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Old 26th January 2014, 15:38   #1
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Default Comparison Report: Harley Davidson Iron 883 vs Triumph Bonneville

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of riding a Harley Davidson Iron 883 and a Triumph Bonneville back-to-back and this is a brief comparison report of how I felt about each of these legendary bikes.

Before starting off, a disclaimer-- this report is purely my opinion about these bikes and I dont mean to offend any respective/prospective buyers of these brands/bikes. I never rode a Harley in my life neither a Triumph so if my comparo comes out as amateurish, please do excuse me.

It's been a few years that Harley has been in India and they have had their showroom in Hyderabad for equal number of years. Their showroom is situated on a busy upmarket area in Hyderabad and used to be enroute my work and since this showroom is situated bang on a traffic signal, I used to stop there and use the time waiting for signal to turn green to ogle at those larger than life and iconic branded motorcycles parked outside. However, knowing well that I cannot afford anything except the basic models I never dared stepped into their showroom till date.

Fast forward to 2013 when I came to know that Triump is launching in India, my sights settled on the Triumph Bonneville and wanted to decide for myself what suits me better between these two bikes/brands. I was quite sure that I do not want sports/street styled bikes as its riding posture is quite demanding and i was clear in my mind that I want a bike that is more like a cruiser with single most parameter of high speed cruising ability with decent ride and handling. Price being an important and key decision maker, lower it was better it would be.

I could have test rode a Harley anytime in the past but, wanted to pit it against a bike of similar calibre to understand the major and subtle differences in characteristics of the compared bikes. With that thought aside, I was waiting for the Bonneville showroom to open in Hyderabad (2nd one in India) to get this done. Let's go over the day in a sequential manner so I can put down the overall perspective as it is and perhaps, some of you more knowledgable motorcycle enthusiasts can correct me wherever iam wrong.

Harley Davison Iron 883 (Test Ride Experience)

I knew Triumph Showroom opened on Friday (Jan 24th) and armed with no prior information in hand, just decided to land up at the HD showroom. A day before briefly synched up with fellow BHPians (Indian21r, Insearch and Phoenix) who also wanted to join me to check out both bikes. Greeted very warmly at the HD showroom by an enthusiastic salesman and he offered me to sit on Superlow, Iron 883, Fat Boy, VRod and started all bikes and gave me an excellent feel of each bike. However, reiterating what was mentioned over phone when I spoke to them a couple of days ago, he said all 2013 Test Ride bikes were sent away and were waiting for 2014 version which should be arriving Feb 1st week so they cannot offer any test ride which was perfectly fine as I had come with that in mind.

SuperLow : This bike felt big, chunky and screaming eagle exhaust made a lovely sound but, salesman himself suggested that since iam 6ft plus, this bike is ideally not suitable for me as its meant more for shorter people and asked me to consider Iron 883. Ground clearance of Superlow is 100mm and Iron 883 is 120mm. I too came in with thoughts of Iron 883 as Superlow never interested me. It's priced at 7.23 Lakhs OTR in Hyderabad and Screaming Eagle Exhaust Stage 1 is 21K for chrome and 30K for denim finish. The seating position was very comfortable but, bike felt dangerously close to ground. With basic and mandatory accesories fitted, this bike would have costed 8 Lakhs OTR

Iron 883 : Felt great and not as chunky as the Superlow and riding stance was also nice but, felt more comfortable for city riding and may not be for long rides due to its slightly sporty seating posture. Salesman was holding the bike of the stand to get the full riding stance feel. I liked its understated matt finish. Iron is 8.20 Lakhs OTR

Fat Bob : This was a comfortable massive bike but, it didnt feel too exciting.

Fatboy : This is the real Harley. It felt so comfortable it was almost surreal, if i had the budget this is the Harley i would buy with my eyes closed, who knows maybe one day. There was an interesting thing mentioned by salesman. He said, higher the cost of a Harley it sells more. He told me they sell more Fatboys in Hyderabad than Superlow/Iron 883. There were two Fatboys in display (one of them was a lovely greyish colored special edition). Price of this bike is 18.20 Lakhs OTR. Sigh !!!

There was a 48' that came in while we are in the showroom and has one of the best exhaust i ever heard in my life. Loud, Shrill & Bassy at same time. Loved it!

