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Flatbutt1 06-13-2007 04:28 PM

OT: Triumph Bonneville
What do you guys consider a fair price for a fairly cherry, running '63 Bonnie?

A guy has one out here that I've yet to see.

mstew6478 06-13-2007 05:34 PM


For a mid-sixties 650 Bonneville (TR6 similar, but a little less desirable)

The going price is $3 - $4 grand for an example in need of restoration but running and ridable. Cherry (be it original or old restoration) will be $5 to $6 grand and total correct restoration/as new $6,500 up.

My favorite finds are those forgotten low mileage unmolested units that have that "patina". Rare but still out there.

Problem with many of these examples is that they have been hacked over the years. Take a close look - here are some things to look for:

1. Matching frame and engine numbers (frame number can be found on the steering head on left, Engine just below cylinders on crank case)
2. Broken crank case just above the drive sprocket - often due to poor maintenance the too sloppy or broken chain breaks a piece off of the crank case. Typically only an eyesore but can be $$ to repair.
3. Loose exhaust header connection to head. A poor maintained example can have the screw-in insert wobble around and ruin the threads in the soft alloy head.
4. General condition of the bike - make sure you aren't investing too much money in a Frankenstein's Monster. Resale values like unmolested examples.
5. If a 1963 - it may have the twin cradle frame. These were prone to cracking. Make sure this example is sound.

Also, make sure it's a 650 and not a 500, although 500's are cool too. Just tend to bring a bit less.

Hope this helps. Hard to beat the sound of an old British twin!

Steve Carlton 06-13-2007 05:37 PM

I think the shifter is on the right side. Also, those engines require rebuilds almost as frequently as we change our oil. That's just what I've heard...

mstew6478 06-13-2007 05:48 PM

Well Steve, maintenance is the key here. Just keep the old sludge trap clean and change the oil every 1,500 miles and you might get 10K before the next rebuild!

Seriously, these things do require maintenance. It is a old design but they are great short trip, weekend bikes. Many from the days of yor have taken these things through hell and back though.

Oh, and you have to have those darn special wrenches too! (no, not SAE, not Metric, not anything you've probably heard of - Whitworth!). You won't find these tools at Sears or Harbor Freight - no no!

And we complain about having to get the valves adjusted and throttle bodies synced every 6K miles....geez.

Steve Carlton 06-13-2007 06:02 PM

I remember being told in those days the beancounters overruled the engineers in some outrageous ways, contributing to the bikes being a lot less than they could have been. Shame to see guys like Kenny Dreer not succeed with bringing out Norton retros with current mechanicals. Why doesn't John Bloor at Triumph make a deal with him?

bikpaintr 06-13-2007 06:09 PM


Originally posted by Steve Carlton
I think the shifter is on the right side. Also, those engines require rebuilds almost as frequently as we change our oil. That's just what I've heard...
Top ends last about 15-20k or about as long as the Paralever Bearings on my wife's Prep.

markjenn 06-13-2007 06:10 PM

There's a good thread over on of someone who bought one recently on ebay. Cosmetically nice, but couldn't get it started and eventually he found a bunch of problems, but he really likes it anyway. I'll see if I can find it.

Tangentially, I just caught a re-run of "Cougan's Bluff" on cable, a late-60's Clint Eastwood movie where, as a Arizona Sheriff, he goes to NYC to bring back a druggie who was being extradited back to Arizona. (Probably the inspiration of the "McCloud" series with Dennis Weaver.) Great period movie where he beats up the the druggies, seduces everything in a skirt, and brings home his man. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that there is a fine chase scene near the end of the movie where Clint and the druggie are on gorgeous and wonderful-sounding 650s Triumphs racing around Central Park. This brought back my latent lust for what I consider the best looking bike of all time. Fortunately, the fever passes after a while.

Found it:

- Mark

bikpaintr 06-14-2007 07:32 AM

Speaking of Triumphs, here's a video that gives an insiders look at the building of their Rocket 3.

DeltaNu1142 06-14-2007 09:03 AM


Originally posted by bikpaintr
Top ends last about 15-20k or about as long as the Paralever Bearings on my wife's Prep.

...I don't like the sound of that...

markjenn 06-14-2007 09:33 AM

I don't think it's that bad. There's a guy on the net who has one with 500K or so on it - he's done a couple engine rebuilds but nothing like this.

