2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Review – Test Ride
Ultimate MotorCycling Editor At Large Nic de Sena is on his way back from Portugal having just ridden the new 2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 through the southwest corner of the country. Before he hopped on the plane home, he sent these essential facts about riding the new Bonneville T120.
- Torque is the story. The low to mid-range torque is the real takeaway with the Bonneville T120. When cruising the tight streets of Cascais, Portugal, I couldn’t help think that this where the T120 shines. Power delivery from the eight-valve, liquid-cooled vertical twin is smooth and predictable. With a remarkably linear torque curve—the peak of 77 ft/lbs comes at an early 3100 rpm—the Bonneville T120’s power plant spools up without any shock, which put me at ease. Barreling out of the apex is nothing short of euphoric while listening to the sweet sound of the peashooter-styled mufflers hum their low thrum along the roads. Eighty horses are on tap at 6550 rpm, so there is revability in the 270-degree crank engine. For wet conditions, there is a Rain power mode.
The KYB suspension is up to snuff. The Bonneville T120 sits upon non-adjustable Kayaba 41mm cartridge forks, and dual Kayaba shocks with adjustable preload. Both ends have 4.75 inches of travel. Do you need more than that on the Bonneville T120? No, you honestly do not. Whether you’re putting it down in the twisties or rolling over cobblestone roads that would rattle the fillings out of the heads of riders less fortunate than you, to be aboard a T120 Black, the ride is superb. There is a complete lack of front-end dive, even under hard braking and the suspension is firm enough to do all the spirited riding you’d like.
- The Torque Assist Clutch works. According to Triumph, the Torque Assist Clutch “bring[s] a lighter touch and feel to the clutch to make it easier to ride, and ride longer.” When shifting, the transmission effortlessly moves into the next gear, especially when performing clutch-less shifts. With enough feedback to allow a rider to recognize that they’ve completed a gear change, it is shockingly smooth. Clutch pull is also improved by the Torque Assist Clutch design, even allowing a one-finger pull on the clutch lever to toss it into the next gear.
- The frame works as good as it looks. A tubular steel cradle frame can mean one thing to me—Triumph hasn’t forgotten its roots. More than an aesthetic choice relative to digging through paint samples at the local hardware shop, the frame is rock solid. Weight is properly distributed through the bike, and the T120 Black has a set it and forget it mentality; aim it where you want to go and like a trusty bloodhound, it’ll help you seek out the next corner in no time.
The Bonneville T120 is comfortable. When it comes to comfort, the Triumph Bonneville T120 is doing things the right way. That plank-like seat is what we’ve all come to know as a piece of the Bonneville line. Good for solo and two-up riding, the seat height is just below 31 inches. At a height of 5’ 10”, I have no problem flat-footing while at a stop.
- The “retro” Bonneville T120 is high-tech. The all-new T120 proudly wears the signs of the 21st century and boasts a complete electronic suite. ABS, traction control, ride-by-wire, LED headlights, heated grips, USB port for accessory charging and an immobilizer are all of the advanced electronic aids which come standard on the T120.
- Braking is modern. Stopping is brought to you by dual 310mm discs up front, clamped down on by Nissin calipers which is a noticeable improvement over the single rotor previous Bonneville’s made use of. There’s a 255mm rotor slowing down things in the rear. Brake feel is progressive and predictable, without any unnerving initial bite.
- The ABS works, though not invisibly. The ABS is not intrusive, however, when activated, you will feel the brake pedal or lever surge. It is a little bit alarming, but in a panic satiation, that will be the least of your worries and you will be glad the ABS is doing its job.
The Triumph Bonneville T120 is ready for customizing. Bonneville’s have always been customized. Since 1959, personalization was an intimate component of Triumph ownership. With over 160 parts in the Triumph accessories catalog, the T120 is ready to be seen and heard. To help you along the way, Triumph is offering a package to coincide with the Bonneville. Known as The Prestige, the package comes with an authentic chrome 4-bar tank badge, ribbed and stitched black seat, compact LED indicators with clear lenses, Chrome Vance & Hines Peashooter slip on silencers, barrel-style grips, chrome clutch cover, alternator cover badge, alternator inspection plate, and throttle body embellisher.
- It is still a Triumph. Triumph has stayed true to what created the brand, paying homage to its own history while realizing that the modern rider, young or old, expects more out of a bike. What the modern rider wants is that perfect combination of new and old, class with a rough edge, and utility with style. Triumph has answered that call, bringing one of its most iconic lines up to date with the latest and greatest the 21st century has to offer. Here’s to another 57 years of the Bonneville.
Photography by Alessio Barbanti, Matteo Cavadini, Paul Barshon and Freddie Kim.
2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Specs
- Motor: Liquid-cooled, vertical twin
- Bore x stroke: 3.84″ x 3.15″
- Displacement: 1200cc
- Valvetrain: SOHC, 8 valves
- Crank firing: 270 degrees
- Maximum power: 80 horsepower @ 6550 rpm
- Maximum torque: 77 ft-lbs @ 3500 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multi-plate
- EFI: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
- Exhaust: 2-into-2 exhaust system with twin silencers
- Final drive: X-ring chain
- Seat height: 30.9 inches
- Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
- Rake: 25.5 degrees
- Trail 4.1 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.8 gallons
- Dry weight: 494 pounds
- EPA estimated fuel consumption: 49.5 mpg
- Colors (standard model): Jet Black; Cinder Red; Jet Black & Pure White; Cranberry Red & Aluminum Silver
- Colors (Bonneville T120 Black): Jet Black; Matt Graphite; both w/ blacked out components and brown seat
- 2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Price: $TBA
2016 Triumph Bonneville Test Ride Gallery