Limited Edition – Unlimited Heritage
Words Kev Photos Kerry
The Bonneville T214 is really a dressed-up T100 that tips its hat in respect to one of its forebears that, for a while, was the fastest motorcycle on Earth.
With the standard T100 represented as the gentleman of the Bonneville family, complete with reserved styling that retained more of the classic look than any other modern Triumph, the T214 exudes a slightly more rebellious air – without anything much changing. How does that work? Really quite well when you have a truckload of history that you can refer to when adding a theme to a retro. Triumph have that luxury, whether you’re a died-in-the-wool Meridan versus Hinckley purist or not. For the new generation, none of that matters much. Basically, to the younger riders, a Triumph is a Triumph is a Triumph. No baggage included.
The historic livery also happens to look pretty trick in the flesh, giving the T100 that sought after rocker-come-café racer attitude. Our test bike also had less politically correct pipes, so it sounds like it looks. It even had a nice amount of burble and cackle on over-run – as it should. And what else is different on the T214? In a bad accent… No’ a lo’…hard to type with that lack of consonants that seem to naturally flow when sitting on the T214.
Using the very same 865cc parallel twin that finds a home in the regular Bonneville range, the T versions roll on a taller front hoop, slowing the steering down a little and padding out the ride a wee bit. Perched upon the flatter seat, reminiscent of the bikes it pays tribute too, the ride feels very proper old chap and pleasant enough to boot. The rear shocks lack a little in the finesse department but with the more upright sitting position, they don’t feel harsh, as they do a bit on the Thruxton, in particular, and the Bonneville as well. Maybe it’s also helped by that bench seat; either way, it’s paired with the traditional looking ‘fatty’ grips, with the slightly rounded profile adding some volume in the centre section. Call me old-school but I had a mate with the last of the ‘old’ Bonnies; a tidy 1974 model 750 with the alloy wheels back in the late eighties, and it had the same style grips, so I instantly went back X amount of years as soon as I grabbed the bars. Basically, the ‘historic’ feel conned me in minutes. Perfectly content to remain wearing those rose-tinted specs, I headed off.
OK, the Bonneville T214 won’t pull 214mph unless dropped from the space station. In a straight drag the aforementioned 1974 model would give it a run for its money. Actually, it was slightly tweaked and would spank the T214 without breaking a sweat but that’s not the point behind the pretty blue and white Triumph parked outside the café – the one with all the people gathered around admiring the thing.
I should have bought a takeaway coffee, it would have been easier to get up and start the bike repeatedly rather than have my flat while slowly cool on the table as I answered questions – mainly from ladies who appeared to be pointing out to their lesser halves that ‘that’s a pretty bike – and it looks comfy on the back…’ I hate cold coffee. They did stop short of asking for a ride on the back but I’m sure there are less successful ways to meet new friends than have a spare lid surreptitiously packed on the rear seat – should the need arise… Ahem, anyway, it’s quite the conversation starter it would appear. So, despite not having loads of power – 66hp to be precise, it does have ‘pulling power’ disproportionate to its torque or horsepower figures.
Nah, not really, not a new model, just a very cool tribute livery, and that’s fine. We all like to stand out a little (or a lot), so the bit of added bling sits well with the T100 platform. The Bonneville family have been real stars for the phoenix that is the new Triumph brand, selling to young riders and those old enough to remember the Meridan versions of old. The range is also a hit with a growing segment of the motorcycle riding market – women. The low seat height and light steering really appeals to slighter riders, as do the looks. No doubt about it, it’s a nice looking machine. The T214 didn’t need to do anything differently to the regular T100 to work. No doubt next year, like most bikes, ABS will be introduced but other than that, it’s a modern classic and will probably not change much anytime soon, and that’s fine. This is a bike for those who aren’t hunting gizmos or speed records, contrary to what it salutes. It’s a gentleman with a smart outfit – and rose-tinted glasses.
Next time I’ll park it round the back when I stop for a coffee…
Triumph Bonneville T214 Specifications
Engine: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360º firing interval
Bore and stroke: 90mm x 68mm
Ignition: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Oil capacity: 4.5litres
Max power: 68PS (66hp)@ 7500rpm
Max torque: 68Nm @ 5800rpm
Wet weight: 230kg
Seat height: 775mm
Fuel tank capacity:16litres