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Triumph Bonneville Review

Kevin’s 2004 Triumph Bonneville Review

Kevin is a YouMotorcycle reader. We approached him on Twitter about sharing his thoughts on his daily ride with us. Here is his 2004 Triumph Bonneville review, after over eight years of ownership.

Well, where do you start trying to write a review of a bike you’ve owned for 8 years, and covered over 30k miles on? I mean, it’s just so familiar… it’s just … well… there!

When I’ve ridden courtesy bikes whilst my Triumph Bonneville was being serviced/repaired in that time, their characters, foibles, speed, and/or handling have been obvious. An Indian Royal Enfield 500 Bullet I had for a week was spectacular in its agricultural-ness (but I ended up loving it!), whilst a 650 Bandit courtesy motorcycle was a precision guided missile (which I ended up hating!). A Ducati ST4 I tried was just warp-drive bonkers in the extreme (I still can’t really bear to talk about it!) … The Bonneville … well, that’s somewhere in between.

Kevin and his son on 2004 Triumph BonnevilleKevin and his 9 year old son, Daniel, out on a ride.

Background: My bike is a 2004 790cc Triumph Bonneville. Totally standard. I ride it every day (20-mile round trip to work and back), all year round (except when it’s actually snowing), I take it out for blasts at the weekends, and the occasional couple of hundred mile run to visit friends a couple of times a year. When not being ridden, it lives in the garage.

Me, I’m not a young lad anymore. My days of owning and riding sports bikes are behind me. I don’t have the time (or the money) for long distance touring, and I’m not into track days. I am finding it increasingly the case that the Bonneville just suits me down to the ground.

Anyway, enough rambling, it’s time for facts:

Speed: Fast enough round town and on twisty country roads.
Acceleration: 0-60 (better than almost every car on the road, and that’s what matters).
Economy: Meh … could be better, but it’s not bad.
Comfort: Okay on short trips, but by god your arse will be numb after a couple of hundred miles!
Handling: Pretty good, actually. Not razor sharp like a Fireblade, but good enough.
Stopping: A bit retro in this respect.
Reliability: Top notch. Given how I ride it, I’d say it’s a pretty sturdy bike.
Ownership costs: Average, I’d say. Tyres and chains get an easy time of it, and tend to last well. Brake callipers & pads, though clog up much too easily (particularly the underslung calliper at the rear), and need replacing regularly (3-4k miles!).
Styling: Still getting ‘Nice bike mate’ comments, despite the fact that it’s showing its age.
Servicing costs: Normal servicing is pretty cheap (the most expensive item on the list (apart from labour) is usually the 5 litres of fully synthetic oil), and the valve clearances have only needed minor adjustment in all this time! The fact that it’s a twin, with only one disc front and rear helps here.

2004 Triumph Bonneville near Dorset United KingdomKevin’s 2004 Triumph Bonneville near Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of the UK. 

The good: Handling, styling, ‘retro smile factor’, reliability, servicing costs.
The bad: Comfort (particularly on longer trips), the amount of brake maintenance required.
The indifferent: Stopping.

In all the time I’ve had it the only major work needed was when all the brake pistons, pads and seals all needed replacing at the same time. Soon, though, I’ll need new silencers and fork stanchions/seals, and that’ll be expensive. I’ll definitely fit some gaiters on the forks when the time comes.

All in all I’d say I’ve given this bike a pretty good test over the years. As a daily rider, in all weathers, I can’t really complain at all about the maintenance she’s needed. I have, on occasion, thought of, perhaps, maybe, getting something different (younger, faster, bigger …), but I’ve never been able to bring myself to part with her … we’re probably like an old married couple now. Yes there are younger, more exciting models out there, but they’re not for me. The Bonneville ticks all my boxes, as it were. One day she might have to retire to the garage for some TLC, and while that’s happening I might have to have something else for a while (a Royal Enfield 500 Bullet, perhaps … ), but I really can’t see me parting with her. She always brings a smile to my face.

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10 comments

  1. Thanks for the great review! (Even though it ALWAYS pisses me off when I read about someone else’s motorcycle that weighs 400 pounds less than mine!!) One of these days….I’ll chuck the Venture!

  2. Except for the brakes he sounds the same way I did about my Kawasaki W650. Its strongest suit was 55 mpg and utter reliability. Not a great long distance bike or a Rocket off the corners but It was pretty mellow. I sold it though. Too retro for me.

    • You’re making me think of my Suzuki Boulevard M50. That thing doesn’t have much in the way of character… but it does everything predictably, consistently, and it just goes. There’s something to be said for a motorcycle that you really know, and can learn how to push to its limits. I kind of like it.

  3. Hiya, and thanks for the comments. One thing I forgot to mention was how good the engine is. It honestly pulls as well today as it ever did. Also, at it’s last service (32k miles) the mechanic called me over to look at some photos he’d taken of the top end. He was amazed that there were absolutely no signs of wear at all. He said it looked brand new!
    Cheers,
    Kev

  4. Check it out. My bike review is up on @YouMotorcycle : http://t.co/1I8HtwTuiH

  5. So, Kevin- we must be brother’s from another mother! I, too, struggle with my Bonneville variant (’12 Speedmaster- same mechanicals, different frame)- almost enough power, almost enough braking- but, it seems to earn all of my seat time? Hmmm, the only contender in the bunch is a ’14 Triumph Street Triple R, which has everything, except a very comfy seating position. Lightweight, insanely good brakes, adjustable ride, and, heart stopping acceleration- if I could get my wrists to stop going numb, I would sell everything else I own- and, just keep that one.

    Maybe, ergos will be a winter project, or, I’ll just keep them both, and, sell everything else off? I do so love my Speedmaster tho… Thanks for the awesome write up, greatly appreciated!

    Dave

  6. RT @YouMotorcycle: Kevin’s 2004 Triumph Bonneville Review – is this the modern classic you’ve always wanted? https://t.co/c9BEjrBUIb

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