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John Bloor and Triumph: A Success Story Still Gaining Momentum

When the new generation Triumphs began to emerge from the business that sprung from the entrepreneurial mind of John Bloor, they were attractive but conservative.  A modular design principal allowed Triumph to pump out 900cc triples and 1200cc fours and bolt them into modular steel frames dressed up as different models.  Mr. Bloor wasn’t taking any chances, it seemed.

Moving forward more than 20 years to the present day, Bloor and Triumph have seemingly made few missteps.  The attempt to take on the Japanese with a 600cc inline four-cylinder supersport is one mistake, for sure, but it eventually led to the brilliantly successful Daytona 675 triple.

Now, Triumph has aggressively expanded its efforts in the adventure touring market with the Tiger 800 and the Tiger Explorer 1200, both excellent bikes by all accounts (we tested both versions of the 800).

Indeed, it has become hard to imagine Triumph developing a sales flop. The same conservative philosophy Bloor started with has led to careful selection of new model development targets.  Triumph rarely misses the mark these days.  The result has been steadily increasing market share … something we expect to continue.

49 Comments

  1. RS says:

    Had my heart set on a Yamaha Super Tenere, until I heard about the Explorer. Waiting for the bike to be released in U.S., before I make final decision. Right now, the odds are on the Explorer.

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  2. takehikes says:

    when Triumph first came back I didn’t think much of them though I like triples a lot. There wasn’t enough there for me in some way. However as the years ahve passed they have really caught my eye. I’ll look hard at them for my next buy, they have their stuff together!

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  3. Jay Mack says:

    Triumph is the only way to go. I have three and I’m looking for a late model Bonneville. It’sreally too bad Victory didn’t walk the path Triumph blazed. They might have caught on.

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  4. bob says:

    I have an 05 t100 , most practical 2 wheeler i have ever owned ,does everything & well with a bit of work does some things par excallance . I use it as a commuter , light tourer and back road blaster , plus it looks great .

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  5. mpolans says:

    Triumph has should serve as a shining example of how to revive an extinct motorcycle marque. Folks trying to bring back Norton, Indian, Excelsior-Henderson, Vincent, etc should take note.

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  6. JR says:

    OK.. as mentioned.. more Triumph dealerships or at least join with other brands of existing dealerships already in the USA. Then make the Bonneville look and sound just like the 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120R. (Like I owned..) Now with all the up to date improvements they have currently while adding, hydraulic lifters, belt drive and a 1000 cc air cooled engine. This way all the good looks and power are there, along with light weight and trouble free ownership. This is a motorcycle cruiser that I think lots people would love to own.

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  7. Fuzzyson says:

    I still own my first Triumph, a 2001 Trophy 1200 that I bought in ’03 with under 10k. I had two other bikes at the time that I rode too. I eventually sold them because the only one I was riding was the Trophy. Triumph seems to do a lot of marketing and development. So why are they in the cruiser market? Cruisers are a dime a dozen from all the Asian companies and Hardy Davidson, rarely do I see any Speedmasters or other Triumph models at bike shows and rallies. The Sprint was great in it’s day, but it’s old and stale. Sport bikes with bags are out. It’s either cruisers, adventure bikes or touring bikes.
    Triumph-how about a new, updated Trophy to compete with the Yamaha FJR1300 & Honda ST1300?

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    • EmpireBob says:

      Fuzzy: It’s due to be released this Fall, and it will be the one to finally replace my ’97 Trophy. I’m glad to see the number of inquiries that we are getting for them.

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  8. Gary says:

    Not sure I agree that there were “few missteps.” I’m seeing a whole lot of Rockets and Sprints languishing in showroom floors. Pity, too, because both are great bikes. I’ve got my eye on that new Tiger Adventure.

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  9. Kluffer says:

    Triumph has set a great example with their slow and steady comeback. Dropping the fours was a smart move. Focus on what you’re good at and keep producing interesting motorcycles. They have done their homework and it’s paying off. If I had more $ or fewer hobbies I would buy my Triumphs new. What I would buy: a Speed Twin. Cross a Bonnie with a Speed Triple. Also, although I couldn’t afford it, I’d like to see them further differentiate their dp bikes with one model for the Multistrada and another to go up against the GS. Triumph understands the on-road/off-road split better than most. An 800 Sprint GT would also be interesting. As it is, I’ve had a ’98 Speed Triple for two years and for $2500 it was the best bike for the money I’ll ever have. It fit the bill as a backroads rocket and suburban commuter perfectly.I’m only selling it because I missed a twin. The triple was too smooth–guess I needed that rough thump-thump! So, I ended up with an ’03 Buell Lightning. Hope it stays together like the Speedie. Overall, Triumph makes exciting and interesting bikes in most every catagory. Keep it up!

