Back in black
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When Triumph Motorcycles NZ launched the Bonneville Bobber last year, we were quite impressed at the lengths the UK brand went to with their take on the bobber trend.
For starters, Triumph shied away from the more traditional method of creating a bobber; that is, chopping the guards right down and giving the bike a mean solo-seat aesthetic.
Instead, Triumph went all in, redesigning the entire rear end of the bike to achieve a hardtail bobber look while retaining rear suspension. The result was a bike that looked fantastic but wasn’t going to break your back when you rode some of our less smooth roads.
The bike wasn’t without its niggles, however, and that cleverly hidden rear monoshock could run out of stroke at times when you were really pushing it — something the Triumph excels at, compared with its American competition — but this was addressed, along with a few other upgrades, when Triumph put together the Black.
Unlike the Bonneville Black released a few years ago, the Bobber Black keeps things simple with the paint. Although I’m not a fan of matte black on a bike because it’s tricky to keep looking top-notch, the Bobber has so little bodywork that isn’t an issue here.
The rear suspension now has the addition of a Fox shock option to help prevent bottoming out as a roughly $1000 option and the front has been beefed up for the Bobber Black, with 47mm forks with gaiters now sitting up front.
Although I don’t think the 41mm forks of the base bike were lacking, the bigger forks of the Black beef up the front end in the looks department, taking the bike from a gentlemanly machine to a back-street brawler.
This is helped by the other big addition to the Bobber Black, a second brake rotor and caliper on the spoked 16-inch front wheel. Again, this really lends itself to the attitude that the Bobber Black seems to instil in its rider and, when it came to enjoying a good old-fashioned play one afternoon, the extra stopping power was more than welcome.
Twist the key in the low-mounted ignition and the same 1200cc parallel twin as the base bike fires into life and chugs away with its burly tones. Sure, you can get Vance & Hines exhausts for the Bobber Black to give it more presence, but the factory exhaust note is right up there.
There are no changes to the engine itself but it performs well with that highly usable torque rating of 106Nm and a rich powerband that makes the Bonneville family such a delight.
Despite being a solo-seat machine, the Bobber Black is not a terrible place to find yourself comfort-wise. This is partly due to the position of the handlebars, but also the centrally mounted pegs and the adjustable seat positioning.
It’s not a tourer by any stretch — the small 9-litre fuel tank combined with a claimed consumption of 4.1-litre/100km definitely sees to that — but the Bobber Black is easily the most comfortable bike in the growing “Bobber Class”.
We’re used to calling Triumph the undisputed Kings of the Modern Classic game, but with the Bobber Black, it seems they might be in the running for the factory custom gong as well.
2018 TRIUMPH BOBBER BLACK
Engine: 1200cc Liquid cooled, parallel twin
Pro: Comprehensively equipped, excellent looker, handles well
Con: You can only ride solo