First Look: 2010 Triumphs - The Empire Strikes Back

Triumph releases six special editions, promises seven new models by 2012

At a time when much of the motorcycle industry is in a holding pattern, it’s encouraging to hear Triumph Motorcycles North America CEO Mark Kennedy say his company plans to release no less than seven new models by 2012. That was the crux of Kennedy’s keynote address at the recent Triumph U.S. Dealer Conference in Orlando, Florida. Kennedy showed dealers a concept drawing of a new, more off road-oriented Tiger and made references to both an updated Sprint ST sport-tourer and a larger-capacity, Trophy-type touring bike to compete against Kawasaki’s Concours 14, indicating what some of those new models will look like.

Triumph, which has sold nearly 100,000 motorcycles since returning to America in 1995, gained market share in every category it competes in last year. The British company hopes to continue that growth by expanding its current product line of 16 models in three families (Cruiser, Urban and Modern Classic) to 23 models in seven families over the next two years, and entering new categories where the company currently does not compete.

The new touring and adventure touring platforms are anticipated to debut in 2011, powered by the larger-capacity triple Triumph is working on now to replace the current, 1050cc version. Encouraged by the success of the unconventional Daytona 675, Triumph will likely return to the liter-plus sportbike segment the following year. That leaves one remaining new “family,” which will almost certainly be some sort of entry-level offering. Triumph’s present lineup of cruisers, retro standards and sophisticated urban bikes appeals overwhelmingly to experienced, mature riders. A line of inexpensive, fashionable machines powered by a two-cylinder derivative of the 675 triple—or even a new single-cylinder engine—would fill a void for entry level, youth oriented product.

Until then, Triumph is marking time with a parade of new parts-binners also announced in Orlando. The Thunderbird SE is a light-touring version of the standard Thunderbird cruiser, fit with a detachable windscreen, leather saddlebags, luggage rack and floorboards. The Thunderbird 1700 is bored out to 1700cc, increasing power from 85 to 99 bhp, and finished in exclusive Phantom Red Haze paint. Triumph will import 100 examples of the Bonneville Sixty into America, each marked with a numbered handlebar clamp and two-tone Meriden/Caspian Blue paint that commemorates the 1960 Bonneville, while the Bonnie Black T100 is an all-black Bonneville with spoked wheels. Finally, special graphics distinguish new SE versions of the popular Speed Triple and Daytona 675 sportbikes.

This news from Triumph gives motorcycle enthusiasts lots to look forward to in the near future, and is a good strategy for the company, too. A full plate of new and exciting products will position Triumph for big gains as soon market rebounds—especially if competing brands have nothing new on standby.