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  10. daytonacharlie says:

    I’m still on my first Triumph, ’96 Daytona 1200 I bought in ’98 with 900 miles on the clock(it just turned 91,000 miles). I’m pleased to say they definitely build quality into their bikes. I’d love to have either of the new Tigers. The 800XC is a blast to ride and the new Explorer, by all accounts so far, looks to be even better. Congrats to Triumph and John Bloor for staying the course.

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  11. Bob says:

    The bike I miss the most that I have sold is my Daytona 955. It was a great bike that you could ride for a fairly long time without needing to stop to stretch. Reliable for the 25K miles I put on it. I so want to get another Triumph.

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    • Dale says:

      The Daytona 955i was a stand out Motorcycle in my eyes as well. 95% of the performance of the “race replicas” with twice the comfort. At redline a sound that is Righteous! An Aston Martin to your Ferrari if you will, a Gentleman’s express.

      Triumph has established itself as a leader in a tough industry by making bikes that are fun to ride. That Tiger 800XC wants to have me own it.

      Rock on Triumph!

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  12. mechanicuss says:

    [http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery%20%20A/Triumph%20Trident%20T160%20750%2075%20%201.jpg]

    gee whiz the t160 sure was a beautiful motorcycle (sigh).

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  13. Gandalf says:

    I have loved Triumph’s since the redesign. All of the British bikes when they were popular in the United States, in the 50′s, 60′s and early 70′s had reliability problems and their unit cost’s were high compared to the Japanese bikes that rang their death knell, with their performance and reliability and cost.

    I’m on my 69th street/ adventure/ tourer, cruiser, supersport bike, (Current is a 2010 Honda NT 700 and a Suzuki C109R boulevard cruiser)etc and only one was a Triumph and it was my new 2010 Scrambler. Now that bike was sweet in oh so many ways but it lacked upper-midrange and top end power and speed. 90 mph and it was finished. It had excellent torque, spot on fuel injection, good brakes for it’s intended purpose, handled well and rode nice for it’s low end suspension products.

    Before the NT, I had a sweet 2009 Triumph 1250 Tiger that I came VERY close to buying. We bought 2 NT’s instead.

    How about this: Take the Scrambler platform and turn it into an ‘adventure bike!’ Bigger tank, better seat,an aluminum skid plate, upgraded instruments, upgraded suspension components, windscreen, engine guard, luggage rack, available hard bags and trunk, better lights, drop 1 tooth on the countershaft sprocket and maybe work on the intake/ exhaust, with a more aggressive camshaft and freer flowing exhaust! I think it would sell.

    There is magic however in Triumph’s 3 cylinder engines!

    They also need to expand their dealers—the USA is a big place and Triumph dealers as well as Ducati and BMW are sorely lacking and that doesn’t build confidence for us long distance riders.

    Sam:)

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    • bikerrandy says:

      If you have real confidence in your MC you don’t need dealers all over the place. I’ve been touring for 40 years and have never yet needed a dealer. I don’t buy a bike because it has many dealers.

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      • mickey says:

        You need a dealer if you want to see or buy one. I had to drive over 100 miles just to look at a Triumph when I bought mine. We also have the same problem with my son’s Ducati. 30 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio to Lexington, Kentucky just to look at one. On either bike if you need anything, its drive 2 1/2 hours, order it…. because they never seem to have anything in stock, drive 2 1/2 hours home. Repeat when part/accessory service comes in or is done. I imagine its far worse in the west or in Canada. Any bike can break down, it’s nice if there’s a dealer somewhere nearby to get you back on the road.

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        • Irv says:

          Yes, there is civilization in Canada. lol I live in a small town and there are 4 stand alone dealers here. 90% of their business is ATV and sleds. I think there are only 3 triumph dealers in the province though.

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          • Gord says:

            I don’t know if it’s actually the case, but the former Triumph dealer in Kingston told me a couple of years back that the company pulled out of all the small centres and will focus only on larger cities (e.g., Toronto).

