The tale of a British Legend and an American Blockbuster.

The influence both these people have on us is simply a matter of a little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement. We just love it when we see either of them on our streets, and without a doubt being some of the world’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers, they’ve become the jack of their trades. Both Harley-Davidson and Triumph have ever been at the neck of each other and giving us products of exclusivity at its best.

For 2017, they take the game up a notch and have sounded all bells and whistles. Having a rich heritage to back them up with their newfound designs, both Harley and Triumph have created pieces of modern art that look too good to be true. They may have in some way or the other taken inspiration from each other to give birth to what could be some of the best looking iterations of their iconic brands vis-à-vis the Sportster series and the Bonneville range.

Both these machines have been launched on our soil, both of them cost the same, both of them have similar engine sizes, and both of them are the next big thing for their family lineage. Here is our extensive though on how these two modern machines live up to their iconic silhouettes.

STYLING

Harley Davidson Roadster

Coming from a lineup that already includes Harley Davidson’s acclaimedIron 883, 1200 Custom, Super low and Forty-Eight, this roadster model is the most sport-oriented version of the Sportster series offering an alternative to more conventional cruiser variants.

Minimalism and understatement do not always go hand in hand. In this case, it is the whole point of the design. Bringing the designs from their history books and fusing them with cues of early performance models was the intention according to Harley Industrial Designer Ben McGinley; to make a more urban-minded Sportster.

Svelte, athletic, and with roots in the original KHR, the Roadster’s design stands apart from its siblings. The walnut-shaped tank and new paint scheme are a nod back to the 1956 KHR along with that concept of minimalistic appointments where everything and anything that did not contribute to performance got removed or cut off. This Roadster is reminiscent to that belief. A chopped rear fender, the low bars and mirrors lend it the earless look.

The dark theme runs across the length and breadth of this bike from the split-spoke cast rims to the engine, heat shields, finned timer cover, special cast wheels and shock springs. The cockpit is exceptionally tidy, and the instrument panel looks great with a combination of digital and analogue gauges but is not the best when it comes to legibility.

" Svelte, athletic, and with roots in the original KHR, the Roadster’s design stands apart from its siblings."

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Calling it a “pure Bonneville hot rod” the British manufacturer captured the American way of the ‘30s in this brutally beautiful factory custom bobber. This is enough proof that this company has the guts to look elsewhere for inspiration when designing new models. And by the looks of it, they might have just manage to pull one over the Harleys or the Indian. That folks, is a statement.

Triumph’s attempt here is authentic and straight out of the box. The beautifully styled minimalism is depicted from every angle on this bike. The Bobber has taken the hardtail route and has deliberately avoided the enormous rear fenders for a retro 1930s style treatment.

Brushed stainless steel exhaust blends impeccably with the proportions of the bike and appears to be a classic 2-into-2 job terminated with slash-cut mufflers. Attention to detail is given serious treatment with the bronze engine badges, sprocket cover, floating aluminium seat pan with a stitched deep-foam solo pad for the seats, and spoked wheels with black rims shod with tube-type Avon Cobra tires and a lot more.

To achieve all this with all the modern and complex electronics and wirings, Triumph has done a pretty good job in packing everything tightly under covers to showcase the simplicity of this styling. All in all, it is a well put together package maintaining a classy and straightforward design with fantastic detailing. If you don’t want to ride this in a heavy downpour (not that we’ll blame you), you can grab a cup of coffee and sit on a chair only to stare at it, and you’d be no less disappointed.

" If you don’t want to ride this in a heavy downpour (not that we’ll blame you), you can grab a cup of coffee and sit on a chair only to stare at it, and you’d be no less disappointed."

