Original Paint: 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120R

This 1966 Triumph T120R Bonneville 650 has been sitting for close to 50 years, last used in 1972. The seller had plans to preserve the original cosmetics and perform a mechanical restoration, which is needed after the bike has been sitting for so long and because the engine is locked up. However, the seller notes plans have changed and the bike needs to find a new home. It certainly looks like the kind of project you can restore mechanically and leave the awesome, preserved cosmetics alone. Find it here on eBay with bids to over $5K and the reserve unmet.

We had a similar bike for sale as part of the large Georgia collection I am helping to wind down. Similar to the two Type 2 Buses on the property, the Triumph received numerous phone calls with interested buyers who weren’t all that worried about condition – the bike and its parts were desirable enough as-is that running concerns really didn’t sway too many interested parties, and several other Triumph parts bikes have sold since then. The world of Triumph motorcycles is an enthusiastic one, with many fans of the marque hungry for good parts and projects.

This example is way better than a parts bike and should be restored, especially given how nicely all of the major components have seemingly survived despite years of disuse. Yes, the stuck engine is a bummer, but it can be rebuilt. The seller notes loads of original details are still present, including the Dunlop tires, battery, Amal carb, keys, and more. When original tires are still installed, it strikes me that the project in question likely didn’t see much use when new before being parked – although, the seller has listed mileage of being just over 13,000.

The original paint is in great shape, and I love the stripes going down the center of the tank. I agree with the seller’s plan that there’s no need to touch the cosmetics; those can be left alone with the engine is rebuilt or a replacement is sourced. Other details worth noting include that the chrome is pitted but still bright; front forks are free with good action; and the seat cover and foam are still in good condition. Overall, this is an attractive example of one of Triumph’s most iconic models, and it should be brought back to life with an eye towards preserving its many original details.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Now here’s your vibrating oil dispenser. Gotta love the Limey’s, and I do. Never had one, friend had a TT500, they embody everything motorcycling used to be about. Ride it, tinker with it, but riding it is so much worth it. Prices, as shown for a NON-running one, have gone into the stratosphere, mostly because, you just can’t buy something like this today. Same old thing here, I hope people bidding on these, like VW buses, know what they’re getting into.( what’s a carb tickler, they’ll ask?) As recently as 10 years ago, you could get these for a song, especially not running. They are a handful to ride, like the Guzzi, that right shift/ left brake will slow some down, but you get used to it. Cool find. Great bikes, real bikes, not these 2 wheeled cars of today.

    • Jon B

      Visa is a handful to ride? Not in my 30 years of riding them.
      A little different, quirky but rock stable.

    • phoenixtexoma

      I’m a former Brit bike dealership wrench and people need to understand that if they buy an old Limey bike, they absolutely must have Whitworth tools to do any serious mechanical work. The clutch assembly and actuating mechanism requires skill and experience, as do the carbs. Good luck to the buyer — I loved the Bonneville, altho my personal favorite was the 1970 BSA Rocket 3.

  2. RayT Member

    Always wanted one of these. I rode Hondas — a 160 and, later, a 305 — and envied the guys who had Triumphs. Wonderful bikes to look at and, if my 20 or so miles of experience were accurate, certainly nicer to ride, in a British-Sportscar way.

    Oddly enough, they never seemed to lose value as much as many Japanese bikes did. I don’t recall ever seeing any running Bonnie that didn’t carry a four-figure pricetag. The least-expensive one I can recall would have set me back twice what my used 305 cost. Wish I had coughed up the extra….

  3. Jay Morgan

    Had a Triumph, then got a Norton. Another one that got away !

  4. Tommy L

    Had a ’68 back in the day. Spent more time wrenching on it than riding it. Leaked oil like a pig, electrics never worked. When it ran, best bike in the world. I loved that thing.

  5. ‘70 Bonnie

    Argh! Lots of itch…..no scratch!!! And there’s still a couple old Triumph mechanics around me to help rebuild that engine.

  6. Joe Haska

    Had one, loved it, sometimes hated it, but I wish I could have this one,even if I just sat on it and looked at it!

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    Whoa!!! Where the devil did this one come from? Wonderful bikes, these were. Yes, they tended to shake at highway speeds but that helped keep you awake. Lots of these around back in the day. Some showing up in the Antique Motorcycle Club rides in the Flathead Valley as of late. My brother had a ‘62 Bonny which was the last year of separate engine and gearbox. He needed college money back in 1970 so he sold it to a guy in Havre. I think that’s the last time it ever saw the road. Interesting that back then it seemed like an old bike…

  8. ken tillyUK

    I had a 1956 and a 1958 Tiger 110 and both of them leaked oil where the generator joined the timing gears cover. The idea was to slip the generator into place, fit the tiny nut to draw it securely against the engine block and then tighten the clamp that holds it to the engine block. Other than that I don’t remember any other significant oil leak areas. The biggest problem I had with them, and they were both low milers, was they would snake through the bends in a frightening manner. It was just something that you got used to although I must say that one time I swapped bikes with my friend’s Norton Dominator 88 for the 7 mile ride home, the difference in handling of the Norton was unbelievable, however, there is no way I would have traded any of my Triumph’s for a Norton.

    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Had a ‘64 T120R I found in a garage on the rich side of Reno with a ‘66 tank exactly like this one on it; Bates megaphones stuffed full of dog food, diamond plate oil tank under the tractor seat, and the front fender was still there-chopped down and screwed onto the rear. Smith tach needle swung opposite of the speedometer needle. I seem to recall an oil line from the oil tank running to the rear chain sprocket..

