Triumph Bonneville 1200 series vs. Big 4 from Japan

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by mridefellow, Jul 13, 2021.

  1. mridefellow

    mridefellow Been here awhile

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    The Bonneville 1200 series, especially the Speed Twin have piqued my curiosity. I wouldn't anticipate much going wrong during the warranty period but how is the reliability and longevity of those bikes after a person has owned one for a few, then several years? How do they compare to the Big 4 from Japan? Will more things start going wrong compared to the Big 4 after the bike acquires 30, 40, 50, 60 thousand miles on it?
    #1
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  2. c_m_shooter

    c_m_shooter Ninja Warrior Supporter

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    Don't drop the 1200 Triumphs on the left side. You will have to replace the shift shaft. That is the only negative I have heard.
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  3. advmgm

    advmgm Long timer

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    Friend dropped his Tiger 800 on the left side in sand and had to replace his.
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  4. tjt94

    tjt94 Long timer Supporter

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    I liked my '18 T120 quite a bit. I put 25K on it without any issues but just traded it for a BMW RS. The build quality is great and the engine is one of the favorites of all I have owned (until now probalby). There is a guy in Vermont that has around 90K on his '18. The trans went out for him at 20K but was covered by warranty. He has had nothing since then go wrong.

    There are reports of the shifter causing issues but that isn't super commonplace. Mine had one of the smoothest shifting transmissions I have owned. I live in a very extreme heat environment where daytime temps are always above 110 in the summer. My T120 performed flawlessly from the below sea level of home to the over 10 feet elevation I have ridden in the Sierra Nevadas.

    I hope this helps with your decision.
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  5. mridefellow

    mridefellow Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the post. The transmission going out at 20K is troubling. Maybe it was the first year of a model update.
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  6. PeterTrocewicz

    PeterTrocewicz Long timer

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    My 2016 T120 shifts very well. I do only have 30k kms on it though, it spent a couple of years mostly sitting in the garage for various reasons. I do find though that the transmission is smoothest if iI keep my clutch cable adjustment on the tighter side of the range. This is the most fun bike I've ever owned. The way it looks, feels, sounds, makes power, rides and handles are all just awsome.
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  7. tjt94

    tjt94 Long timer Supporter

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    It was some metallurgy issue with one of the gears. Regardless, perfect afterward and was fully covered.
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  8. tjt94

    tjt94 Long timer Supporter

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    I agree with all of those sentiments but then I rode a new R1250RS. The RS is in my garage and the T120 got traded. I will miss some things and it treated me very well but this BMW has a serious engine and suspension. It also fits me a bit better as I am 6'4" and the Triumph was a little on the smaller side. It also wasn't the greatest on Interstate runs but I really don't have more than about 30 minutes to be on secondary roads where the T120 shines. However, the BMW has the right amount of wind coverage I lacked and also eats up the secondary road miles just fine. They are totally different bikes and the Triumph did all of the things it was designed to do very very well for a decent price.
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  9. Carl Childers

    Carl Childers Ghost in the Machine

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    My observation is that with modern Triumphs you either get a good one or a bad one. The bad ones seem to be nothing but trouble spend a lot of time at the dealer being repaired and eventually get traded in for another brand by frustrated owners. I have seen this first hand with friends that have owned them. While Japanese bikes can have their occasional problems I don't see the bi-polar reliability problems Triumph has. Too bad because I really like the looks of their latest scramblers but not enough to take the risk of buying one.
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  10. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    If you are really interested in a new Triumph, you should probably take the time to watch this:


    I'm not saying "don't," I'm just saying pay attention. The short story here is that Triumph may or may not have fixed real problems with the shift mechanism in the 1200 gearbox.

    Also check this thread out:
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/just...ed-triumph-twin-2018-bonneville-t120.1416552/
    #10
  11. Phineas1952

    Phineas1952 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I have 30K miles on mine. No problems but it's a funny machine. First bike with tube tires and without a fairing I've owned since the early eighties. The bike runs better than it ever has. It felt woefully underpowered when I first got it and the stock Pirelli tires were junk. It's like an old school bike that takes six or seven thousand miles for it to "break in." You could feel the motor loosen up as time went on. Other than needing four shims at the 25K service it's had no issues. I ride with a couple of LA based brit bike clubs. Many of the members have T-120s and I've only heard of one transmission failure and that was taken care of by warranty even though the bike was over two years old.
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  12. Jeffo

    Jeffo Been here awhile

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    I had numerous issues with a new Triumph i once bought. Made worse by Triumph doing their best to get out of warranty work with any excuse they can dream up.
    Wont ever buy another one after that experience, even if i do love the look of the 1200 Scram.
    I also dont care much for their boutique brand pricing these days.
    #12
  13. mridefellow

    mridefellow Been here awhile

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    I wonder if owners of bad ones have tried to lemon-law them. I'd try that first. I don't know a lot about that although I know it varies from state to state (maybe I should say I think).

