Stripped – Triumph Bonneville Bobber Review
Sometimes less is more. That is the philosophy that the Triumph Bobber believes and excels in. This is the only motorcycle available in its class in India sans certain versions of the Ducati Scrambler and Harley Davidson, more notably the Iron 883. But none of them have the clean look of a floating seat, which makes this bike stand apart from everything else.
I rarely assign a superlative to a motorcycle, but I have no qualms in calling this one of the most charming motorcycles out there. Note that I do not use the often used word ‘beautiful’, because it is more than that. Triumph has managed to mate function and form into a rare synchronicity. From the neatly hidden catalytic convertor to the rear monoshock – the design language is consistent and fluidic, which pleases the eye. The prettiest angle would be the side view. The silhouette of this bike is unmistakable and unlike anything in the market. The fit and finish of the bike is top notch and there are pretty nifty mods which change the character of the bike and make it into a cafe racer and more.
I admit that I was very excited to swing my leg over this bike and also photograph it. This has happened to me after a very long time.
The Bobber falls under the Bonneville family and you might be wondering why I am talking about the looks so much. It is because the main selling point of the bike is its style. However, along with the style it’s a got a meaty motor to boot. A 1200cc mill that sounds good. Another thing which surprised me was the fantastic handling in the corners. Switch off traction control and you can do some great wheelspins and rolling take offs from red lights adding fun and character to your urban rides.
The bike does tend to get a tad hot and the positioning of the key warrants you being careful, especially in Indian summers. Another key aspect for you to consider is that this is an outright urban bike. You can probably create a sub frame at the rear to mount luggage or carry a heavy backpack yourself, but that’s like reverse engineering the Bobber to become a cruiser again! So this bike would be perfect if you want to stand out in a crowd and on the road, especially on weekend rides. Sure go ahead and do a long trip on it – just be ready to be very stingy with the things you carry or do some substantial modifications for it to be able to carry more stuff. And yes – keep re-fuelling!
Overall it is a fresh new design for the Indian motorcyclists and I would have loved it to be a bit cheaper, after all it is going to be the secondary motorcycle for most people. For example a Triumph Tiger 800 with the Bobber in the garage would take care of most things in life.
Bobbers are for minimalists and those who like to meet the Spartans! The idea of customising one’s motorcycle to be called a Bobber or a ‘Bob-job’ (not to be confused with the other job that ramp models undertake!) has been around for some time now. The idea is simple enough. Strip off any and every thing on your motorcycle which adds weight and doesn’t help in going faster. That includes throwing off your pillion as well! Of course hacking parts off your motorcycle doesn’t guarantee that it will look good or even not becoming a motoFrankenstien! And this is where Triumph has done a fantastic job. The designers have given the motorcycle a minimalist look, without sacrificing an iota of its street presence. A lot of thought has gone into the smaller details to give it a classic bobber look. Though of course due to motorcycle norms, the front fender cannot be removed and rear covers the entire wheel, but that only gives an enthusiast the opportunity to try his hand at a hacksaw!
You realise how gorgeous the Bobber is only when you park your bike under a nice shady tree and sit to admire it. The floating seat is thanks to the rear suspension being concealed, giving it a hardtail look, without the discomfort of a hardtail. The saddle can also be adjusted to the rider’s preference. The slash cut stainless steel exhaust adds to the beauty when you look at it from the rear three quarters.
You realise how gorgeous the Bobber is only when you park your bike under a nice shady tree and sit to admire it.
Old school looks doesn’t mean old technology though. The Bobber is equipped with all the electronics that you would expect from motorcycles in this segment. Ride-by-Wire, torque assist clutch, switchable traction control and ABS are standard. Prospective owners would be happy to know that the bike comes with a 16000 km service interval.
Even though the Bobber looks very different from any motorcycle currently in the market, there will still be some who want to customise it further. To that end, Triumph has 150 aftermarket customisation parts for you to mix and match to give your bike the personality to match that of the rider. For others there are two inspiration kits, the ‘Old School’ and ‘Quarter Mile’ Bobber.
The 1200cc engine produces a healthy 77 Ps of power and 106 Nm of torque. The good thing is that peak torque comes in at just 4000 rpm. You needn’t push this bike hard, just a gentle roll of the throttle will have you moving in quick time. Interestingly, the chassis and suspension has been developed specifically for the Bobber and not shared with its siblings. That would have required quite some redesigning of this motorcycle from Triumph.
The 1200cc engine produces a healthy 77 Ps of power and 106 Nm of torque.
The Triumph Bobber is a wonderfully thought out and put together motorcycle. It looks great, handles well and is fun to ride. But it is motorcycle built for urban fun, rather than long hauls. If you can have two motorcycles in your garage, then one of them being the Bobber would make a lot of sense. If not, you can always get one of those 150 accessories to be able to carry panniers on a long ride. Either ways, you will love having this machine in your garage and on the road.
