I received this email from Ian in Scotland shortly after I threw my post about the 2009 Triumph Modern Classics up on Return of the Cafe Racers. Ian seems to really know his stuff so to share his knowledge with you all here's what he had to say...
"The SE is a clever tweaking to move the range into the ‘70’s’ at minimal cost, so I would not share your views that it is pointless.
Press comments in the UK suggest that the SE is pitched more at the novice market. It is slightly lighter in weight and if you add after market exhausts you could probably shave up to 10kg – which could be significant to a smaller rider (eg women, me, others with short arses). The smaller wheels will make it easier to manoeuvre and aid confidence in traffic, cornering at slow speed etc.
The 19 inch front wheel on the earlier standard bonnie / T100 is cumbersome and more for looks than practicality.
The SE also has bars closer to the rider plus as you say a lower seat, which again will make it just that bit more comfortable for the smaller framed rider.
Compared to anything else on the market, the bonnie in most trims, particularly this new SE, offers more power, driver pleasure, ease of riding and many other benefits (not least of which is personality) compared to anything else on the market.
Triumph announced at their dealers conference two weeks ago that they had sold more bikes this year than before, and that they are selling more now than during the so-called peak of Triumph presumably back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. So I suspect they know what they are doing, albeit they move slowly as befits a large manufacturing organisation producing circa 50,000 units a year.
But, when you add after market products from Norman Hyde, Mototwin, Mecatwin and Jenks Bolts, the whole newly extended Bonneville range provides more choice than ever to this wider market, and that the specialist supply chain is something they know extends their reach.
I appreciate your interest may be mainly café racers, and I have been sorely tempted by the new Thruxton with sensible bars.
However, many bonnevilles have been tweaked to look and perform in a café racer ish manner, so there is less division between the genres.
In my view the 2009 range is a smart evolution rather than the creation of additional pointless products."
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