Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

First Ride • 2016 Triumph Bonneville Street Twin

words: Brian Rathjen

Do not let looks deceive you.

When it comes to the 2016 Triumph Bonneville Street Twin your eyes will play tricks with you, but your ears will not.

I have always believed it is sometimes not what you say, but how you say it. The new Street Twin says it strong and clear. This is a brand new day in the story of one of the world’s most iconic motorcycles.

Completely revamped for 2016 the Triumph Bonneville Street Twin is powered by a 900cc liquid-cooled, eight-valve, single overhead cam, parallel twin with sleeveless Nikasil-coated cylinders and a 270° crank angle.

The crank angle is key, as it gives the Street Twin one of the most sexy, pleasant and all-around ‘YES!’ tone that we have ridden in a long time.

Some things have been added and some taken away in the quest for perfection – with the Street Twin less is more as the bike rides with 55 rather than 67 horsepower found on the previous Bonnie, but with a bit more grunt - 59 versus 50 pound-feet of torque.

Visually you might be hard pressed to pick out the differences, but they are there. Still, the overall look and feel states Bonneville.

The Street Twin carries a small 3.2 gallon fuel tank, but the engine set up will allow for more than 50 miles to the gallon – it evens out, doesn’t it?

Sitting on the machine for the first time all I could think was how small it felt. With its seat height of just 29.5 in. and a dry weight is 437 lbs. this is indeed a tiny motorcycle (for me, standing 5’11” with appropriate weight).

Unlike the other new Bonneville offerings (there are a few coming to the showrooms) the Street Twin comes with wheels that are cast aluminum - a 18 x 2.75-inch front and a 17 x 4.25-inch rear. The very familiar (at least to those who have been riding from back when LPs were still spinning) and classic-looking Pirelli Phantom tires are made to Triumph’s specs. The tires are 100/90-18 front and 150/70 R17 rear. Both front and rear brakes are handled by single Nissin 2-piston floating calipers, mated to a 310mm disc up front and a 255mm one out back.


The new Street Twin does not ignore the times as the bike comes with ABS as standard, as is Traction Control (which can be turned off), and you will find a USB socket under the seat. The machine also comes with a security immobilizer.

The steel chassis rides on twin preload-adjustable KYB shocks, with a front KYB fork offering 120mm (4.7 inches) of suspension travel, and has reinforcing gussets behind the engine, offering a tight, together feel, without be so rigid as to preclude any bit of wanted chassis flex or make the bike feel like it is on rails.

Up front a single round gauge contains an analogue speedometer and a multi-functional LCD display shows gear position, fuel level, traction control status range-to-empty, fuel consumption rate, service indicator, clock, and odometers. The gauge choices are scrolled with an “i” button on the left handlebar. All this seems a bit much, but the gauge and display is easy to work as well as to see while on the road.

Speaking of on the road…

Those good-looking brushed stainless twin exhausts, with craftily hidden catalytic convertor, sing with the most pleasant tone. This 900cc engine machine has the “grunt factor” - even if it is not setting any land speed records. The 270-degree firing configuration and twin counter balancers offer a remarkable “feel” for this machine. This is 100% grin producing ride!

I understand there is an after market Vance & Hines scrambler exhaust option for this bike – but why anyone would want to play with this bike’s stock tone is beyond me.

The saddle is easy on the rear, although I did find the smallish Street Twin a bit confining position-wise and if you are a tall or large rider Triumph offers plenty of other options.

The slick 5-speed tranny is seamless and around town I found that the bike was more than comfortable bouncing between second and third.

I only found fifth on the highway, where an 80-mile per hour cruise was pleasant and easy. Although other Bonneville models have dual discs up front, the single disc on the Street Twin worked just fine, as there really isn’t all that much weight to haul down. The combination of front and back gave a smooth, linear stop even at higher speeds. You will not need more.

Although physically a small motorcycle, I really liked the sitting position and the angle that the tubular handlebars offered. The seat height makes this motorcycle a viable option to all but Lilliputians.

The clutch was effortless and once underway and getting the revs up above 2,500 the Triumph was in its sweet spot all the way to about 6,000 rpm.

I spent a decent part of a day, exploring the familiar region around the borderlands of New York and New Jersey, where you will find BMG Triumph of Goshen, New York ( who, along with Triumph’s Bill Shelton, were kind enough to help us get a few hours on this new machine.

In truth I knew that Triumph had invested a lot of effort in revitalizing this classic machine, and after spending some time on the new Triumph Bonneville Street Twin I have come away more than a bit impressed.

This Bonnie is not like any Bonnie before.

The 2016 Triumph Bonneville Street Twin is a great machine that would make a fine ride for those mid-level riders looking to move up, or talented new motorcyclists that want something larger that will give them seasons of pleasure from the very start.

It would also make an excellent second bike for those who have larger touring or adventure machines and are looking for something cool, classic and with serious grin factor for the occasional weeknight or Sunday ride.

The Street Twin should appeal to those riders who were around back when the Bonnies dominated the motorcycle scene and the millennial beard and flannel crowd as well.

MSRP for the 2016 Triumph Street Twin is $8,700 for jet black. All other colors Phantom (metal flake) Black, Matte Black, Aluminum Silver, Cranberry Red: $8,950.

Find them at your Triumph dealers now.