In late 2010, I was standing in a motorcycle dealership and looking at two bikes. I knew I would leave with one, but I was new to motorcycling and on the fence. Ok, new is an understatement, I was in over my head. The two bikes in question: a 2009 Triumph Bonneville T100, and a pretty clean example of a 1968 Triumph Bonneville T120. The guy who owned the shop walked up to me and started to ask me what I was looking at in the showroom. I told him, and he took a beat, then said; “well it’s up to you, but you need to ask yourself a simple question. Do you want to spend your time riding a motorcycle, or fixing one?” Wise words. I bought the 2009. My love of old bikes came back around, because now I have two. He’s still right.
I’d be lying to you and myself if I didn’t say there was one reason I wanted a Triumph: Steve McQueen. I’m probably not alone. The Triumph story is broken up into three parts; 1959 to 1983, 1985 to 1988, and 2001 to present. They didn’t always have a reputation of being super reliable, but during the first decade of production, there was nothing to compare it to that was objectively better. Enter Honda, and things got a little more competitive. Triumph, like many other manufacturers, were blindsided by the CB750, they didn’t really recover until the most recent run. The new Triumphs are basically Bullit (yup, I did that) proof. Incredible machines. I commuted on mine for three years, and the only time it wouldn’t start was a dead battery.
This 1968 shares little with the ’68 that I was lusting after. A frame up restoration as good as I’ve ever seen. It’s a number matching bike down to the horn, and all looks to be brought back to new condition. This Bonneville is not only restored, but according to the seller/restorer the engine has also been breathed on a bit. It has an oil bypass upgrade, lightened updated rocker arms, cams from a ’72, hand finished rocker blocks, rebalanced crank, and last but not least, it’s over-bored. No mention of the current displacement. The list of new parts on this bike seem to be just about anything that could be worn. From pushrods, to carburetor slides, and even the battery strap. The list of restored parts goes on, but my personal favorite? They even refurbished the Triumph issue tool kit. Unreal.
Find this 1968 Triumph Bonneville for sale in Burbank, California for $15,500 here on Craigslist.