The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph Bonneville 1959-1988 | Rider’s Library

Triumph Bonneville Essential Buyer's Guide

The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph Bonneville 1959-1988 by Peter Henshaw

The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph Bonneville 1959-1988 | Rider's Library

Peter Henshaw has extensive expertise where British motorcycles are concerned. He is the author of eleven motorcycle buyer’s guides for Veloce Publishing. We reviewed two of them previously: The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph 350 & 500 Unit Twins and The Essential Buyer’s Guide BSA 350, 441 & 500 Singles.

His expertise is not limited to British motorcycles, however. He is the co-author of “The Encyclopedia of the Harley-Davidson,” with Ian Kerr and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle,”

Our latest review is on Henshaw’s Buyer’s Guide to what is perhaps the most sought-after vintage motorcycle model in the world—the Triumph Bonneville.

The Bonneville was the twin-carburetor off-shoot of the earlier Edwin Turner designed 650cc vertical twin that powered the top of the range bikes in the Triumph line prior to its introduction in 1959. The Bonneville was named to commemorate Johnny Allen’s absolute motorcycle world land speed record of 214.140 mph set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1956.

Allen’s streamliner was powered by a normally aspirated 650cc Triumph twin. With those dual carburetors and high-lift camshafts provided, the Bonneville not only had a historic performance pedigree, it had genuine street performance cred, as well.

Buying one of these classic collectible bikes can be one of the most rewarding investments an enthusiast can make, or one of the worst.   Hidden mechanical flaws, non-original parts fakery, mis-matched frame and engine numbers and endless other defects large and small can affect the value of the bike. Buying a good-looking “original” at full original price only to find out it’s really a hodge-podge of non-original bits and pieces with serious mechanical flaws can be a financial disaster.

Henshaw’s aim in all of his Buyer’s Guides is to arm the prospective buyer with the kind of detailed information necessary to help prevent that kind of bad buy.

All of Henshaw’s Buyer’s Guides are extremely user-friendly. First, they are brief; only about 64 pages, but they are packed with key information. Second, they are clear and concise; little time is spent on irrelevant or redundant information. Henshaw comes right to the point. Third, they are well-illustrated with dozens of clear color images. For example, this edition includes 123 photos. They don’t just tell you; they show you.

Henshaw’s Buyer’s Guides do more than just lay out a set of images and specifications. In the first three chapters, he lays it on the line about bike factors such as repair, restoration and operating costs, rider factors such as physical size, rider readiness to accept the foibles and limits of these vintage bikes and owner capabilities for sustaining rigorous maintenance and technically challenging restoration and repair work.

After giving the reader the chance to vet himself as a potential classic bike owner, chapters four through nine get into the nitty-gritty of what to look for in vintage Bonnevilles and how to look for it. From the various features found on specific date-ranges of models to U.S. vs U.K. specification differences, competition specials to frame/engine numbers, condition evaluation, spotting fakes and how to do a detailed top-to-bottom inspection and road test of the machine.

Chapters ten through twelve deal with the details of the purchase itself, including buying at auction. Chapters thirteen through fifteen get into restoration (to do or not to do), paint issues and problems that arise from non-use of the bike. Chapter sixteen is a valuable resource list for potential buyers/owners and chapter seventeen provides technical specification data by operating system and model year, using three representative models—1959, 1968 and 1979.

Whether you’re an interested enthusiast, would-be owner or current owner of one of these iconic Triumph models, Peter Henshaw’s Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph Bonneville 1959-1988 is a great resource to have at your fingertips.

Book Data

  • Title: The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph Bonneville 1959-1988
  • Author: Peter Henshaw
  • Published: 2014 Paperback. 64 pages. Measures 5.5” x 7.75.”
  • Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
  • ISBN: 978-1-84584-134-8   MSRP: U.S. $19.95 U.K. £12.99 CAN $21.95

For more books on motorcycles, visit Ultimate MotorCycling’s Rider’s Library.


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