1973 Triumph T140 Bonneville
The Bonneville was, and actually is again, Triumph’s flagship motorcycle. In the Meriden days was it the best? That is a matter of opinion. The Bonneville was fast, it handled great but, it was a bit finnicky…tuning wise. Some liked the Trophy better because of its single carburetor (easier tuning), better low end torque (friendlier rideability), and it was a bit less expensive. But, The Bonnie was King. As high performance British twins went, the Bonneville sprinted past all others, particularly in sales.
Then ‘The Rising Sun’ stepped into the picture and the British Motorcycle Kingdom was in jeopardy. Other makes just rolled over and went away but Triumph stood firm. However, everything Triumph did was in the classic ‘too little, too late’ syndrome. It’s really sad because the T140 was/is a great motorcycle, but trying to keep up with Honda’s CB750 was a losing battle.
Triumph, over the next ten years, did everything they could to keep going with the Bonneville. They survived a workers strike that shut down the factory for a year or more, then modified the bikes to satisfy American regulations (the left side shift and blinkers) and upped quality control…no more oil puddles under the bike. All kinds of limited edition models showed up on dealer floors including the Queens Silver Jubilee Edition.
Even though Triumph kept working hard at appealing to the American rider, they just kept falling behind and by 1983 they threw in the towel.
I have owned two T140 Bonneville’s over the years and have loved them both. The Bonneville is light, it has a low center of gravity, it handles as though it knows you want to turn before you do. The T140 Bonnevile in all it’s iterations (well except for the TSX model)
was well worthy of more than being a second class citizen in the motorcycling world. Horsepower trumped handling…oh, and so did reliability. English motorcycles could not escape their reputation for leaving you stranded as from home as you could be, not to say that a good number of Japanese bikes were really all that much better.
So, today I found a very nice 1973 T140V (the V stands for 5 speed transmission) on ebay. It is a runner according to the seller and cosmetically it looks good…not great. That’s OK. It has been repainted, looks good in the photo’s. The owner has also upgraded the ignition to a Boyer Branson electronic ignition which makes a world of difference on these bikes and a few other few improvements that help the bike. And, a set of lower handlebars make it just that much more rideable…and cooler looking.
This is a good motorcycle and seems to be selling at a fair price. Click on the pic’s below for more pictures and a bit more info.