Triumph Bonneville Report, Day 2: You Can’t go Back, but the Ride there is Awesome

This is the second in a series of articles reviewing the 2010 Triumph T-100 Bonneville.  The first article is here.

My apologies from the start.  I had set up the perfect Triumph picture with this beautiful backdrop, great clouds and awesome red rocks, only to find my camera’s batteries dead and my phone sitting in my hotel room.  So there’s no pictures of this ride!  I promise at some point in the future to get a bike up this wonderful road and snap some pictures the next time I get out that way.  I found some shots on the web of the road and sights for reference.

So I wake up on Day 2 of my temporary Triumph Ownership.  The temperatures in Phoenix and my body had finally risen to acceptable levels to make the 200 mile round trip to the town of my birth and first 18 years — Miami, Arizona.  It’s about 90 miles East of Phoenix, and about 90 miles North East of Tucson.  What one will find out about Arizona is everything seems to have “ ’bout 90 miles” distance from major towns.  The Globe-Miami area is no exception.  It is nestled halfway up the steep Colorado Plateau.  Highway 60, leading east from Phoenix and through Superior, delivers its first real curves, sweepers and even a tunnel as it lines itself straight from the Pacific.

The road from Phoenix to Florence Junction comprises the first 45 miles of the trip.  This gave me a chance to experience the Triumph on city streets, local freeways and interchanges, and on divided rural highways.  Arizona has great roads.  I’m sure that the roads around Chicago were like this, perhaps, for at least 20 minutes at some time in the past.  The Triumph accelerates wonderfully in the crisp morning air as I begin my trip on the 101 loop, heading South out of Scottsdale, to take the 202 Loop towards the Superstition Mountains and the beautiful Arizona Sonoran Desert.

Supersittion Mountains -- from Bryan Flaming's blog - Linked because it's a great shot and I didn't ask permission!

As a kid and young man, I had been on this road hundreds of times in all kinds of vehicles.  Nothing, NOTHING is better than riding this road on a comfortable, competent motorcycle.  The Triumph T-100 really IS this bike.  I crossed through 600 miles in two days with this trip, and the seat, ergonomics, riding position and general comfort exceeded my expectations by a long shot.  I couldn’t wait to get into the wonderful series of twisties after I reached Superior, AZ and headed that last 15 miles through Devil’s Canyon, rising to more than 4500 feet in altitude and then descending 1500 feet on the other side.  Twists, turns and topography.  I sure as hell am not in Illinois!

Queen Creek Bridge

Queen Creek Bridge between Superior and Miami Arizona - Hwy 60/70 through Devil's Canyon

This is a special set of curves in Arizona.  The ascent has a series of right/left turns and big sweepers that cross the Queen Creek Bridge and hug the side of a narrow canyon going up has a passing lane most of the way.  The climb, smooth road and nice bankings make for a smooth, fast and adventurous ride, especially when the traffic is light and the Arizona Highway Patrol is somewhere else (this rarely happens) like it was on the day I rode up. The Triumph took the sweepers beautifully, and the shorter turns allowed me to experience moving around on the seat through smooth but fast transitions, and feel how the bike reacted at speed when the conditions were, well, perfect.

Flawless performance.  The T-100’s linear torque just pulled and pulled at all throttle settings, and the upright stance gave me the feeling of control, almost an eerie “dirt bike” feel as pushing on the handlebars were so reactive, yet so predictable. Only slight feathering of the brakes were needed to set the bike for the tightest turns.

I stopped at a place known to the locals as “Top of the World” and reflected on the last 12 miles.  Of course this is where I planned to take pictures with my unkown-to-me dead camera.  So I sat for a moment and sucked in the 4500 foot elevation’s clean air, amazed that the Bonneville adjusted itself so beautifully to the altitude changes as much as it had through the last stretch of road’s directions.

Triumph fuel injection looks like a carb, but behaves like anything but....

I climbed aboard, fired up and started down the last 5 miles into Miami.  My rear view mirror showed a Highway Patrol car, so it was a mellow trip from here on. Traffic slowed further as a truck with overheating brakes brought things to a crawl.  Keeping steady, I was able to inch my way,  nearly stopped,  never putting a foot down. Great low speed manners.  Just wonderful.

I arrived in Miami, stopping at the Police station to visit and old friend that worked there.  An avowed Harley Rider, I think he liked the bike.  Few bikes have any cred with the Harley crowd, but I believe the retro Bonnie brings back fond memories from older riders and makes newer ones think twice about riding with their hands as high as their shoulders.  My buddy and I had a nice chat, and I decided to get some of the glorious Mexican Food that the area is so rightfully famous for.   I went looking for old friends.

Most had moved away, and I had trouble finding others.  Time was running short as my wife and our friends were back in Phoenix, expecting my presence.  I needed to get going, so I went to gas up.   The first place wouldn’t take my card, so I decided to go to a station on the other side of Globe and see the sights.  Arriving at the next station, I looked down and noticed that the gas cap was missing!

I’m used to my bike, which has a locking gas cap.  You can’t start the bike unless you put the gas cap back on.  I remembered setting the cap in a spot above the handlebars.  I then proceeded to back track 3 times along my route looking for the cap to no avail.  It’s gone and I have a wadded up paper towel to keep gas from blowing all over me.

You can just see the missing cap at the edge of the picture... It came in the next day.


The ride home was slower as the Highway Patrol was out.  I finally hit the freeways in the far east end of the Phoenix Metropolitan area and dropped the hammer.  Wonderful freeway sweepers and empty roads greeted me, getting me back to my hotel in no time.  I called the local Triumph dealer, and they didn’t have a cap, but said that there were four other places in the US that DID have one, and she supplied me with the numbers.  I found my part from the Dealer in Salt Lake City.  Fedex and the part came in under $50 and the cap was on and like new.  I called the $50 “stupid tax” for not taking better care.  Somehow I think I’m not the first person to drop a cap on a trip…

I hadn’t spent time in Globe-Miami since my Dad sold his business in 1991.  I made a trip up a few times, but after my Dad passed in 2000 and my mom in 2008, I never had a reason to go back since I was living hundreds, and now thousands, of miles away.  The area had changed in odd ways.  It seemed familiar, yet I felt so out of place kicking the dry dirt of my youth talking to people I’ve known for more than 40 years.

I recaptured nothing from my own “genesis spot“, but had a great trip up and back on a wonderfully predictable, responsive and exceedingly comfortable bike.  The Triumph T-100 delivers the goods on short and long trips. Now if anyone in Globe-Miami reading this runs across a chrome gas cap…

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