colors of Johnny Allen’s Triumph-powered streamliner. In September, 1956, Allen piloted the streamliner — known as the Texas Cee-gar — to a motorcycle world land speed record of 214.40 mph on the salt flats of Bonneville.Indeed, it was that achievement that led Triumph to roll out a new model in 1959 to commemorate the event—the Bonneville. Lest anyone forget that this bike honors that event, there is a special tank-top badge in the shape of the Cee-gar with the record information and date emblazoned on it. The T214 also honors 100 years of land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats.The Caspian Blue and white tank treatment and matching blue front fender with a white star at the prow recalls the blue nose cone and white star of the original streamliner. Meanwhile the white side covers with their red checkerboard design are inspired by the red and white checkerboard paint of the streamliner’s tail section. The blacked-out engine, rims, handlebars, forks and shocks give the T214 a basic, competition look.I felt a special affinity for the bike for a couple of other reasons. Having had the chance to compete at Bonneville four times, I came to appreciate what a remarkable place it is with so much history and breathtaking natural beauty.Bonneville International Speedway is one of the biggest and most widely know motorsports venues in the world, with absolutely no permanent infrastructure. To have a meet, everything must be brought out on the salt and removed when the event is over. I guess finally setting an AMA National Speed Record there myself this year made getting a T214 seem like the thing to do.The other link — and this is sheer coincidence — is that a couple of years ago, I stumbled across the November 1956 issue of Cycle magazine, which features the Johnny Allen world record as the cover story.There is a special number plate at the top of the steering head, telling me which of that 1,000 limited edition bikes this is — number 147. In addition, the bike includes a slick Triumph portfolio for the manual, warranty extra keys and the numbered Certificate of Authenticity signed by John Bloor. I didn’t realize those things were included, but they sure made an impression.Of course a motorcycle is the one vehicle that you can easily individualize. Though I understand the retro rationale of using the latter-day pea-shooter mufflers that normally appear on this model, I felt something that looks a little more Thruxton-like would make the bike fit its land-speed racing back story.So, I worked with the nice folks at Baxter Cycle, in Marne, Iowa, where I purchased the bike. The pea-shooters went in a box and the British Customs Predator pipes went on. They look the business, sound superb and do not negatively impact the two-year unlimited mileage warranty, I am assured by the folks at Baxter.Then, it was time to get practical; I had them add a center stand and medium sized detachable windshield. The ease with which the entire sale transaction and additions to the bike was handled by the sales staff at Baxter Cycle was really amazing — and such a contrast to some of the experiences I’ve had buying a car over the years.Not afraid to go the extra miles, Randy Baxter even made the trip to Wisconsin to deliver the bike and pick up my trade-ins just after Christmas! Of course, that may not be an option in every transaction, but it was sure a great thing for him to do. Then he threw in a 2015 Baxter Cycle calendar which features a year-long supply of classic Triumphs.Even though it was sunny the day after it arrived, when I went to fire it up, the temperature outside was 15 degrees above zero. Needless to say my first ride was brisk and brief, but what I was able to sense about the bike was all good. Of course, it’s new, so it should be. We’ll keep you in the loop as the summer and the miles progress and let you know how this special edition machine holds up.In the meantime, think spring!