2010 Triumph Bonneville T-100 Ride Report Part 1 – Thrust into the Thick of It

This is the first in a series of articles reviewing the 2010 Triumph Bonneville T-100 over the Christmas Holidays in the Phoenix Area, 2010.

A couple of months before Christmas, I had a few plane tickets that needed to be used before they expired.  Sheila said that she wanted to go to Scottsdale between the holidays to get together with her closest girlfriends and their kids.  Sounds like a great idea — although I thought I might enjoy it more if I could break away from time-to-time and ride on the roads that I spent the first 40 years of my life on.

A call to my friend Johnny Scheff, the Triumph Dealer in Chicago (MotoWorks Chicago), got me in touch with their National Marketing crew, and a bike was arranged.  I would need to pick it up in Anaheim and drop it off there, but that just meant that I would have a great “getting to know you” ride on the 380 mile trip out, and then make a great ride back on one of my favorite rides — Phoenix-Wickenburg-Parker-29 Palms-LA.  That was the plan, along with a ride up to Globe, AZ and some nice around town stuff.

Time marched towards the date, and the bike firmed up to be a Triumph Bonneville T-100.  I kept checking the weather, frowning at all the rain that was pouring down over the Southwestern United States.  California was getting plastered.  Arizona was getting the leftovers.  The temperature was plummeting.  I kept looking at the reports.  At the last minute I packed all my late fall gear and resolved to make the best of it.  61 degrees in LA when I landed.

The 2010 Triumph T-100 Described

The Triumph T-100 is a throwback-bike.  It’s made to look like a 1960’s T-120, but the similarities end at the looks.  This T-ball is all new, from the fuel injection that inhabits the carburettor-like intakes to the disc brakes, electric start, modern Metzler tires and…  Gear selection with the left foot.

The audience for this bike is fairly wide.  Number one would probably be the now-to-familiar “re-entry rider” that rode when they were kids, then had their own, and now, as they get older, are ready to get back on the bike.  The Bonneville was the classic Bike for years.  Brando, Fonzie and “The Steve” all were Triumph people.  The heroes of one’s youth are revisited in a most natural way on the modern Bonnie.

The second audience would be someone that wants a “town” bike.  Not everyone embraces the forward-lean of many mid-level bikes, and often the whole dual-sport look is best left to those that can’t leave their house without all their tactical gear.  Many people just want

A Nice, Normal, No-BS Bike.

One that they can ride around town easily and well, take short trips to some curves, and just have a reliable, well-handling standard bike.  A bike that is tough to describe, but you sure as hell know it when you get off it after riding around for a few hours.  This is the bike I had hoped to find when I decided to brave the weather and spend a week with a new Triumph Bonneville.

The Long Ride Home

I picked up the bike after taking my first and last Prime Time Shuttle ride from LAX to Anaheim.  The local shop that cares for the demo fleet had a bevy of old BRE Datsun 510s (yes, those 510s!) and I knew right away I was in a Gearhead Paradise, one of many pocketed away in the small industrial parks around the LA basin.  I could’ve stayed and talked all day, but it was already 1pm and I knew that I was losing an hour crossing the AZ border, so I had to get on the road.

Super wire wheels and a disk brake. Minty.


I had read the manual for the T-100, available on-line, a few days before from the Triumph Website, so I was familiar with any details that needed to be covered.  Poring over the details I found only this — the choke, located under the tank on the left, can be pulled out all the way for very cold weather, or halfway for mildly cold weather — once warmed up, just push it in.  And that’s about as eccentric as it gets.

I took the 91 out of town through Riverside, since it was right there and I was familiar with it.  It was the second day after Christmas, a Monday, and this early in the afternoon I expected the traffic to be light.  I was wrong.  There are malls scattered across the Chino Valley/San Bernardino area, with the Largest Outlet Mall on the Planet on the extreme East end in Cabazon.  I hadn’t lived or rode in LA for two years, but I soon remembered how to split lanes.  I’m not a hot-rod lane splitter on my best day, but it took a long time to get out of town.  I looked down at the trip meter when traffic finally broke. I had split lanes for 50 miles and taken 2 hours.  The sun was now way behind me as I dropped into the Santa Catalina Valley to ride past Palm Springs and Indio.  I stopped for gas.  The desert was getting cold.  I added layers, thinking about maybe getting some Coconut Cream pie at Chiriaco Summit with a hot cup of coffee, another 50 miles up the road, at the highest point on the trip.

