Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Be Or Not To Be......

That would be the question.

First off I need to apologize for the lack of pictures in this post as it is mostly informational.  That said.....continue.....

As a final post regarding the dilemma of which bike to keep, the Bonneville or the Gladius, I thought I'd do a little comparison. Please keep in mind that what follows are my experiences and my opinions and I am sure there are people who have ridden these models that feel completely different.


Unfortunately Cycle-Ergos doesn't seem to have the 2009 models online like it used to. Oh well.  Here are the comparisons using 2010 models.  Oh and they don't have the Bonneville SE either which has a 29.5" seat height making the knee angle higher than shown.
(2010 Bonneville ergonomics)
(2010 Gladius ergonomics - nothing different from 2009)


1. The styling.  I think it's gorgeous.  
2. The seat does not pitch me forward and so my wrist/hands don't seem to go numb when riding like they do on Max.  
3.  Planted in the corners.  Pick a line and it holds no adjusting needed.  
4.  I also seem to hold a higher cruising speed as it doesn't decelerate as fast as Max when easing off the throttle.  
5.  The front brake is awesome and right there.  Very strong.
6.  Smoother over small bumps. (but about the same as Max over larger ones)
7. It's a Triumph (I don't think that one really counts, but it can up the cool factor in a crowd) :-)

1.  The styling.  I think it is striking too.
2.  Fuel economy, I can go at least 150-160 miles before the gas light comes on.
3.  Very easy to maneuver at low speeds. Very nimble when parking.
4.  Only 446 lbs (202.3 kg) wet weight.
5.  Seat height.  Tall enough I am not too cramped when riding, but yet I can flat foot it at a stop.
6.  Clean wind at highway speeds for a naked bike.  Not really any buffeting.
7.  It just feels right.  You sit on it and go ahhhh that's it.  (It took riding the Bonneville 150 miles to make me realize this one.)


1.  Fuel economy (we think due to aftermarket Norman Hyde pipes)
2. Seat height combined with peg height makes my hips hurt. (who knew a low seat would do that)
3.  Fuel filler nozzle hole size not just inconvenient, but really annoying.
4.  Kickstand placement and/or length combined with foot size just doesn't work.  (Or as I say, how to look like a brand new rider in every parking lot)
5.  Turning radius larger than Gladius (see cheeky note in #4)
6.  For a naked bike the wind really pushes you back, which in turn pulls at your arms when riding at highway speeds thereby tiring you quicker.

1.  Seat tilts a little forward putting pressure on the wrists and makes my right hand go numb quite often.
2.  Bumpy when riding over forestry roads/chip seal and frost heaves.
3.  Front brake feels quite squishy and soft in comparison to the Bonneville brake.
As you can see both bikes have quite a few positive attributes. I am sure there are more but I just can't think of them right now.  We've been up at 5 am the last two days since Troubadour is teaching.  I need to switch from decaf to regular coffee I think.  

Where the bikes really differ is in the amount of negative attributes. When doing the comparisons, please note I have not included anything like heated grips, saddlebags or those types of farkles because they can be bought for any bike and I didn't think that should be a deciding factor.

For me personally the Bonneville has more negatives in it's column and if it were one or two that might not be to bad, but as a whole I just don't want to deal with them.  If I felt the love a little more maybe, but it just isn't doing it for me now matter how pretty it might be.  For the type of riding we do  112 miles (180 km) between fuel ups is unacceptable.  When traveling over long forestry roads I do not want to have to pack petrol with us.

The Bonneville seems more like a bike someone would ride to coffee, commuting to work, or to the coast and back for chowder but not necessarily the long haul tourer that suits my needs. Now I know Tuscon Bonnie rides his Bonneville everywhere and loves it, good for him.  I just can't see myself doing it. (oh and if you haven't checked out his blog, I suggest you do - good stuff over there).

Soooooo, like you couldn't guess already, Max is not going anywhere.  That's right after that whirlwind infatuation with Beau, he can't beat my steady go-to everyday constant Max.  The grass was not greener on the Triumph side - for me anyway.  The picture below was taken the day I first rode Max.  Do you see that smile?  That is the most important thing that was missing with Beau.  It just wasn't there.  I felt indifferent, I felt meh.

(My first ride on Max - with Scarlet by his side)


Now that a decision has been made we need to plan on the next step.  It takes a few weeks to receive the title from the DMV and we need it before we can sell Beau.  Once it is received we will ride it down to Rod at Cycle Parts Triumph in Eugene and put it on consignment.  Sure we could probably sell it ourselves, but he is the go to guy when you need a bike sold and has a high turn over too.  It is the only used 2009 Bonneville SE in that color combination that we can find in the State of Oregon so I am hoping for a quick sale.

