Classic British Motorcycle
Photo Gallery -
Triumph Bonneville

MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY-
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

Let’s establish one thing right now: There is no more beautiful motorcycle in the history of the world than the classic Triumph Bonneville. Many have come before, and many more since, but the Bonnevilles purity of form, it’s balance of lightness and strength, and the gracefulness of its lines have never been surpassed (at least not in our humble opinions). So, herein lies our dedication through this Motorcycle Photo Gallery of our passion for the classic, gorgeous Triumph Bonneville. Enjoy...


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1959 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

1959 was the first year for the Triumph Bonneville. Available in only one color combo that year, and not a very popular one, at that.


Triumph also saddled their brand new Bonneville with British-spec full mudguards, rather than the “American-style” slim TR6 fenders. This would be addressed.


The 1959 Triumph Bonneville was essentially a TR6 engine with a new head, with splayed intake ports and 2 Amal carburetors with a single, central remote float bowl.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1960 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

Note how the fenders shrunk on the 1960 Bonneville to match those of the TR6. It gave the Bonneville a racier look.


The Pre-Unit Bonneville is a handsome machine from any angle.


Great attention was given to the detailing on the Bonneville, which was actually fairly rare in 1960.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1962 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

This scrumptious 1962 Triumph Bonneville was the last year for the Pre-Unit Construction Bonneville


This scrumptious 1962 Triumph Bonneville was the last year for the Pre-Unit Construction Bonneville


In case you don’t know, ‘Pre-Unit’ or ‘Non-Unit Construction’ refers to the Engine Crankcase and the Gearbox being housed in separate housings, as you see here. Compare this configuration to the ‘Unit Construction’ of the Bonnevilles below.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
UNIT-CONSTRUCTION TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

‘Unit Construction’ on Bonnevilles began in 1963. But here is a very nice ’65 Bonneville.


From this angle, you can see how ‘Unit Construction’ blended the once-separate gearbox and crankcase into one common set of castings. It was not only cleaner in appearance, but lighter, stronger, more compact, and easier to assemble.


As always, the Triumph Bonneville was an elegant machine to look at.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1965 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120C "TT SPECIAL"

Triumph not only built some of the fastest road machines, they were famous for their desert racers. This 1965 Triumph Bonneville T120C was known as the “TT Special”.


Ya gotta love those “TT Pipes”. My personal favorites. Can’t run a centerstand with them though. These babies were stripped to the bone anyway.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1970 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

The 1970 Triumph Bonneville was the last year before the big change-over to the infamous ”Oil-in-Frame Bonnevilles”


Many Triumph faithful felt that the 1970 Bonneville was the finest ever made, having benefitted from years of development, yet not having been cursed with what was to come in 1971.

The 1970 Bonneville is considered the last great Triumph by many who lament the attempted-modernization of Triumph’s product line in 1971.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1971 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE HAS OIL-IN-THE-FRAME

This award-winning 1971 Triumph Bonneville shows that even the new “Oilers” will still very handsome bikes. But they had their faults. The seat height was almost 35 inches!
Everything changed but the engine. New frame, new forks, new tank, seat and fenders, new lights, new switchgear, all of it. But that classic Triumph engine remained, still with only a 4-speed and still no electric starter. Well at least we have the oil in the frame now.


One of the most interesting features of the new Oil-in-Frame Bonnevilles were the conical brake hubs. They looked absolutely exotic, but didn’t stop as well as the full-width hubs they replaced, nor nearly as well as a good disk brake would have, already widespread on Japanese motorcycles since 1969.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1973 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE FINALLY GETS A DISK BRAKE

This near-perfect 1973 Triumph Bonneville, painted in a Canada-only color, belongs to a friend of mine.


1973 was a big year for the Triumph Bonneville. The displacement went from 650 to 750cc, the gearbox went from 4-speeds to 5 (long overdue), and the front drum brake was finally replaced by a modern hydraulic disk brake. Note the shifter on the right, where God intended it. This is one of the last years that will have it.


Here the front disk brake is visible. Note the attractive shape of the mufflers (silencers). The 1973 Triumph Bonneville is one of my personal favorites, having owned one myself. Well, in a manner of speaking. But that’s another story...the story of Yellow Bike.


A very conventional left-side setup for a Triumph. A long brake pedal operating a drum brake on the left side, by an adjustable rod, and a nice clean primary cover with the trademark Triumph logo and “wing” cast into it. Again, all as God intended it, before US regulators forced the world to switch to left-foot shift. “Half the world still drives on the wrong side of the road, but we think everyone needs to shift on the same side”. Oh well, water under the bridge.