The downfall of these bikes isn't really that they wear out that quickly, it is all the TLC that is required on the detail stuff: electrics, instruments, leaks, vibration cracking stuff, etc. You just have to have a different frame of mind and just be willing to fix stuff pretty much constantly.

- Mark

bikpaintr 06-14-2007 10:49 AM

Having owned a number of Triumph, BSA & Norton twins I would find 500k on a couple of engine rebuilds very hard to believe. Serious piston knock by 20k was not at all uncommon.

JonyRR 06-14-2007 11:23 AM

'You just have to have a different frame of mind and just be willing to fix stuff pretty much constantly.'
just like a helicopter...10 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time.
Seriously, flattie, no offense, but if you needed help with a clutch change on your S, you *might* be challanged by a vintage BSA or triumph
(you DO know that BSA means 'bastardd stopped again') 06-14-2007 01:31 PM

FlattBuddy !

A proper 1963 is considered desirable for numerous reasons; it is the first model year for:

unit construction: first year for the unified powerhead/transmission
single downtube: 1960 - 1962 used double cradle and never returned
contact/coil ignition: magneto ignition is replaced with twin contacts

The '63 model also saw many minor changes including: primary drive, clutch, NineStud cylinder/head, camshafts, crankshaft/bearings, and suspension.

It did, however experience teething problems: clutch center hub, 4th. gear selector, steering lock/crown stem alignment, and most noteably - main bearing-to-crankcase tolerance. (on-the-bench vs. in-service)

Don't let any of these concern you, they were probably addressed 30 years ago.

When you go, look at/for:

EngFrame No's They should match and begin: "T120R". "TR6" is the single carb 650 and NOT a Bonneville, even if someone installed a dual carb head.
Range: DU101 - DU5824

Major component accuracy/integrity The obvious: frame and power plant - you should know what to look for;
The not-so-obvious: cad plate vs. stainless spokes/nipples many restorations use stainlesss but is not correct. Smiths chronometric instruments - expensive, cool, and easily replaced with later magnetic versions. Although many owners prefer the slimline tank, it was not fitted on US exports until 1966. The '63 will have a 3 Imp gallon tank painted in Alaska White, Gold with black breaklines. The steel, NOT stainless, fenders painted to match.

If it looks right, buy it. If not, don't.
Price is relative. The perfect machine is un-obtainable and the hack job has no value. If you find one within your comfort zone - buy it.

Good luck, my friend.

JonyRR 06-14-2007 03:31 PM

'hold the grenade straight out in front of you with a two-handed grip. with one hand, make sure the lever is compressed; with the other hand firmly pull the pin and deiscard it. with an overhand motion, firmly throw the grenade towards your target; be sure to promptly lay prone to avoid being injured by fragments'

substitute kickstarting said Triumph for pulling pin.
substitute putting in gear for throwing said unit
substitute a 20 mile ride for laying prone.

I'm teasing you, gently, of course, but in my book the acts are very similar.
Around here, there's a HUGE vintage gathering every September on Vashion Island, called, interestingly enough..the Isle Of Vashion.
I see all these beautiful restorations...and I ask them how much work they put into keeping them runniing...the common reply is 'endless'.
It's not a hobby, it's an wooden boats.

on2wheels52 06-14-2007 03:33 PM

The old british stuff can be a bit time consuming to keep running, but the necessary repair items can usually be found in the average kitchen drawer.
That said, there's eleven bikes in my basement/garage from six different countries. The only two not ready to ride are from England and Italy (in their defense they are 23 and 34 years old).

Flatbutt1 06-14-2007 04:55 PM

All good points thanks guys. And Jony ..the day i can't take honest comments like yours in stride, thats the day I need to get b1tch slapped with a 2X4!SmileWavy 06-18-2007 07:37 AM

Re: OT: Triumph Bonneville

Originally posted by Flatbutt1
...A guy has one out here that I've yet to see.
Well ...
have you seen, have you seen?

signit98 06-18-2007 08:19 AM

...has anybody taken the time to watch that Youtube video???

Love it!

Flatbutt1 06-18-2007 10:31 AM

Re: Re: OT: Triumph Bonneville

Originally posted by
Well ...
have you seen, have you seen?

the guy is having second thoughts about selling it

JonyRR 06-18-2007 12:55 PM

help him decide to keep it; you'll be MUCH happier.
if you REALLY want a Trumph bonneville, buy a NEW one...

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