Once it sells we will do a few things to Max to fix the few cons that were in his column..

1.  We will purchase a longer front brake line (steel braided) as well as longer throttle cable and clutch line so that we can install the Roc risers.  
2.  Then we'll ask Don at Mr. Ed's Moto in Albany to custom make a seat for it.  As Dane at Northwest Explore posted a few weeks ago, Don is a wizard with customizing seats.  His post regarding his new seat experience can be found at this ----> link.
3.  Purchase a GSXR shock to replace the stock Gladius shock.  According to the forums this is an inexpensive fix for the suspension issues and makes a world of difference.

All in all I am happy with my decision.  I don't regret buying the Bonneville because I think I would have always wondered if it wasn't the perfect bike and I'd missed my opportunity.  I also don't think I would have noticed most of those things on a test ride. I think test rides are a good thing, but maybe an opportunity to rent a bike for a whole day would give a person a better idea if a particular bike was suited to them.

Now, it is gorgeous and sunny and warm and my back yard looks like this right now so I need to go play.

(looking left from patio door)

(Looking straight back - zoomed a bit so it wasn't just the deck.
Forest Pansy Redbud in the foreground is starting to leaf out)
(View slightly to the right to avoid the 2-story house next door.
We hope to finish the pergola over the deck this summer)
- Au Revoir

"Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing." - Herman Broch


  1. Off topic: Your garden is gorgeous. Can I move in with you guys?

    1. Thanks Sonja. It has been six yearsof work so far.
      Lots more to do out there too.

  2. It is a good review Brandy, people always want to know the practical aspects not just the technical.
    Bummer it did not work for you, but sometimes you just have to go through the process.

    1. Thanks Roger. It was good experience to go through the process. It did makes me realize the issues I was having with Max are not so bad after all.

  3. Brandy, thanks so much for your review on the Bonnie. I have been on the fence for so long with this bike, and its vintage looks will always get to me. However, I am with you on the decision to stick to your current bike, and allow for some upgrades to improve ergonomics on the Gladius.

    As much as I like this particular Triumph (or the Scrambler or the Thruxton), I am not going to ever buy one of those (I would not reject them if they would fall into my lap as a present though).

    I have checked out dealerships, did multiple test rides, browsed for ads, talked to Bonnie owners and did the research. However, I cannot quite grasp it but something was always missing (maybe the ultimate comfort and giving-in factor?).

    Your decision only confirmed what I decided for myself a while ago. That doesn't mean that to say good-bye to Triumph motorcycles. It only means farewell to Bonnie and the likes.

    Thanks again, and enjoy the Gladius farkling.

    1. The sad part is even with the Bonneville in the garage I was still riding Max yesterday. So given my choice of which one to ride I just pick Max. Brad did ride the Bonnie to work on Wednesday and liked the handling. He says it needs to be turned into a cafe bike.

      I still love Triumph motorcycles and you never know when Brad might want a Tiger 800 in the garage. Now that I could ride. Can't afford one since there aren't any used to be found, but I could ride it if we had it.

      Oh, and on the farkling, the Gixxer shock has been ordered off eBay. Only $25 including supping. What a deal.

  4. I'm glad you can stop wondering. I'm sorry that the decision was so difficult. ...knowing how much you also want the Bonnie to work out. :) But the important thing is that you tried. And it also makes feel so much better about Max!

    Beautiful back yard. Wiling to come here and figure out how to plant mine? Hehe

    1. Yeppers, no more wondering and I enjoy my bike more now. Sure glad I didn't make the mistake of selling Max to buy a new bike. Whew.

      Thanks for the compliments on the yard. We aren't too creative, not sure if you would want us planning your yard. Subscribing to Garden Gate and Fine Gardening magazines really helps in the inspiration department.

  5. Very comprehensive bike review Trobairitz. I'm glad you bought the bike even if it turns out that you'll be selling it. Much much better to have have tried than to have always wondered. Your garden is delightful. I have no green thumb whatsover. I decided long ago that I would only plant thing that could be maintained with a lawnmower and string trimmer.

    1. It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Isn't that the old adage.
      I loved the Bonneville, or at least i thought I did. Oh well, such is life.

      Nothing wrong with a garden of grass to be mowed and trimmed. Certainly less work that pulling weeds and deadheading and pruning all the time.

  6. I can help you with one of the cons for max.

    Go get yourself some braided brake lines, that will fix up the spongy front brakes. You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

    1. Thanks Chillertek. Hubby says the same thing. He has steel braided lines on his bike and really likes them. Once I figure out how long stock lines are so I can add a few inches I will be buying some.