On the climb up to Chiriaco Summit, you actually start in Indio,  which is just below Sea Level.  You then climb 4500-plus feet in less than 25 miles.  The climb is so steep there are warning signs to turn off your A/C in the summer, and six or seven water stops so you can quench an overheating car.  No worries about overheating today, and the just-under-900cc engine of the Triumph T-100 just made the hill into something as flat as Nebraska.  Tons of torque and mid-range, I slalomed through the slower traffic like a Jack Russell Terrier through an obstacle course.  Fun stuff, even in the rapidly declining temps.

I arrived at Chiraco Summit just as the sun dipped behind the Santa Catalina Mountains.  I realised that I had 230 miles to go, all in the darkness, and I knew that the Arizona desert punished people with sever temperature declines after 10pm.  No pie today.  I topped off and knew that I could make Quartzite before seeing the low fuel light again.  Time to drop the hammer and see how these lights work.

A nice set of tail lights provide visibility for the cagers. Love the seat logo!

Plenty of light.  The Low Beams light the road in front of you with a very predictable beam, and the high-beams give you the light you need to really drop the hammer and cruise 80mph, as long as it is on an Interstate and a road that you know.  I know this road, having run it easily 200 times.  I arrived at the Love’s truck stop in Quartzite shivering cold.  I couldn’t get warm, was coughing and DEFINITELY not happy about it.  Still the T-100 Bonneville was such an easy bike to ride, I might have been in an old Pontiac Station Wagon had it not been cold.  It didn’t occur to me at the time, but after 4 hours of seat time and two hours left, my butt wasn’t screaming like it might have been on a lesser bike.  comfortable.  Hell, could this bike be a sleeper on long trips?  I’m not tired, not sore, and definitely not feeling well, yet this bike, sitting underneath me at 75-80mph, is hardly noticeable.  Between the weather and my cold, I have problems, yet this bike not only isn’t one of them, it feels wonderful beneath me.

Headlight throws out plenty of light for safe night riding, even on the super slabs.

I just wished that it would shed a little more heat off the engine.  Not really much of a nit to pick?

I finally hit the outskirts of Phoenix about 9ish, filled up and noted that it was cold enough indeed.  I knew that I wasn’t going to die of hypothermia at this point, but Scottsdale is on the other side of Phoenix, and Phoenix is One Big Damned City when you take land area in Consideration.  Somehow I felt better, knowing that this bike was just a wonderful long distance bike — something that I hadn’t expected — and now with the short distances, I gathered the strength to ride through a few nice freeway transition ramps presented to me and arrived into the welcoming arms of my wife and wonderful daughter.  Two days after Christmas, and a warm family and fun bike to ride for a week.  Santa not only hung out late on Christmas, he stayed and brought dessert.

22 thoughts on “2010 Triumph Bonneville T-100 Ride Report Part 1 – Thrust into the Thick of It

  1. You and all the Bowl game people (as well as us locals) were a wee bit surprised by the Big Chill. Over the New Years Holiday weekend it got much worse (20 degrees at our house near Deer Valley Airport) so I think you caught the only warm weather we’ve had in a couple weeks.

    How does this bike compare to the V7 you bought? I test road one and I’m simply too tall for it.

    Come back in the summer………. give a shout first. :^)


  2. I agree with Ron…

    Love the look of the V-7 – so much like my old and beloved R65, but I’m too damned long in the inseam for it. Yet, I want a roadster. Looking forward to your further comments and impressions of the Bonne.

    You’ll note (if you happen to check out “The Church of the Open Road”) that I espied one at a recent winter tour of local motorcycle shops. Looked sweet, but clearly was no V-7.

  3. They must have improved the seat, as my departed 06 Bonneville the seat was as hard as an ironing board and I had to go to a Corbin.

    My big problem with the new Triumph’s is that they are now Thia-rumphs, and If I am purchasing a English bike I would like it put together in England. That is what pushed me over to the MG V7C and I could not be happier. To me the V7C is lighter, and handles much better than my 06 Bonnie, and handles the twisties of North Carolina much better than the Bonnie.

    But this is the opinion of this old man 🙂


  4. Nice write up Dan – I considered a new Bonnie before I bought my Breva750 in 2004 but for me there was something about the Guzzi engine that was just special – and I felt it in the first 10 minutes of the test ride. Not to say I wouldn’t like a Bonnie as well, but to me the W650 (and probably the 800) out Triumph the Triumph. They are more “cobby”, if that makes the slightest bit of sense!.

