Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bonneville At 52

It was a slightly odd sensation to get back in the saddle of my 2007 Triumph Bonneville after three weeks away. Especially as I spent my vacation riding the smooth and powerful BMW R1200 ST in Italy.

For my life in the Keys, home to one main road, flat and mostly straight, the 60 horsepower Bonneville does very nicely.

The appearance of the Bonneville is supposed to harken back to the glory days of parallel twins when in the 1960s Triumph ruled the motorcycling roost with these fire snorting high performance bikes. The high performance label has moved on a bit since then of course!

I like the styling of the "new" Bonneville which does remind me of the rides of my youth except that this machine is vibration free, oil leak free and vice free and as such makes an excellent daily rider. People talk wistfully of old motorcycles having"character"but all that means is they rattled and broke wires and lost boil and bolts down the road. I lust after my bikes of old but as dust catchers, not daily riders anymore.

With 52,000 miles on the clock since mid October B2007 I have put this bike through it's paces, including two long distance Iron Butt rides and tours on the mainland, all in addition to my regular 26 mile commute into town.

The miles add up because I find the Bonneville easy to handle. After dealing with the 110 horsepower BMW Sport Tourer in Italy the Bonneville felt gangly and loose limbed like a bicycle by comparison. However the relatively wide handlebars and upright seating make it easy to check traffic and control the motorcycle.

I use regular gas and it was a relief to be ack in the US where gas is $4 a gallon compared to Italy's €1.60 a liter ($10 a gallon). It cost me €20 to fill the BMW or thirty bucks, whereas I fill the Triumph with about three gallons, like the BMW for $12. I'd like greater range on the Triumph which will go about 170 miles on a tank but which sees me refilling realistically every 110-120 miles.

But this is a classically styled and classically good looking motorcycle and a huge tank would look out of place especially as most of these motorbikes end up in the hands of weekend riders. That I have adapted it to daily use with a top case panniers and a windshield is sacrilege to those who view these machines as motorcycle art, to be chromed and pampered and reserved for looking good.

Mine lives under my house and despite regular cleanings corrosion has started to take it's toll. I figure one day when I care enough I can have the engine casings painted black.

And maybe I should do the same for the exhaust pipes?

This is my machine, that still makes every commute a modest adventure, especially this time of year when rains come at a moment's notice. The $65 Pelican Case 1430 panniers are working out very well to put my odds and ends out of the weather. The top case carries my man purse and I use it to store my helmet and gloves when I'm away from the bike. I have it all figured out and that creates a bond with a machine that is my transport.

I wish I got better mileage but even at 43 miles per gallon I'm having more fun than driving a Prius and that counts for a lot.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Suwannee Refugee said...

You should just be commended for riding your bike for 52000 miles. Most folks would have already gotten rid of the thing.

Conchscooter said...

I cannot imagine selling it. I find it odd how people name their motorcycles when they buy them and get rid of them on a whim. I don't name mine because they are machines but I bond with them because I am the one with feelings.