By John Burns
Has it really been 20 years since the world didn’t seize up at the stroke of midnight, as we feared it might? Yes. Every time I walk out into the garage, my 2000 R1 sitting dormant on its stand (the last year of the first-gen R1) reminds me of what a long time ago that was. Next to all the new bikes it sees come and go, the old girl is positively archaic. In a good, Ann-Margret way, but still. While we’re still quarantining seems like a good time to look back upon what bikes have moved the game forward the most since the millennium.
2001 Triumph Bonneville
This 2020 T100 Bonneville in Aegean Blue is quite a bit more refined than the ’01, but you get the picture.
Triumph‘s first bike back in America in the modern era was the classically styled Thunderbird of 1994, powered by a not-so classical liquid-cooled Triple. Great bike, really, but not what America was looking for apparently. Mixed messages. Back to the drawing board, and seven years later, the Hinckley boys released an all-new Bonneville powered by an air-cooled 8-valve parallel Twin. Ah. Triumph hasn’t looked back since. Though it produces some great sportbikes – including the current Street Triple 765, whose engine powers Moto2, and though upon start-up Triumph really had in mind to compete with the Japanese crotch rockets – it’s the “Classic” Twins that have done all the heavy lifting for the last two decades. The Bonneville begat the excellent new Speed Twin, the also-excellent Street Twins, your Thruxtons, your Scrambler 1200s… It’s worked out well for Triumph so far.