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Triumph Motorcycles - The Bonneville

Spring means flowers, baseball, and of course, motorcycles.  To celebrate the arrival of this great season, we'll profile several classic motorcycles throughout April.  This week, we'll focus one of the most prolific motorcycle brands the world has ever known: Triumph.  Now, all of the American motorcycle lovers, have patience - you'll love next week's update.  

Triumph Motorcycles started out their life as Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd, based out of Coventry, England with an official founding date of 1885. Triumph Engineering lived approximately 100 years until the mid 1980's when it was sold and renamed Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. The workings of the corporate politics through the years along with the ultimate change of hands is another story for another time - we have actual hardware to talk about.

We are going to skip forward to post-war Triumph, specifically the Bonneville model.  While the company's history is fascinating in its own right, the products that they have produced are what really make motorcycle fans drool.

During the 1950's and 60's,  speed trials of cars and motorcycles captivated the automotive world.  (Check out our latest newsletter featuring the Gyronaut X-1) Speed records were routinely being set then broken. Stories of  men and their amazingly fast machines occupied the covers of most auto magazines of the day. So to take advantage of the speed craze, Triumph released The Bonneville, named after Utah's legendary epicenter of speed.  Triumph's Bonneville was first introduced in 1959 and offered as a 650cc side-by-side twin cylinder motorcycle capable of an impressive 115mph from the factory.   The first Bonneville received the designation of T120 and was based off of the company's previous Tiger model. The new Bonneville shared some of the Tiger's components including engine internals and Amal carburetion. The T120 lived until the early 1970's when the T140 Bonneville replaced it. Major improvements that came with the T140 included a 750cc engine, and eventually disc brakes, a larger fuel tank, and shuffling of controls for various markets.

The Bonneville was Triumph's "workhorse" so to speak. Triumph released several variations of the Bonneville during both the T120 and T140 run to appeal to various segments of the motorcycle hobby. Some of the more notable editions included the T120C with high exhaust pipes,the T120TT for dirt track racing, and the T120 Thruxton - factory road racing model. Also, the T140D limited edition  was developed with cast wheels in a black/gold paint scheme. No Triumph collection is complete without the T140LE limited edition created to commemorate the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Today, you can still see many classic Bonnevilles running around. They've also become a staple at car and motorcycle shows and have again surged in popularity - especially since the re-release of what has been unofficially called "New Bonneville" in 2001. Overall, classic motorcycles have become a bit more hip to own and their investment value is predicted to increase. Plus, they take up less room in the garage! If you're contemplating entering the classic motorcycle hobby, start with the Bonneville. Good deals can still be had and parts/support and readily available. 

What's your favorite Triumph?  Let us know in the comment area below.

Jeff Walker

About Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker is a Classic Car Insurance Specialist and financial services professional; As the son of a Drag-Racer and auto restorer, he was born with a wrench in his hand and learned the trade at an early age. His specialty is 60’s and 70’s American Muscle but his mechanical ability has afforded him the opportunity to work on all types of cars from Alfa-Romeos to Gullwings and everything in-between. Jeff is also a motorcycle fanatic and maintains his own stable of classic & collectible bikes. He is happiest when a car or motorcycle project is underway in his garage.

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