Motorcycle manufacturers weigh risk and reward with great, almost obsessive, care. Especially the big boys playing with high-volume models. When you completely redesign your best-selling motorcycle, there’s always the opportunity to screw it up. And if that design is as broadly successful as the modern Triumph Bonneville, even a minor miscue can damage both reputation and profitability faster than you can say, “That looked great in design.”
The Street Twin getting named as our Motorcycle of the Year should tell you how well Triumph pulled this off. Everything about the new Bonneville lineup is new: fresh engines, new chassis, recast styling that’s both more modern and yet even more “authentic” to the Bonnevilles of the 1960s. Indeed, the entire lineup is noteworthy, from the high-performance Thruxton, through the mainline T120s, down to the entry-level Street Twin.
So it should be obvious that we admire the new Bonneville lineup, but we’re calling the Street Twin the MOTY for very specific reasons: It’s amazingly good both as an entry-level streetbike and as a screaming good deal. A full-size, fully featured modern motorcycle with standard ABS and traction control should never be this good for $8,700. So many bikes intended for newer riders get stripped down to something below the essentials, but aside from the lesser displacement (900cc versus the larger bikes’ 1,200cc) and one fewer gear ratio, the Street Twin feels fully equipped and thoroughly featured.
More than that, the Street Twin is a delight to ride. Light feeling, agile, with strong off-the-bottom power, the Triumph is a compact, easy-to-manage bike that never feels dumbed down. Its charm is never veneer-thin or cynical. Baked in, not slapped on at the end of the production line. They’re real roadsters with few affectations, genuinely good performance, and a level of fit and finish good enough to make their overt nakedness work. In a world struggling to define the term “authentic,” the new-age Bonnie lineup sticks the landing.