1968 Triumph T120R Bonneville
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1968 Triumph T120R Bonneville was the most majestic Bonneville so far. With its 2.5-gallon tank painted Hi-Fi Scarlet and the black seat trimmed with chrome, there was no mistaking it for any of the Japanese bikes beginning to flood the streets. Thanks to the booming popularity of motorcycles, those responsible for selling Triumphs in the United States expected to sell 35,000 units if only production could keep pace. And for all the problems at Triumph’s factory in the English Midlands, the’68 Bonneville spoke for itself as just about the best motorcycle one could buy.
Changes from the previous year were subtle but effective. The air-cooled 649cc parallel-twin engine received new Hepolite pistons, modified outer valve springs, and improved oil supply to the camshafts. Twin Amal Concentric carburetors were fitted to all models. Subtle changes were also made to the ignition system and four-speed gearbox.
A thicker frame was introduced during the year, the new front fork offered improved damping, and the swing arm’s pivot lug was strengthened, allowing for introduction of a longer arm. But most significant of all was incorporation of the 8-inch twin-leading shoe front brake that had made its debut the previous year when Triumph riders won a 500-mile race at Brands Hatch. The brake housing was ventilated front and rear, suggesting the increased capability and adding a racy look to the street bike. How well did it work? Message boards still abound with debates on the merits of disc versus drum brakes in vintage applications. Meanwhile, the desirability of the ’68 Bonneville will endure forever.