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Should Triumph make a superbike?

A high-performance machine now could make sense

TRIUMPH hasn't made a real superbike for years. Not that it couldn't, you understand – the Daytona 675 and the rest of the firm's modern range show it's got the technology – but the Hinckley firm decided a decade ago that it just didn't want to play that game. Now the world's a very different place, and the reasons that made that decision sensible might not hold so true any more.

Back in the 90s, Triumph saw an opportunity to create a superbike that sat somewhere between 'exotica' – notably Ducati's 916 – and mainstream superbikes, then led by the Honda Fireblade. The resulting T595 hit the mark, but soon the pace of its rivals' development left it gasping in their wake; a decent, solid bike but not at the cutting edge.

Now, the world is very different. Japanese superbike development has slowed to a snail's pace. Not long ago they'd be significantly uprated every couple of years and entirely replaced every four. But today, with sales far lower than their peak, profit margins thinner and less available scope for significant development, changes are much rarer and those that do happen are relatively slight. Meanwhile, changing exchange rates have allowed the likes of BMW, MV Agusta and Ducati to make superbikes that can compete with Japan's offerings on price as well as ability.

Triumph has been one of the winners of the economic downturn. Helped by the same exchange rates that have hurt Japanese manufacturers, it's offerings are increasingly attractively-priced, technologically right up there with its rivals and still manage to hang on to an aura of “high-end” product.

Now, with more R&D facilities and finances than ever in its history, the ability to produce bikes not only in the UK but in Asia and a range that's as modern and complete as virtually any rival, Triumph may be in the perfect position to re-enter the superbike arena. Once the not-really-a-secret-any-more Trophy tourer appears it should have a potential market leader in every big-bike category (sports, retro, naked – big and middleweight – dual-sport and touring) with one obvious exception...

Our understanding is that while publicly Triumph traditionally dismisses the idea of a superbike – usually citing the difficulty in keeping up the development pace given the relatively small market – it's actually kept a weather eye on the situation. Will the firm take the plunge and actually make one? Not in the immediate future (it will take years to develop, and there's no sign of such development just yet) but we certainly wouldn't write the idea off.

What do you think? Is Triumph wise in steering clear of the superbike battle of one-upmanship? Or is it missing a trick? Let the debate commence...

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