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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…

Bullet points

Things have been pretty dead around here lately. And by "dead" I mean "wet." It has been raining nonstop for weeks. On top of that, it's been cold and I've been working long hours, which means the only free time I have is at night. So, I haven't ridden much.

I feel the need to try to assert my non-wussyness by pointing out that I am willing to ride in the dark and rain and cold -- I have before and most certainly will again. But when the purpose of a ride is simply to get out and clear your head, those conditions aren't ideal.

As a result of this stagnation I've been living vicariously through the internet, consuming just about every motorcycle-related thing I can. To make myself feel I haven't wasted my time in this, I've decided to share a few of the things I've found most interesting in the past week:

+ The reviews are out for the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and the basic consensus is: "meh." In my own daydreaming look at middleweight ADV bikes I questioned whether the Big Strom would really be £3,000 more of a bike than the 650cc version and it appears the answer is no. Here are reviews from: 

+ VisorDown had a funny little piece on why being a motorcyclist may not make you as sexy as you'd like to think. Somewhere in the back of my head I seem to remember RideApart doing something slightly similar not too long ago. So, it seems the appropriation of content goes both ways. (RideApart has on at least three occasions taken a VisorDown story and claimed it as their own) But I like this piece if not simply for the line "you’ve probably got a network of undesirable mates... called ‘Turnip’, ‘Ped-Boy’ or ‘Keith’." 

+ Allegedly a number of protests took place around the world in objection to Australia's VLAD act, which extends pretty stiff penalties for associating with undesirable types like Turnip, Ped-Boy and Keith. Exactly how VLAD (a) is implemented is tricky to determine, but the general feeling is that it could be used to prevent motorcycle dudes from hanging out with motorcycle dudes. If I'm honest, I don't quite see how it does this, unless you are keen to commit crimes with said motorcycle dudes. 

+ Harley-Davidson is making its demographic target clear by setting its sights on X Games fans, last week proclaiming a desire to see motorcycle ice racing added as an X Games sport. This is a gimmick, obviously. Harley-Davidson doesn't care about ice racing; a Harley, with its excessive weight, would be pretty far down the list of things you'd want in actual ice racing. But HD does care about the X Games audience. You'll remember that Victory has forayed into the same demographic territory with the Ride and Seek series. In my own opinion, I feel Victory's demographic pandering worked a little better. Their efforts are spoiled only by the facts that: 
a) Victory bikes are ungodly expensive
b) Victory insists on having R. Lee Ermey as a spokesperson. Because nothing says "hip and different" like a 70-year-old Marine who does cartoon voiceovers. 

+ The UK's National Motorcycle Museum has announced plans to add a 250-room hotel to its facilities. This is uninteresting but for the revelation that there is such a thing as the National Motorcycle Museum. I had no idea. A road trip shall be planned.

+ Meanwhile, electric motorcycle maker Brammo has announced it's going to try its luck in the notoriously stuck-in-the-past UK market. This, despite the fact that Zero gave up on us in late 2013. Britons are very sceptical of electric anything, and this is reinforced by our substandard charging network; the whole of Wales has just three charging stations, according to this map. Additionally the bikes are frustratingly expensive.

+ Staying in Britannia for one more item, the UK's Motorcycle Action Group recently went on record in stating that it still objects to the country's 40-year-old helmet law. Because I'm so pro-helmet I can't help but feel it's a totally pointless fight, but you have to respect the fact that Lembit Opik seems better able to state the philosophical argument against helmets than his American counterparts. I like the fact that he describes it as a "symbolic test of liberty." It sounds a whole lot more sane to say: "Look, we realise this is a silly issue and, in fact, we think helmets are a good idea, but we're concerned about principle," instead of the usual American line of: "No helmet because freedom!"

Picture provided by Michael Padway & Associates.
+ I'll bet there are people who know all the motorcycle hand signals by heart and take a certain authoritarian pleasure in using them. They probably seek out group rides solely for the purpose of being able to use hand signals. These are people with whom I am unlikely to get along.

+ Because I often find myself leaning toward sport tourers I thought this Cycle World piece was interesting. I just wish sport tourers looked cooler.

