By John Burns
When last we visited this class three years ago, it wasn’t exactly this class but it was close. Triumph‘s new Bonnevilles hadn’t been born yet, so a Moto Guzzi Griso 8V completed the threesome, along with the then-new Honda CB1100 and the original BMW R nineT.
In that comparo, the BMW narrowly carried the day over the Guzzi (79.2 to 78.7%), with the Honda bringing up the rear with a 72.2% Scorecard rating. The BMW would go on to become our Best Standard of 2014. The Griso is still as greasy good as ever, but we threw it over this time for the new Triumph Bonneville T120 Black, which slots nicely into the $12k nostalgia-bikes-for-old guys-which-actually-perform category.
In fact, the Bonnie really completes the old-guy trifecta. These three are modern interpretations of what the ’60s were all about and long before that, really. BMW built its first Boxer (which was its first motorcycle) in 1923. Triumph built its first Speed Twin, the Bonneville’s granddad, in 1938. And Honda’s first CB750 of 1969 laid down the pattern for so many more thousands of Japanese bikes to come.
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Naturally, we rode the pee out of these three on some of our favorite earth curvature because that’s just what we do (and all three work surprisingly well if you’re easily surprised), but most of us can agree that these three are aesthetic more than mechanical exercises in spite of how well they perform, maybe even self-congratulatory homages to the factories that built them in honor of the fact they’re still around lo these many years later – even if Triumph took a few years off.
I’ve ridden the original versions of all three of these, and the new bikes …read more