1971 Triumph T120R Bonneville
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
For 1971, the Triumph T120R Bonneville received the largest makeover since the unit-construction 649cc parallel-twin engine’s introduction in 1963. While the same engine remained in use, chassis revisions were extensive this year, starting with the new twin-tube frame. This all-welded steel unit incorporated a spine that doubled as an oil reservoir. Problems within BSA group, which owned Triumph, resulted in production delays and difficulties, and few Bonnevilles were ready in dealerships in the spring of ’71. Those that found their way to buyers carried a handsome Tiger gold-and-black tank and gold fenders. Kneepads that had been on the tank since the first Bonneville in 1959 were also now removed.
A result of the integrated oil reservoir was an increase in seat height to 34 inches, so this Bonneville was for tall riders only. An even more obvious change to the bike was the new telescoping hydraulic front fork. Without external springs or rubber gaiters, this fork (which descended from Arturo Ceriani’s advances) gives a clean and modern look that’s accented by the slim fender braces and slender side stand. For the first time, the Bonneville had turn signals, and front and rear side reflectors were included as well. The front brake had a conical hub and large air scoop. Downswept pipes stretched to a tapered megaphone-style finish, adding to the overall modernization. Rear external springs remained, though, to give a note of familiarity. Despite problems arising from lack of testing and development, the 1971 Triumph T120R Bonneville was nevertheless praised for its nifty handling, one grace note in an otherwise less than stellar reception.