IMS Chicago: 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Is Stylish Without Discomfort

Originally homemade custom jobs, bobbers aren’t just inspirations for new bikes, but they’re also available straight from the factory. And Triumph is just one of several manufacturers offering these chopped-down, solo-seat machines. But while factory bobbers are certainly stylish, that style also often comes with some drawbacks. However, as I discovered at the 2021 International Motorcycle Show in Chicago, the 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber might be an exception to that last part.

The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber gets some updates but keeps its classic looks

A low-angle view of the left side of a red 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber in a parking lot
2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber left side low-angle view | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit
Spec2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Engine1200cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Power77 hp
Torque78 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed with torque-assist clutch
Final drive typeClutch
Front suspensionShowa cartridge forks
Rear suspensionRSU mono-shock
Seat height27.2″-27.6″
Curb weight553 lb

Along with the regular Bonneville and the Speedmaster cruiser, the Triumph Bonneville Bobber got some updates for 2022.

Firstly, there’s no longer a base trim and a Bobber Black—just one Bonneville Bobber. And the 2022 Bobber inherits features from both trims, such as the Black’s dual front Brembo discs, 16” front tire, and multiple blacked-out trim pieces. Secondly, although the 2022 Bonneville Bobber doesn’t have more power or torque than the outgoing model, its engine has some internal updates. As a result, just like the other 2022 Bonneville models’ engines, it revs more eagerly, MCN explains.

The handlebars and gauge of a red 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber handlebars closeup | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

Some of the outgoing Triumph Bonneville Bobber’s tech carries over to the 2022 model. Namely, the standard ABS, two riding modes, adjustable brake and clutch levers, and traction control. And, as before, both the solo seat and the single gauge (with LCD screen) are position-adjustable. However, the 2022 Bobber has full LED lighting, as well as the Black’s standard cruise control. And the 2022 model’s fuel tank holds 3.2 gallons rather than 2.4.

At IMS Chicago 2021, the 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber had vintage-cool charm without the pain

Bobber motorcycles certainly have statement-making style, as Triumph itself learned when it introduced the Bonneville Bobber in 2017. It quickly became the fastest-selling model in the company’s history, Cycle World reports. However, that often comes at a price. Low seats and suspension may look cool, but they typically cut into long-distance comfort.

Those drawbacks don’t seem to apply to the outgoing Bobber, though, RideApart says. And after riding the 2022 model around a multi-mile road course at IMS Outdoors Chicago 2021, I didn’t notice them, either.

Although it doesn’t necessarily look it, the 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber’s seat is both supportive and comfortable. That was the case even on the 2017 model, Motorcyclist notes. And because the bike has mid controls, rather than forward ones like other cruisers, it felt more immediately comfortable to my 5’8” frame. Plus, while it lacks a standard windscreen, the 2022 Bobber’s riding position left me well-braced against the oncoming wind at highway speeds.

In terms of ride quality, the 2022 Bonneville Bobber is on the firm side. However, the suspension’s limitations really only become apparent over large-radius bumps. And even so, Triumph does offer optional suspension upgrades, Cycle World says. But on the plus side, while it’s definitely not a sportbike, the 2022 Bobber’s suspension and low center of gravity make it great fun on sweeping country roads. And even at low speeds, you don’t really notice the bike’s weight, due in part to the low seat height, Cycle World reports.

Low-speed cruising also isn’t a problem for that rich-sounding 120cc engine. The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber has enough low-end torque to practically idle away in first gear. And it pulls strongly even in higher gears. The clutch lever could use more feedback, but the torque-assist clutch itself is forgiving with a lightweight pull.

Could it be someone’s first bike?

A maroon 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S parked on the side of an Angeles Crest Highway hill
2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S side hill | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

Even before the updates, the Triumph Bonneville Bobber wasn’t exactly a cheap bike. And the 2022 model starts at $13,400. For roughly $1600 more, you could get the brand-new 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S, which has more tech, more power, and less weight.

However, the Bonneville Bobber has justified its price tag with its build and material quality. And that continues with the 2022 model, from its solid switchgear to its steel fenders. So, you do get what you paid for. Plus, with 121 hp from a 1252cc V-twin, the Sportster S might arguably be too much bike for a beginner.

But does that mean the 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber could be someone’s first bike? As always, it depends. For a brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-MSF-course rider, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. True, with its modest power output, the Bobber is a fairly mild ‘literbike.’ But if you’re not used to the torque and weight, you could still injure yourself. However, someone with a few months of riding experience or a returning rider? Yes, I’d recommend giving this bike a test ride.

Admittedly, I didn’t spend an extended period of time with the 2022 Bonneville Bobber. But based on a brief demo ride, this retro-style motorcycle doesn’t blend discomfort into its fun.

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