Anybody who has been involved with riding for any length of time knows a little of the history of bikes in North America. Harley, Indian, the myriad of Japanese bikes starting in the 1970s, and then, assorted European and British bikes that appeared after World War 2.
A few days ago, I was at a conference far to the south of me and had the chance to see – not ride – a new Triumph Bonneville Bobber and that got me thinking – what has Triumph been up to since Marlon Brando rode his Thunderbird T6 in The Wild One?
I’d ridden a friend’s ancient Triumph a lifetime ago, but since I’m not really in the market for a new bike, I’ve always sort of skipped over keeping up with what the British bikes have done in the last 40 years.
They’ve been quietly building a damn good bike.
While the original Triumph company, which started in 1902 and built a variety of bikes and, it could be argued, that reached its peak with Brando and his Thunderbird in the 1950s. The original company folded in 1936, the next one made it until 1984, and the modern Triumph took over a decade to finally become profitable, but with the release of the Bonneville Bobber this year, I think they are finally building a series of bikes that combine the classic looks of a café racer with the current love affair we all seem to have with garage-built bobbers.
What makes the whole thing so damn interesting is that the website for Triumph is less than forthcoming about what their bikes are about. Couple that with the fact that the nearest dealership to me is a day’s ride, and I’m in the dark about what this really good looking bike is all about.
I can’t even find out (officially) what motor is in it, although our old friend Wikipedia says it’s a liquid-cooled parallel-twin 1200 cc motor.
In that case, it ought to scoot right along.
The really fun part of this reemergence of Triumph as a serious builder with great style is that there is another manufacturer out there that is building a high-quality product. The “old” issues that plagued everything that the British built – electronics, for example – are things of the past and the owners I’ve spoken to all talk about how well built and behaved the newer bikes are.
In the end, if your list for your Valentines Day Sweetie has a new bike on it, then it appears that Triumph is building the sort of high-quality bikes that serious riders are looking for – and at a price point that rivals any other quality builder. The only challenge I can see is getting to a dealership to put your butt on one.