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Field Grade

Triumph Bonneville -- vintage or modern recommendations

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Dakota Dogman

Dad raced BSA...  Short track on a Goldstar.  I always loved the 650 Royal Star, the red one from the late 60s I think. 

 

I learned on a Triumph Trophy trail. 

My wife has no use for bikes so I am left with the IH and fond memories.

 

God bless,

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robp

I road raced a Norton, It was built punched out to 883, frame was chopped to tighten up the steering, custom swing arm, triumph 5 speed gear box graphed on. It made about 90hp on the rear wheel need a crank rebuild every three weekends - It did not like the gas to be let off in medium fast turns like turn 3 at Brainard it would head shake like a wild boar, turns 1 and 2 it would go flat out smooth as glass I'm glad to be alive. That bike has gone home to England and being completely rebuilt as I type this. 

One time I got to take a factory yamaha tz 750 out at BIR  That was a spectacular motor bike. Coming out of turn 9 at a good clip and getting on the gas down a mile straight away was like getting shot out of a cannon. I passed a guy on a r1 like he was sitting still-in the pits he came over to see the RD350 that was so fast- pretty funny -That tz was far from a rd 350

I still have a 1977 Moto guzzi lemans 1 and a 1991 Moto Guzzi  1000s- cream puffs compared to that Norton  

 Sometimes I lay awake at night and think it would be cool to build a honda 450 race bike or a 1000 cc guzzi endurance replica and start going back to the track  then I come back to my senses  Something about old stuff.

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salmontogue

I had a Triumph Bonneville T120 TT Special ca.1967.  Wonderful bike, wonderful memories but if I had it back......ouch.

 

Longest trip was Hanover, NH to El Paso,TX and return.  I am still vibrating after all these years.

 

Many bikes since but the Bonneville was just special.  My wife hates bikes soooooo

 

Perk

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Field Grade

robp, 

 

Great post, you push the envelope...compared to your riding experience I will nurse any bike I get like a Hell's Granny.

 

You did inspire me to look up the postscript to Hunter Thompson's 'Hell's Angels' though...a fine piece of gonzo journalism, quoted in part:

 

"Months later, when I rarely saw the Angels, I still had the legacy of the big machine -- four hundred pounds of chrome and deep red noise to take out on the Coast Highway and cut loose at three in the morning... So it was always at night, like a werewolf, that I would take the thing out for an honest run down the coast. I would start in Golden Gate Park, thinking only to run a few long curves to clear my head ... but in a matter of minutes I'd be out at the beach with the sound of the engine in my ears, the surf booming up on the sea wall and a fine empty road stretching all the way down to Santa Cruz ... not even a gas station in the whole seventy miles; the only public light along the way is an all-night diner down around Rockaway Beach.

There was no helmet on those nights, no speed limit, and no cooling it down on the curves. ..."

 

Something about bikes we Americans love and crave.

 

Thanks everyone for all your recollections and recommendations...the search goes on.

 

rjj

 

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Field Grade

Now I ask you, friends, with honest sincerity...what made any of us want to ride bikes after watching Evel Knievel's disastrous bone-crushing crash, some 50 years ago...true agony of defeat:

 

 

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Field Grade

And speaking of Bonnevilles:

 

Between 1967 and 1968, Knievel jumped using the Triumph Bonneville T120 (with a 650cc engine). Knievel used the Triumph at the Caesars Palace crash on New Year's Eve 1967. 

 

(I mistakenly thought he rode only Nortons and Harleys).

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Swampy 16

Now you talk about tuff SOB’s, he defined the term. And, to top it off, he was bat sh!t crazy. He once broke a guys legs with a baseball bat. He told the guy “ I’ll break both your legs”. Most people use that as an expression when they wanna kick someone’s ass. He actually did it. All the crashes he had and still got back on. And the addiction? Wow, he was a terror !

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robp
10 hours ago, Field Grade said:

Now I ask you, friends, with honest sincerity...what made any of us want to ride bikes after watching Evel Knievel's disastrous bone-crushing crash, some 50 years ago...true agony of defeat:

 

 

I watched Evil Kneviel never impressed, but I also watched  "On any Sunday" Steve Mcqueen impressed me Mert  Lawwill impressed me.

My uncle Frank had a BSA lighting I would beg him for rides completely pester him until he final would give in. I was too small to sit on the seat behind him. I would sit on the gas tank. Once we got going I would beg to go faster. He'd crank up the speed and beep the horn, up and down the whoop dee do hills, through turns, leaned over on the country roads in PA, it was like flying. By the time we got back to his house I'd be laughing so hard I could barely hold on.

