Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > Triumph Tech
Triumph Tech Triumph Tech Forum - For Questions specific and of interest to Triumph riders only.
Photo by Mark Newton, Mexican camping

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Mark Newton,
Camping in the Mexican desert

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 15 Jan 2014
kentfallen's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Bexhill, East Sussex, England, UK
Posts: 673
Triumph Bonneville 2004 - POOR STARTING

My goodness this sub forum is nowhere as busy as my beloved Yamaha XT sub forum.

Nevertheless I need some advice from those of you with a better understanding of all things mechanical.

My newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville is a low mileage (4,000 mile) minter. It looks lovely BUT it does not start well.

It's currently laid up for the winter in my warm dry garage. I tried to start it up today but had great difficulty doing so. I had to press the button up to 20 times before it coughed into life. I experimented with the choke and it eventually fired up on full choke. If I tried to open it up during this process it just died.

I appreciate it's not always a good idea to start the engine up when in storage. I'm also aware of fuel issues. The fuel tank contains recent fuel (1 month old).

I always allow the carbs to run dry before putting it into winter storage.

My question is -

Is it normal for the Triumph Bonneville to have starting difficulty? My understanding is that it normally fires up instantly.

I don't trust that the bike has been properly serviced or maintained. The idiot I bought it from had stored in in the garage for over a year without protecting the chrome wheels with WD40, result rusty rims. He obviously had more money than sense. He did tell me it was serviced in July last year but said he had lost the paperwork.

I did not get any history with the bike - He lost it all in just over a year.

When I bought the bike, I noticed his son (a proby Copper) enjoyed tinkering with the carb settings on his own bike (a rusty knackered old Fazer 600).

The seller and his son literally laughed at me when I started to clean the brake disks with a cloth (I was looking for a older low mileage minter as I knew this would get me a bargain). After seeing the rust on the wheel rims, I knocked him down from £3,800 to £3,000. It does annoy me when a seller can't be bothered to even clean what they are selling. His loss - I got a bargain due to his laziness.

The battery had been recently changed but the battery strap was missing (replaced now).

By the way, I only paid £3,000 cash for the bike which seemed a good price for a sub 4,000 mile bike.

No doubt the bike is a good one apart from rust on wheel rims. Everything else is now immaculate (due to hours of cleaning, polishing and getting rid of surface rust).

I suppose the best option will be to service the bike properly?

Is there anything in particular I need to check or adjust such as the carb balancing etc?

Any advice gladly accepted....
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Reply With Quote
Old 15 Jan 2014
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: West Yorkshire UK
Posts: 1,785
The OEM coil is a POS. You want to get the tank off, clean, lightly bend all the electrical contacts into the tightest possible fit and blather it all in waterproof spray. Replace with a Nology as soon as you can afford it.

The main Earth would make Joe Lucas feel his legacy lives on. Run a nice heavy cable off the battery negative to one of the studs holding the halves of the crank case together or similar.

The air filter box slowly fills with oil blow back if the PO liked to keep it full to the line and you get smoke that would have shocked Jawa's service department.

Why I know this is here: https://sites.google.com/site/threew...10/the-repairs

Not sure if these are your problem but might be useful. A well set up Bonneville should start first press of the button. The carbed ones did like full choke and no throttle when cold.

My carb balance never changed and it had one valve shim in 8 years/40000 miles.

Reply With Quote
Old 18 Jan 2014
kentfallen's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Bexhill, East Sussex, England, UK
Posts: 673
I have had a good close look at your excellent web blog.

I'm interested in learning why you picked a Triumph Bonneville for towing the sidecar outfit? I'd guess it was because the Bonnie looked old school and had the right image for a sidecar outfit....

I presume your own 790cc Bonnie had plenty of low down power (torque) to pull the sidecar like a train. I think the 790cc engine develops about 61 bhp & 44 ftlb of pull. The newer 865cc bike produces slightly more - 67 bhp and 47 ftlb respectively. I have been told the small increase in performance between the two versions is hardly noticeable.

Goes to prove how much power this modern bulletproof Triumph twin cylinder engine produces.

I understand the twin engine used (790/865) is de-tuned and as a consequence under stressed and capable of so much more. This is what makes it so reliable.

Are you still using a sidecar outfit and if so, what are you now using to pull it?

By the way, I see you are wearing a Union Jack (Union flag) open face helmet on your blog. I am looking for a similar helmet. I am considering two of these (one for me one for the Mrs) -


I understand LS2 helmets are made in China. They certainly look the part for a Triumph Bonnie rider.

I also looked at the cheaper Vulcan helmet but it looks inferior compared to the LS2.

I prefer to stay well away from the usual over-expensive Japanese top shelf makes. They sell similar helmets for £200 plus. I really don't think you get much extra apart from donating towards their huge advertising costs...

