Is Triumph already focused on electric dirt bikes?

Triumph’s acquisition of Oset offers some intriguing possibilities for its off-road future, and where it might stack up to the established marques.

Triumph Motorcycles entrance

Since it became clear last year that Triumph was going to start building dirt bikes, much anticipation has built over its project. 

That project continues to inch closer to a full launch, especially after the announcement earlier this week that Triumph has acquired Oset

In the press release announcing the acquisition of Oset, Triumph said it has come “Ahead of the launch of [Triumph’s] motocross and enduro range.” The wording, particularly the use of “ahead”, implies that the full launch of Triumph’s motocross range is not far away. Of course, “ahead” is not a specific term, it does not mean with absolute certainty that the launch is close, but it is a word from which the proximity of the launch can be inferred. 

Rumours suggest that the Triumph dirt bikes will also feature engines from KTM. Of course, KTM is not a stranger to having its off-roaders re-badged, but, in the cases of GasGas and Husqvarna, its bikes are painted with the alternative colours of brands that it already owns. Triumph, though, is not owned by KTM. 

So, while the engine might come from Austria, the rest of the engineering is likely to be done by Triumph, and it is possible that this decision will have another, longer-term motivation. 

The Stark Varg is currently receiving generally positive reviews and feedback from the media which was able to ride it in a test day in Spain a couple of weeks ago. The Varg is an electric dirt bike which offers the potential for the power and characteristics of a traditional combustion dirt bike in almost any configuration - from 125cc two-stroke to 450cc four-stroke - with the other benefits of electrics such as the lack of noise (which is of benefit when considering that tracks such as even the famous Lommel circuit are being faced with threats of closure due to noise complaints with combustion bikes), and instant and linear torque. 

Additionally, the major drawback of electrics is the range. But, in motocross, this is not so much of an issue. A battery only has to last for 35 minutes in order to complete a moto in a US National or a World Championship Grand Prix, which are the highest levels of competition in the sport. 

What this means is that, from a competition standpoint, motocross is almost the perfect place for electric bikes, even if the current period is one of nostalgia for two-strokes. 

From that perspective, it almost makes no sense for Triumph to focus on building its own 450cc and 250cc four-stroke engines for motocross and enduro, when in fact that engine might only see a couple of years of use before the category’s electrification intensifies. 

We know that both Honda and KTM are developing electric technology for their dirt bikes, and Yamaha’s anticipated ‘all-new’ YZ450F for 2023 could be its final major update of its long-standing flagship dirt bike before it begins to focus on electric development. 

From Triumph’s acquisition of Oset, who make electric kids’ dirt bikes, from their rumoured usage of KTM engines in their initial, combustion dirt bikes, and from the progress of their TE-1 electric project, it can be inferred that Triumph is essentially preparing for electric motocross and enduro already.

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