Ayrton Senna: Triumph Bonneville Tribute Bike

Published July 23, 2015

Ayrton Senna was without doubt one of the most famous and well-respected names in Formula One racing history. His racing legacy still lives on and this time, the iconic Brazilian racer has been immortalized in a two wheeled configuration, a tribute Triumph Bonneville by Tarso Marques. We’ve seen a few Senna tribute machines in the past, one of them was a beautiful Moto Guzzi from the illustrious Marcus Walz garage, another was a Del Prado Harley Davidson assembly; we’ve even seen an official Ducati Panigale but we’ve never seen a Triumph Bonneville tribute, until now.


The iconic Triumph Bonneville and it’s 865cc engine is a popular base for customization and there is no question as to why: it’s a simple, adaptable and versatile machine. Bonnie scramblers are a dime a dozen but sleek and stylish café racers as well polished as this one are a bit of a rarity.


This particular offering from Tarso Marques is a direct tribute to the late Ayrton Senna, featuring the customary number ‘12’ racing number and a beautiful red and white paint job reminiscent of the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 Formula One racing machine. It’s classic Senna.


Apart from the obvious changes to the color scheme, the Bonneville has been treated with more than a few cool bits and pieces to enhance the svelte, café racer vibe. The stock bars have been swapped out for a set of clip ons to match the new and aggressively shaped single seat configuration, complete with a nicely engineered ‘bee sting’ at the rear for true café racing authenticity. The wheels have also been swapped and replaced with retro and track style lenticular numbers that may catch the wind if you ever wanted to take it out for a spin on a windy day, but since it’s a one off, tribute machine, you probably wouldn’t do that anyway.


The classic shape, wheels and paint scheme is nicely complimented with an almost fully blacked out ‘everything else’, including the triple trees, forks tubes and stanchions, rear shocks and exhaust. The exhaust has been swapped out and replaced with shorter, flared units instead and the pipes have been wrapped in a muted black too.


As Senna tributes go, this one is particularly gorgeous. Since we mentioned a few of the others above, we might as well show you the things. Firstly, here’s the Marcus Walz attempt from 2014 (pictured below). It’s based on a 1970s Moto Guzzi (a special edition called the ‘Le Mans Mark 1 Series’) and has been designed around the Brazilian flag and incorporates some of Senna’s own helmet designs.


This Del Prado offering from 2012 is another fine example. It was built around a 2001 1200cc Evo Harley Davidson engine and the result is a nice, stripped down bobber affair. Of course, it was also finished with the Brazilian flag color scheme and a bit of black to help the colors contrast better. It’s a great Ayrton Senna tribute machine. (Pictured below.)


Finally, here’s a look at the official Ducati tribute: it’s a Ducati 1199 Panigale S. 161 if these bikes went into production for a limited run; 161 being the number of Formula One Grand Prix races that Senna participated in between 1984 and 1994. The major differences between the Senna edition and the regular, standard model include the grey fairings and red rims. Ducati decided to work on the Senna tribute because back in ’94, just before his death, Senna approved the development of a limited edition 916. 20 years later (2014) Ducati released this model, and pledged a percentage of the sales profits to the Instituto Ayrton Senna, a charity set up after the driver’s untimely death. (Pictured below.)


All of these tributes are fitting memorials for one of the greatest racers of our time. Sometimes, it seems that sticking the name of a dead racer on something can appear a bit opportunistic, but these examples are tasteful works of art.


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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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