Smart Money Tips: 2013–2015 Triumph Trophy SE

The Trophy made a lasting name for itself among sport-touring riders.

How to buy a used Triumph Trophy SE
Hoiw to buy a used 2013–2015 Triumph Trophy SE, and two appealing alternatives.©Motorcyclist

Ever since 1984, when Triumph crawled out of the dustbin of moto-history, blinked at what it saw, and resolved never again to be a company that died from its own refusal to progress, the reborn Hinckley concern has gone from—well, it has to be said—one triumph to the next. In 1995 it outfitted two existing bikes, a triple and four, for sport-touring, but dropped both in 2002, perhaps deciding a clean-sheet design would be better. In 2013 that design sprang forth fully realized when Triumph lobbed a grenade at the perennial class leader, BMW's R1200RT. The Trophy might not have scored a direct hit but it made a lasting name for itself among sport-touring riders.

The Trophy is powered by a 1,215cc triple borrowed from the Tiger Explorer and detuned for better flexibility and more low-end torque. The gearbox got an “overdrive” sixth gear for those long stretches of tarmac and an improved version of the Tiger’s cruise control. A sound system, ABS, electronically adjustable suspension, and full instrumentation came along for the ride.

2013–2015 Triumph Trophy SE
2013–2015 Triumph Trophy SE©Motorcyclist

The SE’s twin-spar aluminum frame was designed with a slim profile and light weight—a claimed 25 pounds—as primary goals. A longer swingarm and driveshaft than the Explorer added stability to a chassis that exhibited low-effort, responsive steering. Electronically adjustable suspension and an integrated tire-pressure monitoring system were standard features on the SE.

Also standard was a two-speaker audio system with a radio and ports for digital devices, as well as dual Bluetooth transceivers for helmet comms. The SE’s options listed included a top trunk, heated grips, heated seats in two heights, bag liners, and a clip-on tank bag. Despite a claimed weight of 660 pounds with a full tank and all fluids topped off, the Trophy SE feels light on its feet once under way. The long swingarm dampens driveshaft jacking very effectively, and the Nissin binders can be applied midcorner without making the SE stand at attention. The isolation-mounted panniers have an alarming tendency to move around, but it’s for a good cause; Triumph claims uncoupling the weight of the bags from the chassis improves handling.

Triumph dealers aren’t as numerous as some other brands, so parts and factory service might be hard to find. If you tackle a big job on a bike like the SE without the right tools and know-how, you could come to regret it. Some “simple” jobs like air-filter or spark-plug replacement, for example, require removing acres of bodywork. As with any bike this complex and expensive, complete service records should come with any used purchase unless the seller is named Alfie or Colin, drinks a lot of tea, and has a vintage Speed Twin tattooed on his arm.

A stroll around the internet turns up a wide range of opinions about the Trophy SE's reliability. Some riders report thousands of miles of trouble-free riding while others report annoying stretches of downtime; issues related to the bike's electronics figure prominently in the latter category. If you're in the market for a used Trophy SE, stop whatever you're doing and sign up for, where every problem from malfunctioning heated grips to severe front-tire wobble is discussed, diagnosed, and treated.

CHEERS: Grunty engine, sophisticated chassis, full array of amenities.
JEERS: Not as numerous as other sport-tourers, so maybe a bit harder to fix and accessorize.
WATCH FOR: Head shake, electrical gremlins, pending factory recalls.
VERDICT: A solid performer, a good alternative to the familiar sport-touring machines from Germany and Japan.
2013 / $13,375
2014 / $13,930
2015 / $15,465

Also Smart...

2002 Trophy 1200
1995–2002 Trophy 1200
Powered by an 1,180cc four, the Trophy 1200 emphasized the sport in sport-touring. Tall, with firm suspension, it was at home on back roads and highways alike. The windscreen wasn't to everyone's taste, and there wasn't much for the technophile to boast about. Often described as "massively over-engineered," reliability was exemplary, and passenger accommodations helped sales to riders seeking the approval of spousal units.
2002 Trophy 900
1995–2002 Trophy 900
The other of the two bikes Triumph equipped with bags and a fairing to compete in the sport-touring segment—and arguably the better choice for the conversion. The 855cc triple was a joy to unleash, making it more popular than the brawnier yet beefier 1200 (the 900's claimed dry weight was 33 pounds less). Suspension damping skewed toward the soft end of the spectrum, but crisp handling and good brakes encouraged back-road bravado.