The first two generations were produced by the now-defunct Triumph Engineering in Meriden, West Midlands, England, from 1959 to 1983 and again from 1985 to 1988.
The name Bonneville is derived from the well-known Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, when Triumph and others sought to break motorcycle speed records.
Triumph introduced the Bonneville 790, the first new Bonneville in 15 years, at the Munich Motorcycle Show in September 2000, featuring a 790 cc (48 cu in) 360° crankshaft parallel-twin engine. The T100 Bonneville, designed by John Mockett and David Stride, was presented as an upgraded version, originally with the 790 cc engine, and from 2005 with the 865 cc engine first seen on the 2004 Thruxton, and fitted to all Bonnevilles beginning in 2007.
The name is derived from Triumph T100 vehicles made between 1939 and the mid 1970s, and it is offered as part of Triumph’s “Modern Classics” collection. The engine has two electrically heated carburetors. Triumph installed an air injection device near the spark plug to meet 2007 emission requirements.
The T100 (together with all Bonneville-based vehicles) was further upgraded in 2008 with fuel injection to satisfy new Euro 3 emissions regulations. In addition to operating cleaner than a carburettor engine, the fuel injected system is also easier to start from cold. To keep the’retro’ look, the fuel injectors are covered beneath throttle bodies that look like carburetors.
For 2017, the T100 model received a slew of improvements, including an increase in displacement to 900cc, the inclusion of liquid cooling, traction control, and a shift from a 360° to 270° crank.
The Bonneville America rides substantially differently than the normal Bonneville, with the wheelbase increased 6.4 inches (160 mm) to 65.2 inches (1,660 mm), making it 6.8 inches (170 mm) longer overall. The seat was lowered by 2.2 inches (56 mm), and the steering head rake angle was raised by 4.3 degrees, for a total rake of 33.3 degrees. The America retained the Bonneville’s 12.2-inch (310 mm) front disc, but the front wheel was dropped to 18 inches (460 mm) in diameter, while the rear wheel was reduced to 15 inches (380 mm) in diameter, with a bigger 11.2-inch (280 mm) disc brake. The America also had a bigger petrol tank and a ‘chromed’ plastic console to hold the filler, as well as a 4.5-inch (110 mm) diameter speedometer and warning lights.
To recreate the’retro appearance’ of the air-filter covers from the 1960 Triumph twins, the side panels were extended with sheet-metal coverings over the passenger-peg brackets and perforated chrome fittings behind the carburettors. To produce a ‘cruiser’ riding position, the rider’s footrests were also moved to the front of the engine.
The engine capacity was enlarged to 865 cc (carburated) in 2007, generating peak power of 54 bhp (40 kW) at 6,800 rpm and maximum torque of 69 Nm (51 lbft) at 4,800 rpm. The city fuel economy is around 45 miles per US gallon (5.2 L/100 km; 54 mpg-imp) while the highway fuel economy is roughly 50 miles per US gallon (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp). New “reverse cone” chrome silencers, a new design of cast alloy wheels, adjustable clutch and front brake levers, and an all-black engine finish with chromed covers were all part of the upgrade. The chrome chain cover, pillion footrest hanger, and upper fork shrouds have been restyled, and a more comfortable pillion seat has been installed.
The Bonneville America’s UK version was upgraded in 2008 with an electronic fuel injection system to suit European pollution regulations, with the fuel injectors masked by dummy carburetors. The Bonneville America in the United States was not upgraded to EFI until 2009.
The Triumph Speedmaster, based on the Bonneville America, was introduced in 2003 as a ‘factory bespoke’ cruiser. The original model had a 790 cc (48 cu in) air-cooled DOHC twin engine with a 1,660 mm (65.2 in) wheelbase with the crankshaft set at 270°. The main variations from the Bonneville America featured a black engine finish, shorter gearing, a flat handlebar on risers, a one-piece saddle, and cast alloy wheels with dual front discs instead of the America’s single disc. The moniker ‘Speedmaster’ was last used by American importers for the Bonneville T120R in 1965, but not by Triumph.
The first generation 790 cc (48 cu in) model from 2003–2004 has 53.1 horsepower (39.6 kW) and a peak speed of 166 km/h (103 mph). The engine capacity was enlarged to 865 cc (52.8 cu in) (carburettor-fueled) in 2005, generating peak power at 6,500 rpm and maximum torque of 68 Nm at 3,500 rpm. A multipoint sequential fuel injection model with new design alloy wheels, a restyled chain cover, pillion footrest hanger, and upper fork shrouds, as well as slash cut silencers and four new colour schemes, was introduced in 2007.
The Bonneville Speedmaster, part of Triumph’s ‘Modern Classics’ series, was revived in 2018 as a new Speedmaster nameplate. The 2018 Speedmaster retrofitted the Triumph Bobber Black’s faux-hardtail chassis into a light-duty tourer by adding a bigger fuel tank (3.17 gal. vs. the Bobber’s 2.4 gal.), bigger rider’s seat and pillion seat with passenger foot pegs, ‘beach bar’ handlebars with more retracement, forward controls, chrome exhausts and accents, and a back fender with mounting points for elective saddlebags.
The 2018 Speedmaster, like the Bobber Black, has a ride-by-wire throttle with selectable ‘Rain’ and ‘Road’ modes that modulate throttle response, as well as one-touch cruise control; ABS and traction control; LED lighting with daytime running light; twin front disc brakes with Brembo calipers; upgraded KYB front forks; and larger tires.
The bike is named after the Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, where Triumph earned the first three positions in the Thruxton 500 mile endurance event in 1969. These races contributed to the emergence of the “café racer” period, in which ordinary production motorbikes were modified to boost street and racing performance.
The Scrambler was conceived as an off-road Bonneville with limited off-road capabilities.
The TR6C Trophy Special was a major influence on the new Scrambler, and the new bike shared many of the same key features, most notably the high level stacked twin exhausts and crossover exhaust headers, though Triumph had to swap sides (from left to right) with the stacked pipes because the battery box interfered with running them on the left side.
The Scrambler also had a high, wide handlebar, a higher seat position, twin chromed Kayaba rear shock absorbers (with increased 106 mm travel), 41 mm Kayaba front forks with 120 mm travel and rubber fork gaiters, a small single headlight with a simple speedo, and chunky, knobbly Bridgestone tyres on the thin 36-spoke 19 x 2.5-inch front wheel and 40-spoke 17.
The Scrambler received a slew of Triumph Factory accessories, including a skid plate to protect the engine’s underside, engine bars, a headlamp grille, number boards for the sides, an optional tachometer on early models (twin side by side speedometer and tachometer became standard beginning with the 2010 model year), a handlebar brace and pad, and even a single seat with a fixed rear luggage rack behind. Arrow’s two-into-one performance exhaust system is a popular aftermarket upgrade.
The engine was an 865 cc parallel twin from the Bonneville (but with the 270° crank from the America/Speedmaster cruiser variants) with dual carburetors, detuned to enhance performance at low engine speeds, with peak output of 54 hp (40 kW) at 7,000 rpm and maximum torque of 69 Nm (51 lbft) at 5,000 rpm. The introduction of multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI in 2008 (2009 in the United States) necessitated the installation of a bigger fuel tank to accommodate the new pump unit. To keep the Scrambler’s antique appearance, throttle bodies were disguised as carburetors.