Triumph’s Bobber and Bobber Black models give credence to the often bandied about “factory custom” term, but despite their authentic, postwar bobber looks, both variants manage to deliver a thoroughly modern ride that works better than the throwback styling would suggest. Triumph has been able to wring out another variation of its liquid-cooled high-torque (HT) Bonneville 1,200cc parallel-twin engine derived from the T120, but in this application it’s a gem, cranking out a claimed 77 hp and 78 pound-feet of torque. While both may pack the same 1,200cc parallel-twin engine and chassis architecture, the Black model pumps up the spec list a bit, with a meatier (but smaller) 16-inch front wheel shod with an Avon Cobra tire, and gains an extra brake disc up front, while also slipping in a beefier 47mm Showa cartridge fork to go with that chunky front donut. The headlight on the Black is LED, and you get cruise control too. Other than that, the Black model does indeed get murdered out, with the exhaust, engine, bars, hubs, levers, etc., all wearing ebony paint.
The Bobber delivers a surprisingly spirited ride and great handling despite the hardtail looks and that’s a big reason why we named it Cruiser of the Year in 2017. The ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, ABS, and premium finishes thoroughly impressed on our First Ride as well. You don’t have to look too hard to find the competition; the Indian Scout Bobber and Harley’s Street Bob are the obvious alternatives here, but for technology and comfort, and possibly ride quality, the Triumph seems to be the most polished of the lot.
For 2020, Triumph rolled out a specially outfitted, limited run Bobber TFC model with more power and premium finishes, and last we checked there were still some available, but better hurry: only 750 were made.