  7. +1 on the ss lines! and i love your garden!... enjoy this fab sunny day and know that you're doing the right thing with beau. its best (and safest) to know/act when a bike just doesnt feel right.

    1. Thanks mq. I know I am doing the right thing by keeping Max so I feel good about the decision.

      And I went out and did some weeding before I got too warm. Damn lots of weeds have sprouted up. I need to pull them before I can Preen down to prevent them.

  8. Trobairitz:

    actually, sitting on the Bonnie didn't feel right with me either. I suppose I like modern ergonomics better. Also it feels like sitting on TOP rather than being a part of the M/C. Hope it sells fast, lucky riding season is just starting

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Brad made the same comment about sitting on top as opposed to being in the motorcycle. That must be part of it. It is the perfect time to sell a bike. Now if the DMV can get their butts in gear and get us our title we can put it on the market.

  9. I think Roger was right with his comment about sometimes having to go through the process. There often is just no other way to know. I liked your comment about liking Max even more, it works that way. And, now you are in the process of making Max truly your bike. This is going to be good.

    1. Yes,it has been a process, but we are coming through it for the better. No need to wonder any more and we know putting a few dollars into Max is the right decision and I'll be able to enjoy riding it and watching the miles go higher on the odometer for years to come.

  10. Good reviews on both and I am glad you sorted it through for yourself and came to some resolution! I can relate to sitting in that "limbo" void of choosing!

    Gorgeous backyard! Time to relax and gaze at Max with loving appreciation whilst sipping a lemonade in the sun...

    Happy, happy!

    1. It is good to finally make the decision. No more limbo, well just waiting for the title I guess.

      Time to sip lemonade - sounds like a great idea.

  11. Brandy,
    I know it's a slightly different model but before I bought the Striple, I thought I'd be owner of a Thruxton Bonneville and when I tried one, it simply didn't feel right and the Striple did. Well done in the "head vs. heart" balance!

    Note Sonja's latest post for other options, haha! I'm also mightily impressed with your garden!

    1. I was looking into the street Triple before I bought the Gladius. It is the bike I wanted but for new they were pretty pricey ( $3k more than my Gladius) and that is with no options or farkles and there were no used ones available that hadn't been wrecked.

      I just peeked at Sonja's post. Me thinks she fell in love with your Striple. Nicely done Geoff.

  12. Holy Moley! I was tickled pink at the reference to the blog:) I had to call the wife and make her load up your page. Of course then she scrolls right past it as her eyes glazed over "all the motorcycle jargon", her words not mine! Once she saw it I got a high five for being mentioned by a "real" blogger:)

    Sorry the Bonnie didn't work out for you. This is really the only bike I've owned/ridden except for one test ride on a Kawasaki Concours 14. So I don't have a lot to compare it to. You have to go with what works for you though, and no one can make that decision but you.

    I did want to do a shout out for another Bonnie blogger that has taken his stock Bonneville across the country numerous times. You can find him at

    He's the inspiration for my blog and one of the reasons I wanted to get into motorcycling. My goal is to take my Bonnie across the US as well. One of these days:) Thanks again!!!

    1. Real blogger? Geez now I feel flattered. I don't mind giving you a shout out when I can - you have a real blog too and put yourself out there as much as the rest of us and I really enjoy following your stories.

      See now a Concours seems intimidating to me on sheer size alone. Anything with a fairing I feel is big and heavy in the front end. That is why I hated my Ninja and only rode it 3 times before selling it.

      Will have to check out the other site you linked. It is neat to see people's inspiration. I hope you get that cross country trip one day. It is good to dream and have goals.

  13. I went through a similar process with a BMW K75 last year. Luckily I sold that dinosaur for what I paid for it!!

    It's a hard buisness because may magazine reviews are biased to sell advertising space - hard to get a good impression without actually owning a bike for a bit and forums are full of self appointed experts.

    Kevin Ash is a very good independent UK bike journalsit: he summed up the test of 2009 Bonnie thus:

    "This is a bike which has matured well over the last eight years and it’s still looking like good value, just as long as you have the right expectations. Think of it as a cruiser, which after all is what most of its competition is, and it’s an exceptionally good machine which looks great, is satisfying to ride and will happily and dependably commute as well as cruise or even tour."

    His full test is here:

    1. I am inclined to agree that owning one is the only way to tell if it is right sometimes. Glad you sold the K75 for what you paid, that is our goal with the Bonnie.

      Interesting to hear Kevin Ash refer tot he Bonnie as a cruiser. The first thing I did was take the backrest off to make it look less like a cruiser. I guess I didn't expect it to ride like a cruiser because of the standard footpegs. Me thinks it is a cruiser at heart and I am not.