17 years after it was first launched, the Honda Activa still rules the roost. The Japanese manufacturer has sold over 1 crore of these ubiquitous scoots. You see them everywhere in the country, ridden by everyone! From college goers to middle-aged office going men and women, to parents dropping off their kids, to the young punks with more stickers on their bikes than athletes at the Olympics! 17 years is a very long time to be at the top and the Activa is surpassed only by the unbelievable Hero Splendor, but that is a story for another day!
In 2000, Honda launched the Activa, a scooter in a market where there were a bunch of naysayers. Bajaj the scooter leader was looking to get out of the ever shrinking segment. Sales of motorcycles were going up, while scooters were plummeting. Yet Honda focussed on the Activa and its geared sibling the Eterno. The Eterno with its 150cc engine, flat footboard and gears should have been the automatic choice for the junta having ridden the Bajaj scooters for decades. For a multitude of reasons, the sales of Eternos dropped while the fortunes of the Activa was on a continuous rise.
Honda had correctly gauged the Indian market and by bringing an automatic scooter with decent fuel efficiency, it was poised to capture the imagination of the commuter who desired convenience along with low costs. For the urban environment, few vehicles can match the convenience of a scooter. Honda added to that the legendary reliability of the brand, good fuel efficiency, and low maintenance costs. Little wonder then, that these bikes sold like hot cakes!
Even today, you can easily find 15+year old vehicles running around without protest. These kinds of vehicles attract many owners who have neither inkling nor interest in spending time and money on servicing the scoot. Yet this workhorse will putter along, doing everything that is thrown at it and then some more. Today, when a person wants to buy a scooter, the first vehicle which comes to mind is the Activa. Everybody and their grandfathers seem to have one in the family! Yahoo and Bing are internet search engines as well, yet everyone will tell you to ‘Google it!’ The Activa is very close to reaching that status. There is competition, but it’s so far behind, that it just doesn’t matter.
The success of the Activa did not see Honda sitting on their laurels, the bike has been regularly updated, especially with Suzuki and TVS keen to make inroads in this segment. Currently, Honda has three versions for sale in India. The Activa 4G, which promises to be faster than your 3G smartphone? The Activa-I, which might have a touch of narcissism to it! And the Activa 125, because a 15cc bump will make the world of difference. As Honda would hope, you can buy any scooter you want, as long as it is an Activa!
The Activa will never have a cult following, where leather-clad bikers boast about their exploits. What it will have our thousands of people riding their scoots every day, without ever giving a moment’s thought to the feat of this bike. But then a workhorse will always have a thankless job!
Yezdi D 250 Classic
Anyone born in the pre-IT Revolution age would remember a motorcycle with a pleasant roar as the rider sped past. You would find one of these in your family, neighborhood or among your circle of friends. And if you are really lucky you would have been one of the proud owners of this iconic machine. The Yezdi brings back fond memories to riders young and old. Someone might have experienced their first motorcycle ride on the tank of their dad’s Yezdi, others might remember an uncle washing and maintaining his bike on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Still, others might have had this machine as their very first motorcycle. Each one will have their own story to tell.
As part of our search for #100Motorcycles in India, we bring to you one of the most iconic bikes to have ever graced the roads (and off-roads) of this country. The Yezdi D 250 Classic. This 258.5cc machine was perfectly placed between the Bullet 350 and the Rajdoot. The simplicity of the Yezdi allowed riders to take it on really long journeys. For Deepak Kamath, that journey on his Yezdi Roadking took him around the world in 47 days.
There are a bunch of things on this bike that makes it rather interesting and it stands apart from our run of the mill modern day motorcycles. The Yezdi had a dual cam brake at the front, which provided greater stopping power; the rear though had a single cam brake. The front and rear wheels are of the same size both use 1.86 x 16” rims. Which meant that the wheels could be interchanged! The space between the front wheel and engine also a mounting point for an extra wheel, giving the Yezdi the convenience that only scooter owners are used to! The bike also had a gearbox with an inbuilt lever which would declutch the engine while changing gears. So one could actually ride the bike to safety in case the clutch cable snapped! But the most interesting bit about the Yezdi was possibly the gear change lever! It doubled up as the kick start lever as well! Weight saving we say! The rider had to use his/ her left leg to kick start the bike and ensure that they did so carefully. The kick back was strong enough to leave the rider with considerable pain if not handled with care! The bike came with two different carburettors, the Jikov for better performance at the cost of fuel efficiency, and the Pacco for the more cost conscious lot.
The company shut shop in 1996. The arrival of the Japanese with their 4-stroke super fuel efficient motorcycles was the death knell for the strokers. Though they continued to appeal to the performance oriented rider, but the ever-increasing commuter market was always going to take centre stage.
We were lucky to get our hands on a Yezdi, but if you really want to experience this motorcycle. We recommend visiting one of the Jawa Yezdi club meets on International Jawa Day in Bangalore or Chennai. It will be an enthralling experience as you see 100s of these strokes making their way through the crowds of two-stroke smoke and the thundering sound of the engines revving. You will surely not forget that experience!
We would like to thank Jai Tokas for allowing us to ride his Yezdi and walk down memory lane with this magnificent machine.