Being a MSF Rider Coach I am often asked which bike would I recommend as a first bike. This is a loaded question and one that I generally skirt around depending on what the person is looking for.
After riding the Bonneville SE I think I have found an answer to that question for those people either looking for a good all around motorcycle or similar; as long as they fit the size range of about 5\'3" to 5\'10" (which is a huge spread if you think about it).
I described the bike as being "friendly" to our 2WF.com guest rider, Carlos and he asked how a bike could be "friendly". After riding the bike for the photoshoot we rode to dinner and after he got off the bike he looked at me and said "ahhh, friendly. Now I see what you mean" (he also started asking questions about how much, etc.. I think he wants one).
At the heart of the Bonneville SE being easy to ride are the 17" cast wheels. These wheels take the place of the taller spoke wheels found on the Thruxton, T100, and Scrambler and having ridden the Thruxton and Bonneville SE back to back they difference is huge. Where the Thruxton, with its spoke wheels, feels a little hesitant to turn, the Bonneville SE is willing to flick right in. I also found myself being able to drag the pegs on the Bonneville SE with little to no drama unlike the Thruxton which made you really work when ridden at those lean angles.
I guess the best way to describe how easy the bike is to ride is to say that I would love to teach new riders how to ride using the Bonneville SE over ANY of the current crop of training bikes the MSF allows. Yes, there is just a little too much power on tap for a completely raw newbie to handle in a confined space but you could limit the throttle travel to combat that. The handling and braking alone would more than make up for the trouble of installing a limiter.
This is not to say that the Bonneville SE is only for beginners; I had a blast riding around on the bike and would, with a few changes to fit my 6\' tall frame, seriously consider owning one.
As you can see in the picture to the right, the Bonneville that we tested was equipped with a quick release windshield. It wasn\'t on there very long as it created turbulence right at the level of my helmet. To be fair, I am taller than the target market for the Bonneville SE so I can\'t blame Triumph for the issue. The optical quality of the shield was top notch and had very little distortion; even around the edges. I\'m sure that if you fit into the height range that the Bonneville SE is marketed towards, the shield would work just fine.
While the Triumph Bonneville SE isn’t a perfect bike for everyone, those riders, or soon to be riders, looking for a bike that is user friendly, comfortable, nimble, and has enough power to entertain you no matter what your experience level is, should take a good long look at the Bonneville SE.