Overall Dimension

Make Model Harley-Davidson Roadster Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Length 2185mm 2339mm
Width 841mm 800mm
Height 1082mm 1025mm
Wheelbase 1505mm 1510mm
Ground clearance 150mm 155mm
Seat height 785mm 690mm
Wet weight 259kg 256kg
Fuel tank 12.5l 9.1l

POWERTRAIN

Harley Davidson Roadster

For 30 years the 1202cc Evolution motor has been the heart and soul of all Sportster models at HD and the same gives life to the Roadster as well. Being one of the most upgradable ones in the market, HD has given it a number of innovations and improvements since 1986 to make this mill superior to its predecessors.

The 45 degree V-twin engine has the traditional air-cooled system running on a compression ratio of 10:1. It is a torque-rich engine giving out 96Nm at 4000 rpm, and the power is estimated to 71 bhp. Although this American pulls strongly, we would have expected it to get more upgraded to get out the blood pumping.

A five-speed transmission and belt drive makes the final connection to the quick but not necessarily a fast bike. Top speed is 176 kph.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

The heart of this Bobber is a category-leading, high-torque Bonneville 1200cc engine with a dedicated Bobber tune. The similar ones used in T120’s. The liquid-cooled, eight-valve, SOHC parallel twin motor is slightly tweaked to return more torque lower down in the rev range and a richer exhaust note.

Triumph’s 1200cc gives this Bobber a power figure of 77 bhp @ 6100 rpm and 106 Nm @ 4000rpm. The Bobber has a unique twin airbox setup, carb-styled twin throttle bodies, special intake and exhaust system, new output shaft, and elegant packaging that allows the straight-line exhausts to hide the Euro4-compliant catalytic converters. The engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission with a torque-assist clutch and chain final drive.

Twin slash cut sawn off peashooter silencers will surround the rider in a pure Bonneville hot rod sound.

Engine Specification

Make Model Harley-Davidson Roadster Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Capacity cc 1202 1200
Bore/ Stroke mm 88.9/96.8 97.6/80
Output 71 bhp 77 bhp @ 6100 rpm
Torque 96 Nm @ 4000 rpm 106Nm @ 4000 rpm
Type Air-Cooled, 4-Stroke, 45 Degree V-Twin Cylinder, DOHC Liquid Cooled, 8 Valves, SOHC, 270° Crank Angle Parallel Twin
Clutch type Wet- Multiplate Wet –Multi-Plate Assist
Transmission 5-speed 6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

Harley Davidson Roadster

The riding position remains unchanged from other Sportster models with the mid-mounted bike controls and too far aggressive handlebar placement. The seating position is hence cannot be called very comfortable as the position is halfway between upright and crouch. That being said, it does not fall short of encouraging you into an aggressive riding experience with the adjusted steering geometry delivering more nimble and responsive feel. This Roadster is not particularly lean-friendly as the footpegs will get sheared off when you do the mistake of taking a curve Rossi style. But is still considerably better compared to other Sportsters.

Everything wrong here is made up by the engineers in the suspension and brake department. The Roadster gets its own 43 mm upside down forks with better damping and lesser dive during braking. The rear shocks are the emulsion unit that sits higher and is adjustable. Impressive suspension travel of 114 mm at the front and 81 mm at the back gives in to a subtle riding experience even on tougher terrain.

The 120/70R19 front and 150/70R18 rear tyres give enough tone to make the ride feel plush. Dual 300mm discs featuring 2 piston callipers at the front is an upgrade from previous models with unique floating rotors transfers heat from the discs more efficiently. Enough power to get the job done without any fuss. Optional ABS will not give any concern about braking ability.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Giving in for the low stance of the bike is the seating position which sits you lower for that Bobber feel. That being said, it is adjustable both fore and aft, and up and down. You can choose a more sporting forward position for spirited riding, or slide the seat back and down to a 690mm height for a cruiser vibe.

Nothing is sacrificed in the pursuit of style over substance. The riding position is notably more conventional and instantly comfortable with mid-position footpegs. Seats provide you with the freedom of choosing your ergonomic match and bars are unlikely to prove too much of a stretch even for shorter-limbed riders.

