Triumph Bonneville 1200 series vs. Big 4 from Japan

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

  1. Nick MN

    Nick MN Been here awhile

    Mar 20, 2013
    USA - Minnesota
    Had a brand new 2017 T120 Black in 2017 that I loved but I delt with its headaches for 16k miles before trading it on for a Honda.

    Constant headshake between 45-50mph, front brake squealing, headlight LEDs went out, black headers turning brown, paint chipping out of engine case lettering, and shotty shifting. Triumph was to be replacing a lot of parts (including full front wheel assembly) under warranty, at 19 months of ownership. I said F it after the warranty claim review in the middle of my riding season so I trade it in for a Honda.

    I've found myself recently looking at the speed twin and T120 but then remember all the annoyances I had on long road trips thousands of miles away from home having to deal with the Bonneville "characteristics". For what its worth that was the first year of the water cooled T120 1200 but the Triumph brand has been permanently tarnished for me.

    Tread lightly.

  2. fldfcnscsnss

    fldfcnscsnss Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2017
    You can always pickup an older air cooled model for cheap. I realize that they don't have he 6th gear or the extra power of the liquid cooled 1200s but the investment would be low and the reliability good. My air cooled, carbed 2007 T100 has been reliable, cheap to insure and a great 2nd bike. I quite like it.
  3. Hookalatch

    Hookalatch Born Under Bad Sign

    Feb 8, 2006
    Cottonwood, CA
    My 2018 T120 has been totally problem free with the exception of a recent flat tire. Of course it was a nearly new tire too. I don't think I can blame that one on Triumph. My Bonneville is one of the best shifting motorcycles I have owned. I wish my BMW's even came close. If you check out you will likely get a pretty different perspective than what has been posted here so far.
    mridefellow and tjt94 like this.
  4. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Still Riding

    Aug 7, 2007
    Littleton, CO
    Same here. On my 3rd Triumph now, a 2002 Bonneville that I bought from the original purchaser in 2015. Currently about 22k on it. No issues whatsoever (except a head shake that was caused by a non-standard front wheel.)

    My previous Triumphs were also carbureted (2008 Scrambler and 2001 Thunderbird Triple.) The T-bird had a rear shock failure that was covered by Triumph in 2005 even though the bike was technically OOW at the time.

    Biggest issue you run into with Triumph is that if your local Triumph dealer closes or ends their franchise agreement with Triumph (which is not uncommon because Triumph UK puts some pretty ridiculous requirements on franchisees) then you may be SOL for service or repair and have to go to another city.

    I've heard from other Triumph owners (I ride with a local RAT group) that some of the electronics on newer Triumphs require proprietary software/hardware that is only available to licensed franchisees, but I've never owned an EFI Triumph so I can't say for sure whether this is still an issue or not.
    mridefellow and fldfcnscsnss like this.
  5. PeterTrocewicz

    PeterTrocewicz Long timer

    Nov 18, 2009
    Kincardine Ontario
    To an extent this is true of all EFI/ABS bikes, and other vehicles. The only disadvantage of the Triumph is that they don't have an automotive division that the wider aftermarket has developed the interface with. There is currently 1 aftermarket interface that can be purchased. I'm planning on buying it this Winter for the tune up, mostly synching the throttle bodies. My only complaint about the Triumph electronics is that the maintenance minder can't be reset without it. But trouble codes can be read through the "info" button on the handlebar. Or a standard automotive OBD2 reader will read and clear the codes, but will give the incorrect interpretation. My Haynes shop manual gives me the correct interpretations. I also plan on purchasing the entire factory service manual as well. It looks like one can purchase the interface from Triumph, but its super expensive.
  6. kenta

    kenta Adventurer

    Jan 4, 2015
    I would think if the OP is interested in the Speed Twin then the 865's would be off the table. The extra gear and the extra power are the main reasons I switched from a 865 SE to the 1200 Thruxton. I can't tell you the number of times I was on the highway and went for another gear that wasn't there.
    mridefellow likes this.
  7. mridefellow

    mridefellow Been here awhile

    Sep 27, 2013
    Correct. 1200 series only for consideration.