2017 Triumph Bobber India Review, First Ride

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Enchanting –

  • An absolute beauty and an attention grabber.
  • Great handling for such a low riding-long bike
  • Decent Suspension and Spirited Performance
  • Build Quality

Unsatisfying –

  • The single seat isn’t very friendly for the dimensionally gifted.
  • The Brakes Could Have Been Better

I remember the day I went for the launch of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber, or the Triumph Bobber as we like to call it, I was particularly impressed by the tagline that featured on the media kit, “Just because it’s beautiful, that’s why”. The thing is, in these times of shrinking markets and profitability’s all around, a product like the Triumph Bobber that targets a rather precise niche, is both an anomaly and a brave step.

The bikes global launch and its subsequent immediate success (massive) has already set a precedent for us. For the record, the Triumph Bobber, by far, is the bestselling new product launch in the British motorcycle maker’s history, and that’s something. We had an overview of what to expect when the covers were pulled off. The pricing as we found out though, was a pleasant surprise and the bike looked much better in flesh as well.

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Though being targeted towards a highly specific sort of a customer base, the Triumph Bobber benefits from being the only one of its kind as far as big capacity production motorcycles go. This also means that it is generally hard to find what’s working and what’s not with something so true to its form. We have seen a large number of custom builds going to the Bobber design ideology, but the Triumph is the first modern production motorcycle to truly embrace this design philosophy and going by the interest it has garnered, it won’t be alone for a much longer time. Indian has just announced a new Scout Bobber and soon enough others will follow suit.

All that said, as much brave as Triumph was in creating one, Triumph India has been (more or less) equally brave in bringing the Triumph Bobber to India and this soon. It shows the commitment of the British brand towards the rapidly growing Indian premium motorcycle market. Now that I have spent a few days (finally) with the new Triumph Bobber, it is time I give my take on a bike that has all the makings of creating a new niche in the current crop of modern classics.

Design:

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Effectively the fifth model from the base Triumph Bonneville line-up, the Triumph Bobber is also the farthest that Triumph designer have charted to in terms of design. And it indeed is a good thing since it is hard to believe that this bike shares its lineage with the rest of the Bonneville models. It also works for the idea behind it as well. The low riding single seat, flat handlebar, long wheelbase Bobber appeal makes for an unmistakable aura. To simply put, along with the Thruxton siblings, Triumph has once again build a truly stunning motorcycle that commands attention as if it is its birth right. Which makes the Triumph portfolio to have some of the most visually satisfying motorcycles by a fair margin over all its rivals.

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The Triumph Bobber is among those rare motorcycles that you would like to look at for extended periods. We were lucky to have got the ‘Ironstone’ body shade that lends much clarity to the bikes lines. In the busy streets of Delhi and traffic laden highways of Gurgaon, the Bobber was an instant attention grabber. Another thing this Triumph excels is its details, that’s where you understand how special the design process of the Bobber would have been for Triumph’s designers. The level of detailing on the bobber is almost like that of a custom build, something which is extremely tough to capture in a production model. In all, the bikes single floating seat and the whole rear section which essentially is just the wheel and a fender makes for an unmistakable deign that has a long shelf life in terms of desirability.

Ergonomics

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At first look, the Triumph Bobber might look like something that won’t exactly be a comfortable thing to ride. A single seat with rather wide flat handlebars with a long narrow tank in between. However, side aside one, and you are greeted by a fairly natural seat curve that lends easy accessibility to the handle bars. That said, it was almost an outreach for my 5 feet 11 height, thus it might be a bit of a stretch for someone shorter in height.

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The switch gear falls easily within fingers reach. But, I wonder who signed off the turn signal button design, even with a proper riding glove, the button is pointed enough to leave your thump aching. Then there is the matter of the bar end mirrors, which on one hand works rather well in terms of letting you know who is drooling at the bike from behind, but their position also means that your hand is cramped on the handlebar, with the lever being long and further away from riders fingers (in every available adjustment setting), it is a hard work getting to operate the brake lever especially.

The wide flat handlebar offers a great leverage to do stuff on the Bobber that you would not believe it could. It was of a typical importance whenever there was traffic, as it makes the bike pretty flickable. What I didn’t like though, was the positioning of the footpegs, for the sort of fun this bike is capable of providing, they are just too forward, but then, I happen to be more inclined towards sportier riding. Those who look to take more of a touring and laid back approach would actually love it.

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Now to the seat, it is indeed a spectacular way of approaching the authentic bobber design. The single seat on an aluminium base which can be adjusted to cater to a riders ‘length’ is always going to be a fun thing. The curve of the seat, as already said, is pretty natural and offers a rather pampering feel to ones posterior. However, this saddle isn’t something on which you would like to do cross country on, your bums will start to ache after around 50kms a stretch. Again, that could have been due to the hellish heat and humidity of Delhi-NCR around this time of the year. And then there I also a fact about the suspension, that I will talk about further in the review.

Speedo and Switches

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Except for the horrendous pointy design of the turn indicator switch, everything else is of top notch quality on the Triumph Bobber. The switches are built to last long and feel rather good to touch. Like the whole deign of the bike, the switchgear too has a simple layout. The left side has ‘that’ indicator switch, a tiny little ‘i’ switch that helps you control the similarly small digital meter.

