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Triumph Trophy 1200: one for the road

Published Jun 25, 2012


When we first saw the Triumph Tiger Explorer in May this year, more than one local scribe was heard to remark that the Explorer's statuesque all-new, 1215cc three-cylinder engine wasn't going to be used in just one model - and they were right.

Here, then, is the 2013 Trophy 1200, Triumph's first serious attempt at a full-dress tourer and the third new model from Hinckley in the past 18 months. For this application the big triple is tuned to deliver 99kW at 8900rpm and 120Nm at 6450, with a counter-rotating balance shaft to smooth out the inevitable primary vibes inherent in any three-cylinder engine.

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A ride-by-wire throttle makes possible both traction control and cruise control (same hardware, slightly different apps), as well as optimising fuel consumption, while a sprung bevel gear and a metalastic shaft drive reduce the clonkiness as the drive is transferred from the six-speed gearbox to the rear wheel.

The screen is electrically adjustable through a range of 164mm - and comes with a memory function that automatically adjusts to your last pre-set position when you start the bike. The rider's seat height can be adjusted between 800 and 820mm, and heatable seats are available for rider and pillion.


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Two models are available - the Trophy and the Trophy SE - each in a choice of blue or silver. Each has on-the-fly headlight adjustment, a lockable storage box in the fairing with a 12V socket, a 26-litre fuel tank, a centre stand and Triumph's oddball "dynamic luggage system".

All that means is that the mounting bracketry for the 31-litre hard panniers - and the optional 55-litre top box if you have one fitted - can move freely about 5mm from side to side while you're riding. It sounds like motorcycling blasphemy, and just the thought is enough to give any engineer worth his slide rule the heebie-jeebies, but it works.

This slight wigglyness apparently "decouples the mass of the luggage from the chassis", allowing the bike to make those tiny movements under you that all motorcycles make in order to proceed in a smooth trajectory over imperfect roads, without having to move the luggage as well (which, you'll remember, is all mounted behind the rear axle) and thus preventing the tail from wagging the dog, i.e. the long, slow, very scary weave to which most heavily-laden tourers are prone at a certain speed.

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That top box also has a 'plug and play' electrical connection, rather like a cordless kettle or the tailgate on a Fiat Uno, that allows it to be fitted or removed without unplugging any cables, and comes with a standard 12V socket inside for recharging phones, tablets or cameras while on the move.


The Trophy SE also has a an integrated audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and iPod/MP3 player compatibility, as well as electronically adjustable suspension from Dutch specialists WP, operated via a four-way switch cube.

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The rider can select his or her preferred damping setting - Sport, Normal or Comfort - and combine it with the bike's loading - Solo, Solo plus luggage or Two-up, all displayed on a dot-matrix liquid-crystal screen.

The SE also comes with tyre pressure monitoring and an auxiliary 12V socket for the pillion (all you have to do is whisper the magic words "electrically heated jacket" in her ear to understand the advantages of the latter).

The Trophy is built for high mileages; it needs a minor service only every 16 000km and a major service every 32 000km. It's scheduled for South African release at the end of November 2012; pricing will be confirmed early in November.

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