  5. Good for you Scotty…
    I’m impressed with the retro look of the Triumphs and LOVE the look of the W650, and wondered if Dan or anyone else would mention it. W800? I wasn’t aware there was such a thing, and since most reviews of the 650 mention a lack of power that would be a logical step to take on Kaw’s part.
    I’m also waiting to hear Dan’s comparison to the V7.

  6. Don’t think I’m going to do a comparison with my V7. I’ll lay out the case for both bikes. It’s a matter of what bike speaks to you more than anything else. I had a wonderful time on the Bonnie, and the next article will spell out what a day trip in the twisties are like.

  7. Pingback: Triumph Bonneville Report, Day 2: You Can’t go Back, but the Ride there is Awesome « As the Dude Abides…

  8. The 2005 Bonneville black I had would have me wanting to get off after 1/2 an hour, the seat was not much better then a plank.
    I like the old ones better, the 1979 Bonneville is a fine bike, lighter, more power, better handling, and more comfortable.
    The ones I had were very reliable, even during 9000 mile trips, around the US.
    9000 miles in 3.5 weeks, its got to be comfortable!

    Last time I was in the dealers, I noticed they have a few different style flat seats now, when I had mine, it was stock or the solo seat, that was it.

    The motor seems big and heavy, but ran fine, no issues with my bike.
    Much heavier bike then the old ones, you would think modern would be better….

    I may have to rethink the V7 classic, you seem to be comfortable on any bike you ride, and I thought the Guzzi would be just the ticket for comfort based on your review…!

  9. @Bill Maier The new Triumph Bonnevilles are made in England, not Thai(land) or anywhere else in Asia.

    People are more credible when they have facts right.

  10. David_R8

    I have my facts straight. Since the middle of 07 all twins have been assembled in Thailand. All vin numbers prior to 07 the eleventh character was a J which is the place of manufacture England. After the middle of 07 up to the present time the eleventh character is a T which shows it was manufactured in Thailand. The parent company will tell you that they are assembled in Thailand.

  11. I have a 2010 Bonnie Jet Black T-100. This bike is very forgiving. Handles and brakes well. As for the Thai connection. The 865 engine is made in Hinckley. The bike is assembled in Thailand. I wanted a new Bonnie. Not used! If you can find me a motorcycle,car,truck that is 100% American or British in 2010 let me know. I guarantee the parts on them are from Japan,China,Mexico,Canada, etc. The Heart in my Bonnie was made in bloody”ole” England!

  12. I’m a big admirer of the engineering standards. Where it’s assembled means much less than how it was designed!

  13. The 2007 stock Bonneville seat was cheap and hard so I put on this one from Burton’s bike bits http://www.burtonbikebits.net/images/CIMG1918.jpg. It is comfortable for all day rides. I added a grab rail and it looks much more like a late 60s real Triumph, I suppose.

    The stock handlebar is too wide, too high and too far back. I got a set of Omar’s and they are practically infinitely adjustable. http://www.rearsets.info/handlebars.html. I have much more steering control and balance countersteering in the turns. Plus I lean forward just a titch and that is sooo comfortable all day in the wind.

    I swapped out the headlight for a Cibie with 100 watts. Wow. Daylight at night.

    I put on an electrical connection and wear a heated riding suit in cold weather. It gets toasty hot. Even the gloves.

    I have tuned the bike up with Staintune cans and richened the jetting. It added a couple horsepower. A complete re-jetting and Airbox mods will turn the bike into a truly powerful twin compared to stock. Apparently there is a huge performance gain from these changes for very little money and trouble. That is next.

    I have lots of bikes. Many cost three times more than the turnip. But I think it is possibly the BEST all round roadbike I have ever owned. If you count the smile it puts on my face. It is definitely not the fastest or the most sophisticated. But that is part of what makes it so damn charming.

  14. Thanks for all the info Dan. I’m getting either a thruxton, bonnie, or v7 cafe in the next few weeks, and I’m having a hard time deciding. I love the classics, and love long distances and living off the bike (with full luggage), so it’ll have to serve double duty in brooklyn/manhattan streets, plus long trips during the off months.
    I used to have an r60/5 and could ride that beautiful machine all day and into the night … looking for a bike that gives me that same feel balanced forward against the wind, yet super stable in the cross/truckwash turbulence. I like the beefier weight of the triumphs (more like my airhead), plus my beemer had low cafe bars and I’d usually keep my feet back with toes on the pegs for comfort, so I’m less worried about the thruxton geometry – but I’ve heard it’s way too agressive for long-distance comfort, and that it – and the bonnie – aren’t as stable feeling at speed as the guzzi. true?
    Any advice would be great since you have experience with all of them. And regardless of what I get, I’ll be stopping in the area in July to see family in Troy (where I grew up) on my way out on the first trip. We’ll have to get a ride in while I’m there.