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It also gets the headlight toggle switch and a horn that sounds more like a humble request than the ‘move or get killed’ ones that our sort of traffic needs. The right side of the handle bar has the starter button, a large switch to toggle between the two ride modes and well that’s about it. The speedo meter itself is a single small unit that shows the speeds you are doing in prominence. The small digital display can be used to display stuff like RPM, Trip, etc. You can also adjust the speedometer angle according to your need and it is a nice touch indeed.

Performance:

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The performance of the Triumph Bobber was a true pleasant surprise. Before you have ridden it for the first time you would believe that the bike would be more suitable for a slow sedate ride, almost lethargic like some of the other low riding sorts out there. But then, you push the starter button and a soothing yet sporty growl emanates from those two (one at each side) very low and straight exhaust pipes. Now, yours truly was in a good space, as I had ridden the Harley Davidson 1200 Custom for a considerable period just before hoping on to the Bobber.

The sound that the Triumph makes while that idle and with a slight throttle is by far the much better experience. I liked the almost vibration less bass filled growl of the Bobber’s exhaust over the Harley’s louder and vibration filled drama. In fact, the parallel twin is so smooth at these low idle revs that it comes out to be an absolutely different experience than say, the V-twins. The sound of the bike is just the exhaust letting the gasses out, and that’s it, no vibration noise, no metal clinking, just pure motorcycle sound, lovely.

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Then it comes to the acceleration part, at 228kg this isn’t a light bike, this is why this low, cool looking, bike had no rights to jump in joy like it does when you twist that throttle. In fact, you would be in for a shock if you do give it a generous twist of the throttle first up and in traffic. The front gets light and the growl from the twin exhausts lets its alt ego come alive. Though this, by no means is of super naked street fighter category, still the spirited way the Bobber jumps forward is an absolutely delight. Moreover, it keeps on gaining speed at a rapid pace and I must have come across speeds that may or may not have read 170kmph+, easily. The Bobber, when it crosses the 4500 rpm mark, produces an addictive exhaust note that makes you find an empty space and let the fun begin.

The wide flat handlebars provide incredible ability to flick and corner on this low-narrow-heavy bike while the tailor made Avon Cobra tyres keeps on providing and incredible level of grip at all speeds and through a various types of asphalt. That brings me to the biggest grouse I have with the Bobber, its brakes. With a bike capable of such mesmerizing performance in such a seducing design, it was an absolute shocker to have brakes that would have fared an ‘Ok’ at best even back in the 60’s.

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Though, I am pretty sure that it was much due to the fact that the bike I had was showing the service icon consistently from day one and the brakes had been completely worn out during its previous media rides. In any case, the breaking was scary. Though, I have ridden many other Triumphs over the years and they provide great breaks, thus this case seems like a one-off. I would ride another Bobber soon to update you on the same.

All in all, the Triumph Bobber, barring the turn off that were its brakes, is one spectacular bike to ride as it provides mile after mile of some real fun. In fact, the way I could corner (until the footpegs scrapped, reminding me of sanity) was as much a surprise to me as it was for a certain someone who was riding a ZX10R that fine Saturday morning. I liked it, a lot!

Ride and Handling:

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As you would have understood by now, I found the Triumph Bobber to one beautifully handling bike. As compared to the Harley I was riding before it, the Bobber seems much lighter than what its weight figure tells you to be. Especially in the traffic the Bobber, again in comparison, was a much easier bike to live with. Though it also heats up pretty much, but still it is no way near what the other bike made.

The clutch is also much lighter, but can still be a pain pretty soon in a typical Delhi-Gurgaon traffic. The bike turns in pretty well and surprisingly, fares much better than the 1200 Custom, a bike probably as low as the Bobber (visibly, not including any specs) over potholes and speed bumps. I had ridden the Bobber almost everywhere where I took the Harley and it scrapped none of the speed breakers that the Custom didn’t like.

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All that said, the suspension of the bike is a strange combination of a stiff front and an overly soft rear. I kept the suspension setting in the same position as I got the bike in for most part of the review, and found it to be a good fit for daily city commutes until you hit a patch, it is when the suspension will end your lower back running for cover. It is advisable that you take the bumps and potholes in slower than usual speeds, doing which, the bobber will provide you with a thoroughly comfortable riding experience.

 

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As for the seating comfort I discussed earlier, I believe, the rear suspension settings that are always inclined towards soft, and the front that is rather stiff (which lends the bike this nice handling and feedback), in combination makes the otherwise nicely designed seat cause dis-comfort after a not-so-long-not-so-enthusiastic ride. I belong to the category of dimensionally gifted human beings that have a pretty elaborate layer of natural suspension (read fat) and yet, my posterior, though still nicely held by the contours of the seat, made me search for more room, which as is evident in non-existent. This means, the less gifted souls might or might not find it more comfortable for long rides.

2017 Triumph Bobber India Review, Verdict:

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This is a pretty straight forward decision to be true, I really loved the Triumph Bobber. In fact, I loved it so much that it felt bad giving the Triumph guys the keys back. The bobber has been designed to work on a very specific role and it spectacularly excels at it, this is essentially the reason why focussed motorcycles are always of the best sort. Yes the brakes could have been better and so is the suspension.

But, on the whole, the bike is indeed fairly nice to live with. And when you put that around INR 9,62,000 Ex-Showroom price tag in mind, the Triumph Bobber does start to offer something rare and unmistakably tempting for such a price bracket. And when you finally do it and a friend asks why, you can always say, “Just because it’s beautiful, that’s why and then some more”.

Triumph Bobber India Review
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Dynamics
  • Practicality
  • Safety
4.6

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