Ringleader: Damian Ercole
MSRP (2009): $8399
Average Fuel Mileage: 42 mpg
Accessories & Modifications: Triumph accessory Arrow exhaust, sport screen, gel seat, tank pads, bar-end mirrors, skid plate and STM front-brake reservoir
I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am that winter is upon us. I am a huge fan of my 2009 Triumph Bonneville SE. It's The Little Bike That Can. What it lacks in size, it makes up in fun factor. In a few thousand miles we've just about done it all: visited all five boroughs of New York City plus Coney Island and Williamsburg; trekked deep into the Garden State, the Delaware Valley and up to Americade. And yes, I really did take it to a track day.
Most would say that the Bonnie doesn't belong on the racetrack, but when David Podolsky invited me to a Sportbike Track Time event at the new Monticello Motor Club, how could I say no? There it proved to be the perfect starter bike: precise and predictable in the tight stuff, stable at speed and respectably quick for a 66-horsepower twin. The softly sprung shocks felt even softer at the track, using all 4 inches of travel in the turns, but the single front disc proved more effective than I'd expected. A set of tank pads ($69.99) from Triumph's accessory catalog made it easier to grip the tank and stay put on the flat seat. In the end, I learned more in one day of track riding than I would have in months on the street.
STM black-anodized aluminum front-brake reservoir looks worlds better than the stock plast
A flyscreen small enough to never hurt a fly and a bar-end mirror kit gave my bland Bonnie
Pleasantly loud but not obnoxious, the Arrow 2-into-2 exhaust looks, sounds and works grea
Back on public roads, the Triumph's stock seat wasn't too good for a shorter rider like me. Trimming the foam to allow for less of a reach to the pavement put my posterior in painful contact with the hard base. Triumph's accessory gel seat ($299.99) is a huge improvement. Since tire noise drowns out the stock exhaust note, the Triumph accessory Arrow 2-into-2 system ($1199.99) makes it sound and feel more like a proper Bonneville. A black-anodized STM front brake reservoir ($79.99) looks better than stock, as do the suitably British-looking bar-end mirrors ($119.99). Haven't clipped a taxicab ... yet. A tidy sport screen ($229.99) tops off the racier scheme nicely, while a vented skid plate ($199.99) protects the undercarriage.
After all that, the compact Bonneville makes for an excellent city commuter, with more than enough motor to stay out of harm's way. With colder weather upon us, the new fuel-injection system helps get things up and running sooner, especially if you're in a hurry. That's a good thing here in NYC, because everyone is in a hurry!