+ And speaking of bikes I want, the Triumph Bonneville has long been toward the top of my list. I've often thought about booking a test ride, just to get a sense of the bike in person, but have been afraid that if I did such a thing I would end up buying one right there and then. It appears that fellow moto-blogger Sash has also recently been bitten by the Bonnie bug pretty severely. Because I love that bike and I'd love to read about anyone's adventures on it, I am doing what I can to push her to get one. Head over to her blog and do the same.  


  1. The whole group riding thing is something I was into and then fell out of. There are people who really do love the idea of being part of a synchronized parade of motorcycles. For many of them, it's the social aspect of motorcycling they are into, not so much the riding. Part of it is that some people feel comfortable about being an effective cog in a larger series of gear works. It makes them feel useful without having to do any thinking. But others just like to be a part of the "look at me" phenomenon, as they stand out like a eye sore down the freeway in a group of 20-30 bikes.

    1. I once accidentally fell into a very large group of riders for about a mile and I'll admit there was a feeling of: "Hey! We're in a parade!" And who doesn't love a parade. But by the end of that mile I was happy to turn off in a different direction.

  2. Chris:

    I feel a bit qualified to make a comment on the new, revised and improved Vstrom DL1000. Having cutting edge technology is wasted on me. Whether I could corner faster with upgraded suspension or whether I need more than 100 HP of power are only specs. In the real world I don't exceed the limit (by much) and it wouldn't matter how fast I got to cruising speed.

    I have the a 2009 Vstrom DL650 with ABS, and also a 2009 Beemer R1200R (naked, but with storage). With my trip last summer I don't think I would have been comfortable with that little 650 engine cranking out at 6,500 rpms trying to keep up with all the cars going 82 mph. With my Beemer, it was effortless and I had power to spare. While the DL650 is about half the engine of my R1200 fuel consumptions was about the same, within 10% and I don't know how they did this. You get addicted to power and having it on demand whenever you need it. With the DL650 the power fizzles out . . . If you ride your DL650 over 6,000 rpms it consumes oil, this is normal. With my R1200 I never lost a drop in over 16K kms. I only wished the new DL1000 had a shaft drive

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. ...And suddenly I realise why my bike was a quart of oil short the other day. Traffic on UK motorways tends to cruise at about 80-90 mph, despite the 70 mph limit. That usually results in my running at about 6,500 RPM. Maybe I really would prefer a larger bike.

  3. Knowing hand signals is a good thing. This is a great representation of that, and a video that always seems to make the rounds locally.

    He has some others that are funny too.

    1. I am a frequent user of the "OhMyGodHelloToYou" signal. Especially when I see a Triumph Bonneville or a Victory anything.

  4. Thanks for the mention about the Bonnie Bug! I got it so damn bad! But I'm going to try a few bikes and THEN go test ride the Bonnie. I'm not making any rash decisions, but I do know that if I buy one, I'm going to set aside money for a new suspension. That has come highly recommended. Trobairitz has a few blog posts I'm going to read about her experiences with her Bonnie.

    Speaking of Trobairitz, I'm going to check out the video above on hand signals. But I have a few that no one else does, but everyone seems to get when I do them. The imaginary "pushing a head toward my crotch" while yelling at a driver seems to get my point across to suck me. And the one I learned from my first husband the Italian, with the fist punching in the upward motion seems to convey "Shove it!" quite well. I should do a video of my own favorite hand signals. . .

    What do you think Chris?

    Smooches to you and my Moto-Lovin-Freaks!

    1. Two fingers -- a peace sign in which you show the back of your hand -- expresses all that and more in Britain. We're very efficient.

    2. Oh, my middle finger is out half the time I'm in traffic! Ha ha ha!!! Most times, that's not nearly enough for my temper. ;)

  5. Chris, why do you have Captcha if you approve comments too? I hate Captcha. You're just lucky I adore you.

    1. Sorry about that. I seem to be a favourite target of spambots. So, I tend to employ an "anything and everything" approach to countering them.

  6. Chris, I think you could write about anything and make it interesting. You have a gift. Lots of great observations and info. Now if I could just figure out how to ice race...

    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy


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