1959 Triumph Bonneville T120
When the Bonneville T120 was launched in 1959 it changed the motorcycle world, not just because of its stunning looks, but also because it redefined what performance and motorcycling was all about.
The combination of its twin-cylinder and twin-carburetor performance, its step change in handling and a new and unique blend of British design with 50’s Americana made the T120 a global success, where it went on to play a huge part in the explosion of 1960’s teenage biking culture in the UK, and across the world.
This legendary Triumph was famously named after the 1956 motorcycle land speed record breaking ‘Texas Cee-Gar’ streamliner Triumph, which smashed the world record hitting 214.4 mph at the home of speed, the Bonneville salt flats in the USA, piloted by Texan racing legend Johnny Allen.
With a performance advantage, due to its parallel-twin Triumph engine in a unique new twin-carb set-up, and lightweight Triumph chassis, this original Bonneville T120 became the starting point for many of the modern classic motorcycle styles available today, where riders in the 60’s modified the T120 to create the first Bonnie café racers, custom roadsters, cruisers, bobbers and desert sled scramblers.
Each of those custom bike styles went on to become iconic motorcycles in their own right, which continue today – all from that original 59 Bonneville DNA.
These original customs become the bike of choice for famous motorcyclists across multiple generations, who used the Bonneville to race, ride and personalise including American movie legend Steve McQueen.
In the modern era at Triumph’s R&D center in Hinckley the Bonneville evolution has continued since its re-introduction into the line-up in 2001, with a focus on maintaining that original essence and iconic signature design features, from the timeless silhouette to their signature British twin torque rich performance and sound, married to truly modern capability and a ride to match its legendary looks.
It is a recipe that has worked with more than 367,000 new generation Bonnevilles being sold around the world since their 2001 reintroduction.