In the words of American designer John Varvatos, “Style is timeless. It transcends generations — it’s enduring. If you’re thinking about fashion, it’s of the moment. And that doesn’t mean that it’s not important at times to embrace trends and that type of thing, but style is less about trends than it is about how you carry yourself.”
While he was speaking from a fashion perspective, in my mind that quote applies just as perfectly to the Triumph Bonneville T120. There’s something about the design of the Triumph Bonneville. It transcends generations, maintaining a certain style and DNA since it first hit the roads in 1959.
The 2022 Triumph Bonneville T120 is a modern version of the classic, repurposing that with simplicity. From the twin-dial analogue speedometer and tachometer with LCD multifunctional displays and traditional silhouette to the twin seat and LED daylight riding light, cruise control and lovely finishing, it is a beautifully designed bike.
It does bring fashion to mind. The perfect accompaniment feels like it should be a black leather jacket, plain black (or white) T-shirt, a pair of jeans (preferably black) and boots, perhaps a charcoal Red Wing Shoes Iron Ranger or Blacksmith.
I didn’t have any of these when I picked up the 2022 Triumph Bonneville T120 from the dealership in Kramerville, Johannesburg, but that didn’t stop the T120 from making me reflect on why and how I ride motorcycles. When I first started, I wanted one that I could commute with, go on weekend runs (I am not inclined to wake up for breakfast) and take longer cross-country rides.
To cover the commuting aspect, I ensured that I had the T120 in a week when, for the first time in ages, I had meetings every day, in different parts of the city. With a maximum torque of 15NM at 3,500rpm, a 1200cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin as well as mass-optimised clutch and counterbalancers it has the ability to open the throttle in low gears for what feels slightly longer than the other bikes I have ridden, I was able to overtake and take advantage of the gaps in traffic with ease.
The guttural Chromed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin chrome silencers had me twisting back the throttle a bit more than I should have.
The span adjustable brake (and clutch) lever ensured that front twin 310mm discs, Brembo 2 piston floating caliper brakes stopped me smoothly and effectively, as I got slightly carried away from traffic light to traffic light. And the single 255mm disc, Nissin 2 piston floating caliper brake at the back is just as effective. The bike also comes with ABS.
Come the weekend, I decided to do a little run to Harties, along satellite roads towards Magalies and back to Harties, where I stopped for an exquisite slice of Black Forest cake and a cortado, which felt fitting. It was a cold and wet morning so I shifted between Rain and Road mode at will, which can be done, on the move. With the wind a big factor, I found that the sweet spot for the T120 is between 120km/h and 140km/h. And this is where the motorcycle forced me to reflect.
When reviewing motorcycles, my instinct is to “put the bike though its paces”, without thinking about what that means. My epiphany was that, in this instance, it was about enjoying the ride, comfortably, at a speed that the bike is comfortable with as opposed to pushing it. At this point, I took a deep breath, and allowed myself to take in the extended moment, despite the chilling drizzle. It also did wonders for fuel consumption which Triumph lists as 4.7l/100km.
In the six or so years that I have had a motorcycle in the garage, I haven’t really done anything longer than 300km on it. Even if I was to go further, the beauty of riding a motorcycle is about being in the moment, not rushing. I could live with the Triumph Bonneville T120. Every day.