  14. Oh well, you live and learn eh? I do like the look of some of the Bonnie models but I think that in re-creating the look of the past perhaps you don't quite get all the more modern design improvements that you see in more conventional modern bikes.

    Then there's that beautiful and extremely economical little V-twin in Max eh? I certainly enjoyed sampling the very similar DL650 engine on a couple of test rides.

    1. Yes yes, live and learn. Life is a series of experienced for the good or bad.

      The 2012 DL650 is even more like Max now because their new engine is based on the Gladius. We have a friend who just bought the adventure 650 with the bags and crash bars and all the little bits and he is really enjoying it.

  15. Too bad you don't like it. We've all done the same thing, my most notable situation was the purchase of a KLR that I loved at the time but later realized was a piece of farm machinery not suitable for usage by even my own worst enemies.

    Hopefully you'll have some extra dough to make sure the Gladius is done up right!

    Thanks for the link, video about the seat coming out soon!

    1. I just chalk it up to life's experiences and it is good blog fodder too. Makes for a good story.

      Looking forward to seeing your seat video. I hear Don is the man for doing custom seats. Kari at Bluekat's blog had him tweak the seat on her Ninja 650R too if I remember right. I forgot about that yesterday.

  16. What a lovely yard! And that was certainly a very thorough review. I am glad you didn't have to sell one bike to get the other AND that you are not too proud to admit you were wrong. It would suck to get stuck with a bike you hate. After one glorious day on the F650GS, I knew I had to have one. So, yeah, that smile says it all.

    1. I too am very glad I didn't sell one to buy the other. Things happen for a reason and it did make it so I don't covet all the pretty Bonnevilles now. I can look at them and admire them and I'm just fine leaving them in the showroom.

      Funny how a smile can say so much. I bet you never realized you'd love your F650 so much after riding cruisers for years.

  17. I think you made all the right moves in the decision Trob! What better way to find out, than to actually ride it longer than just a test drive. I'm glad Max is sticking around! And getting all kinds of new fancy fixes too!
    Now on to the yard! LOVE it!! I want your little fireplace, your pergola AND that little bicycle leaning on the trellis!!! Hope it says warm and lots of green thing grow!!

    1. Thanks Eve. First fancy fix is on the way for Max. We ordered the shock and now just have to wit for it to be delivered, buy one bolt and remove and replace. We'll see how fast that goes. Supposed to be a 2 hour job.

      Thanks for the compliments to the yard. Still a lot we want to do and not everything is leafed out yet. I have a thing for bicycles in the yard. I don't know why I just like them. In the same pic you can just barely see a little wire tricycle on the deck corner with pansies/violas blooming in it. The pergola was one of the first things we did to the yard 6 years ago when we bought the place. Right after taking out 2 huge overgrown apple trees that used to be along that back fence.

  18. I have been through the same thing with my Triumph Speedmaster but don't regret it for a moment. I now grin from ear to ear on my Tiger 800! Next job - coming up with a name for it :)
    Happy riding!

    1. I think I'd grin ear to ear on a Tiger 800 too. I bet it is a completely different riding position, but in a good way. Coming up with names is hard. I've owned several bikes and never named one until Max (my Gladius) I couldn't resist calling it Gladius Maximus. Max for short.

  19. Will Max forgive your dalliance with Beauregard? I hope you two can make up and move on from this event ;)

    1. I do believe he will. They seem to be getting along fine in the garage. Snuggled quite close actually. Of course I think they are just in there ogling Lucy parking in front of them, what with her big headlight and all.

  20. Brave decision well made - I've been stuck with my Thunderbird for a year now wondering why I've only put 400 miles on it - like the Bonnie it's just too uncomfortable to ride. You've done the right thing for all the right reasons, and I think you've inspired me to do something myself, even if I'll probably loose money on the deal. Thanks!!!!!

    1. An uncomfortable and/or unsuitable bike does not beckon to be ridden.

      Do what is right for you. If you lose a few bucks you might not mind iffin you find the right ride after.

      We too may lose a couple bucks, but shall chalk it up to experience and what it would have cost to rent it for a few days.

  21. Went through the same process with my R1150GS. It wasn't replacing anything, but I tried to like it, but I don't. Gonna sell it when I get home.

    The SV is my fave. I'm glad you figured out which is yours so quickly.

    PS: surprised to see max weighs so much. '01 SV650 is 400 wet.

    1. Some times they just don't seem right.

      Wonder where they added the weight on the SFV as opposed to the 01 SV. Maybe the really heavy stock exhaust and decat. Max might be a little lighter with the stock muffler removed. That thing was a beast.