Triumph Bonneville 1982

“The Black RAT”

The Triumph Bonneville is a standard motorcycle featuring a parallel-twin four-stroke engine and manufactured in three generations over three separate production runs.

The first two generations, by the defunct Triumph Engineering in Meriden, West Midlands, England, were 1959–1983 and 1985–1988. The third series, by Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckley, Leicestershire began in 2001 and continues to the present as a completely new design that strongly resembles the original series. (see or “naughties Rat” in Our Bikes.

The name Bonneville derives from the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA where Triumph and others attempted to break the motorcycle speed records.

The early 650 cc T120 Bonneville, often known as the duplex frame model, was replaced in the early 1970s by the T140 Bonneville, the same basic machine but with a 750 cc engine. Refined from the later 'oil in frame' version of the T120, the first few T140s, designated T140V, featured a larger-capacity engine of 724 cc, a five-speed gearbox option and indicators, but still retaining drum brakes and kick-start. Shortly after, the engine was further bored out to 744 cc and front disc brakes were fitted using single discs until 1982. In 1975, along with engine modifications, the gearchange lever was moved from right to left to comply with new regulations mandated for the American market and a rear disc brake fitted. Several T140 models followed featuring various modifications and refinements including electric starting from 1980 until production ceased with the closure of the Meriden works in 1983.

I bought our Bonneville T140E in 1999 and it was my daily bike until it was put away to rot. It survived several house moves, being kept in boxes and at one time with the frame hanging from the garage wall to get the extra space. I could never bring myself to get rid of it though and a couple of years ago, began on a project rebuild. The frame was powder coated and the engine completely, professionally stripped and rebuilt. Simon Sapstead, our resident mechanic then spent hours putting the bike back together.

She’s now back to being the Black Rat and we’re all very proud of her.

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