Thanks for your valued advice. I'm a Triumph Virgin.
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Reply With Quote
Old 19 Jan 2014
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: West Yorkshire UK
Posts: 1,785
I sort of aimlessly wandered into Bonneville ownership. I cooked my F650 courtesy of Rotax and their water pumps lack of a bearing so wanted air cooled. I got an XT600E which was great until I met the wife whose politest comment about the seat included the word plank. The rest should be limited to certain pubs in Naval ports. I went looking for a R80GS but found them old, bodged together by previous owners and over priced. There were however these air cooled retro bikes that on paper are pretty close. First choice was the W650 but the dealers barely knew anything except 150 mph bogies existed. Next I tested a Sportster and almost bought one but the salesman wanted me to buy into the whole 6-months a year ridding, leather chaps, upgrade to a mans bike when you are confident lifestyle crap. The Triumph bloke across the road was doing a lanch event (Rocket 3?) And had been on the champagne. He made me a stupid offer.

The sidecar went on as a way of replacing a bigger BM outfit for snow and carrying dogs. Made sense to hack the Bonneville as my MZ's and Enfield were going to be too slow.

I am now down to the WeeStrom and one non-running MZ, both solo. I found myself spending too much time fixing and jumping through insurance and MOT hoops to ride. My last outfit was a K100.

I don't really do image. I'd ride a Chinese scooter with diving helmet if it was trouble free and I could see in the fog. I have an interest in history and don't automatically assume new is better. Open face didn't mist in 1930 over heat in 1950 so it won't now is my thinking. I view vision as part of the total safety package and do rather detest the race technology that we seen to get rammed down our throats. The Union Jack design was one of two choices, the other was black, so camouflage for night riding. It is a fun design. Its a Modena. Basically a rather cheap scooter lid. I like it.

My next new bike will be this shape. I don't think you can beat the basic open design that evolved. The Wee is great, just a bit too heavy to be fun and too capable to be any sort of challenge. I think you'll enjoy a Bonneville if you want anything except insane speeds.

That turned into a bit of an essay. hope its useful

Reply With Quote
Old 19 Jan 2014
kentfallen's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Bexhill, East Sussex, England, UK
Posts: 673
It's official - We're now FRIENDS.
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Triumph Bonneville 790 - New Shoes! kentfallen Triumph Tech 3 18 Dec 2013 17:31
Triumph Bonneville (2004) 790 - Wheel building? kentfallen Triumph Tech 8 18 Nov 2013 21:34



Thinking about traveling? Not sure about the whole thing? Watch the HU Achievable Dream Video Trailers and then get ALL the information you need to get inspired and learn how to travel anywhere in the world!

Have YOU ever wondered who has ridden around the world? We did too - and now here's the list of Circumnavigators!
Check it out now
, and add your information if we didn't find you.

Next HU Eventscalendar

HU Event and other updates on the HUBB Forum "Traveller's Advisories" thread.
ALL Dates subject to change.



  • Queensland is back! Date TBC - May?

Add yourself to the Updates List for each event!

Questions about an event? Ask here

HUBBUK: info

See all event details

World's most listened to Adventure Motorbike Show!
Check the RAW segments; Grant, your HU host is on every month!
Episodes below to listen to while you, err, pretend to do something or other...

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

"Ultimate global guide for red-blooded bikers planning overseas exploration. Covers choice & preparation of best bike, shipping overseas, baggage design, riding techniques, travel health, visas, documentation, safety and useful addresses." Recommended. (Grant)

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines into a single integrated program the best evacuation and rescue with the premier travel insurance coverages designed for adventurers.

Led by special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, paramedics and other travel experts, Ripcord is perfect for adventure seekers, climbers, skiers, sports enthusiasts, hunters, international travelers, humanitarian efforts, expeditions and more.

Ripcord travel protection is now available for ALL nationalities, and travel is covered on motorcycles of all sizes!


What others say about HU...

"This site is the BIBLE for international bike travelers." Greg, Australia

"Thank you! The web site, The travels, The insight, The inspiration, Everything, just thanks." Colin, UK

"My friend and I are planning a trip from Singapore to England... We found (the HU) site invaluable as an aid to planning and have based a lot of our purchases (bikes, riding gear, etc.) on what we have learned from this site." Phil, Australia

"I for one always had an adventurous spirit, but you and Susan lit the fire for my trip and I'll be forever grateful for what you two do to inspire others to just do it." Brent, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the (video) series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring!" Jennifer, Canada

"Your worldwide organisation and events are the Go To places to for all serious touring and aspiring touring bikers." Trevor, South Africa

"This is the answer to all my questions." Haydn, Australia

"Keep going the excellent work you are doing for Horizons Unlimited - I love it!" Thomas, Germany

Lots more comments here!

Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.

Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80G/S.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 17:24.