Skip to main content

2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 – Ride Review

Photos by Megan Harris

"I've had a look at this motorcycle of yours whilst you were having your supper," my wife's grandmother says upon my return from the pub.
Grandma, as she allows me to call her, is upper-middle class and English to the core. She is naturally wary of Americans and has been known to suddenly burst out laughing at the idea of my being able to make a living writing about motorcycles. Add to this the fact she is somewhat deaf, a condition not helped by my natural Texas mumble, and it's easy to see why she and I don't chat a lot. When my wife is around, Grandma prefers to deal with me in third-person terms: "Now then, Jenny, does Chris want tea?"


My wife isn't around this time, though. I've ridden the 2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 down to Devon on my own, staying the night, so I can get meet photographer Megan at the beach the next morning before tourists arrive. Without my wife as interpreter, Grandma and Grandad (who is also…

The need

This chap really should be wearing some safety gear...
I'm going through hell. I cannot think of any other thing. I don't feel like eating; I can't sleep. Today – truthfully – I've taken the day off work and claimed to be ill because I simply don't have the ability to concentrate on my job. My need for a motorcycle is the only thing my mind will hold on to. 

Sometimes I feel an all-consuming flood of panic and anxiety at the thought of not getting a motorcycle – the fear that this thing I need so desperately might never be attained. I feel nauseous. My hands tremble. In these moments I feel as if my whole world is coming apart, as if I were in the Matrix and some catastrophic event has caused the pixels of my world to break apart. It is that feeling of irreversible doom, like when you were a teenager and your girlfriend would say: "Listen, we need to talk."

Nothing good ever comes of those words. In my experience they are always followed by a break-up or an uncomfortable confession, then a break-up. In the tiny space of time between her saying, "We need to talk," and something like, "I had sex with the whole of the Oakland Raiders, including the special teams coaching staff," there is that terrible rumbling at the foundations of your universe, the knowledge that it's all about to come crumbling down.

That is the feeling that wraps around me at times. When I think of the obstacles between myself and motorcycle ownership I feel that terrible collapsing and some part of me thinks: "Oh Lord, just kill me now."

It is a feeling that sinks claws into the back of my skull and wrenches my neck. My shoulders hunch up, my jaw tightens, a headache builds behind my eyes.

"Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God," I think, my mind spinning in the white noise of panic. "Have I ever before felt this way? Have I ever been so out of control?"

Once. When I was a younger man. I fell crazily, terribly in love with a girl. I wanted to give her the whole of me, make my world hers. I was willing to throw away everything for the joy of waking up to her each morning. She said no and broke my heart. It took years for me to get over and sometimes I feel parts of me are still broken.

All the anxiety and need I felt toward her, I now feel doubly about motorcycling. But this, I know, is something that will not reject me. I simply need to reach out, to embrace it. And it will respond by giving me freedom, possibly even healing my old wounds. Restoring me, making me new.

Without it, I am going through hell. I don't know how much longer I can survive.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ride review: Harley-Davidson XL 883 L (aka Sportster SuperLow)

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is like riding a tractor.
That's the criticism so consistently levied against Harley-Davidson motorcycles: that there is something agrarian to the experience. And I can now say from personal experience that all those critics are right. But I can also say those critics are leaving out a key piece of information, which is this:
TRACTORS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!!!
It's a tractor that hurtles forward with roller-coaster intensity, a tractor that goes really fast, a tractor that makes you feel like Brock Lesnar in a children's ball pit. A tractor from the Land of Bad-Ass, with which you can sow the seeds of awesomeness.
But let me back up a bit...
A few days ago, I decided to take the day off, solely for the purpose of getting a chance to ride around and finally make use of the free breakfast coupon sent to me by Thunder Road. As I was gearing up, I suddenly decided that since I was already heading west, I might as well push a few miles further and che…

Ride review: Yamaha XV950 / Star Bolt

Imitation, Charles Caleb Colton famously noted, is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, the flattery the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 receives from Yamaha's XV950 is enough to make one blush. Put the two bikes side by side, and the inspiration for the latter is undeniable. Yamaha claims its bike has a "new neo retro Japanese look," but that's clearly just nonsense –– lorem ipsom that was used instead of "totally looks like a Harley-Davidson Iron 883."
Certainly the XV950 –– known as the Star Bolt in the United States –– isn't the first example of a Japanese OEM adhering faithfully to the styling cues of America's best-known motorcycle manufacturer. The orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Harley Latter-day Davidson write these bikes off as "wannabes," and tend to be pretty dismissive of anyone who would dare consider purchasing one. But I'm going to commit blasphemy here and tell you that the XV950 is unquestionably the …

Ride review: Triumph Bonneville

"OK," I said. "I want one." "Well, you know, maybe you should ask your wife first." "She loves Triumphs," I said. "Still, Chris. You should give it a think. Go home, discuss it with your wife, give yourself a chance to think clearly. After all, this is one of Triumph's most popular models; there's plenty of stock available."
The voice of reason in that conversation was Drew, the salesman at Bevan Motorcycles. He was doing his best to talk some sense into me after my test ride of the 2014 Triumph Bonneville. I was wild-eyed and yammering like a teenage boy who has touched boobies for the first time. This, my friends, is what the Bonneville does to you. It is an instantly rideable, instantly enjoyable, instantly lovable motorcycle that surprises you in just how good a simple motorcycle can be.

The Bonneville, of course, is a storied machine that's been around in one form or another for 55 years. It is a classic. Partially b…