A group of journos gathered at a venue in the Hennops river valley for the official launch of Triumph’s much anticipated new 1200 Twins. The Scrambler, which we have already featured [because I bought one], and the Speed Twin, which is the naked Sports or Roadster variant in the line up. The programme kicked off with Bruce Allen, Triumph SA’s bossman, giving us a progress report on the state of Triumph SA. It is just on a year since the birth of Triumph SA. The first four months were really preparatory, so we are talking about 8 odd months of trading.
Bruce reminded us that the motorcycle market in SA [and globally] has been in steady decline for a number of years. The large motorcycle sector, in which Triumph participates, has been particularly hard hit. We are essentially talking the 800cc plus sector. With hindsight, the new Triumph entity launched in a perfect negative economic storm! Brexit, Eskom, State capture, corruption revelations, impending elections and a tanking rand are just some of the factors that have resulted in a Tsunami of economic woes that have engulfed us over the last year. As things stand at the moment, the focus for Triumph is to deliver exceptional service and consolidate their position as a permanent player in the SA motorcycle scene. Expansion will take place as and when it is economically viable and justifiable.
Just on the Triumph horizon are the two TFC models, [Triumph Factory Custom] In the form of a pimped out Thruxton and new Rocket. There are also rumours of a Moto 2 inspired Daytona special edition that will be built in limited numbers, making it an instant collectors piece. Just a rumour you do understand, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. So there is plenty of excitement in store for us from Triumph, but let’s focus on the here and now. The arrival of the new 1200 Triumph Twins has been a game changer for Triumph SA, providing a welcome tailwind in our local market.
I have given you the lowdown on the Scrambler, but let me just add a tad about it’s off road ability. My first ride on the launch was on the Scrambler which I have spent some time on, but not yet on the dirt. The launch bikes were all set up with road suspension settings, so the first bit of washed out and rutted dirt had the bike feeling “hard”. The off road engine map worked well in this application, providing progressive power delivery and a limited amount of rear wheelspin. What was immediately apparent was how the Scrambler has a big dirt bike feel to it as opposed to a typical adventure bike feel. This can probably be attributed to the fact that the riding position is typically dirt bike and it is naked, giving an unimpeded view of the road ahead.
The second stretch of dirt we rode was way better suited to what makes the Scrambler special. Typical adventure bike standing up makes you aware of the pipes tucked away on the right hand side of the bike. Whilst they do not impede your ability to ride the bike, you are never the less aware of them. On the second piece of dirt it was open and fast with the odd irregularity from rain run off. This type of road is the Scramblers reason for being. Sit down, elbows out and attack the road. The firm suspension gives perfect feedback and the ample travel deals with any “lurkers” that you may encounter. The engine map that works best for me is the pro setting which switches everything off.
The motor is such a peach with such linear power delivery that dial a slide is order of the day! Short shift and it hooks up incredibly, even on road biased rubber. It finds traction in typical 270 degree crank fashion. Sit down, leg out and spin the sucker up. It is a blast. The suspension also made mincemeat of the bumpy roads around the dam and the bike is stable, even when pitched on it’s ear in the twisties. I think you get my drift. I really dig this thing!
After a scrumptious lunch we got back on the bikes. The Speed Twin is for me, the new “sleeper” in the Modern Classic range. The Thruxton has the Cafe Racer styling that says “speed”. The Speed is much more subtle. The clues are there in the quality rubber, the classy mag wheels, the twin Brembo callipers and flat bars with sweet, and effective, bar end mirrors. The stubby black exhaust cans hint at aggression, but in a low key way. Yay! It switches on and off with a dash mounted key! Simple.
Let the clutch out and lunge off the line and you are instantly aware that this beast has some mumbo! I noted that the preload adjustable rear shocks were on their softest setting. Given that this is a performance roadster I would have half expected the need to jack up the back a bit. All my 80 Kg weight did was to settle the bike nicely and it displayed perfect stability throughout the ride. It got me thinking that if suspension can be this competent without all the damping fiddles then keep it simple. All you then really need, if you regularly win pie eating contests, is to bump the back preload a notch or two.
The bike was both stable and supple, even over some really crappy surfaces. This translates into comfort too. The slightly more upright riding position is bang on. The Speed Twin is geared slightly shorter than the Scrambler, in keeping with it’s roadster mandate. It has usable power all of the time. Steering is perfectly neutral, with the bike turning in and holding it’s line perfectly. The general feel is that of a bike that is really well sorted and works with you at all times resulting in huge rider confidence. If you don’t do the dirt thing and like the purity of a classic roadster, but don’t want to compromise on function, then you will love this bike. The Brembo brakes are excellent.
It is not the purpose of this report to give you a review on either bike. For that we will need a more extended period in the saddle. We have managed that with the Scrambler and will try to do the same with the Speed in the near future. Suffice to say at this juncture that Triumph can be justifiably proud of these two bikes. They are guaranteed to keep smiles on the faces of anyone who slings a leg over them. They are not in competition but rather give riders a wider set of options with which to scratch their particular itch. Of late, Triumph seem to have a real talent for building relevant bikes that capture the nostalgia which is such a part of this iconic brand. Long may that continue.
Huge thanks to Bruce, Ashleigh and Paul from Triumph and Joe and Al from Bonafide Moto Co., as well as Andre from iRide for the really fun event. As for you dear reader, get your butt over to Triumph in Sandton and see what the hype is about. You owe it to yourself.
For more information visit: www.triumph-motorcycles.co.za