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Old 10-12-2014, 04:15 AM   #1
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Bonneville Cast vs Spoke........

I find myself bitten with the Bonneville bug. Researching them quickly, I notice the SE having 17" cast, and the T100 having 19" spoke.

I'd like the many thousands of years of experience, and literally millions of miles of experience found in here to debate the ups and downs of both on a machine that will probably not do much real off pavement duty.

I wonder about longevity of both as well, say maybe even several decades.
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Old 10-12-2014, 04:48 AM   #2
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I like cast wheels for road use. No tubes, no spokes that can loosen with time, absolutely no flex, and less crevices to clean. They will remain true from the day they are made to the day that they are recycled. The biggest reason for me for liking cast wheels is the no tubes thing. In the case of a puncture, I like the idea that I can quickly plug the tire on the side of the road and be going again.

Off-roaders generally prefer spoke wheels. They like the fact that the wheels won't shatter with hard rock hits or spills, that wheels can be hammer back into shape, they like being able to have the ability to change tires and tubes in the middle of no where, some wheel flexibility can help the ride, and they don't care about keeping things clean as much. The generally bigger wheel sizes of spoke wheels also help the tires roll over objects smoothly (although 2" difference isn't a life altering change).

In the absence of collisions, road salt, or other abuse, both wheel types will outlast the bike. With spoke wheels, you should occasionally check spokes for looseness and check the rim for trueness, but I haven't had a spoke motorcycle wheel that needed attention (unlike a spoke bicycle wheel as an example).

I won't get into the opinion of looks as it really is a "beauty is in the eye of the beerholder" thing and I generally take function over form, although most will agree that classic styled or off-road bikes generally look better with spokes.
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Old 10-12-2014, 05:31 AM   #3
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+1000 on plugging a tubeless. What is you're free time worth to you?
How long since you've cleaned 80 intertwined spokes?
Too much is just barely enough.....
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Old 10-12-2014, 06:12 AM   #4
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tubeless all the way

As much as I like the way spokes look, I don't like tubes, especially for traveling. Soooo much easier to plug a tubeless tire. Alpina makes tubeless rims for the Bonnie, but they are fairly expensive. The stock mag wheel Bonnies also run radials front and rear; the stock T100s run an odd combo of bias front/radial rear.

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Old 10-12-2014, 08:06 AM   #5
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BossMaverick pretty much summed it up with his response. I'd add the issue of added, unsprung, rotational mass (speed, turn-in, handling characteristic) as another reason why some road riders might prefer a less heavy cast wheel. Tire choices are often limited with spoked wheels (we're talking about tubed versions) as well.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:08 AM   #6
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I have a Bonneville T100 with 78,000 miles on the clock and Alpina, tubeless, spoke wheels. My bike came stock with a combination of radial and bias ply tires, but I have since run bias front and rear and radial front and rear. Tire choice is up to the owner.

If I was buying a new Bonneville, I'd sure consider the base model because I keep reading that the 17" front handles better, but I don't have any personal experience with it. I'd want to add a tach because I ride in the upper half of the rpm range and bump the rev limiter often enough even with a tachometer. I do end up on dirt roads enough that maybe the 19" front is better for me. The 19" wheel, with cartridge emulators in the forks seems stable in curves. Some with the base Bonneville say the pegs drag easily and I don't find that an issue very often with my T100.

My bike is less than 4.5 years old so I don't know if it will last decades, but there are plenty of them that will be 14 years old in 2015. That's as old as the Hinkley Bonnevilles come, but, of course, there are plenty of Meriden Bonnevilles that meet the decades old criteria.

I haven't owned a lot of motorcycles, but I've owned them over a period of 39 or 40 years and my Bonneville might be my favorite. I sure wouldn't trade it for any of the others and I'm not looking at anything else. Well, the Street Triple looks pretty good, but the almost no fenders idea doesn't make sense to me.
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Old 10-12-2014, 10:25 AM   #7
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If touring, I'd go with cast wheels...

Last week's flat, 700 miles from home, was easy to resolve with a plug....

Didn't lose much travel time.... had it been a tubed tire, repair would have taken much longer.

My '09 Bonne SE has cast wheels and matching speedo/tach... surprised that combination isn't on the base model.

Of course, I'm still surprised when center stands aren't included... old corps...

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Old 10-12-2014, 12:38 PM   #8
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Also, you are much more likely to find the latest tire compound and technology in 17" radial. Better safety and handling.
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Old 10-12-2014, 12:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Volfy View Post
Also, you are much more likely to find the latest tire compound and technology in 17" radial. Better safety and handling.

Agreed! The world seems to have settled out on 17" as the size most common for advanced, high performance rubber. As important as the ease of flat repair, is the ease of finding the tire you want. After all, if you're lucky, you can avoid ever having to fix a flat for the length of your ownership of the bike, but you will be buying new tires every couple of years. The 17" size guarantees that your tire choices will be commonly available.
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:09 PM   #10
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Inner tubes suck ass.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:31 PM   #11
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Originally quoted by Volfy:

Also, you are much more likely to find the latest tire compound and technology in 17" radial. Better safety and handling.
... with certain limitations if using OEM sizes.

I ride with RoadAttack on front and TrailAttack on back as Continental does not make the RoadAttack in 130/80 R17.

Michelin choices are equally limited, requiring a Pilot Road up front and an Anakee in back.

Other major brands seem to similarly limited when last I checked.

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Old 10-12-2014, 03:32 PM   #12
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I actually prefer the look of spokes but every time I'd ride a new Bonnie with them, It just never felt quite right. Then a very clean, used mag wheel Bonnie showed up at my dealer, so I took it out for a spin. 'More of a difference than I would have thought, it just handled more like a sport bike to me. That's mostly because of the smaller wheels and different tires I would imagine but the ease of cleaning and ability to plug a leak on the fly are a plus. We are not talking light on/off here but if you like to fling about in the twisty bits, the mag wheel variants have the edge I think.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by fast1075 View Post
Inner tubes suck ass.
Inner tubes save your ass riding off road at speed when you bend a rim. Patch and carry on. Spoked rims and inner tubes on a street bike suck ass and are nothing more than a styling element for poesers trying to relive the 60s. By the 70s performance bikes came with mags.
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Old 10-12-2014, 09:01 PM   #14
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Much like the OP I too am looking at buying a new Bonneville. However, it will be an SE model with mag wheels for sure. I have had a bike with tubes go flat miles from home, on the interstate, in 95 degree heat, with no cell service, and with vehicles flying by at 80mph. Happened again near my neighborhood at 60mph. How I'm still alive I'll never know.

I carry a Motopump with plugs and never leave home without them. When I buy a Bonneville SE the same will stand true.

My Bandit 1200 has had 2 rear tires take a nail 2 years in a row. Neither went flat and almost killed me. Both were removed, plugged, and filled with air within 15 minutes off of the roadway with minimal fuss. (Feels routine now...)

For street use, wire wheels are long obsolete. Do yourself a favor and get the SE.

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Old 10-13-2014, 03:54 AM   #15
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Spokes. Because that's what came stock on my bikes. They work fine for me. True them up and no worries.
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