Rockstars's Garage: Lemmy Kilmister's Triumph T140 Bonneville

"The Triumph T140V Bonneville is a great rideable classic and is much more affordable than its earlier counterparts.

The Seventies were not good years for Triumph. By 1972 Triumph, arguably the personification of motorcycles and motorcycling, had been eclipsed by a hoard of Asian upstarts, despite 70 years of manufacturing tradition behind the fabled company.

In some ways, Triumph had been its own worst enemy. An entrenched, misplaced belief within the British motorcycle industry in its own superiority had resulted in outdated product, just as new rivals were launching the most technologically exciting motorcycles ever seen. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha were spearheading a revolution, changing and innovating their products yearly. But in 13 years of production, Triumph’s iconic Bonneville, introduced to rave reviews in 1959, had changed little. At Triumph, it appeared that evolution, not revolution, was the order of the day.

The Bonneville desperately needed a shot in the arm to remain competitive, and Triumph belatedly responded in 1973 by upping the Bonnie’s 650cc engine to 744cc and, finally, fitting a five-speed transmission in place of the old four-speed.

Unfortunately, the “new” Bonnie, dubbed the T140V, suffered under Triumph’s heavy load. That same year, Triumph announced the closure of the Meriden plant where the Bonnie was built, prompting the workforce there to wage an 18-month strike, during which all Bonneville production ceased.

This could have been the end of Triumph, and the company’s future looked bleak at best. But new hope came in the spring of 1975, when the striking workers formed the Meriden Cooperative. With loans from the government, the new company renewed production of the Triumph T140V Bonneville.

The great Triumph twin got a new lease on life, as once again new T140Vs started rolling off the assembly line.

Unlike its former stewards, the Meriden Cooperative saw the need to update and improve the Bonnie, while at the same time playing to its time-honored strengths of simplicity, agility and light weight.

The new Bonnie benefited from a fresh imperative to improve the breed. Oil leakage, always the scourge of British twins, was profoundly tamed, and the Triumph T140V Bonneville was continuously improved and updated.

Front and rear disc brakes came in 1976, as did left-hand shift to satisfy U.S. regulations. Much-improved Amal MkII carburetors came in 1978, and by 1979 all Bonnies sported electronic ignition."