Then I saw my first Moto Guzzi  I was racing bicycles in high school there was a series at this business park in Mcclean VA every week in the spring and summer. This guy would show up to marshal the race on his motor cycle.  Ever week he'd show up with something  out of this world and different  BMW r90s, BMWr100rs, Ducati 750S, Vincent black shadow,  Nortons  one day he showed up with a red Moto Guzzi 850 lemans 1 with the orange around the head light.  I was smitten. 

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max2

I always liked them though never have owned one . I have had the pleasure of riding one or two or perhaps three as it was popular back in the day to switch it up with friends for their ride. No mention of the Trident ? unless that's what you are mentioning with  T prefix?  Another friend had a Norton 850 commando. It's amazing what a Norton will bring today .  

 

Back to the O/P

like others have stated the new Triumph's have metric cruiser look. Which for me doesn't do it. Such a stylish bike that your brother had. That's your first choice so my guess might be you could find yourself in a happy place with a new model .... but... a happier place with the 70's model. I have looked a number of times to see if I could find one for sale .Ebay & such however I had found they never were there the times I looked. A bike like that I would put into the bar hopper category - short runs -especially if older.

 

Go with your gut and please post the pic's ~ Stylish ride ~ Nice scooter !    

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Jim Vander

Im a Norton guy and love the vintage however reliability and your ability to wrench, get the right tools and parts are big factors. Its a bigger hobby with vintage and you have to enjoy that aspect because you will be doing. Even if you did not mind paying to have it done you may be hard pressed to find someone with the necessary skills. Maybe start of with a used new Triumph and see how the hobby fits you before you go all in?

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Spiller

I owned a 1970 Bonneville when I was in graduate school.  Unfortunately, it was stolen. I thought it was pretty sweet, it sounded like a Saturn V-B rocket.

 

I had owned a few other bikes before and after the Bonneville, but I always liked that Bonneville, despite the Lucas wiring, the pool of oil that accumulated underneath it whenever you parked it, and the fact it's dual carburetors needed to be retuned every 100 miles.    

 

Then I met my wife, who was pretty adventurous.  When I met her I owned a metric bike, a Yamaha Seca. 

 

I eventually married her and we had our first kid, and she basically said "no more bikes allowed" "you are not gonna kill yourself and leave me with a baby to take care of by myself"!

 

That was that....I was bikeless for like 30 years.

 

When my kids graduated from college and got jobs and moved out,  the old lady allowed me to get a bike. So I bought the new Bonneville (way better than the old one but a darn side heavier). Evidently, she doesn't care if I croak now, she'll just take all the dough and she wouldn't have to deal with me.  

 

FWIW, one bike was not enough and because I was denied for so many years I know have a small quiver of bikes in the barn. and I still have the new style Bonneville. People are always coming up to me when I buy gas and they think the new one is actually an old one.

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Curt

If it's really nostalgia driving your desire for one of these Bonnevilles isn't it based upon your memories of your brother's 60's era bike?  How then is a modern bike going to satisfy that nostalgia?  In the grand scheme of things 5K isn't that much money and if it blows your hair back to ride that bike and remember old times with your brother I'd do it.

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Spiller

Fully restored antique Bonnies are gonna be more expensive than a new one.  They command a premium price just like old Commandos.

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Field Grade

Thanks again, fellas, for the great memories and insight.

 

You guys know more about bikes than I ever will.

 

Like Swampy, I was always amazed at Knievel's ability to come back after spectacular ragdoll crashes that would have done in a mortal like me.

 

As far as the Trident, I don't see many of them around, they were made in a fairly limited run, I believe. At that point, Triimph was trying to come up with an answer to the Asian Invasion of powerful Hondas, Yamahas and others. 

 

I would most likely stick to the Bonneville...it is all the bike I would need at this point in life. My body is already held together by scar tissue.

 

There are two eras of 1960s-70s Bonnevilles to Iook at: up til 1971 (I think) they were built with normal oil tank. Then afterwards someome had a brilliant idea to change over to oil in frame design. The "oiler" bikes seem to be less desirable and a bit cheaper. Maybe those bikes coined the phrase, "...if there aint oil under it there aint oil in it..."

 

In 1976 Triumph changed the gear shift from right to left side and improved the brakes, so that is also something to consider.

 

By 1979 or so it was just about lights out at the Triumph factory.

 

Thanks and good riding.

 

rjj

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