If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 3 April 2010

First ride

I think taking that test ride a few nights ago in the pouring rain (and leather jacket and jeans) has given me what my mother used to call a 'proper chill'. I am running like a tap and full of aches and pains. I was minded to go back to bed today, but then the sun came out and I thought a run on the Bonnie would be a better option. By the time I was ready to go it was pouring with rain again, but what are waterproofs for, eh?

I filled it up with petrol and then did my customary circuit. It's the one I always use for a quick blast - Haverfordwest, Fishguard and St David's in a triangle, 46 miles and nicely under an hour. Today I did it anti-clockwise for a change.

First impressions - all good. It has enough power, although only about half that of the Pan (but there again, it's only just over half the weight), but delivers it in a useable way. Bimble along and smell the flowers? That will be fine by me, Sir. Rag it and take a line of cars in one go? I'm sure that can be arranged, Sir. I used to have a bike (a Yamaha RD350 YPVS) which wasn't like this. It begged to be thrashed. There's something psychosexual about this, I am sure, but there is something very appealing about a machine that says, in so many words, "take me, cane me, I love it, thrash me to within an inch of my life, the faster the better, and I promise not to tell." I sold the bike after I found myself ragging round the lanes of Lincolnshire waaaaaay too fast, because the bike didn't know how to go slowly. The Pan was a bit guilty of this, in that it was so capable that it was almost rude not to use the power it had. The Triumph is altogether more biddable. Slow, fast, up to you. In its seating position and its road manners it reminds me most strongly of my all-time most-loved bike, a small-block Guzzi of the late 70s, which was friendly but nimble, and utterly well-mannered.

Ths suspension is firm, not to say a bit stiff, but there's nothing wrong with that. I did hit a couple of potholes with a crash that the Pan would have glided over, but firmness in suspension is no bad thing. At least you know what the wheels are doing. It has a proper fuel tap with a reserve, not an unreliable fuel light that comes on at 80 miles from full and keep you guessing for the next 60 (I hated that on the Ducati), and a proper choke button, because it has carbs and not fuel injection. Comfort was reasonable. I was ready to get off and have a walk about after an hour but, again, that is no bad thing. Frequent breaks are the key to keeping fatigue at bay.

Two things I am less than pleased about. One is that the headlight is permanently on, and the only choice is main beam or dip. Nearly all new bikes are like this now (I think it's an EU commandment) and I don't like it. I'll use the headlight in poor visibility or rain, but I prefer to be able to ride without it. But that choice has been taken away, unless I can study the wiring diagram and find a way to include an on/off switch. The other is that it lacks a 'pass' button. This is the one that fits neatly under the left index finger and flashes the headlight - very useful when saying hello to passing bikers, or when overtaking dozy Sunday drivers. For no good reason, the racer-styled model, the Thruxton, gets one of these, but the plain Bonnie doesn't. I think that's cheap of Triumph.

Other than this, all is good.

I wore my proper bike boots, and the gear change was still not right, so after the ride I spent an hour adjusting all the controls to suit me. I've got other plans too. The previous owner had fitted an automatic chain-oiler, but has butchered the wiring loom to do so. Inside the side covers, there are wires and insulating tape everywhere. That is coming out. I like chain-oilers, and have fitted them to the Bandit and the Ducati, but the Scottoiler is the only one I have dealt with so far. It doesn't use any wiring, just a small tube tapped into the inlet manifold so that engine vacuum lets the oiler do its thing. Looking at the chain after the ride, I don't think this one is working in any case. Plus it's strapped to the outside of a frame tube and looks ugly. (Update: I've done a bit of internetting, and it's a PD Oiler. Lots of people seem to rate them better than the Scottoiler, so I may try to get this one working properly instead of binning it.)

And the bike needs a wash. After 50 miles in the rain and the Pembrokeshire roads, it's looking very manky indeed.


  1. Automatic Headlight On (AHO) is not an EU commandment but a 'manufactures agreement' sanctioned by the EU. I suspect we are lumbered with idiotic daytime headlights simply because it helps them market bikes more cheaply across the EU.

    I don't know about the Bonneville but a mate of mine bought one of the last 995 Tigers and as part of the deal had the Triumph dealer fit the switchgear from an earlier model to allow him to switch them off (and on!)

    I can't imagine it would be that hard to retro-fit switchgear that allows you control over your own headlights and even include a 'pass' switch. I would not be surprised to find that Triumph switchgear from an older model would suitable for the bike and might even just plug in an work (you can always live in hope!) That is where I'd start anyway.

  2. Thanks for putting me right on the AHO thing. I thought it was an edict from 2004-on, but it also makes sense (for the manufacturers, at any rate) to make bikes for all areas that satisfy the laws in one of them, to save duplication. I'll blame the French, then :)

    Good idea about the switchgear. I was considering fitting a switch control from a Thruxton to get the 'pass' facility (although that's probably hundreds of pounds and not really worth it), but a left-hand grip off a scrapper sounds more like it. I need to check the wiring, though. With the complete absence of an on/off switch, some of the wires (e.g. tail light) may not go anywhere near the left hand grip, and extending them would be a major hassle.

    I see Triumph will sell me a very nice opaque headlight cover for twenty quid, so the headlight-on thing can't be as critical as all that.

    Thanks for your input.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...