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        • bikerrandy says:

          My last maxi-scooter purchase, which I got for long distance rides, I drove 700 miles to pick up. My closest dealer of that brand is 170 miles from my home. Maybe we see this subject differently because I do most bike/scooter maintenance myself. Do you ?

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          • mickey says:

            Randy if you are talking to me, I do most of the maint on my motorcycles and scooters myself but rely on my dealer for some and of course for any warranty work. Hoever I don’t always ride near my tools or carry enough tools to do more than rudimentary work while touring. Find yourself without spark 2000 miles from home, you’ll appreciate a decent dealer network.

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          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Find yourself without spark 2000 miles from home, you’ll appreciate a decent dealer network.”

            no… he won’t.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “They also need to expand their dealers—the USA is a big place and Triumph dealers as well as Ducati and BMW are sorely lackin”

      don’t look for this to change anytime soon. the devaluing nature of motorcyclists (see bikerrandy) is at odds with the cost of purchasing a franchise for any one of these european brands. it’s been a common myth for decades amongst motorcyclists that your local dealer and the factory are one in the same. the truth is it’s just a business (same as any other) owned by an individual who’s trying to pay his employees and keep the lights on.

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  14. Nick says:

    I currently own ’98 and ’09 Triumphs and can’t imagine ever selling either. Neither are terribly fast or cutting edge high tech, but they are both extremely well built, very reliable, unique, and immense fun to ride. Throw in reasonable prices and I think Triumph’s biggest niche is “common sense”.

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  15. Steve says:

    When direct injection finally hits the motorcycle industry the size and weight of motorcycles will drastically shrink and the power will go up. I am looking forward to it.

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  16. Irv says:

    The mid-size dual-sport is a category that is owned by the klr650. There is going to be a lot of growth in this category over the next decade largely due to restrictions for off-road riding areas.

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    • Goose says:

      I’m curious why you think DI will cut weight? I haven’t read anything to that effect.

      Unless it brings two strokes back (possible) I can’t see DI having much effect on bikes. A higher price, a little more power and probably better “fueling” and fuel mileage because it lets the designer give the engine the amount of fuel it needs less compromised by the requirements of the ever tightening emission standards but it will not be the big improvement seen in cars.

      Goose

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      • Irv says:

        The issue with di is the extremely high (2000 psi) pressure required. This requires a two stage fuel pump. Auto and diesel pumps are thousands of dollars to replace.

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        • Goose says:

          Irv,

          Obviously my post was intended for Steve but thanks for the response. I hope my post made it clear I don’t see DI as a big deal. The price might come down as volume goes up but in the end it will raise prices and not make a huge difference in performance. It will not be a panacea.

          Unless DI allows two strokes to come back, that would be a game changer. A lightly supercharged, poppet valve two-stroke could even have the option of “four stroking” in cruise mode for milage and then “two-stroking” for power when the throttle is opened. Imagine a 600 that makes nearly 1200 power when the throttle is WFO.

          Goose

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  17. mark says:

    I own both a 2001 Bonneville and a 2011 Tiger 800 XC, and both bikes leave me thinking, “Holy crap, I love this bike!” every time I ride them. Triumph has been doing a brilliant job putting out bikes people actually want, bikes that work great on the street, not just on the track, and that have a lot of personality. And as a result they’ve actually been increasing their sales as the Japanese companies are in decline.

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  18. edpix says:

    I am STILL waiting for Triumph to make a liter class version of the Daytona!
    It seems so obvious, I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet.

    I think they should make a 1100cc triple that splits the 1000cc 4 cylinders and 1200cc twins and then have the rules makers allow that configuration and size be allowed into the Superbike classes.

    I would buy one in a heart beat if it was done right!

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    • Hot Dog says:

      Yes, a triple with 1100cc should be allowed. A 3′s schrill whail is a siren indeed!

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I think they should make a 1100cc triple that splits the 1000cc 4 cylinders and 1200cc twins and then have the rules makers allow that configuration and size be allowed into the Superbike classes.”

      i agree, unfortunately simply allowing it, doesn’t mean anybody would make one (remember the benelli, remember the petronas, remember the alamo!). unlike that field of dreams movie, this is not “build it and they will come”. in the 21st century, it’s build it, then “watch it be quickly devalued by the very people you built it for”.