After ogling at all those high-end Harleys, we decided to leave and head to Triumph Showroom. As we were leaving, their sales manager came in and asked me when Iam planning the bike, I know what answer to tell him..LOL. I told him, "Immediately" [i]but, sad there is no test ride bike. Also, told him my name is written in their book, please call when a test ride bike arrives. I told him iam heading to the Triumph showroom next, that kind of changed the total atmosphere. He said, give me a minute and came back and seemed to have magically made an Iron 883 available and asked If I would i want to test ride it

I said " Hell, Yeah" !!

Within minutes, a blue colored Iron 883 with a lovely brown leather seats was rolled out. Going with larger than life style and tradition of HD, they made me sign quite a few papers while making me wait in a nice waiting room, asked me to share my license which was photocopied and returned. With these formalities done, I stepped out and sat astride the Iron 883. They have a set test ride route and I was to follow the lead of Nightrod which will be ahead of me during the entire test ride.

Iron 883 felt big and heavy. Handle bar is short and grips is slim with clutch also being short and not butter smooth to operate but, needs some deliberation.Thumb started the bike, it roared to life as it had a Screaming Eagle + Stage 1 Exhaust (45K-50K additional accessory), I warily shifted to 1st gear and now I know what harley owners mean by the clunk sound at each gear shift, it's hard and purposeful. Cagily rolled out of the showroom into the heavy traffic and we rode through in front of the LV Prasad Eye Hospital, took left towards Cancer Hospital and then right towards the Odisha temple and took a U-Turn and returned back to showroom. The total ride would be around 8-10kms on smooth roads with many sweeping turns and roads incline up and then down.

Got a very good feel of the bike and below are my feelings of the Iron 883

1. Sounds glorious and decent riding posture and ride
2. Has immense torque and with a short blip of throttle, it surges forward
3. I was scared to accelarate this bike due to it's weight and quite wary to bend and slowing down considerably while approaching turns
4. At signals, it attracted quite a few stares. Loved that most about this bike
5. Surprisingly, brakes didnt have the bite as I was expecting a bike of this stature to have


In short, it's a great torquey machine with decent power and lovely in a straight line. But, it left a lot to be desired on corners and you will be most happy if you like cruising in a straight line with the Iron 883

Thanked the Sales Manager and left immediately to Triumph Showroom.

Triumph Bonneville (Test Ride Experience)

As we entered the Triumph showroom, saw someone starting the Bonneville and riding out. I was completely taken aback. Seeing the long process at HD, Triumph was doling out test rides as you would do to a commuter bike. we went in and checked out all the bikes.

The following bikes were in display

Daytona : I sat on the bike and sales guys there were lot more cordial than the HD guys (maybe because they are newly opened) allowed me to start the bike and revv it to glory. What a sweet sounding machine

Street Tripple : This along with Bonny I beileve garnered the highest bookings till date. Great quality & finish of bike and felt like the big brother of Duke 390. This was also available for test ride but, none of us took it

Rocket III : This was parked in all its glory hogging the limelight in the showroom. What a massive bike, 2.3 Litre engine and worlds most powerful bike looked every bit menacing as its specifications. The bike on display in showroom is the 1st Rocket III sold in India and was to be delivered soon

Tiger X800C/Explorer : These bikes are a different league altogether and i have never seen bikes like this ever in my life. They are so tall that when i sit on them, my legs touch the ground with some difficulty even though iam 6ft. 1inch tall. The tanks on them are so massive, its width is seen to be beileved. I dont think there is an offroad bike meaner than this one out there.

When I asked for the Triumph Bonneville test ride, there was no documents asked to be signed, no handing over the license etc. Was simply escorted outside and handed over the key and Pavan (ex Harley Employee) said " Enjoy Sir"

I sat on Bonneville some 3 weeks ago and I had liked the overall stance, feel of the bike and felt very comfortable.

I asked Sales Manager, "As you come from Harley, What is the difference between Superlow/Iron 883 and Bonnville?"

He simply smiled and said " Sir, I dont want to give you any sales pitch, please ride the bike and you will immediately know which bike is superior in terms of performance ride and handling". He also casually mentioned that there is a popular Harley afficianado of Hyderabad who test rode the Bonny and also echoed the feeling that it's a much better bike. Btw, it was the same black Bonneville that was present at IBW in Goa. They had ferried it in a truck and were riding it in Goa.

Hmmm, I thought isnt he being too overconfident? Thumbed the starter and that was the first time I ever heard a Bonny. The exhaust note is subtle and has a nice burr superbikish sound (I was fearing, it may sound like a commuter bike, thankfully no, it sounds decent and like a big capacity engine). Decibel level is low at idle but, when you revv it, you will hear it better. But, certainly does not sound like a 7 lakh bike and even more definetly not at all loud.