    To whatever extent a person gets a good one or a bad one, does anyone have an opinion about how many are bad in terms of percentage. I know that's very hard to say definitively but a ball park figure would help people considering one.
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  14. mridefellow

    mridefellow Been here awhile

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    I guess it was less than 3 years old. IIRC, their warranty is 2 years. Still, its good they covered it.


    Was this within the warranty period? Maybe the techs at your dealership didn't have the skills to take care of the problems. Maybe you should have brought it to another dealer for servicing or complained to corporate.
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  15. Jeffo

    Jeffo Been here awhile

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    Yup, within 2 yr warranty. It wasn't a dealer issue, they would have happily done the warranty jobs no probs. It was Triumph UK that always quibbled any warranty work, where the arguments to fix it went back and forth. Some they finally begrudgingly agreed fixing, some they point blank refused to.
    I chopped the bike in after 20 months, went back to Japanese, and happily took the financial hit to get rid of the POS.
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  16. Phineas1952

    Phineas1952 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I misspoke, the bike was out of warranty, but Triumph covered the repair at no cost anyway. The dealer dealt with Triumph and was an advocate for the rider.

    Anecdotally, it sounds like most of the problems I've heard of have been with dealers and their techs rather than the bikes themselves. I've been really fortunate that way. Currently I use Fred Cummings Motorsport in Bakersfield California and I've had outstanding service from them. I literally have 300K+ miles on Hinckley Triumphs and their Asian cousin the T-120 and, outside of needing a valve job on my 95 Sprint at 108K, I've never had a major issue.
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  17. KeithU

    KeithU Been here awhile

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    This is going back a ways, but I bought a TT600 back in 2000 and it was very reliable. But as others said, the ownership experience seemed highly dependent on the quality of the dealership. The early TT600 had a famously glitchy EFI map, but my local dealer gave me free updates every time they came out. It only took them about ten minutes to plug their computer into the bike and load an update. I think there were 2-3 updates in the first year, after which it ran flawlessly. But some owners reported that their dealers wanted to charge big $$$ for tune updates, or refused to do them altogether. Pretty crappy IMO for a bike that was obviously flawed on release. My dealer saw it as a warranty issue, even after my warranty expired.

    Other than that the TT600 was reliable for me through 36k miles. Paint and finish were beautiful. I've owned a dozen or so bikes over the last 30+ years, and the TT600 was the only one that had obviously been designed for serviceability. It was by far the easiest bike to service I've ever owned, which is surprising given the full fairings.

    The only issue I ever had was an intermittently glitchy speedometer after 30k miles. Friends gave me crap about British electrics, but the speedo was made by Nippondenso. I'd own another Triumph if I knew there was a good dealer nearby.
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  18. Phineas1952

    Phineas1952 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I see you're from Oregon, was that dealer Cascade Moto Classics in Beaverton? I was traveling and they went so far out of their way to help me out. Some of the best people I've ever met.
    #18
  19. KeithU

    KeithU Been here awhile

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    No, it was Cycle Parts Triumph in Eugene. They were really good to me, but sadly they aren't a Triumph dealer anymore.
    #19
  20. kenta

    kenta Adventurer

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    When I picked up my Thruxton 1200 (non-R) right off the bat I had an issue with the front wheel at just about 30mph it would feel like it was hopping. At first I thought it was a flat spot in the tire from sitting at the dealership. They ended up truing up the wheel free of charge of course, but still annoying to deal with on a new bike.

    Had a recall for wiring harness, especially if running a the optional fairing. Heard about it a ton and it was recalled for the '16-'17

    Recall for the side stand spring which I haven't done yet. I carry a spring I took it off a toddler bed frame of all places, to use in an emergency. But another one of those things I'd seen multiple times on the FB group I'm on before the official recall was issued.

    People have been breaking the shift linkage. Some people in that same FB group build them out of SS as replacements.

    Those with the R have reports of mushy Brembo brakes requiring a few pumps sometimes, not sure if that has been recalled.

    Other than those things the rest of the bike seems to be pretty solid. I can't speak to say 30k+ miles but for the FB group I'm on I'm not seeing much in terms of reliability issues being brought up but for the Thruxton it only goes back to 2016 so in general they aren't that old. So maybe not Big 4 quality but won't keep me away from the brand. The Speed Twin is a close relative to the Thruxton so it's likely to share about the same level of reliability.
    #20
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