I have now covered just over 1000 miles on the Bonneville, and thought it might be a good time to make some observations.
I like it. I like it very much. In comparison with the bike it replaced, the Honda Pan European, it is light, easily handled, and although slower and much less powerful, it is a lot more fun to ride. It's in much better condition - two years younger and with a third of the mileage, it should be - with everything working and very little sign of hard use. There is a slight scuff on the tank and the exhaust nuts are rusty, but apart from that it's just normal wear and tear. It lacks things like the trip computer, heated grips, adjusters, modifiers, settings, calculations, knobs, nozzles and sheer bloody complexity of the Honda, but that, in my eyes, is a Good Thing. Working on it is a breeze, with no bodywork plastics to worry about - everything is in plain view, and all the mechanical stuff I have done with it so far (not a lot, I admit) has been completely straightforward.
It's the comparison with the XT which is troubling me. I have fitted a pair of no-name cheapo fabric panniers (bought on a whim from a colleague several years ago and never used) to use while I am waiting for the proper cases to come up on eBay, and now it seems that there is nothing the XT can do that the Triumph can't do better. I love the XT for it's go-anywhere, do-anything versatility, for its punchy motor, which makes traffic and minor roads easy, and for it's general scruffiness, which means that if I scratch or drop it, I won't lose any sleep. But the XT has had some hard use, and while of itself it is fun to ride, in comparison with the Triumph it is rough, sloppy and harsh. Where I always took the XT in preference to the Honda (unless the Honda's strengths of speed, long legs and comfort were required), now I am taking the Triumph in preference to the XT.
All of which makes me ask the question - what is the XT for? I honestly don't know. I think I will deal with these thoughts in a separate post.
I have found a few limitations with the Triumph already. The seat is too low, it cramps my knees a bit, and is hard and unforgiving after a hundred miles or so. The riding position is upright and excellent for general riding about, but motorways are hard work. The idiot lights are dim to the point of invisibility, which means finding neutral in sunlight is awkward and I am constantly leaving the indicators on. The bolts holding the seat on are allen bolts hidden away under the rear of the seat and are a real nuisance to deal with - a compete design fail. The suspension is firm and a little twitchy, but manages to be too soft at the same time. It transmits every imperfection in the road, but the front dives alarmingly under heavy braking and the rear end can wallow a bit on long corners.
Other than that, it's all good. Build quality seems excellent, with lots of nice quality touches and a general feel of robustness and good design. With the (strictly illegal) Triumph Off-Road silencers it sounds marvellous, a proper Brit bike burble and growl, and yet the noise doesn't offend. Power is a modest 60 bhp or so, but delivered in a lively and useable way. I have had to decline some overtaking opportunities that would have been a real banzai rush on the Honda, but other than that it's enough for me. Things like the suspension, seat and idiot lights are all fixable when the money is right.
Conclusion, then. Will it fulfil the reason for its purchase - to take me on tours, here and abroad, at relaxed and reasonable speeds, with all my kit? Yes, it will. Does it make as much sense riding at 30 mph on a pretty back road as it does at 70 on a main road? Yes, it does. Does it make me feel as if I should always be going faster in order not to waste its capabilities? No, it does not.
Am I happy with it? Yup.