I revved the engine and depressed the clutch and immediately see the difference from Iron. The clutch is butter smooth and felt the front brake and omigosh, what amazing brakes, especially the front brake. If unknowingly its pressed hard there could be a possibility of being thrown across the handlebar. Super awesome bite to brakes

Smooth gearshift, nothing clunky or purposeful. Depress clutch, shift to 1st gear and I was surprised at the power. It just leaped forward. 1st and 2nd gears for someone like me with no experience of machines in this range was exhilarating. I slowly merged into the traffic and beileve you me, within 30 secs I was completely accustomed to the Bonneville and put the bike through its paces on that long winding road of Banjara Hills Road No. 12 with decent traffic.

The bike picks up pace so fast it was a bit scary for the first few minutes but, got adjusted to the power and I was weaving in and out of traffic as if I was riding my Pulsar. The power is in abundance and that engine is butter smooth, revvs freely and begs you to push it. I reached a ton without even knowing it and I was bending with aplomb and taking wide sweeping turns with so much confidence that it was surreal.

Ride is extremely comfortable and handle bars are placed perfectly for long rides and I dont know how it would fare on rough patchy roads as my test ride was on smooth roads akin to Iron's test ride. Foot pegs are slightly sportier side with it behind but, not a major deterrent. Both Iron and Bonny dont have heel gear shifter but, available in Harley as an accessory but, not in Bonneville.

Bonneville is leagues ahead in terms of Performance. Ride & Handling is to be experienced to be beileved. Except for its plaid looks and not being a style statement, its like a wolf under sheep clothing. After the test ride, when I was riding my bullet back home, it felt clunky, awkward & Sluggish. I never thought I would ever say that about my beloved Classic 500cc. But, I have to accept the fact, it cannot even be compared in any parameter to these category bikes.

1. Beautiful smooth clutch, Brakes are extremely powerful, especially the front brakes have amazing bite
2. Smooth engine and loves to be revved with 1st and 2nd gear being very powerful
3. Bike feels lighter than its 225 kgs and handles beautifully
4. Difference in power of Iron 883 can be easily felt, Bonny is way more powerful with characteristics being different, Bonny loves to revved and Iron is a torqy bike
5. Other than its cruising ability, Bonneville can be used as a daily bike and can be weaved in traffic like any other commuter bike
6. Major dislike is it's small'sh size ( It's still a decently big bike for people with smaller frames-5.8" and below) which is rather not entirely suiting my large frame, not being an attention grabber and slightly mute exahust sound (This can be rectified with official performance exahust of Arrow costing 28K)
7. Another downside but, not deal breaker is that its not a life style statement. But, who knows they may create a fellowship of Triumph owners in coming years in India


Summary : When i finished my ride on Iron 883, I felt really nice and it gave me that special feeling that comes with being a Harley owner and now I know why that brand is loved and cherished and has a following which is unparalleled. But, when I finished my ride on Bonny, I didn't feel nice, not even happy. I was simply overjoyed !!!

This feeling of Dejavu' is a rare phenomenon for me, personally. Till date, i have driven many cars & bikes in my life and this elusive feeling happens quite infrequently. And, for any automobile purchase, I wait till i get that feeling and only then it's plunge time. I never bought an automobile in my life for interior space, boot space, FE etc..etc. I buy it for its ability to tingle my nerves with its performance, ride/handling and for that feeling of happiness you get when you drive/ride it.

It was that kind of feeling after riding the Triumph Bonneville !!!

A few pics taken with mobile camera. Sorry about the quality, it just never crossed my mind to carry my DSLR which I should have done

Iron 883 suits my large frame much better. Wish I loved its riding as much

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Comparison Report: Harley Davidson Iron 883 vs Triumph Bonneville-img_00002300_edit.jpg

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Unable to control my glee after riding the Bonny

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Last edited by mobike008 : 21st February 2014 at 09:03.
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Old 26th January 2014, 16:31   #2
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Default re: Comparison Report: Harley Davidson Iron 883 vs Triumph Bonneville

Here are pictures of the Street Triple, Tiger and Explorer

Street Tripple

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Tiger XC800. Real Tall Bike

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I never saw a bike tank this big. It's so wide, it's simply hard to fathom how the rider will nestle his legs while riding

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Last edited by mobike008 : 26th January 2014 at 16:32.
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Old 26th January 2014, 16:36   #3
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Thread moved from Assembly Line to Superbikes & Import Section. Thanks for reading this report !!!
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Old 26th January 2014, 16:49   #4
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Avi i said it earlier and i will say it again.

the Iron suits you better than the Bonny.

