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Bike Review - Posted 1st April 2016
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Triumph T100 'Hinckley' Bonneville - Owner Review

This year, Triumph have introduced an entire new range of Bonneville bikes. Which must mean that the earlier Hinckley twins are classics... right? Richard Jones talks about owning one...

Since its reintroduction to the Triumph range 16 years ago, the Bonneville has become the most successful retro moto on the UK market and with good reason. The air-cooled parallel twin engine and roadster styling pay their dues to marque heritage, while the overall package is straightforward and satisfying for its target audience.

Itís obvious at first glance that the Bonnie isnít intended to be a sportsbike, and 60 horsepower is hardly going to impress the fast lads. However, in standard spec the DOHC eight-valve engine outputs its power in exactly the right place, generating maximum torque at 3750rpm Ė perfect for B-road romping. The five-speed gearbox is flexible enough for lazy riders to leave the machine in fourth, letting the motorís counterbalance shafts smooth out the ride. With its reasonably low saddle height, neutral steering and upright riding position, Triumph succeeded in giving the Bonnie an easy-going nature and a smile-inspiring attitude. The T100 comes close to achieving the firmís original aim: it looks the part of a 1960s twin but suffers none of an old bikeís drawbacks.

Triumph T100 Hinckley Bonneville Ė Owner Review

The T100 was introduced in 2004 as an upmarket version of the standard Bonneville with traditional styling cues: peashooter pipes, twin clocks, two-tone paint and careful coach-lining, rubber kneegrips and chrome engine covers. The T100 is an obvious option for someone like Richard who returned to riding around a decade ago and bought his Bonnie secondhand in 2010. ĎItís a 790cc models,í explains Richard, Ďso it predates the change to fuel injection and comes with Keihin carburettors. Only 14 years and Iíll be able to take it to VMCC ridesÖí

When he bought it, the T100 had the traditional Ďone previous careful lady ownerí and was in reasonable all-condition. The careful lady owner had made some useful improvements including fitting Hagon shock absorbers and a Triumph screen although the digital gear indicator (display invisible except in very overcast conditions) and chromed sidestand are of perhaps less utility.í

Donít knock the sidestand: the Bonnieís centrestand is notorious for being hard to use. The standard saddle is another OE fitment which is famous for being hard: itís typically firm when new and stays that way even after 10,000 miles. Richard wasnít going to put up with a pain in his posterior: ĎI had it changed for a single seat, using longer Allen bolts to avoid outbreaks of bad temper when trying to re-insert the supplied shorter bolts. A softer seat is a definite must-have.í

Triumph T100 Hinckley Bonneville Ė Owner Review
Triumph T100s on Now...

The modern Bonnie has acquired a reputation for reliability which Richard can confirm. ĎThe only failure was the regulator/rectifier which left me stranded on August Bank Holiday Monday. What fun. Insult was added to injury when I dropped the bike during a foolhardy attempt to bump start it, bending the clutch lever and tearing a hole in my rather expensive Halvarssons trousers.í

However, this mishap allowed Richard to discover one of the Hinckley Bonnieís other attributes: itís an uncomplicated motorcycle to work on, especially by modern standards. Home mechanics praise the ease of access to important areas which makes routine maintenance (and unforeseen repairs) relatively straightforward.

Upgrades abound for the Bonnie range but some aftermarket accessories should be considered almost essential. Richardís T100 came with Hagon shocks already fitted which is just as well, because the standard suspension is only just acceptable when the bikeís brand new. Unless you enjoy experiencing a deteriorating choppy ride, itís best to budget for variable rate fork springs and a set of fully adjustable rear dampers to significantly improve the Bonnieís road manners. Owners also remark that the standard exhaust note is underwhelming in the extreme and much enhanced by a set of aftermarket pipes.

Triumph T100 Hinckley Bonneville Ė Owner Review

With the passage of time, the Bonnevilleís brightwork is likely to suffer especially if itís one of the blinged-up models like the T100. Richard reports Ďsome rust appearing which will need attention.í Even the more workaday variants suffer from tatty wheel rims, pitting on the suspension units and corroded nuts and bolts. It will either need regular attention to prevent corrosion getting a grip, or a round of replacement fittings. No wonder Triumph introduced the T100 Black model with much of the shiny stuff replaced with mean íní moody black bits.

If youíre seriously thinking of buying a modern Bonnie then itís worth bearing this in mind: secondhand prices may feel affordable, but youíll only be buying a basic machine unless itís already loaded with extras. A T100 can absorb a chunk of cash to bring it up to an acceptable standard Ė and thatís without a major upgrade like big-bore engine development or beefy brakes. If youíre shopping at the older end of the range then the pre-2004 models reportedly benefit from better finish and switchgear.

Triumph T100 Hinckley Bonneville Ė Owner Review

But there are drawbacks with older bikes, as Richard explains. ĎThe most irritating thing is the measly fuel capacity of 16 litres total, with only three litres in reserve. This means you need to be looking for a petrol station after 100 miles, and switch to at 135. The newer models have larger fuel tanks so if you have the money and want to go touring then Iíd say this would be a good improvement on an older machine with the smaller tank. The fuel tank issue always makes me a bit nervous when out in the back of beyond. However, the only large-capacity petrol tank Iíve found for my model costs £930 Ė before paint! So Iím likely to remain irritated about the fuel capacity for the foreseeable future.í

That issue aside, Richard has no plans to swap his Bonnie. ĎI have owned several machines since coming back to biking and this is the one I have enjoyed most. It looks good, itís reliable, itís fast enough for me and handles like a dream. It not only inspires confidence Ė it also inspires comments from passers-by who appreciate it too.í

Thatís the T100: itís far from being the fastest bike on the block, but itís certainly one of the most fun to ride and rewarding to own.

Triumph T100 Hinckley Bonneville Ė Owner Review

Words by Rowena Hoseason and Richard Jones
Photos by Richard Jones

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