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The Rivals a yamaha

Yamaha XS650: Launched as the XS-1 in 1969 (for the 1970 sales year) and remaining in production (or on sale at least) until 1983, Yamaha's XS650 has to be seen as a direct competitor for the T140. The Japanese twin looks a little like a traditional British parallel twin at first glance too but, while the Yamaha shares the Bonneville's 360 degree crank layout and 'traditional' styling, there the similarities end.

The XS crank runs on three roller bearings and one ball race, it has a single overhead camshaft (that also runs in roller bearings) and the crankcases are split horizontally. From 1972, an electric start was fitted as standard. It's perhaps the sort of design Triumph would have come up with for a new Bonneville if their designers had been afforded the luxury of a blank sheet of paper instead of being tied to a design that had been around since the 30s.

With a claimed 53bhp at 7000rpm on tap, the XS650 (and XS-1 and XS-2 variants) offers similar performance to a T140 Bonneville and handling is close to Bonnie standard - thanks to Triumph tester Percy Tait being employed by Yamaha to sort the XS.

The XS has an enviable reputation for robustness and reliability though. Favoured by sidecar motocross crews - not the most mechanically sympathetic characters in a brutal and demanding sport - for its unburstable nature and ability to withstand boring out to 1000cc without complaint, the engine is the XS650's trump card.

However, the Yamaha has one major failing. It isn't a Triumph Bonneville and there's still something indefinable about owning part of the Bonneville legend. With the benefit of nearly 40 years of postmanufacture development and refinement by enthusiastic owners and specialists, the T140 can be made (almost) as reliable and easily as quick as an XS650. It's a Triumph too.

norton

By the time the T140 appeared in 1973, Norton's Commando had grown to 828cc and overcome the crank failures that dogged the earlier 750 models. Even though Triumph and Norton became part of the same conglomerate - Norton Villiers Triumph -that year, if you wanted a British twin in 1973, the Norton had to be a strong contender.

On paper, the Norton has it. With 60bhp and 115mph available, the vibration damping Isolastic frame and an all-up weight within a pound or two of the Bonnie, it should have been no contest. After all, hadn't the Commando scooped the 'Motor Cycle News' Machine of the Year Poll for five years running from 1968?

In reality, the Commando takes some beating. It's arguably the most developed and refined traditional British parallel twin ever built (if you don't count Hinckley Triumphs and the new Nortons). It's got great spares back up too - with Norton specialists Norvil offering complete, brand new, bespoke Commandos to order.

Commando production petered out in 1978 -leaving the Bonneville as the last of an old breed. Partly because of that (and partly because Triumph output was always higher than Norton anyway), there are more T140 Bonnies than Commandos about these days and probably because of that, in turn prices for T140 Bonnies have remained lower than for comparable Commandos. With good Commandos routinely fetching £4500-5000 a T140V or E at £25003000 looks like something of a bargain.

Old loyalties die hard too. For some, it just has to be a Triumph.

NORTON'S COMMANDO

NORTON'S COMMANDO

BumV^couk prices from £99

Holding your motorcycle safely tel: 01604 845050

Ideal for: van, trailer, workshop, transportation and Security. (Thatcham approved version)

[email protected] www.bumpstop.co.uk

> Spares/Service for Classic Trident

> Rocket 3, Unit 650/750 Bonnevilles, Norton Commando

> Full range of Triumph clothing & accessories

> Full range of new Hinckley models in stock

> Huge selection of used Triumphs always in stock

TI^IJM^H

Sanderstead Station Approach, Sanderstead Road, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 OPL

Tel: 020 8657 0121 Fax: 020 8651 0596

www.car1rosner.co.uk

email: [email protected]

Carl Rosner Ltd

Exclusively Triumph

> Spares/Service for Classic Trident

> Rocket 3, Unit 650/750 Bonnevilles, Norton Commando

> Full range of Triumph clothing & accessories

> Full range of new Hinckley models in stock

> Huge selection of used Triumphs always in stock

Sanderstead Station Approach, Sanderstead Road, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 OPL

Tel: 020 8657 0121 Fax: 020 8651 0596

www.car1rosner.co.uk

email: [email protected]

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