Great review......brings out the nuances of each pretty well in a crisp concise manner!!

P.S. is that bird dropping/paint on your jeans!!
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Old 26th January 2014, 17:36   #5
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Thank you for the unofficial comparison Mobike 008.Though i haven't ridden either of the big bikes you have mentioned,would love to own a cruiser that i can ride on our roads.Have always fancied the Bonnie as it looked a bit similar to our bullets we ride.

The Bonnie looks like it has a comfy riding style suited for long stretches of roads.

You rightly said that Harley strikes the heart like no other bike and is an altogether different ownership experience.But serious riders who do get out on the roads wouldn't have any difficulty in choosing the better bike.
Well to each his own and i hope you choose the right bike for yourself.
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Old 26th January 2014, 18:15   #6
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Very well summed up. Echoes the feelings and observations of a first timer (on these bikes) perfectly.

I had the same grouse with the Iron 883 in terms of braking and handling. It feels lazy on both aspects, though a charm to chug along at slow speeds.

I strongly felt that a person coming from Bullet, would find the Bonny much more familiar, easier to ride. The tank, handle bar etc makes one feel at home.

PS:- I am in complete love with the 800XC, suits me and my needs perfectly as an adventure tourer!
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Old 26th January 2014, 19:51   #7
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Avi, Now you know why I have been telling all in the other thread to take a ride and then decide. I am currently travelling, shall post my views on this shortly. Am glad you waited and made the choice. You won't regret it.

Best Regards and Ride Safe

Ram
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Old 26th January 2014, 21:16   #8
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Quote:
Originally Posted by himanshugoswami View Post
Avi i said it earlier and i will say it again.the Iron suits you better than the Bonny.
Come on Himanshu, Your being naive here. Do you think anybody would like to buy an expensive bike just because it suits their height and physique?

You know me, simple parameter for selection is it has floor me when it rides. The Bonny did and HD didnt. Simple !

Quote:
Originally Posted by himanshugoswami View Post
P.S. is that bird dropping/paint on your jeans!!
It isnt bird dropping mate, its just faded in the right places with design similar to bird dropping. I need to learn photoshop to blank out such embarassments...LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seventhgear View Post
The Bonnie looks like it has a comfy riding style suited for long stretches of roads.You rightly said that Harley strikes the heart like no other bike and is an altogether different ownership experience.But serious riders who do get out on the roads wouldn't have any difficulty in choosing the better bike.
Well to each his own and i hope you choose the right bike for yourself.
Absolutely, its completely an individual choice. If you like heritage, lifestyle statement, a special feeling of owning a bike. Then its the Harley

But, if you truly enjoy riding a bike and feel joy when your on the saddle. Then its the Bonny

Pick your choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Motormania View Post
PS:- I am in complete love with the 800XC, suits me and my needs perfectly as an adventure tourer!
Thanks!! Oh yeah, 800XC is a monster of a bike. I hope your atleast 6ft. 2in to even consider that bike

Quote:
Originally Posted by r_nairtvm View Post
Avi, Now you know why I have been telling all in the other thread to take a ride and then decide. I am currently travelling, shall post my views on this shortly. Am glad you waited and made the choice. You won't regret it.
Thank you Ram sir, I was waiting for your vaulable comments being a Bonny owner. Yes, it was instant connection after that test ride. It's a blast to ride that pocket rocket !!
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Old 26th January 2014, 21:27   #9
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Hey man, that's a very nice thread that you've started. Did you also discuss on the finance schemes available? If yes, please share the details.
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Old 26th January 2014, 21:28   #10
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

I am about 5' 8.5" tall, but didn't have any trouble with the bike at all. Obviously my Woodlands footwear did help a little. But then the seats have a good 20 mm of adjustment I believe.

Somehow, even I love the clean and simple design of the Bonnie. Looks like a proper retro classic, restored recently! Best part is, the bike will go unnoticed almost everywhere - a blessing in disguise!
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Old 26th January 2014, 22:17   #11
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Interesting bikes, they look real nice, if only I could fork out that moolah!

But seriously - you test rode potential customer bikes? Not done at all man, Not done.
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Old 26th January 2014, 23:08   #12
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

Although you said in the beginning you are new to both bikes, its an absolutely wonderful comparison you have done. Since I have experience with both bikes and also have a tall frame myself, I knew before starting to read where this comparison is heading.....

