September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville

For my road trip in September, I did things a little differently. The biggest change was that I decided to forego my zippy, mile-eating Tiger for the stripped-down simplicity of the Bonneville. The choice left some people wondering “why?” The simple answer? Because I wanted to.

Because I’d never done a multi-day trip on the Bonneville, I did add some creature comforts to it’s set up. I posted previously about some of those peripheral odds and ends that made my trip a success. This is how I felt about the Bonnie itself.

I found that my highway speeds naturally dropped off from what I might do with the Tiger by about 5-15mph. It isn’t that the Bonnie can’t do 85, it absolutely can. It just doesn’t “feel” like a sweet spot to me. That isn’t a knock, that’s just my reality. I found myself in the far right lane often when doing highway stints. It very well could’ve been my mindset, but that’s the way things shook out.

The Bonneville gets great gas mileage on the highway. You can plug along at 75 on the speedo and get over 50mpg.

While this might not have any meaning to the tall drinks o’ water out there, being able to pull over anywhere and put both feet on the ground at the same time is heaven! It changes your confidence level and takes one more consideration out of the mix, freeing up that brainpower for something else.  This new-found freedom meant that I could pull over on any roadside or surface that I might avoid if I were on a bike that I have to tippy-toe with.

And on top of that, when you add in how short the sidestand is, creating a nice lean, I was able to not only pull over and stop anywhere but I could park there too without worrying about the awkward, too-upright lean of the bike. Or – with having to tippy-toe and trying to get on and off the thing without gracelessly sending us both ass over teakettle.

The footprint of the Bonnie is so narrow, I could easily squeeze into places I wouldn’t on my sport-touring bike. I may or may not have lanesplit a couple miles here and there and it may or may not have been easy as pie not to have to worry about my sidebags taking out someone’s mirror.

I was pleasantly surprised by how the bike felt on very tight mountain roads. If you have bigger feet, you’ll probably wear the toe of your boot out, but all in all, it was easy and fun to ride. The response from the front end doesn’t feel like a sportbike of course, but it felt planted and wasn’t work to ride. Just gotta keep those toes tucked in.

Overall, what I wanted from the Bonneville is what I got – a low-slung, easy-does-it bike that allows me to knock out some highway, ramble the backroads, and is easy to make frequent roadside stops on questionable surfaces for pictures or general loafing. Everything about it feels laidback and simple.

I’m certain I’ll be multi-day roadtripping with it again. In fact, I wish I were going right now…

4 Replies to “September Road Trip Notes: Taking the Bonneville”

  1. Thank you for this. My wife loves the look and feel of the Bonnie and is considering as her second bike – upgrade from a Rebel 250. I passed on your review.

  2. Yay! There’s major pleasure in a bike that suits one’s particular needs. Confidence from being able to flat-foot it is nice. And bikes don’t need to be racing-machine powerful to be fun. One thing you don’t mention about this bike is its good looks: many adore its retro-styling.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. Don’t ever give up the Bonnie. My big Heritage Classic is great for long distance comfort, but I really miss my Sportster for the simple pleasure of its simplicity. I’ve done some long rides on the Sporty (surprisingly very comfortable as well) and at nearly 150 pounds lighter than my current bike, it was nimble and responsive. It was a feel-good ride. Not that “I” feel good, it was the bike. That’s what your Bonnie is to you I imagine. Nice to be able to plant the feet down ain’t it?

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