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10th August 2005

Top Triumphs

A bit of new bike news, for a change. Triumph's big-bore bikes are selling well, but the Bonneville is the most popular (if you fiddle the figures just a bit!)...

Triumph have done rather well so far this year, and the success of their 1050cc models, the Sprint ST and Speed Triple, gave the British company something to celebrate this summer. The brand has seen increased sales around the world in the last 12 months - up 40% in the USA, up 34% in Japan, up 43% in France and Switzerland, and up 10% in the UK - despite a static home market. Overall, Triumph has grown by 25% in the last two years, underlining the firm's development since the factory fire in 2002.

Thruxton. Throbbing.

Although the new motorcycle market in the UK continues to be dominated by high speed supersports machines like Suzuki's GSX-R1000, Triumph's success is being built in the fringes - reflecting the UK's gradual shift towards unfaired streetbikes, sport-tourers and adventure/sport models. The public still prefers to buy supersports machines from Japan, however, and Triumph's Daytona 650 and 955i haven't made much of a dent against the machines like Kawasaki's ZX-6R or the Honda Fireblade.

However, the 1050cc Sprint ST is not only the best-selling Triumph in Britain, it's also the best-selling bike in its sport-touring category. The Sprint is comfortably out-selling Honda's competing models which flank it in capacity, the VFR800 and the Pan-European ST1300A, and it's beating BMW at their own game, too - leading the R1200RT, K1200S and R1200ST.

Sprint ST. Quality.
Random Triumphs on

The boot is on the other foot in the Adventure/Sport category, where BMW's R1200GS is in a league of its own. But Triumph's Tiger is the only other litre-class machine to come close to the GS, proving to be way more popular with the British punters than the Suzuki V-Strom, Yamaha TDM900 or Honda Varadero. It's a similar story in the streetbike class, where the most popular machine is Yamaha's FZ6. However, the 1050 Speed Triple runs a close second and is way ahead of the Yamaha XJR1300, Honda CB900 Hornet, Kwacker Z1000, 1200 Bandit, et al.

Triumphs are also selling strongly in other crucial areas of the UK market - the Bonneville, for example, has all but cornered the retro sector. In its 'deluxe' T100 trim, the Bonneville is Triumph's third best-selling model, and if you combine all the varieties of Bonneville - Bonnie, Speedmaster, Thruxton and America - then it's easily Triumph's top selling machine. In total, more people have ridden away on new T100s so far this year than splashed their cash on, say, CB600F Hornets.

Bonneville and T100. Left handlebar is an optional extra on the basic Bonneville.

Similarly, the custom-cruiser Rocket III is going great guns, despite its 12,000 price tag. Triumph's two-litre out-sells every Harley-Davidson model bar one (the Softail is slightly more popular and so leads the custom sector), and sales of the Rocket III this year are more than double those of Harley's V-Rod.

There's no doubt that the success of the custom and retro models are fuelling Triumph's growth abroad, particularly in the USA and Japan. However, the company still has a lot of ground to make up if it's going to sell its sportbikes to its home market. The supersport category represents roughly one-third of the whole UK roadbike market and it would help Triumph no end to get a slice of that pie -- yet, despite producing some serious competitors in the shape of the current Daytona models, sales success still seems to elude the marque.

Perhaps the company's future policy of producing only their distinctive triple and parallel twin engines will give supersports riders a real reason to buy British from now on. The success of the Sprint ST and Speed Triple certainly seems to suggest that the market might well be moving in Triumph's direction. Meanwhile, it's up to Bonneville enthusiasts to keep the home fires burning Speed Triple. I'd have one.

Top Triumphs

New UK sales, Jan to June 2005:

  • 1: Sprint ST 1050
  • 2: Speed Triple 1050
  • 3: T100
  • 4: Rocket III
  • 5: Tiger 955
  • 6: Daytona 650
  • 7: Bonneville
  • 8: Thruxton
  • 9: Daytona 955i
  • 10: Sprint RS

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