First Ride: Triumph Trophy 1200 review

Techno overload

Just got back from a pretty epic day’s riding around the Scottish Highlands on Triumph’s new 1200 Trophy.

We’ve clocked up about 250 miles today and there’s another 350-400 to go, tomorrow.

The feedback from every other journalist in my group (don't just take my word for it) is that Triumph are bang on the money with this bike. Not only does it fit everyone from 6ft 8 to 5ft 4 but it does it in a way that means it’s always easy to manage, always comfortable and always fun to ride. Not always the case with all the opposition in this class...

I’ll check back in tomorrow with a more detailed update but these are my initial impressions.

The electrically adjustable screen is fantastic. At the flick of a rocker switch it’ll go from sports bike-short to the size of one of those persepex screens you get on old C90 Hondas. You know, the ones you peer through. The angle of it and range of adjustment means the ride is buffet-free whatever your riding style or physical size. A big hit with everyone.

Buffets are for weddings.

The aerodynamics really keep you dry, too. We’ve had some fairly gusty gustiness today and at times very wet wetness today but the fairing deflects most of the nasties away from the rider. The back of my Arai was the wettest part of me today. The rest of me was drier than a pilgrim's pocket. 

The mirrors – Pan European-low-boy-style – are superb, so too is the riding position. Those cast alloy tiller bars are great. They even make it easy to chuck the 300kilos of Trophy around from one bank of lean to the other. Yup, she flicks good. For a big lass.

The engineers have managed to either place all the weight fairly low in the chassis or at least create an illusion of a low C of G. I couldn’t quite get both feet flat on the floor (there is a lower seat available but not today) but I never felt threatened by the weight of the bike despite doing endless gravel lay-by U-turns for photo sessions and all during a 70mph gusting side wind.

There’s a taller sixth gear ration than the Explorer 1200 (it’s exactly the same engine). It’s massively high, giving 73mph at 4,000rpm and 90 at 5,000. A test obviously undertaken on private property after conducting an extensive dynamic risk assessment. Into some of today’s headwinds, up some of today’s mountainous gradients it even meant a stamp down a gear to hoof past cars even though this engine could hardly be accused of lacking low down and mid range grunt. Sixth is taller than Ben Nevis, in fact.

The dash, clocks and electronic aids? Bugger off. I haven’t got all night, I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. In fifteen chapters. With foot notes and a Powerpoint tutorial.

Before I go and thaw out in a hot bath, what didn’t I like?

I didn’t like the way it aims for the heather if you (front) trail-brake deep into a corner. Use the front brake with any purpose mid-corner and it runs really wide. The first time it did this it rattled me enough to change my riding style to make sure I never had to brake mid-corner all day or, if I did, to use equal amounts of rear brake to keep the bike’s attitude level. The brakes are linked. There’s permanent ABS but I’ll tell you more about all this on the morrow. 

I didn’t like all the tappetty top-end noise but it was only the last few miles (without earplugs) where I started to notice this. If this were a Meriden Triumph I’d be getting the feeler gauges out. Reckon it’s more of a design issue. Maybe it’s because the spring loaded backlash gear whine normally associated with Triumph triples isn’t there to dampen out the bucket and shim gaps? I am but stabbing in the dark. Trouble is, that’s not the sort of question spokespeople like answering but I shall try after a beer or two tonight.

Sounds like it needs a shim-job, though, even if it is well within service tolerances.

The speakers on the audio were a bit of a let down as well. They cope with sounds in the snare drum or horn spectrum but anything bassier than a floor tom or the upper strings of a guitar and the noise quality turns to mud. Better off using your I-pod and headphones at anything other than walking pace. If you like the brass, string and horn of Sinatra, you might just be able to hear it all at 70mph. If your fave tunes are by Lee Scratch Perry, forget it.

Music and bikes? Split the camp today, that one. The legendary scribbler and man about town, Sir Alan Cathcart, was visibly shocked by the very suggestion of songs and cycles in the same sentence.

Right, I’m off.

But before I go, let me just say that this is a massive, massive bike. But not in the physical sense. It doesn’t feel big.

No, it’s the spec list that’s massive. I’ve been hammering away on this keyboard for so long that my warming bath is now cold and, you know what? I haven’t even scratched the surface of what this bike can and will do.

Four hundred miles tomorrow and I’ll be back with the rest of the scoop.