Today’s Triumph Bonneville epitomises the chilled-out retro scene – you know, reliving past glories and the recklessness of youth, but on a machine that starts with the press of a button the first time, every time. So where does a Triumph cruiser fit into the scene? Well, it doesn’t. As its name suggests, Triumph Americanised the standard Bonnie up the wazzoo.
The America is a well priced, good-looking cruiser aimed at riders who want to kick back, relax and enjoy the whole cruising experience without breaking the bank.
At the heart of the America is an 865cc, air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin shared with triumph’s retro, rugged Scrambler with a 270-degree firing angle. The result is a nice – if slightly quiet – loping exhaust note through a pair of chromed, reverse silencers with smooth power delivery and enough torque to keep most chopper-chuckers happy.
A 2008 update introduced a tricky electronic fuel injection system for the America, similar to the British brand’s Bonneville, Scrambler and Thruxton café racer retro range. They might look like carbs but, in keeping with retro coolness, the fuel injectors are cleverly concealed behind throttle bodies designed to look like carburettors. Sneaky.
You might expect an engine with an unconventional firing order to behave like a trip down the road inside a baby rattle. Not so. The America slides down the road smoother than a cold one on a hot summer day, effortlessly clicking through its five speed gearbox with a good level of power. As a baby cruiser it isn’t really built for all-out speed but rather for gentle, relaxed riding. It’s quick enough nonetheless.
Handling is what you’d expect from a cruiser: good enough with modest cornering clearance. The low 690mm seat, forward controls and raked-out ’bars give that quintessential American cruiser feel.
I’m pleased to report no back pain after a few hours in the saddle (unlike other cruisers) thanks in part to the well-placed pillion seat that acts as a backrest. Shorter riders will appreciate the low seat height, too, with feet easily planting the bitumen when stationary.
It might err on the heavy side for a small-capacity cruiser but its 250kg wet weight melts once you’re underway. This surefooted feel is complemented by the sturdy wheel and tyre combination.
Chunky, telescopic forks add style, solidity and substance to the America’s raked front end, while single discs at each end grabbed by twin-piston calipers take care of stopping duties. Some might find the America’s performance a bit lacking but, for gentle runs on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it really is fun.
Priced from $13,090 (plus on-road costs), this trans-Atlantic machine successfully mixes classic British engineering with American styling. Freedom and individuality define the essence of cruising and, with the America, Triumph has encapsulated both.
SPEX - TRIUMPH AMERICA