Is there no end to the number of models Triumph Motorcycles can spin off its new Bonneville platform? There are already ten variations on sale and the latest spy shots from the company’s test facility in Spain shows that the eleventh is nearly ready for its debut. The new bike might be appearing nearly two years after the water-cooled Bonnie range took its first bow, but it’s one of the most important models in the line, particularly when it comes to the American market. It’s the first true cruiser derivative, and as such will be one of the machines that replaces the existing America and Speedmaster models, which are still based on the old 865cc, air-cooled Bonneville motor.
It’s no surprise to see that the chassis and engine are straight from the Bonneville Bobber (see our Bobber First Ride Review here). The frame, which hides its rear shock under the seat and eschews a conventional swingarm in favour of a triangular structure to give the look of a hardtail, appears identical to the Bobber’s except for the addition of a rear subframe strong enough to carry both a pillion and luggage. Since the Bobber is strictly a single-seater, with no subframe at all, it’s a fairly significant alteration. It’s not clear whether the new rear end is welded in place or just bolted to an otherwise normal Bobber chassis, or which system the production version might use.
While the rear wire wheel looks similar to the Bobber’s 16-inch rim, the front is much smaller and wider than the Bobber’s 19-inch hoop, appearing instead to match the rear’s 16-inch diameter. That front wheel also carries twin discs rather than the Bobber’s single brake, although that’s probably a nod to the additional weight of the cruiser, particularly since it can carry a passenger, rather than an indication of any extra performance. On that front, we can expect the same 76 hp derivative of the 1,200cc parallel twin as used in the Bobber. While Triumph makes more powerful versions—the Thruxton boasts 96 hp—the Bobber motor is tuned for low-end torque and more suited to a cruiser.
In terms of styling, there’s not much here to break new ground. That’s probably a good thing from a marketing perspective. Triumph has tried radical cruisers before—think Rocket III—and it’s not proved to be the recipe to take the fight to Harley-Davidson. The small headlight and LED turn signals give a slight break from the otherwise retro styling, but this is pretty traditional stuff.
One thing that’s clear is that Triumph has thrown a large proportion of the bike’s accessories catalog at this prototype. The ape hangers, highway pegs, crash bars and the sissy bar are all likely to be options rather than standard kit. That means the stock version should look rather neater than the bike in these pictures—which would be no bad thing.
It’s also a near-certainty that this is just one of a range of cruiser styles that Triumph will offer. It’s not a direct replacement for either the Speedmaster (which has a 19-inch, cast alloy front wheel, minimal chrome and bobbed front and rear fenders) or the America (wider, 16-inch cast wheels, higher bars, fuller fenders and more chrome). No doubt Triumph will have had a good look at Harley’s 1,200cc Sportster range and be preparing a selection of 1,200cc cruisers to fight on the same battlefield. This prototype is closest to the 1200 Custom in its style, but we’d be surprised if there aren’t also some alloy-wheeled versions and a variety of seat and fender styles in the eventual range, along with varying levels of chrome from model to model.
Given that Triumph also has a 900cc version of the engine in its armory, used to power the Street Twin, Street Cup, Street Scrambler and Bonneville T100 models, it would be surprising if an entry-level cruiser isn’t also added to the mix at some stage down the line. Meanwhile, this version already looks like it’s nearly showroom-ready. It’s sure to be officially unveiled before the end of this year and to go on sale as part of Triumph’s 2018 line-up.