The shorter suspensions travel of the front fork is enough since only the rider sits on this bike and is sufficient for the same level of compliance and bump absorption. Similar to all Bonnevilles’, this bike too features everything from riding modes (Road and Rain) to switchable traction control, ride-by-wire throttle, ABS, and a torque-assist clutch. Making the bobber as dynamic and thrilling to ride as it is to look at is the optional Cruise Control Kit.

" Nothing in the Bobber is sacrificed in the pursuit of style over substance."

Chassis Specifications

Make Model Harley-Davidson Roadster Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Suspension / Front 43 mm WP upside-down; 115mm travel KYB 41 Mm Forks, 90 Mm Travel
Suspension / Rear 36 mm piston nitrogen gas-charged KYB Mono Shock With Linkage, 76.9 Mm Rear Wheel Travel
Brakes / Front 300mm Dual floating disc, ABS 310 Mm Disc, Nissin 2-Piston Floating Calliper, ABS
Brakes / Rear 230 mm Single-piston floating calliper, ABS Single 255 Mm Disc, Nissin Single Piston Floating Calliper, ABS
Tyres / Front 120/70R19 M/C 100/90 R19
Tyres / Rear 150/70R18 M/C 150/80 R16

PRICE

Harley Davidson Roadster

The roadster will fetch you a cool ₹ 9.8 lakh (ex-showroom). This makes it the most expensive guy in the Sportster series of Harleys.

The Roadster will get optional features that include air filters and ABS along with hands-free, factory installed H-D Smart Security System. It will come in four colour options- Velocity Red Sunglow, Billet Silver & Vivid Black, Black Denim and Vivid Black.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Compared to the Bonneville T120, expect to pay a premium for it. This modern classic can be yours for a price tag of ₹9.09 lakh (ex-showroom).

The Bonneville Bobber has over 150 additional accessories available to enhance its presence further and make it truly unique. It will be available in four colours – ‘Modello Red’, ‘Ironstone’, ‘Jet Black’ and ‘Competition Green and Frozen Silver’.

VERDICT

First and foremost, we must give it to the guys behind these beautiful machines to have shown us that they are nowhere close to getting bored at their job. Rather, they have surprised us with their imagination and the gutsy nature to go out of their norm books and sketch out what could be their best looker.

The Roadster is an effort shown when we thought that Harley was done with the Sportsters and this young generation of a machine is a serious effort to reach customers outside the likes of the classic Harley Davidsons. The blend of character, handling and practicality; and more importantly its looks brings to the appealing mind. This newcomer to Harley’s Sportster range may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it is a better fit for the current market. Riders hoping for increased performance may be disappointed; it is compromised yet palatable. The Roadster is the best Sportster, and it looks like it should. That is a meaningful progress.

" The blend of character, handling and practicality; and more importantly its looks brings to the appealing mind."

But when it comes to “peerless authenticity”, it definitely goes to the Bobber. The blokes at Triumph have shown us their art in keeping a genuine Bonneville in its soul that carries the iconic Triumph heritage unparalleled to anything till date. It has the right mix of the attitude and desirability of the legendary T120, yet owns its unique muscular and minimalistic stance.

With the lower price tag, better-performing motor and a mature riding experience than that of the rougher-hewn feel of the Roadster, it looks like Triumph has another winner on its hands. It will not take any more effort to make you fall in love with this machine for the way it looks, for the way it looks and for the way it looks. The presence of it makes everyone around grin from ear to ear and that, gentlemen, is what is called as satisfaction.

" It will not take any more effort to make you fall in love with this machine for the way it looks, for the way it looks and for the way it looks."

Final scores

Make Model Harley-Davidson Roadster Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Economy 7 7
Features 8 8
Performance 7 8
Quality 9 9
Safety 8 8
Styling 8 9
Value for money 7 8
Numbers says it all 7.71 8.1
11 22
11 22

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