Johannesburg - Triumph has been re-launched as a motorcycle brand in South Africa with a new distributor, a new dealership and six new models in a range of 12, for a total of 17 derivatives.
Triumph is evolving, says Bruce Allen, managing director of the newly-formed Triumph Motorcycles SA, a joint venture with the Fury Motor Group. The marque is developing a new retail approach and South Africa will have to keep up, becoming part of a global rollout that will present Triumph as a premium brand - or lose out. While Allen didn’t say so in as many words, Triumph is clearly aiming to play in the same space as BMW, Ducati and Harley-Davidson, as a lifestyle brand appealing to people (not necessarily riders!) who want to be seen to be moving up in the world.
Which is why Triumph motorcycles will no longer be sold through franchised dealers; instead, Allen intends to create three new, very upmarket dealerships, owned by the distributor, in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, in line with the maker’s ‘Triumph World Black’ dealerships worldwide. Meanwhile, however, he has set up Triumph Johannesburg in what was formerly a Fury GM dealership on South Road in Sandton.
That will move to a purpose-built new home in Woodmead in March 2019, to be followed by Triumph Cape Town in the third quarter of 2020, and Triumph Pretoria in the final quarter of that year. Until then, former Triumph franchises will act as authorised service centres, offering servicing and repairs to Triumph owners – but if you want a new Triumph you’ll have to get it from Triumph Johannesburg.
Triumph’s model line-up has also evolved as Hinckley concentrates on what it does best. It has dropped all the cruiser models, as well as the much-loved Daytona sports bikes, and now builds only adventure tourers, naked roadsters and modern classics. Of these Triumph SA will be bringing in 12 models in 17 derivatives:
Adventure and Touring
Tiger 800 XCX
Tiger 800 XCA
Tiger 1050 Sport
Tiger 1200 XCX
Tiger 1200 XCA
Street Triple RS
Speed Triple RS
Bonneville T100 Black
Bonneville T120 Black
Bonneville Bobber Black
Thruxton 1200 R
The six models in bold are all either new or new to South Africa and, while a brief ride at the launch function near Hartebeespoort dam last week didn’t allow for a full evaluation (we’ll be pushing Triumph SA’s buttons for test bikes over the next few months) it was enough for first impressions:
Triumph’s magnificent midweight adventure bike gets more than 200 detail changes, including an updated engine with more power (70kW at 9500rpm), more torque (79Nm at 8050rom), a lower first gear for instant response and controllability in the roughs, and a new 13cm full-colour digital instrument panel that makes navigating through the six drive modes, traction control and ABS options more intuitive – lthough we still wouldn’t recommend doing it ‘on the fly’.
The original 800 Tiger was by far the most rideable and most versatile adventure bike of its generation. This one is better in every way, and we see no reason to change that description.
Hinkley’s big beetle-crusher gets the same new digital instrument panels as the 800, but with a whole lot more options to scroll through, while the 78kW engine gets more low-range power and torque for even more instant response. While not as wieldy as its smaller sibling, it’s an immensely capable (and comfortable) long-hauler for the serious rider.
Bonneville Bobber Black
The Black version of the minimalist Bobber single-seater comes with a fat 16 inch front tyre, 47mm inverted cartridge forks, potent Brembo brakes, all-LED lighting, harsh, short-travel rear suspension, and a very aggressive throttle response from its 1200cc parallel twin.
We wouldn’t ride one on long trips (that ploughshare saddle is just too restrictive) but we would sure as heck commute on it – and arrive at work each day wearing a big grin!
This two-seater version of the Bobber has a more relaxed, upright seating position, thanks to low, sweptback ‘beach’ bars and forward-mounted footpegs. Opinions were divided at the launch; some loved its laid-back persona, other (taller) riders found the ergonomics too constricted. Ride it before you decide.
This naked, street-fighter version of Hinckley’s 1200 triple has all the gizmotronics of its competition - including a lap timer - displayed on the most outrageous colour digital dashboard we’ve never seen, plus more power (110kW) and more torque (117Nm) than its predecessor, Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension, all hung on the barest minimum of chassis components. Its performance is outrageous, its agility awe-inspiring.
Triumph’s smallest offering is also, in our opinion, the pick of the bunch. Its 765cc engine revs like a banshee to give 16 percent more power (92kW at 11 700rpm) and 13 percent more torque (77Nm at 10 800rpm) than its predecessor, and lower first and second gears give even more explosive acceleration off the line.
Top-drawer suspension and Brembo brakes are standard, as are five drive modes, quick-shifter, lap timer and 13cm colour digital display, and all-new minimalist styling. But it all adds up to even more than the sum of its parts; it’s a screaming, insanely sure-footed, totally addictive hooligan tool. Resistance, as the Borg said, is futile - you will ride it like you stole it.