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  19. michael says:

    Good job Triumph but you could do better. Let’s see: (1) send more than 2 of each motorcycle to your US sales sites each year; (2) Oh, add more sales sites; your district managers chopped off a few very good ones when the recession hit, probably too late to ask them back; (3) sad to see the same side-flip-open side bags on the forthcoming Trophy. Yuk, I assume your design team never took a sport touring bike out for more than a weekend. How about using it for day-to-day work or an extended trip. With the side bags every time you open it up (yes, I know there are elastic straps) everything falls out – but hey, maybe that is intentional design move to keep the end user guessing which gadget will fall out 1st , hit the pavement and break. Again, good job Triumph. I have 2 of your products, older ones, but they are top notch (except for the alternator on the Bonneville SE, a sad affair like the BMW final drive failures of a few years ago). Don’t rest on your laurels, the Japanese and Germans are watching…….

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    • Vrooom says:

      I think I prefer the flip open bags to the top opening. Yes, if you turn the key and get out of the way you’ll be picking up your stuff from the parking lot, but it’s easy to find what you’re looking for, and if you put a leg in front to keep them from opening fully you can keep your crap in the bag. The Givi Keyless bag is the best of both worlds with both top opening and clamshell design.

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      • mickey says:

        My ST 1300 has side opening cases and it’s never been as issue for us. We use bags made for the saddlebags we pack beforehand and carry into the motel or tent. If you need anything out of the bag you just pull out that bag, sit it on the motorcycle seat, unzip the top and dig in. Retrieve what you need, zip back up and stuff it back in the side case. Never had anything spill out onto the side of the road.

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    • EmpireBob says:

      Michael: Like Vroom, I prefer the side bags also, it’s easier to get to stuff at the bottom. In regards to the 2 bikes per dealer, a dealer can essentially order as many as they want, unless it is a special edition, or a brand new bike introduction where quantiities are limited until they catch up with demand.

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  20. Tim says:

    Triumph seems to be slowly covering all the bases. Of all the bikes on the market two years ago the Tiger 1050 was the one that best fit my needs. It is almost perfect for me. I’m becoming concerned however, that the Tiger 800 Road version may be a little more perfect since I do a little off pavement riding and would do more with a more dirt capable bike.

    I previously owned a Street Triple and loved it but it was too uncomfortable for my ancient carcass which starts to seize up after about an hour and a half. The Tiger 1050 has excellent ergos and the Tiger 800 is slightly better. Not to mention I also owned a Daytona 675 which was a veritable torture rack after 45 minutes. So I’m going to test ride a Tiger 800 and we’ll see from there.

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  21. Josh B. says:

    I’m now looking forward to that Tiger 1050 Sport that was caught by MCN. It may be closest to that Sprint 800 that I’ve been wanting, provided the engine uses the new Speed Triple’s and the weight is kept down.

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  22. John says:

    Triumph could do several things to keep this on a roll –

    1. Come out with a 530cc twin based on the new 800cc triple. This could be used in several models – a Triumph Tiger Cub which would be practical and efficient commuter, and a Tiger Trail which would be more of a true dual-sport than the other Tigers, going up against KLR650. It could also power a twin-cylinder Super Moto type hooligan bike to take on the Duke.

    2. A 400cc single engine, which could power an even lighter and smaller trail bike. There are no real trail bikes any more. Everything is basically a race bike. And a single cylinder naked commuter.

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  23. Goose says:

    I don’t see a bike this expensive in my near term future but, especially after riding the 800, if I was in the market the Triumph would be leading the race, pending getting a road test. I like adventure tourers but after owning a dozen BMWs (including 4 GSs) I very strongly doubt I’ll own another BMW so the R12GS is out, the Yamaha Tenere seems like a nice bike but just doesn’t inspire me to own one.

    To the sub text of the post, yes, Triumph is really on a roll. I got a chance to ride a few of the new ones. I’m not a traditional cruiser type but I surprised by how much fun even the morbidly obese Rocket III tourer was.

    Goose

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  24. mickey says:

    Got to say I had one of his Bonnevilles (2003). To quote the British commercials it was “Brilliant”. Very nice motorcycle. Not quite as charismatic or raw edged as the original, but a better motorcycle in nearly every way.

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  25. MUSTAFA IBRAHIM says:

    Now I would like to see some 450cc bikes from Triumph, based on the excellent 675cc engine. I think a lightweight adventure bike, tipping the scales at no more than 350 lbs, with a reasonable price, would sell like crazy.

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