To many it will boil down to a head Vs heart decision.

Thanks for sharing this here for the benefit of many potential Sporty/Bonnie buyers in India.
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Old 26th January 2014, 23:27   #13
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Nice comparo mobike008. For your kind of driving preferences I would also advice you to test ride a Superlow. If mind's made for the Bonny, that's a good bike too though a little understated. It's performance is definitely superior to the 883. But my overall Harley experience has been mind blowing till now. Here's a nice Harley custom (Jangi Paltan) recently featured on Raftaar - http://www.eimorcustoms.com/jangi-paltan/ and it's made in your town Hyderabad. I feel you are more inclined towards the Bonne and you should always go with your first love. Cheers...
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Old 26th January 2014, 23:54   #14
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Default Re: Unofficial Comparison Report : Harley Davidson Iron 883 Vs. Triumph Bonneville !!

That is pretty detailed report you have put up Avinash. Here are my inputs.

Since it was my first time with the 800cc + models, I wanted to get a feel of the bikes more than riding them. I wore my flattest Sandals to sit and see whether I can flatfoot the bikes (Will ride them in shoes though). I am 5'9" with pretty weak upper body strength. Also I wanted to be sure I can atleast lift them from the side stand

First Coming to HD's.
1. Superlow: Loved the seating position of the . It felt as if it was made for a person of my height. Loved the exhaust note of the screaming eagle

2. Iron 883: I felt this may make a good city ride. But when I sat on it somehow I did not like the feel. TO enjoy it I will probably have to do a lot of mods essentially changing the DNA. Not my cup of tea.

3. Fat Boy:. well the bikes are beautiful. Infact there were 2 Fatboys one black, one silver and the other was Fatboy special. Droolmaal. But not sure If I can handle the weight.

Overall it was a nice experience with the showroom guys trying to answer all our queries and letting us get a feel of the bikes. Street 750 will be on display from 7th Feb. Will visit the store after its launch

Triumph store:
Well after we parked the car and were waiting to enter the dealership, we realized that bikes outside were Bonneville and Street Triple. Man Bonnie in black is a nondescript bike. Until they see the name, a lot of people will think it is RD350.

1. Bonneville: Bike looks gorgeous except for the Indicators which looke real cheap (Probably to retain the classic look). I was very keen on this bike. When the pricing was announced even though it was higher than the initial prices, I felt that it will be a good upgrade over the bullet. T100 is a lakh more than the Classic.

The buttons are the same as bullet. I was very keen to get on the bike and see how it felt. Everything was in place except for the fact that both Foot pegs were hitting my Claves. I have been used to having footpegs in front till now and it was quite a bummer. The sales guys were not sure what is the solution yet. I will give them the benefit of doubt as not all accessories are here. The chain needs lubing every 500 km. They will provide the center stand as an accessory so that you can lube the chain even on rides as well. Better alternative than the paddock stand from my point of view.

By the way the stock silencer on Bonneville is very sober. Decently loud at Higher rpm's. When doing those long distances as tourer, I feel it will be a blessing. No unnecessary noise. But for those who want to flaunt, silencer change will be the first priority

2. Street Triple: Like the seating position and overall feel of the bike. Bug eyes reminded me of the Mahindra Mojo. Should be an interesting fight between this and the Kawasaki naked

3. Daytona: The seating is extremely sporty. I will need to be fully fit before I can bend my body to the shape of the bike

4 Rocket: Wow. beauty and a beast as well. But man was it heavy or what. I could not even lift an inch on the side stand.

5 Tiger Pair: They are proper tourers. Go anywhere kind. When I sat on them my legs were floating 3 inches on either side.
It reminded me of the days when as a Kid I used to sit on my dads bike and turn the handle and feel as if I was driving it. Reasearch on the web showed that seat height can be lowered by 20mm. Inspite of that I am not sure I will be able to reach

I will test ride the bonneville along with the street 750 and Superlow. Overall it was nice experience at both the dealerships. And we essentially had a mini meetup as well what with 4 of us meeting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
But seriously - you test rode potential customer bikes? Not done at all man, Not done.
Nope that was not the case. The bikes are test ride bikes only.

Last edited by indian21r : 27th January 2014 at 00:00. Reason: bonnie silencer
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Old 27th January 2014, 00:44   #15
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Wow, excellent comparison in simple lay man language.

My vote goes to the Bonny. What a beauty of a bike. Is there a windshield available as an accessory? The speeds that bike can do, wind blast could be an issue on the highway I suppose.

Shobhit
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