Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Hyde TX Bonneville.

From Motor Cycle Sport and Leisure (November 2004)

"The new Bonneville has given Triumph an undeniable boost since its debut in 2000, but as many owners would agree, has a rather spongy front brake, modest performance and somewhat vague handling at higher speeds. Triumph has to some extent recognised this, producing the Thruxton - a cafe racer styled Bonnie with a bit more punch to go with its classic '60s styling cues. However, the sanitised machine built to meet modern standards and legal requirements as it is, still lacks the soul of some of the original Triumphs that used to rule the roads, racetracks and transport cafes of 40 years ago. No doubt Triumph would argue that most people who buy one of its classic range bikes aren't particularly after rip-snorting performance and handling - it's nostalgia these buyers want, and Triumph has proved that it certainly helps to sell bikes. It's just that, though a modern replica is mechanically stronger, more reliable and better engineered in general, they still lack the soul the original displayed in abundance. Now, for those who have such a modern 'classic' but want a bit more in terms of performance,handling and braking, help is at hand.

The standard 790cc motor has had its barrels replaced with a 902cc set from Wiseco, who have worked in collaboration with Hyde on the project. The result is a massive increase in power and torque. To ensure that power can be fully appreciated, the carbs have received Dynojet kits, and a pair of Hyde's own Thruxton-style silencers have been added to extract that last little bit of oomph. To cope with this performance boost, the front brake has been replaced with a fully floating 320mm disc gripped by an AP Lockheed four-piston caliper, equipped with sintered metal pads, and a braided steel hose.

Enter the Thruxton-spec Hyde TX Bonneville!
A fork brace now sits above the replacement mudguard to handle the extra braking forces being exerted upon them, while a steering damper helps keep things in line. The rear shocks have been replaced with some Ikon units with progressive rate springs, their adjustable damping allowing owners to fine-tune their ride.

Similarly the tyres are now Avon Super Venoms, which Hyde says provide better grip and a better rate of wear. Just to make sure nothing drags the standard footrests have been replaced with some tasty rearsets, which in turn are complemented by a set of Ace 'bars. A top half fairing sits well alongside the replacement alloy tank, and the Thruxton seat unit finishes off the overall look nicely. There are other minor mods on the bike pictured here, like replacement tail lights and indicators, as well as a rev counter kit - all of which come from Norman's extensive catalogue. Certainly this bike's got just the right look, and from a distance could easily be mistaken for one of the original works machines. And when it came time to actually ride the thing, within five miles of Hyde's Warwickshire base the grin on my face stretched from ear to ear.

The traffic on the Warwick ring road had been almost a delight despite the revised taller gearing that had been fitted for my ride, where apparently the smaller front cog will allow the bike to reach speeds of 120mph-plus, should you desire.This was not to prove a problem at any stage during the day, even when trickling through sleepy villages in the heart of Shakespeare's country or up into the hills of Worcestershire. The carburation is so good now that it pulls cleanly from 30mph in top gear, and will continue to surge well past any legal posted limit. The motor is now far more flexible and torquey than it ever was, and the bike can now be ridden almost totally on the throttle, without anywhere near as much need to bother the 'box.

The rev counter gives an indication of how lazy that motor is, but there's little need to refer to it, unless you are trying to extract those last ounces of power from the parallel twin. Even then the optional 'bar end mirror shows that its engine balance has been maintained, as there is little in the way of vibration to spoil the view to the rear. However, although picking a gear and riding that torque wave is now an option, playing tunes on the gearbox is a must just to hear the glorious cacophony of sound that erupts behind you. Never offensive, it just makes the bike sound as great as it looks, and adds to the fun immensely. And this is a bike that can deliver fun in large doses, especially on the twisty country roads of the Cotswolds, where handling and engine torque are far more important than outright top speed. On such roads you can use those Avons to their limit, safe in the knowledge that the bike isn't going to develop a weave, or catch the Tarmac with a footrest and dig in. In Hyde form the Bonneville inspires confidence, and that front brake is a revelation - easily on a par with any similarly sized Japanese mount sporting twin discs.

Perhaps best of all, various parts of the Hyde kit can be bought and fitted over time as finances allow if you don't want to make the one single outlay - although after riding the Hyde Bonnie, I'd advise any stock Bonnie owner to at least buy the engine, carb and brake kit as a matter of course. Norman Hyde has taken a retro showpiece and given it the go it's been crying out for, without making it uncomfortable or unrideable. As a result it's much more enjoyable to ride, and indeed that much more faithful a representation of the original."

No comments: