Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ride it, don't hide it: 1970 Triumph Bonneville T120R

I've been kinda avoiding opening a can of British bike all over DT, preferring to stick to Japanese two-smokers.  But, I guess if I'm going to open it, I need to start with the quintessential British Twin, the Triumph Bonneville.  Like everything vintage, the prices for original Bonnie's have been on the rise.  But this one shouldn't be affected by that.  Find this 1970 Triumph Bonneville T120R for sale in Mt. Vermin Vernon, WA for $6,500 via craigslist.

The Triumph Bonneville was introduced by Triumph Engineering in 1959 as the Triumph T120 Bonneville and was sold until 1972, when it was replaced by the larger engined T140 Bonneville. The T120 came with a 649cc parallel twin breathing through twin Amal carburetors (or carburettors in the mother tongue).  This bike has had its T120 engine swapped for the less powerful 650cc lump from it's little brother, the T6R Tiger.  The T6 motor is slightly less powerful, 36 hp vs. 46 hp and has one Amal carb.  Because of this, the vintage correct crowd will move along to another bike and you can ride this without worrying about your retirement.

This bike also has a new, professionally done paint job in a color combo that is incorrect for this year of Bonnie.  Again, the person in the street won't know and you won't see it when you are riding the bike.  I would add knee pads if it was my bike, they look so cool with RAF goggles and a pudding bowl helmet.

Despite the incorrect paint and engine, it looks like a fun ride that you wouldn't feel paranoid parking outside the pub.  Plus as the ad says, it still leaks oil like it should.

See a better way to join the ton-up club? Email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

Gianni is DT's Pacific Northwest correspondent and doesn't ride his vintage sled as often as he should.


  1. Interesting post, Gianni. I was not aware that there were two different Triumph 650 engines. 10 bhp is a big difference in this range.

    The first Vixen Formula Four race car that I wrenched on originally was powered by a Bonnie 650. Nice engine, but the vibration was awful. On the starting grid, the driver could not even see the rear-view mirrors because of the shaking. We enjoyed the Bonnie, but the arms race was escalating. Honda 750 Fours were the class of the field. We could not afford one of those. but we got a good deal on a wrecked Kawasaki 750 Water Buffalo 2-stroke triple. Boy did that ever transform the car. The Bonnie became a footnote of history in F4.

  2. Not the Brit's or Triumph's finest hour.....

  3. The joy of the the Brit bikes, for me at least, comes from the light weight of these bikes. The horsepower ratings appear quite low, but the power ratio to the weight is always in a pretty sweet spot.

    This allows brakes to be under less strain (drums need all the extra mojo they can muster), handling is balanced and nimble, and to my eye, the 60's-70's Brits are mainly what comes to mind for me when I think of a motorcycle.

    I currently own a 69' Royal Enfield Interceptor that I bought in the mid 90's when they were unrecognized as a good bike. Nortons have always maintained their cache as they put some powerful engines into the same light and beautifully designed bikes that handle very well.

    If I want to go on a reasonably long tour, it is my R75/5 - for the sound, handling and just stare at it looks, Brit bike from this era is my choice.

    But heck, there are so many great bikes, to each their own. Ride on.

  4. I'm not sure this is really that great of a deal, though it's a nice bike. In California anyway, you could get a correct bike for this price. Or a mongrel for quite a bit less.


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