Will The Bonnie Work For Me?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by skysailor, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. skysailor

    skysailor Rat Rider

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    I'm seriesly considering trading my Bandit in on something with "character", if you get my drift. I owned a '69 Bonnie and loved it. I'd like something for the street. Got the gravel covered. Looking at an R1200R or the Bonnie. Huge difference, I know. Any Bonnie drivers out there who ride fair distances? I'm always solo. I'd like to do 1500 mile round trips, pretty much the max. 3-500 mile days would be the outer limits. I'll NEVER attempt an Iron Butt! Both have good warrantees. I know there's lots of "contenders" out there...these two just "talk" to me. Thoughts?
    Lyle
    #1
  2. SomethingClever

    SomethingClever sick life

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    There are plenty of folks who cover great distances on the modern Bonnies. The two biggest concerns that most people have with touring are the stock seat and the lack of a windscreen.

    You can easily swap out the seat if you don't like it (I personally think it's fine, although I also have an aftermarket seat that I swap in to carry more luggage), and you can add a windscreen. I hate windscreens so I just deal with the wind.

    As far as performance, the Bonnie will happily take you where you want to go, all day long every day. They're very reliable and easygoing. However, they do have far less oomph than the R1200R as I understand it, so you'll want to make sure the bike feels powerful enough for you. You can get 20% more torque and power relatively cheaply with a few mods, but after that it starts to get pretty expensive.

    I also really like the looks of the R1200R, not sure why it stands out to me so much, but I also (obviously) love the Triumphs since I own one.
    #2
  3. Mista Vern

    Mista Vern Knows all - tells some.

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    Huge difference in choices, but since Triumphs tend to hold value pretty well it would cost you much less to try one out and use part of the money you save on aftermarket stuff once you figure out if you'll keep it or not.
    #3
  4. No False Enthusiasm

    No False Enthusiasm a quiet adventurer

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    Mista Vern is on target, but I'd also suggest upgrading shocks... great return for a reasonably small investment.

    Start with the Bonny then upgrade to the R1200R if necessary.

    NFE
    #4
  5. Bugtussle

    Bugtussle Been here awhile

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    I just replaced an R1100R with an 09 Bonneville. I ride two up all the time. The Bonnie has plenty of power and feels like a lightweight compared to the BMW. For me the BMW was a bit over powered for my riding. Guess Im getting older and slowing down. Ive been getting 55 mpg riding two up, thats easy riding on back roads sometimes touching 70 mph. The bike is rock solid and feels like a real motorcycle. Its as simple to work on as a lawn mower. Ive got 4 seats for mine from the King/Queen for touring to a solo seat. The seats can be changed in two minutes. Also in an hour I can go from a touring set up with rear rack, small screen and luggage side racks to a solo seat and bar end mirrors for a cafe look. Very versatile bike! I really recommend taking one for a test ride.

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    The new bonnie doesn't have character like your '69 did. Highly recommend a test ride - I've ridden a couple and came back underwhelmed. I need to ride a V7 classic for comparison's sake, they seem like a better executed retro concept, on paper.
    #6
  7. Devin

    Devin Adventurer

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    The new Bonnie's with stock exhaust are really quiet, the bike is a little bit on the "sewing machine" side of character. Definitely test ride one if old-time Bonnie character is a selling point. I have a King & Queen seat, and it's a joy (never had the original - bought used). For the distance you are going, I would suggest a windscreen. I have just a very small Givi and it adds a lot to the comfort. Highway speeds are no problem, plenty of speed, plenty of torque. Great handling on curves - surpringingly nimble, and I found the stock shocks to be quite decent.
    #7
  8. Worroll

    Worroll Been here awhile

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  9. BUZZARD II

    BUZZARD II Old Geezer

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    About this character thing. I had one of the first '01 Bonnie's delivered to NJ. Those that did not know thought it was a restoration. The geezer's (I am one) that did know told me $#!+ about how much better the originals were. Bull !

    I had a Triumph from the "good old days". Need I mention, Lucas. Or how about the trail of vibrating parts like crumbs in the woods. I was lucky I lived on a hill, tickle the carb and roll that sucker down.

    The modern Bonnie is much better today. It starts, it lights, it stays running. The Beemer is built to a higher price point and is faster. But with very little money the Bonnie can be built up a bit to handle like a Brit bike should.