  15. Wow. Such responsibility!

    I had a Ducati ST2 that I toured with for a bit, and the forward-ness on those bars didn’t limit me, but did have me sore as hell after a 6 hour stint, looking for the Advil. The Guzzi’s position is very nice, the cafe more aggressive — I split the difference with some Norman Hyde “M” bars on my classic now.

    Depends on what you like. The Bonnie’s gonna have a little more top end, a little more maintenance with the chain and adjustments. The V7 is a little slower, but low maintenance and much lower in the gravity department. The V7 “bags up” nice — I can’t speak to the Bonnie in this regard since I just used a backpack – I pack very light.

    Try them all. The “right” bike will speak to you. Don’t disregard the Scrambler or the Duc 1000GT (I haven’t been on either much). Scrambler owners swear by them.

  16. Bonnevilles a great bike. I’m on mine all the time and the bike now has 20,000mls. Runs perfectly and handles well. Awaiting my airbox removal kit to arrive. Apparently makes a huge difference in mid range torque. Pretty good already so I’ll look forward to the improvement!

  17. Triumph is a discrace, well it’s just a name for a bike
    MADE IN THAILAND/TAIWAN not England like a true
    Triumph which was made in Coventry or Meriden entirely.
    You will hear the globalist sucker nonsense it makes business
    sense hence bankrupt your home country by making goods
    overseas. Now lets look at Norton despite all what’s going on
    there goal is to make the bike 100% British made.
    They can’t make the bikes fast enough and yes they
    cost almost twice as much as an asian pot metal “Triumph”
    People aren’t stupid they want real quality machines and will
    pay for them. Do you think a millionaire would pay $300k
    for a Bentley if it was “assembled” in India or Thailand?
    NO because it would no longer be a Bentley just like a
    “Triumph” is nothing like a REAL BRITISH made Triumph.
    I will buy a Norton because it’s a true British bike.

  18. Well, many triumphs are still built in the UK, including the Thunderbird. By the way, Bentley is owned by Audi/VW, Rolls Royce by BMW, and who knows who owns Jag and Aston?

    Minis are built in Brazil.

    It’s a big world. Lots of good hands building bikes now. The Bonneville is a Quality Bike, even if it were built by Lapps in a tent while birthing Reindeer.

  19. Im with Bill on this one. I dont want my guitars, cars, motorcycles
    ‘assembled” in any third world country, China, thailand, malaysia, etc.
    I have an 02 bonnie and I rode with dudes that had the new Thai assembled ones. They were amazed that that my 02 had steel side panels, and
    they warned me of a few things that fell off all their bikes, i had none
    of those issues associated with the thai assembled bikes.

    That whole designed in USa but assembled in china is a joke.
    China and INdonesia manufacture/assemble inferior products.
    What kind of product quality can you expect from workers making
    slave wages?

  20. Danilo, when will you give us an update on your V7 Classic. I would be pleased to hear your thoughts after many miles with this baby.
    What do you think of the 2012 model upgrades, and have you had a chance to sample the goods?


  21. iPhones? Other smartphones? Just about everything you can buy at WalMart? What about all the components of a car that are assembled in Thailand especially?

    China is hardly a third-world country, with a huge economy, more people than anywhere else and enough money to have a large position in our overall debt.

    A “slave wage” in a third-world country isn’t the same as what you might think. Kenya’s average national income is less than $400 a month — Would $1000 a month there be a living wage? Is it a living wage in Cincinnati?

    We were most definitely a “third world” country at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and really didn’t come to the forefront as a world power until at least in the early 1900s when TR sent the “Great White Fleet” around the world. Were goods built in the USA before that inferior?

    The countries in Southeast Asia have excellent education, the newest and most automated foundries in the world, and they build the Triumph to spec. If it has plastic pieces now where metal once was you can’t blame the assemblers, you need to question why these parts were specified by the Product Managers and Engineers. That’s like blaming the waiter for cooking a lousy meal at a restaurant.

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