Triumph and Kawasaki were the two leaders pioneering the superbikes space and appearing as reliable alternatives. Kawasaki had the mean Versys, Z series and then the Vulccan, while Triumph had the Speedmaster.
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New 2021 Triumph Bonneville T100
Harley Davidson Iron 883 was my dream superbike and owning it was one of the best moments and decisions in my life when I bought a new one in the year 2018. From RE Classic 350, moving to a superbike and bigger cruiser was a much natural move. However, few years after riding the mighty Harley beast, the pandemic dropped in shattering all parts, service & supplies availability, and credibility of Harley brand in India. In the late 2020 came the decision of the new global CEO to discontinue Harley Street 750 manufacturing plant in Haryana and exit India. This news was not well received by a huge number of owners and though expected, it did blow a dent. Ownership and maintenance of this bike became more and more painful and thus from this grew the opportunity for the other brands like Triumph, Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki to increase their numbers and invite switch ins from Harley. Hero MotoCorp stepped in to continue the legacy of Harley in India, however things were slow. So, till sometime, I decided to retain my dream bike and take help of some local specialized superbike workshops in Mumbai to maintain the bike. Soon realized the consistency in the work and services offered from these workshops is something that comes at a cost of lot of patience and being a city dweller, having time for this was seeming to be more and more unrealistic.
Thus, a new dream emerged of owning a superbike that has a more substantial eco system and all-round accessibility and availability of spares and service. I was also looking for something that is less heaty, comfortable, and easy to ride though in the league of superbikes, so that I can use for office commute as well.
Triumph and Kawasaki were the two leaders pioneering the superbikes space and appearing as reliable alternatives. Kawasaki had the mean Versys, Z series and then the Vulcan cruiser, however, was not keen on these. Triumph had the Speedmaster cruiser which was a noteworthy upgrade however seemed very low and unfit for our roads. So, knowing cruiser options are very limited in the offerings especially in the 10-12 lakh budget, came to realization let’s try the retro classics. Obviously, first choice was the Bonneville range of Triumph starting from Street Twin to the T120 and bobber. Iron 883 being 900cc, first choice was the T120 which is 1200cc and whooping 80hp and it did prove to be fun, easy to ride and comfortable, however the pricing was something too steep for me during the time I test rode it in the mid of 2021. T100 was again 900cc and this point of time much less powerful and torquey so didn’t even give it a shot.
One common misconception about Bonneville range is that people compare the bikes to RE Interceptor, which I feel is not just as both are completely different offerings at totally varied price points. One is more value for money and the other is more premium, sophisticated, and refined even though they belong to same retro category and look a little identical.
After triumph, thought of considering the Kawa ensemble. The only retro bike they had that time was W800 which did look classy and unique; however, specs were quite underpowered, and pricing was not right due to which it didn’t even pick up in the Indian market. The Kawa showrooms in Mumbai didn’t even have a W800 display bike, forget taking it for a test ride. Then time passed by and came the news of Kawasaki launching the retro version of the Z650. Though just 650cc, specs were quite good. The initial reviews seemed powerful, enticing, and unbelievable for the price it was being sold at. So, the Z650rs got launched in Dec 2021 at 8.3 roughly on road in Mumbai and the test ride bikes were available. Seeing it for the first time felt the superbike feeling is missing, it was quite compact for its segment. Design was also not enticing in real. Took it for a test ride and the bike was good however didn’t get any wow feeling like I had got for my HD or even the Triumph T120. It is a nice respectable bike for its price however I didn’t feel anything special about it. Many people showed interest but didn’t see any bikes on road later. So now back to square one, what do I buy?
In the meantime, had started to approach dealers to buy my Harley which was literally a pain-staking process as the demand for Harleys had gone down and it became a buyers’ market with plenty of choices. Went through dozens of dealers and then finally got a decent and respectable quote.
Triumph had also globally announced the 2021 range which had notable spec improvements in the Bonneville range. T100 was up by 10 bhp more power than its predecessor thus going all the way up to 64hp and 80 nm torque, thus making it seem like an upgrade from HD Iron883 even though same 900cc. The new price in 2022 was 12.61 on road in Mumbai and it was more than my planned budget of 10-11, so thought of it several times before giving it a test.
My dear friend, Ramin at Triumph was kind enough and quite patient to give me a long test drive of the bike and explained me everything about the ownership experiences, service costs and maintenance in detail. I tried this strategy of first trying the street twin which I knew was more aggressive stance for my requirements and then gradually moved to the T100 thus establishing the differences well. T100 was nimble and powerful at the same time, the humongous 15 litre tank instantly gave it a big bike feeling and the torque, wow was something to die for. Even if you don’t zip zap, the initial low-end torque gives you this enthralling experience. The 64hp then comes into play to easily achieve higher speeds without any effort. But the best part of this bike when you ride it slow and easy, the feel is quite impressive, and you want to just cruise and ride with the wind. The fit and finish was spectacular, every inch of the bike was well thought and designed. The riding stance is quite comfortable with the back upright and wide handlebar. Thought of it as a perfect partner for city as well as highway rides, so basically an all-rounder which led me to go for it.
Within two weeks had the bike in hand with basic accessories like main stand (is a good buy for cleaning chain), grab rail and crash guard fitted. Bike was a glooming red and white classic retro catch. I have now been using the bike for daily commute to work and it has proved to be a delight, engine heat is negligible and even in the crowded lanes of BKC, the bike seems to maneuver easily without any fuss. It’s the perfect city bike to make your boring office commute interesting and something to look forward to everyday.
Harley always had its awe moments especially since I rode it to many places outside of Maharashtra, the regular Sunday breakfast rides, and the sheer companionship from the brotherhood HOG. She will always remain a pleasant chapter in my memories. Now looking forward to creating new moments with my new Triumph Bonneville T100!
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