    I'm 5'11" and found that my old knees needed a bit more room but that can be fixed. Great mileage and one of the easest to ride bikes made. Feels lighter than it is and very light to a Beemer. Stock it does sound like a sewing machine.
    #9
  10. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

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    2 of my favorite bikes. Several posts have noted that the Bonnie is (or seems) lighter. From Motorcycle.com, the wet weights for 2012 models:

    R1200R = 491 / 223

    Bonneville T100 = 506 / 230

    I want a cast wheel SE with a thicker seat and the headlight nacelle windscreen like this:

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. skysailor

    skysailor Rat Rider

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    I would have bet good money that the R12R would heavier than the Bonnie! Tipping point might be price. But BMW probably has the better dealer support network? Really love that green two tone though! Local dealer has a black and gray that looks great. He also is the BMW dealer closest to me, but he can't get the R. It's a sport bike in Manitoba?!??! So he didn't order any. I'm looking at an '09 R vs. a new Bonnie. Pretty much the same price and warrantee. I'd have to take the used bike to the same guys for any issues. Neither has ABS. I don't feel that's an issue. The used Beemer has 3700 km.
    #11
  12. fyr

    fyr iRoast Coffee

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    I got rid of my bonnie five years back and have gone through 5 bikes.. The Bonnie I had went to the new owner and he toured North America on it. I sold it with 38000. Now has well over 90000.
    Reason Im posting here is: Ive thought of a lot of bikes from R1100S to Sportsters and everything in between. I keep coming back to a Bonneville.. I should have just kept the one I had and bought different seats and suspension.. Kinda dial it in for the days riding...
    So Im back in the Triumph market... T 100 most likely.
    #12
  13. 0ldhippie

    0ldhippie Been here awhile

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    I'm not a BMW guy (just boring and complex) but the r1200 is a much better motorcycle than the bonnie (power/handling/braking/comfort). The Bonnie is very Kool looking and reliable, but heavy & underpowered (built to a price point). I would take the bonnie over the r1200 just because I don't like bmws, but the ninja 1000 is the bike I'd get before either. :evil
    #13
  14. SomethingClever

    SomethingClever sick life

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    This is absolutely true, but if the stock sound doesn't do it for you, it can easily be improved (and you'll see other benefits as well). See if the dealer has a bike with Predators, Arrow, Norman Hyde or any other number of aftermarket pipes installed so you can take a listen.
    #14
  15. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    As the former owner of a 1966 Bonneville, I totally agree about the "character" thing. The modern ones have almost no character at all. They are very much like a modern Japanese bike. I took one for a test ride, and decided right then not to buy it. It's not just the lack of sound, there is no vibration either, and the ride is just too smooth for me. To me riding a motorcycle should be a very visceral experience, and the new Bonnie has all the soul of a toaster. A 1983 or older Yamaha XS650 has lots more character than the new Bonnie. The look is wrong as well. It seem fat and out of proportion compared to the original. I don't like the looks of the cast wheels on such a bike, but would not want one with wire spoke wheels either, as they no longer have centerstands. I still don't understand why all manufacturers can't make wire spoke wheels for tubeless tires. BMW does, and Honda did way back in '86 with the 450 Rebel.
    #15
  16. deezildennis

    deezildennis Its a what?

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    BAH!!! I Have and had plenty of old trumpets and bsa's.

    But with my 08 t100. I like that mine doesn't leak, Blow the bottom of the cases out with the cam chain, leave me stranded, suck through a tank in 50 miles, have the headlight go out on the dark hwy but not have a burned filment..



    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. marksbonneville

    marksbonneville Been here awhile

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    I can guarantee my old triumph twins will NEVER blow the cam chains out the bottom. Why? because they don't have cam chains and anyone who has owned plenty of them would know this. :rofl:rofl:rofl


    I would consider a newer Bonneville or preferably a Thruxton.
    #17
  18. gmiguy

    gmiguy You rode a what to where?

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    Character's overrated.

    Of the bikes you mentioned, I'd keep the Bandit and just put a bit of time/money into making it exactly what I wanted.
    #18
  19. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I have had many old Triumphs, and the new Bonneville, and a 1979 Bonneville and a 2005 at the same time, along with a 1969 Daytona.
    The new ones are trouble free, but nothing like the older bikes, which were very light, had thick seats and handled better.
    I never had electrical problems on my Triumphs, or any bike for that matter, as I pay attention to my bikes.

    But most would not want to do a long trip on an old one. I did 9000 miles on my 1979 in a month, no problems other then a flat front tire at the Grand Canyon.
    Lots of other 3000 to 4000 mile trips without issue as well.

    The new ones, while not as good as the older ones in some respects, DO have electric start and are trouble free.
    They need a seat upgrade for longer rides, and suspension work makes them better like most bikes...
    They are over 100 pounds heavier then the old ones.

    The old ones are now old, so its hard to compare against a new bike as far as reliability goes, but I had a new 79 in 1979 and ran it hard for many years and miles, in all weather, and it needed 3 speedo drives and 3 key switches.
    The key switches just wore out, the speedo drive was just Italian crap. Very flimsy.
    I traded the bike in on a new sportster in 1986. The Bonneville had 55,000 miles on it and was running fine. Great in fact.
    The 2005 Bonneville lasted less then a year.
    It was fine I suppose, it just needed a better seat to ride it cross country.
    #19
  20. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    If anything has cam chain issues it would be the new ones, the old ones were push rods.
    Gear driven cams in the block, screw and lock nut valve adjustments, you could make most of your own gaskets, the crankshaft was very low in the frame, some models had it below the frame rails, for a VERY low center of gravity.
    Makes for a short motor.
    Very easy valve adjusting, no removing parts, big wide openings, 10 minute job.
    Good design.



    #20