5 ways to own a Triumph motorcycle
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There’s no getting around it, Triumphs are cool. Steve McQueen, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, James Dean and Marlon Brando all owned one. Ted Simon rode one around the world, a journey that would become the basis for his book, Jupiter’s Travels.
In more modern times the British manufacturer has secured the contract to supply engines to the Moto2 championship and had planned to return to desert racing with Ernie Vigil riding a new Scrambler 1200 XE at the Baja 1000 before injury ruled him out.
With a burgeoning range of modern retro bikes on offer as well as class-leading naked bikes like the Street Triple and Speed Triple, there’s a Triumph for everybody. Not to mention the recent spy shots of a Triumph Daytona 765 incoming for more focused sportsbike enthusiasts. Here’s MCN’s rundown of five great ways to own a Triumph motorcycle of your own.
|First released:||1959 (modern version 2000)|
|Engine:||790cc - 865cc – 900cc|
The current Bonneville can trace its DNA back to 1959 when a Triumph T120 (T for Tiger, 120 denoting the top speed) was released bearing the name of the famous speed proving ground, the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Bonnevilles now use modern running gear but retain the retro look of these older machines, including twin rear shocks, a single chrome headlight and even fuel injection units disguised as carbs.
The Bonneville’s parallel twin engine generates a lazy 61bhp and the riding experience is tailored more for cruising than racing with a comfortable riding position and plenty of low-down torque.
|Engine:||675cc – 765cc|
Launched as a budget alternative to Triumph’s flagship models at the time, the Speed Triple and the Daytona 675, the Street Triple proved to be immensely popular in its own right as a competent, sporty, middleweight naked.
The first version produced 105bhp, which was combined with sharp handling and simple, streetfighter styling in a charismatic and modern package.
The R version like this one followed a year later with meatier brakes, sportier adjustable suspension and revised geometry for a slightly enhanced, more clinical riding experience.
|Engine:||885cc – 955cc – 1050cc|
The original Triumph Speed Triple was a simple bruiser of a bike, tearing around the place looking like a crashed Daytona 955i (which is exactly how streetfighters came to be). It lacked some of the finesse of subsequent versions.
The first 1050 was released in 2005 with greatly improved chassis and running gear plus a 1050cc engine pushing out 131bhp. The updated 2011 version of the 1050 saw the ‘bug eye’ headlights ditched in favour of more modern ‘fox-eye’ lenses.
As with the Street Triple, the ‘R’ model designation means upgrades to the suspension and brakes, which are supplied by Öhlins and Brembo respectively.
1937 (modern version 1993)
|Engine:||885cc – 955cc – 1050cc – 799cc – 1215cc|
Much like the Bonneville, the Triumph Tiger can trace its roots back a very long way. The first Tiger arrived in 1937 and became the main Triumph model on track, road and trail. The modern Triumph Tiger arrived in 1981 in the form of the Triumph Tiger Trail, which was based on the T140V Bonneville.
Triumph closed its doors just two years after the Tiger Trail’s release. But in 1993 and under new ownership, the name was revived with the Triumph Tiger 900. The bike suited a new and rapidly growing market for large-capacity enduro-style machines you could ride on the road (what would become known as adventure bikes).
Fast forward to 2006 and the Triumph Tiger 1050 like the one shown above has been released. Far from the Tiger’s off-road origins, this bike was entirely road-biased and used 17” forged wheels and firm suspension.
If all of your exploring takes place on the tarmac, then this could be the ideal bike for you to use. Hours can pass in comfort, its 115bhp engine is more than happy at motorway speeds and the handling is sharp for when the roads get a little more engaging.
|Engine:||865cc – 900cc – 1200cc|
Building a Scrambler in the 60s essentially involved taking a road bike of the time and doing everything you could to make it perform off-road. Knobbly tyres, high level exhausts for improved ground clearance, longer travel shocks and the removal of any unnecessary bodywork was generally the winning formula.
Modern Scramblers take their styling cues directly from this era, but aren’t generally thought of as serious off-road machines, although some versions like the BMW R nineT Scrambler and Triumph 1200 Scrambler XE are getting seriously capable if you want to try.
Bikes like the Triumph Scrambler above are intended for one purpose, cruising around in style. They look and sound fantastic and it’s hard not to feel a pang of nostalgia when you ride one. Just don’t crash it while you’re checking out your own reflection in a shop window.