You want a bike. Your buddy has a crazy fast sportbike, the kind with enough juice to leave you suspended in midair like Wile E. Coyote, blinking in disbelief, as it disappears over the horizon like an Acme rocket sled. Your other buddy rides a cruiser, complete with ape hanger handlebars and forward-mounted foot pegs-a La-Z-Boy for the interstate. You thought he looked pretty cool on it, until you rented Wild Hogs. But now you want something different.
Enter the 2010 Triumph Bonneville T100. This Bonneville is nothing new, and that's precisely where its appeal lies. It's a direct descendant of the original Bonnie, introduced by the storied British manufacturer 50 years ago. (An anniversary edition of 650 bikes, featuring a blue and orange paint scheme and extra detailing, sold out immediately.) Powered by an air-cooled, 865cc parallel twin, the T100 is a straightforward bike wrapped in a stylish retro package, with plenty of chrome, two-tone paint and traditional spoke wheels.
On the road, the 2010 Bonneville feels solid and well-mannered. Its comfortable, upright riding position and smooth acceleration are great for newbies, but the bike has plenty of kick to keep things interesting for more seasoned riders. The dual peashooter-style exhausts produce a mellow purr-a sound too civilized, in fact, for some hardcore Triumph fans who swap out the factory pipes for aftermarket systems that give the bike a growl more reminiscent of the original's.
It's in the styling that the bike really shines-a nostalgic evocation of the brand's legacy as a symbol of counterculture cool. In the '60s and '70s, riders in the U.K. and U.S. embraced the brand's lean and powerful models, turning them into icons of biker rebellion. Brando rode a Triumph in The Wild One, the film that kick-started the biker movie genre. James Dean came brooding in on one in Rebel Without a Cause. Steve McQueen, whose real-life need for speed and love for the Brit brand are the stuff of legend, tore up the German countryside on a Triumph in The Great Escape.
Of course, motorcycles have changed since the original Bonnie's heyday. The machine that once looked so badass now seems more, well, British. But then, a bike that can turn heads-and it does turn heads-by combining a lot of British class with a dose of rebel cool-what's not to like about that?