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MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1977 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SHIFTS ON THE LEFT

This 1977 Triumph Bonneville looks very similar to the earlier Oil-in-Frame Bonnevilles but the conversion to left-side shift necessitated numerous changes.


Actually, left-side shift started with the 1976 Triumph Bonneville, and they are very mechanically similar to the 1977 Bonneville. Note the stubby shifter protruding rudely from the middle of the primary cover. The rear drum brake which operated from the left was now replaced by a rear disk brake on the right. This left the final drive sprocket alone for the first time in Triumph history.


From this side, it’s easy to see the disk brakes on both ends. The basic components were interchangeable front to back. The brake disks, calipers & pads, even the master cylinders were the same. But unlike the compact diecast aluminum units the Japanese were using, these were big and heavy.


Here you can see the outer gearbox cover without a shifter hanging out of it. It just doesn’t look right, somehow. I’ll never get used to it. The right-side brake pedal now operated the master cylinder, which nearly scraped the rear tire because of its bulk, via a clunky, needlessly complex linkage. The fluid reservoir was hidden under the seat, connected to the master cylinder by a long rubber hose.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1977 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SILVER JUBILEE

1977 marked the 25th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England, and the whole country was turning out for a big celebration, dubbed the Silver Jubilee. Depending upon how you look at it, Triumph either wanted to honor the occasion, or cash in on the opportunity, more likely a little of both. Unfortunately, by this time, their internal problems were so great that they could only produce them in very low numbers, and struggled to sell them. The result was the 1977 Triumph Bonneville Silver Jubilee.


The Silver Jubilee was unique in many ways, but perhaps most distinctive were the chromed engine covers.


It was a good-looking bike, with the possible exception of that seat. I never got used to the blue seat with red piping.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
1979 TRIUMPH T140D BONNEVILLE SPECIAL

The 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special was yet another attempt by Triumph to drum up some badly-needed sales. But alas, this too was too little too late. In fact even these went unsold, and were reconfigured into other models later. Sad.


A very handsome machine with those Lister cast-alloy “mag wheels” and 2-into-1 exhaust.


This lovely 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special is one of CBM’s official Project Bikes. We showed it at the 2011 Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, and rode it on the Quail Ride through Carmel Valley and ending at Laguna Seca Raceway.


MOTORCYCLE PHOTO GALLERY:
THE LAST GASP - 1982 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE TSS

The 1982 Triumph Bonneville TSS was both a bold, radical move and a desperate one as beleaguered Triumph struggled to turn meager resources into meaningful new products. They couldn’t match the development purses of the big Japanese Big 4, so new new overhead cam engines were coming. They had to make do with what they had, and it’s a testament to their ingenuity and sheer force of will that they developed and actually produced this bike.


The heart of the TSS was a new top-end for the aging Triumph Bonneville parallel twin engine. It was all-aluminum and crowned by a head with 4 valves per cylinder in a pent-roof combustion chamber with centrally-located spark plugs. It still used pushrods but now the rocker arms had an extra finger that allowed them to operate 2 valves at once. It was inspired by the best racing technology of the day. And it worked. When you could get one to run right, they screamed!


Finally, all the pieces are just about there: A handsome bike, a 750, ample power, disk brakes, a 5-speed, electric starter even, topped off with some state-of-the-art engine technology. You’d think they had a hit on their hands. But unfortunately, the endless money problems of the Meriden Coop doomed the 1982 Triumph Bonneville TSS to failure along with the company itself, its parent company BSA, and the entire British motorcycle industry. Fortunately, Triumph has been reborn. But that’s another story...


While the bike overall may have been pretty, the engines weren’t that attractive. The top end seemed too small for the bottom end (why not add more fins anyway?), of course there’s that nagging absence of a shifter on this side that I’ll never get over, then there’s that tumor growing on the timing cover. After all these years, we finally get an electric starter, and this is where you put it? Instead of driving it off the primary side from behind the clutch basket, they chose to drive it off the intake cam timing gear. I guess they thought it looked sort of like when they used to hand the magneto back there. Doesn’t work this time, Liam.


And so we bid a fond adieu to these lovely Triumphs in this edition of our Motorcycle Photo Gallery. Hope you enjoyed them. Look for more great Classic Motorcycle Pictures in our Photo Gallery.

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