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Triumph Bonneville T100 Roadster/Retro (2016) review

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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.1

The original, hugely popular 790 (then 865cc) Bonneville twin was due an update, and Euro4 forced Triumph’s hand. The result is not one, but a whole family of bikes in two capacities: the 1200cc T120, and now this 900cc T100. It’s cheaper, softer, and more novice-friendly, but with every bit of its big brother’s style.

Reasons to buy

  • All the style and most of the spec of the T120, for £1,500 less
  • Softer delivery and lighter weight is more novice-friendly, with A2 kit to come
  • Blacked-out T100 Black also available, ¬plus loads of accessories

Design 5/5

The result is a retro-roadster inspired by the original 1959 Bonneville that looks virtually every bit as good as the T120, but in a £1,500 cheaper package.

Essentially, the new T100 uses a cosmetically restyled version of the new 900cc Street Twin’s 54bhp engine in a slightly down-specced version of the 1200cc T120’s rolling chassis. The result is a retro-roadster inspired by the original 1959 Bonneville that looks virtually every bit as good as the T120, but in a £1,500 cheaper package that is lighter, softer, and more novice-friendly to ride. Like the T120, detailing is fabulous: classic two-tone paint, lots of chrome, feature-packed twin dials, and more. It’s far classier all round than the old, 865cc T100.

Riding position 5/5

As a standard, upright roadster, the T100 is both natural and easy to get on with immediately. Triumph’s new Bonnevilles are all slightly larger than the outgoing versions, but still completely novice-friendly and unintimidating. The seat height’s an easy-enough 790mm tall, but a few spec changes means, at 213kg, the T100 is 11kg lighter than the T120. Thanks to well-placed pegs and the comfortable, one-piece, tubular steel handlebars, it’s easy enough to manage and manouvere – although not quite as much as the more basic Street Twin which has a 750mm seat and weighs just 198kg.

Practicality 3/5

This is neither a long-distance machine or much of a pillion carrier (a grab rail is extra), and all its lovely chrome won’t thank you for year round use.

The T100’s a fairly middling-performance retro roadster so, though easy to ride and more than capable of motorway cruising (prolonged mileage would be more comfortable with a screen), its practicality and versatility is limited. It’s great on short journeys, nimble enough to be a blast around town, and various luggage forms are available as extras, but this is neither a long-distance machine or much of a pillion carrier (a grab rail is extra), and all its lovely chrome won’t thank you for year round use.

Performance & braking 4/5

Its 1200cc T120 bigger brother has already impressed with its fruity 79bhp performance, but the 900cc, 54bhp T100 is a much softer proposition. The ‘T100’ bit is intended to suggest a 100mph top speed – which is about right – but it only just makes it there, and gets breathless above 80mph. Braking power is also cut back by going from the T120’s twin discs, to a single front disc set-up which requires assistance from the rear with spirited riding. On the flip-side, the T100’s tuned more for low-down grunt and gets a more-widely-spaced, five-speed gearbox (the T120 has a six-speeder) to match, both of which make routine, round-town travelling a novice-friendly doddle.

Ride & handling 4/5

Like all Triumphs, it still handles well and is engaging and reassuring, if not quite being the plushest ride out there.

There’s nothing particularly startling here. As a light-ish, middleweight, twin shock roadster built down slightly to a price, the T100 rides and handles pretty much as you’d expect. It’s easy and intuitive, maneuverable and comfortable enough, and never really struggles if the pace is upped significantly. The T100’s steering geometry is actually slightly lazier (with a slightly longer wheelbase to match) than the sportier T120, to ensure novice-friendly stability. But, like all Triumphs, it still handles well and is engaging and reassuring, if not quite being the plushest ride out there (due to slightly budget suspension).

Running costs 4/5

It's difficult to be certain at this stage, but everything suggests the T100 should be far cheaper to run than its lookalike T120 big brother, and that bike wasn’t that bad in the first place! Triumph are claiming fuel efficiency is up on the old T100 by 29% (to an impressive 74mpg). Service intervals have also been widened, and the T100’s undemanding performance should give consumables such as its retro-styled Pirelli Phantom tyres, chain, and brake pads (of which there’s fewer anyway) a significantly longer lifespan than the T120.

Reliability 4/5

The outgoing Bonneville had a great reliability record, and we’ve no reason to suspect this new one will be any different.

The all-new Bonneville family has currently been out less than a year, so it’s difficult to be certain about reliability yet. However, Triumph generally has a very solid track record, with a reputation for ‘over-engineering’ its engines. What’s more, in this understressed T100 form, the new Bonneville twin is less taxed than ever. The outgoing Bonneville became impressively refined over its long lifespan and had a great reliability record, and we’ve no reason to suspect this new one will be any different.

Warranty & servicing 4/5

This should be an improvement over what was an already decent machine. With its all-new Bonneville family, Triumph has also extended service intervals from 6,000 to every 10,000miles, which, considering how most bikes are likely to be used, effectively means a major service every other year and significant cost savings to owners. The warranty is Triumph’s usual two-year, unlimited mileage parts and labour offering.

Equipment 4/5

One of the standout aspects of the new T100 Bonneville is how well-equipped it is compared to the outgoing machine.

One of the standout aspects of the new T100 Bonneville is how well-equipped it is compared to the outgoing machine. Although it lacks the T120’s riding modes, centre-stand, pillion grab rail, faux ‘carb’ covers and twin front discs, pretty much everything else is present and correct, and the rest can be added as options. The twin dials are impressively comprehensive (and include clock, gear indicator, fuel gauge and more), both levers are pleasingly span-adjustable, it has ABS, there’s an immobiliser incorporated into the key fob, and a USB socket under the seat. Cosmetics-wise, it’s available in two different two-tone schemes (blue/white or orange/white), plus gloss black, while the T100 Black version gets blacked-out everything (rims, engine, pipes, bars etc.), in gloss or matt.

Why buy? 4/5

Although the full fat, 1200cc T120 is undeniably more thrilling and punchy, unless you really need that extra performance, the new T100 is enough. Raw performance aside, Triumph’s newcomer delivers an almost identical riding and ownership experience for £1,500 off the sticker price, and cheaper running costs. It’s lighter and less intimidating, better suited to novices, and will even come with an A2 licence compliant kit next spring. If that isn’t a win-win…win, we don’t know what is.