If you’re looking to pick up a gorgeous vintage Brit bike, here’s a lovely ‘79 Triumph Bonneville T140. It could be the best vintage Bonnie you can buy right now, depending on your perspective. It might be a little too modern for your typical Britbike purist, but for most riders it’s a great mix of old-school British charm and modern features—for various metrics of modern, of course.
This Bonnie has a proper 744cc parallel-twin engine (air-cooled, of course), which made 49 horsepower in stock trim. The engine isn’t original; the ad says it came from a T140E. It’s got a five-speed gearbox with left-side gearshift, so it’ll be familiar for most motorcyclists to operate. This bike has a dual-carb setup (Amals) and an electronic ignition. There’s a Lucas electronic ignition, which probably means grief sooner or later, but aftermarket replacements are easy to find (and likely far superior).
This machine has a ‘70s-style stepped seat, a tiny chromed luggage rack, and a set of megaphone pipes that look a bit clonky. They’re easy enough to swap out for peashooters, and a set of fork boots would also be a good idea, to protect the sliders and add a retro look, if that’s what you’re after.
The 19-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear have stainless steel Buchanan spokes. The bike appears to have been repainted, but it looks very decent. If you’re not some sort of weird purist, you should be very happy with it. If you are some kind of weird purist, you can take solace in the fact this machine comes with a bunch of original paperwork.
If the odometer reading is correct, this machine hasn’t seen much use; the owner claims to have ridden 50 of the purported 5,000 miles on the clock.. It’s been taken care of, even if it hasn’t been ridden much, with fresh oil and battery in November, 2019.
Is this bike for you? Modern-day Triumph retros are gorgeous, reliable, and not cheap. This machine, well, it’s not cheap either. But it is gorgeous, not as expensive as a modern Hinkley machine, and would probably be reliable enough for most users’ needs. Of course, some buyers wouldn’t want to run this bike at all, in its current shape. It’s almost too clean to ride.