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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…


"So what arrived in the post for you today?" Jenn asked as I showered.

Standing there naked (sorry to give you that visual image) I felt especially vulnerable.

"They're Kevlar jeans," I said. "They were only £25. Probably crap, since all the other prices I see for them are upward of £100, but, hey: £25."

That's right, Chris. Emphasise the price. Slowly, slowly.

I had bought the jeans off eBay a few days before. When they arrived, I made the decision to leave them and their packaging on the bed, where Jenn could see them. She has eased her attitude toward motorcycles and even makes an effort to look interested –– or, at least, bite her tongue –– if I talk about them.

My stated plan, once I earn my license, is to test ride as many bikes as possible –– to allow me the chance to ride a motorcycle without having to buy one (1). Ownership is the ultimate goal, of course, but that won't come for a time. Jenn has come so far as to roughly support this idea and has asked: "When do you think you'll first get a chance to test ride a motorbike? Are you excited?"

But underlying such a scheme is the truth that I will need to sport my own gear. And inevitably that requires Jenn's knowledge of its existence. I've had a helmet for a while now, but haven't really had the guts to tell her about it; I've kept it hidden in the wardrobe.

The purchase of a not-too-frivolously priced pair of Kevlar jeans seemed the perfect way to ease her toward acceptance. In March, the month of my birthday, I was pretty certain she wouldn't protest my spending £25 on something. Indeed, had they been a £50 pair of regular jeans from the Gap she wouldn't blink an eye. This, I felt, was a brilliant plan. A cunning scheme. A winning strategy.

"I see you also have a helmet," she said.

Oh, hell.

For a tiny moment I was standing, naked, in a vacuum of time and space. Fortunately, I had for a while been bracing myself for the possibility of getting caught. I had already decided the best way forward in such a situation was straight ahead: nonchalant, matter-of-fact. I took a breath.

"I do indeed," I said, trying to sound as I might had she commented on something as obvious as my having feet.

There was silence on the other side of the shower curtain. She was letting me suffer. It struck me suddenly that almost certainly she had found the helmet long ago, that she was aware of this blog, and had been biding her time, allowing my guilt to escalate, before taking one perfectly aimed jab. My wife is a devilishly clever woman. No doubt she knows far more about me than she will ever let on.

"Anyway, chicken alright for dinner tonight?" she asked, changing the subject and letting me off the hook.

The helmet is a known entity now, and that's a tremendous relief.


(1) It has occurred to me that this may be a flawed plan. Surely others have thought of the same thing and dealers have grown wise to it. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.


  1. Dealers here in the U.S., in my experience, won't let you ride the new bikes. Sometimes they'll let you ride the used ones. They'll always let you sit on them and make vroom vroom noises, though.

    ...They may have test ride days, though, when the manufacturers show up with trucks full of demo bikes.

    I have also heard of dealers having their own demo bikes, but I've never personally witnessed such a thing. However, I may have to get myself over to the local Ducati dealer and find out if things are different here.

    Private sellers almost always will let you test ride. In the U.S., that is. Also, if you make friends with other riders, they may occasionally offer to let you ride their bikes.

    I don't know how vehicle rentals work over there, but there are motorcycle rental shops here where one can rent a bike for a day or two. Obviously, it's not a permanent solution, but it's a way to get some riding in without a big investment.

  2. Chris, you fricken kill me! LOL! Seriously, I laugh every time I read one of your posts.

    I don't understand why you don't just have it out, once and for all. But I realize that we don't all approach these things the same way. With my exx I would have managed a situation the way you're handling this one, if I even tried to go against his wishes. It wouldn't last though, so I finally caught on and quit trying. Which is why he's my exx.

    With Highway I don't have to be this way. Nor does he need to be with me, although I do frighten him from time to time. He never wants to fight, but if he feels cornered, he'll fight his way out. But for me to buy something I really want, he would sell something of his own to help me buy it. When I told him I wanted to ride, he sold his Yamaha Roadstar to help me buy my Kawasaki Ninja.

    I realize that's not the same as your situation, because your wife isn't interested in riding, nor having you ride. But I have a theory about such things as a woman.

    If I take away from a man the very things that make him feel good about himself, I've essentially cut his ball off. I don't want a man with no balls, so I encourage my man to be all he wants to be. I admire his strength and TRUST his decisions he makes for himself! For me, a happy man is someone I want to be with. Squish his dreams and I'll find myself with either A. Unhappy husband or B. alone.

    Best wishes to you Chris!



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