2009 Triumph Bonneville SE | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

Ringleader: Damian Ercole
MSRP (2009): $8399
Miles: 6634-9549
MPG: 49
Mods: Cranker tank bag, Memphis Shades windshield, Renthal bar pad and sprocket, Wolfman saddlebags, YSS shocks

I'm a bit broken-up about this long-term relationship coming to an end. Bonnie did everything right and left me truly satisfied. If you were waiting for more drama and maybe an outburst of pent-up complaints, this isn't an episode of Jersey Shore.

My modest British lass handled the last few sport-themed months with relative ease, including a day at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I could get addicted to this! The Bonneville is an absolute blast on twisty roads, and pretty fun at the racetrack, too. But rather than go for a café-racer makeover, I toned it down with a touring-oriented setup.

I started with a set of Wolfman Summit saddlebags ($159.99; www.wolfmanluggage.com). With a full 40 liters' capacity, there's enough room to carry all my cargo. They're extremely durable, reasonably waterproof (even without the optional rain covers) and go on and off in seconds. After shopping around for a way to take some music along for the ride, I went with a Cranker tank bag ($169.95 from www.sportechinc.com). Though not clearly audible at highway speeds, my tunes come through loud and clear on country roads or in city traffic, without having to use in-ear speakers.

The new windshield helps there. After some research at the various Triumph owners' forums, I settled on a universal-fit Memphis Shades Hell Cat ($167.95; www.memphisshades.com). Mounting is easy, though a dab of blue Loctite on crucial bolts makes sure everything stays put. The windshield does a decent job of displacing headwinds-a big plus on cold autumn rides. Still, anyone near 6-feet tall should go for a taller version of my 18-inch shield. Fed up with that unsightly EZ-Pass staring at me all day, I cut some foam out of an old Renthal bar pad, tucked in the transponder and _voila! _Another problem solved.

Packed up and on the road, the YSS shocks I installed last time around proved themselves once again, making the Triumph a stable, comfortable ride on any sort of pavement, with more bottoming resistance over the rough stuff. What else? I spent $69.95 on a hard-anodized Renthal rear sprocket-one tooth smaller than stock-to calm the Bonneville's high-revving freeway feel. Small change, huge difference. The speedometer and tach are now perfectly synched, with no noticeable loss of acceleration. Dropping 500 rpm in cruise-mode bumped average fuel economy to 49 mpg. How British Racing Green of me!

In the end, my resilient little friend took everything I threw at her without a whimper. Not one real mechanical issue in our year together; a couple of loose bolts are all I can report. From track days and unpaved country roads to hot laps of Manhattan, my Bonnie never missed a beat. I'll miss her.

Evel Ercole? The eBay listing said Damian's new suit once belonged to daredevil Devin Hubert, who suspiciously perished in a school bus jump accident, rumored to be at the hands of Evel Knievel's pit crew.