2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black Review | Meat on the Bones
With the reaction and demand for the last year’s Triumph Bonneville Bobber stronger than anticipated, it is now the company’s best-selling model. The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black features only a few changes to expand the appeal of the Bobber brand, but they are significant.
I was impressed by how easy and accessible the Bobber Black is to ride. It is not really a beginner motorcycle, but it is so well balanced and easy to handle that novice and intermediate level riders may well be tempted to jump in with both feet. I took it out into the mountains of southern Spain to test the waters myself.
1. The new 2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black is an additional model to the highly successful Triumph Bobber. It is not a replacement, and the standard Bobber will be back for 2018.
2. Like its sibling, the Black taps into Triumph’s considerable post-WWII heritage from the late 1940s. It was a time when GIs would strip down (‘bob’) ex-military motorcycles to make them faster and more agile. The Triumphs went head-to-head with their US counterparts and a new movement was born.
3. In addition to countless parts now being painted, plated, chromed or anodized black, the most obvious difference with the Bobber Black is the new muscular front end. The fatter tires and beefier fork gives the rider a noticeably more secure-feeling front end in the corners.
4. The 16-inch spoked front wheel on the Black is down from the standard Bobber’s 19-inch front. The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black is shod with a 130mm front tire that, from the side, makes the two wheels on the Black look almost the same. The high-profile Avon Cobra tires give the black a very distinctive appearance; this is a truly authentic-looking motorcycle.
5. Despite that fat front tire, the Bobber Black is agile and turns in quickly and precisely. Overall the handling is easy and neutral. Line corrections mid-corner can be made quickly and without upsetting the bike. When coming back on the power, the Black shows no desire to understeer; this machine is built to ride aggressively if you feel the need.
6. The 2108 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black’s fork is a 47mm Showa design, rather than the standard Bobber’s 41mm KYB unit. The suspension is firm and sporting, although it is still non-adjustable. The Showa fork’s high quality makes for a firm yet compliant and comfortable ride, while the linkage-assisted KYB shock remains unchanged. Cruising in a straight line the bike feels comfortable and capable of gobbling up big mileage.
7. The Bobber Black feels planted on the road and holds its line beautifully, even when ridden hard through bumpy corners. Sweeping through a particularly fast right-hander, I hit a large seam across the concrete. Although it was big enough to startle me, the Bobber Black stayed true. It was an unintended, brutal test of the suspension’s capability, and it passed with flying colors.
8. The new twin rotor front brake setup is a big improvement over the standard Bobber’s somewhat lackluster brakes. The Black’s twin rotor set up with Brembo calipers is a big upgrade from the single disc and Nissin caliper on the standard Bobber. The axial-mounted two-piston calipers are powerful and have plenty of feel. Initial bite is mellow, quickly becoming much stronger if you need it to. The Black can be brought down from speed in a hurry.
9. ABS is standard and it works well. I had one panicked stop on my ride as I unexpectedly had to grab a huge handful with zero finesse in order to avoid rear-ending someone. The ABS pumped a bit at the lever, and nothing bad happened! Once my heart rate had settled back down, I realized I how exceedingly impressed I was by the braking performance of the Black.
10. The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Black comes with a no muss, no fuss one-button cruise control not found on the standard Bobber. Thumb the button to hold your speed; tap it again or flip the brakes or clutch lever and it deactivates. It is absolutely the easiest and most simple cruise control ever, bar none. I loved it.
11. The clutch now comes with a mechanical lever assist function that makes the lever light to use. Experts will be happy to have a nice light clutch, while novices and intermediate riders will appreciate being able to find the bite point easily when pulling away.
12. The Black retains the standard Bobber’s same liquid-cooled, vertical twin, 270-degree crank Bonneville 1200HT engine. The powerplant produces 76 horsepower at 6100 rpm, and 78 ft/lbs of torque at 4000 rpm. The motor feels powerful; it is reactive and torquey, and never felt lacking to me. It was always willing to produce more than enough power when I needed it.
13. The Black comes with a new twin-skin exhaust with slash-cut sawn off peashooter mufflers. The throaty exhaust note is perfect for the image of the bike. Impressively for an exhaust that sounds so good, it’s Euro 4 compliant as well.
14. The gearbox is smooth, but it isn’t a rapid-fire ratio-swapper—it requires deliberate foot action. The motor is so torquey that the rider can keep gear changes to a minimum. Simply put the Bobber Black into one of the taller gears and let the very willing motor do all the work.
15. The Bobber Black has the Bobber’s ride-by-wire throttle and dual riding modes—Road and Rain. Both provide full power with only the level of aggression in delivery being the difference. The one-level switchable traction control system comes standard.
16. The Black also comes with full LED lighting. There’s a cool, daytime running light integrated into the round headlight that is reminiscent of the Triumph T logo.
17. Plenty of details add to the authentic nature of the Black. The ribbed fenders, the heritage battery cover and stainless steel strap, the classic styled rear wheel brake hub, bar-end mirrors, the branded fuel cap, and the ignition switch down by the right heel all hearken back to bobber roots.
18. In addition to a clothing line, Triumph offers a catalogue of more than 120 accessories for the Bobber Black. The bike I rode has the accessory heated grips. Not only did they work well, the Hi/Lo/Off settings appeared in the instrument pod. Major Triumph-offered upgrades include an adjustable Fox shock, and machined aluminum Vance & Hines silencers with adjustable end caps.
19. The Bobber Black comes in two black finishes. You can have the glossy Jet Black for $13,150 or spring for the Matt Jet Black at $13,400. Cost of ownership has been reduced with the first service not due until 10,000 miles.
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro Kylo Ren
- Communications: Sena 10C
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Old School
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Classic
- Jeans: Spidi J&K Pro Tex
- Boots: Tour Master Coaster WP
For specs and a photo gallery, click to page 2 below