      Returned it to original, lost it in a divorce, but was able to walk away with my sanity-a fair trade, right?

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        You could say I lost my Harley Big Twin in a divorce. Rather roundabout way really. My ex wanted a 5th Wheel RV. I couldn’t afford it but I told her that I’d list the bike and if I sold it, I’d get an RV. I thought who would pay $10K for a 17 year old Shovelhead with over 75K miles on the original motor? Surprise! The ad went out on Monday and the first guy who looked at it bought it on Wednesday. Me and my big mouth. I bought a 27ft. 5th wheel. Two years later I sold the RV to pay for a divorce. Well, that and my pension savings. Kind of poetic justice hearing about the ex and the two boys, partying like rock stars, then all three between jail and rehab. Of course my real (and much better) wife and I agree that it was money well spent. But I’d rather have kept the bike and just paid the ex out…

    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Geomwchs, I dunno about yours but I’ll bet that if you had just offered to pay her off she’d of wanted more, right?

      Karma catches up-the balance gets paid eventually.
      I’d say you and I made out well, my friend.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Yes karma is a very nasty lady. One thing that I laugh about is that the ex in-laws still regard me as part of the family. And to add insult to injury they have adopted the NEW Mrs. We get included in everything…

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Geomechs-that says much about who you are and from what we’ve been reading it’s not really surprising that they kept you with the new Missus.
        Well done, sir. Good things eventually happen to good people.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Thank you, Nevada. It’s interesting how like-minded people tend to seek each other out. I’ve made some great friendships on BF and other blogs. I’ve managed to meet a few of you in person; it’s too bad I can’t meet all of you. I’m sure we would have lots to talk about, including the cars, trucks, bikes, airplanes and locomotives. I look forward to a lot of things each day, one of them seeing what’s happening on BF. My good wife might roll her eyes the odd time but she also knows that she people I associate with are good people, even if we have a little grease under our nails…

  9. pixelpusher

    Yes, I too survived owning one of these. While in college rode it routinely on a completed, but yet unopened stretch of I-40. 20 miles of fresh concrete with no one around…

  10. benjy58

    Had many English bikes mostly BSA Victors. I used to buy basket cases mostly and put them together, ride them and then sell them. They were great bikes as far as I was concerned and easily started as long as you knew the drill.

  11. FordGuy1972

    Had a Triumph back in the late ’90s but never rode it. A 1983 TSX with 11 original miles, one of 371 made. I acquired it from a Navy serviceman who bought it off the showroom floor in London. He had it shipped back to the States but never rode it as he had kids and his wife told him get rid of it as she didn’t like bikes. I trailered it to shows for awhile but eventually sold it to a guy down south who had a British bike museum. Couldn’t really ride it with only 11 miles on it. It’s probably the lowest mileage Triumph on the planet. I regret not driving it at least once as it was a beautiful bike and at that time I hadn’t ever ridden a 750cc bike before. Would have been an interesting experience.

  12. Dave

    Triumph got it right because they make new bikes that look just like this but work and handle much, MUCH better!

    • Jon B

      But today’s Triumph is a completely different company.

  13. Ray

    I owned a 63 Bonneville back in the late 70s. I liked it until a buddy let me ride his Kawasaki GPZ. Then My Triumph felt like a horseless carriage. It vibrated, leaked oil, the brakes were horrible, the transmission seemed to have a neutral between every damn gear, and if miss a shift and over rev it you burn out the Zener diode, followed by all the lights. I did enjoy riding it until I gave it to my brother, who in turn gave it to his son who still has it, though severely modified. I think the only original part is the engine at this point.

  14. Howard A Member

    I gave everyone that commented a thumbs up. You don’t get these kind of comments with GoldWings, “yep, my GW ran flawlessly for 90K miles”,,,we didn’t have GoldWings. The cushiest road bike was an Electra-Glide. You wanted “in your face motorcycling”, this was it. Before the Asians took over, you really didn’t have much choice. And you had a lot of guts riding a smoking Italian job in Milwaukee, Wis. Somehow, the Limey’s were ok,( Fonz, The Wild One) going back to that old WW2 thing. In Milwaukee, as a kid, I remember lots of British bikes, they had that sound in the night that clearly wasn’t a Harley or some Italian ring-ding. As a kid, guy across the street had a Royal-Enfield, guy across the alley had BSA’s. As far as leaks, today modern gaskets and sealants can make these leak proof, ton of parts. I bet you’d find an abundance of those crummy Lucas electrics and assorted parts. Try that with your vintage Yamaha. Electronic ignition cures starting woes, they may be a bit crude, but this is what classic motorcycling is all about, not some 1938 Indian relic,,,,for me.

    • schooner

      The Limeys are generally OK as most of the old Harley guys I’m around had a Brit Bike somewhere in the past. Still doesn’t stop them from giving me good-natured ummm… stuff about it though.

  15. Richard Wilson

    About 10 years ago my father picked up a 68 Bonneville and offered to let me ride it. I passed and rode his modern one instead. Loved it and bought a new Scrambler.
    Then I DID ride the 68 and it was SOO much more fun to ride I wished I had bought a vintage one instead of my Scrambler.
    Saved up and bought my own 68 TR6C and ride it more than my 14.

  16. Buzz

    Oh yeah!
    I have two 1975 Triumph T160 Tridents, one I bought new and rode from NH to Key West (when I was young and a hard ass, literally). But, what a ride!

    These things are true time machines. Look, sound, feel, smell…takes me back to 1975 every ride.

    They don’t make them anymore!

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