Sunday, March 28, 2010

2009 Triumph Bonneville America - 3500 Mile Report

Actually, a little over 3500 miles. With the mild weather I have been able to get more riding time than I could have imagined. I thought it would be a good time to post my observations on my Triumph Bonneville America.

Maintenance Required - None really. The only services I have brought the bike in for was its 600 mile oil change and check up, and another oil change at 3000 miles. The bike has not left me stranded, and has performed flawlessly. More on performance below.

Performance - I continue to be amazed at how this bike performs. I know this is very subjective, but it does seem that the bike's acceleration has improved as the engine has broken in. Throttle response is excellent, and the torque is always satisfying to me. At about 70 mph, the bike is running at around 3800 rpm. While the big cruisers will drop into the high 2k or low 3k with a 6th gear, the America never feels buzzy for me at highway speeds. Triumph's 865cc parallel twin is a proven engine and can stand up to all sorts of driving requirements.

Handling - Triumph's are known for their handling, and the America does not disappoint. It is truly enjoyable to ride the twisties on this cruiser. It's not a sport bike, but for a cruiser this bike takes curves with a lot of grace. Also, since it's not as heavy as the big cruisers, the America is easy to take around town and to park.

Gas Mileage - I get from the low to mid 40's on the America, with a mix of street and freeway riding.

Looks - OK, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but I still think this bike is stunning. I get a lot of compliments on the bike, and a lot of "when I was young I had a Triumph" comments. The America is a great conversation starter.

Overall - If you want a bike that can do a lot of things very well - an in-town bike, a long-distance cruiser, something to take on the country backroads, or mountain curves, I recommend the Bonneville America. I have found the bike great for all of these, and it does it at a relatively inexpensive price (around $8700).

I have lightly modded the bike, mostly cosmetic in nature. When I bought the America, I had it "stage one'd" which included the long Triumph Off-Road Silencers (Triumph-speak for pipes), and a better breathing airfilter. That's the only thing I have done performance-wise (and it improved the bike's rumble as well). I have the Triumph Roadster Windshield, Triumph Engine Dresser Bars (Triumph-speak for engine guards). I have a set of bags for which I purchased EZ Brackets (I haven't installed these since I really like the "naked" look of this bike). I removed the pillion and replaced that with a chrome fender bib, and have added a tool bag up front.

I have been considering a light bar for additional light and conspicuousness on the road, but have instead ordered a set of Kuryakin Silver Bullet Halogen Lights to install on my forks for this purpose. I installed a Kisan Tailblazer modulating tail light - I have noticed almost immediately the improvement in drivers seeing my back end with this product - more on this in a future post.

The America is a keeper as far as I am concerned - I may include other bikes in the garage, but they will be in addition to, not as a replacement for, this bike.


Canajun said...

Great review Lance. Certainly sounds like you have a "keeper" there.

Mike said...

Hi Lance,
I've always like the looks of your bike. Being an older guy there's always been a nostalgic place in my heart for Triumphs. The father of one of the guys I grew up with had a Triumph and I always thought it was cool.

It's great to hear about the features and add-ons too - thank you!

cpa3485 said...

It's a great looking bike. 865 cc seems a nice size. If I were looking at a motorcycle, something about that size would be my preference.
Glad you are having so much fun with it. Do you ever get the scooter out much?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Lance:

You are probably unaware of this, but I have a thing about lights on a motorcycle. I like 'em. My bike is starting to like a cross between something Pee Wee Herman dreams about and a prop from Quadrophenia.

I highly endorse your decision to make your machine more visible. Naturally, it doesn't hurt that they are quite cool-looking too. I went to have a look at he Kuryakyn Silver Bullet lights. Did you get the big ones or the small ones? I see that they come with 20-watt flood lamps. (I use 50-watt bulbs in my brake caliper mounted lights. My thought was the brighter, the better.)

Are you going to install these yourself? (If so, you're a better man than I am. I had mine done, as I don't really understand the electrical system.) Kuryakyn makes very reliable stuff, and you can't beat the price.

I like the programmable, modulating brake light you put on the back too.

Good luck with this stuff. Post the completed pictures.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads said...

Where have you been we have missed you, I am a huge fan of your Triumph a sound reliable and classy looking machine, the only problem I can see is....I don't have one :(

Chuck Pefley said...

Lance, you sound like a very satisfied Triumph owner. Isn't it great when what we get and want meet our expectations and dreams?

Unknown said...


Your bike looks so clean, esp the chrome bits. After you get your lights installed, guess who is going to go first ?

I still owe you a lunch. You never made it up here yet . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Lance said...

Thanks all for your comments!

Jim - yes, I do get the scooter out, a fair amount even. My wife is also considering getting her endorsement so she can ride the Elite into town for errands.

Jack - I'm a bit hesitant about wiring (I just installed the lights this week, but no wiring yet). I think I am going straight from the battery rather than through a relay from the headlight, since I can better control what goes on (or what may go wrong) that way.

Bob - I'll look forward to lunch then!

irondad said...

It's so cool when you and the bike fall in love and stay there, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I have begun my own love story with a 2010 Bonneville this past Saturday. I picked him up in Baltimore and road home to Philadelphia with great joy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review.
I am in the process of buying a Bonneville America here in South Africa. I can't wait, I wanted one years ago when I was 16, back then I loved the T140V USA spec model.

Now I just have to off-load my Harley to then complete the deal.
I was very pleased with your review and I see I have certainly made a great choice of machine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lance. I passed my motorbike test in the UK last summer as a 60th birthday present to myself. I have my eye on a used Bonneville America which has been very well looked after, but I just wanted to ask you and your fellow posters' advice about someone like me - who is 5'8" and not exactly Mr Universe - being able to handle the weight of a mid-sized cruiser like this one.


Emlyn Williams

Sarah said...

I have a 2009 America I picked up from a dealer in Augusta Ga,with 120 miles on the clock for $5600,
now 1 year and 7000 miles later I truly believe this is the best all round bike in the world, its a true 3 in 1 bike and it just gets better with age, One change I have made and that is since 2000 miles I have used synthetic oil,
Steve (Fl USA)
ex, Honda Harley Yamaha Suzuki Kawasaki Rider

Anonymous said...

Emyln -

I am not a big guy either, but i have zero issues controllling/managing the first bike ever. It has great handling, i ride it in rush hour traffic, as well as the open road. You'll want a windshield if you plan on going 75mph or higher (I hope so!). You will have no regrets. It has classic looks, but with a modern touch, and definitely modern reliability (the best of the old Triumphs, without the mechanical headaches).

Ton Up!


russell carol said...

I am pleased by your review, but how about Adding one bike to your collection, buy my Triumph Bonneville America
now for a good price.

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