MX EVO Bonneville Scrambler: The desert sled revisited

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
A ‘scrambler’ used to be a motorcycle purposed for off-roading. But these days, people use the word to describe anything with knobby tires, a bench seat and wide bars.

Ton Up Garage can throw the term around with confidence. These ‘MX EVO’ Bonneville scramblers are a breath of fresh air—proper throwbacks to the days when McQueen and co. were thrashing Triumphs out in the desert.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
“We’ve always been enduro and motocross enthusiasts,” say the Portuguese crew, “So we have this huge personal connection to off-road riding and racing. This bike was a massive ‘must build’ for us.”

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
EVO #0—the first in a limited series—was actually built two years ago. Since then, Ton Up’s Daniel and Pedro have put it through its paces. “We rode it, raced with it, broke it, and after all that time we’ve made a few corrections that have improved it.”

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
The starting point was a 2005-spec, 790cc, carbureted Triumph Bonneville. “Technically, we wanted to spice up the engine,” says Ton Up. “We wanted more power and definitely more torque, but above everything, acceleration!”

In went a 904cc Wiseco big-bore kit, helped along by a pair of Keihin FCR39 flatslide carbs. The engine breathes through K&N filters, and exhales through a high-level, two-into-one exhaust from Zard. The ECU was modded to raise the rev limit, a racing clutch installed and the gearing changed. The bike now tops out at 180km/h.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
Ton Up opted to keep the Bonnie’s 19” front and 17” rear wheels, but wrapped them in appropriate rubber: Continental TKC80s. And they left the braking system mostly stock, fitting a braided brake line up front along with a Magura master cylinder and lever. The suspension’s been upgraded though, with Öhlins components at both ends.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
The rest of the build’s laden with mods that tick both styling and functionality boxes. The high alloy fenders, chunky seat and rear frame loop are all reminiscent of classic desert sleds.

MX bars from Fehling are matched to MX grips and wide, serrated foot pegs. And Ton Up have designed a sump guard and sprocket cover specifically for the EVO series.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
Lighting’s kept to a bare minimum, with a PIAA light up front and a Lucas-style tail light at the rear. The electrical system’s been reworked around various Motogadget components, running off an Anti-Gravity Lithium-ion battery. EVO #0’s equipped with a TrailTech Voyager GPS-enabled speedo—useful for weekend adventures.

Ton Up built EVO #0 as their prototype—it’s a shop bike and a test rider for potential customers. So the classic paint scheme is a reflection of Jose and Pedro’s own tastes and references.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
And they’ve tested it well. “We’ve used it several times on trails and in Raids, and it handles very well, keeping up with classic Africa Twins and Super Teneres. Of course it is still a heavy bike, even though it’s lighter than a stock Bonneville.

“You feel the weight on more technical dirt roads, but it’s still a great bike with enough agility.”

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
With their prototype sorted, the guys have already completed their first commission—EVO #1—for client NOBRAND shoes. While it shares much of EVO #0’s DNA and parts, there are a few notable differences.

For starters, EVO #1 is built on a 2011-model, EFI-equipped Bonneville T100. The fuel injection’s been tuned, but the engine capacity’s been left stock.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
The overall vibe is a little more refined, with Motogadget bar-end turn signals, a more traditional Motogadget speedo, and a different taillight. And there’s that coffee-tinged paint scheme, complemented by a two-tone leather seat and matching grips.

Ton Up say the more refined approach was deliberate, to illustrate that the MX EVO series could lean more towards a more aggressive, or a classier, vibe.

Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.
If you want your own Bonneville scrambler, there’s even more options available. Ton Up can kit each bike with Pretech brake calipers and floating discs, suspension from both Öhlins and WP, and lighter alloy wheels. And the final trim and finishes are, naturally, customizable as well.

Sounds good to us. If you agree, you’d better get in touch quick: they’re only building nine.

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Modern day desert sleds: Ton Up Garage recreates the original Bonneville scrambler vibe.