Our man Ken Kirby has been out in Portugal testing out Triumph’s new range of bikes. Here’s his report from the front line:
It’s amazing when you sit down to write a piece and the first step is getting the introduction down before you can get into the “headline” part of the copy. It’s always the hardest thing as, there is so much that needs to be said but how do you get to it?
Start with a location I guess.
Quinta de Marinha is a beautiful hotel specifically tailored for the golfing fraternity but, also sits on the coast of Portugal which then climbs into the mountains of the region where Lisbon sits. Its a natural bowl with sea on one side and mountains on the other.
It’s also the place where Triumph elected to debut some of the most eagerly awaited and radical motorbikes they have produced. The organisation of an event such as this is incredible. Not only do they have to entertain a load of UK dealers but, they also have to entertain the worlds dealers, the worlds press and Triumph subsidiary team members who need to ride and appraise the bikes as well as part of their remit to advise and assist in the roll out and supply to the global market.
It’s a massive undertaking and they were absolutely brilliant at it!
The structure was get out in groups of ten with a lead bike, a tail rider and the rest of the occupants in the middle of the sandwich. At certain stops the riders switch bikes so getting a run of each model. The models were, Street Twin, Bonneville T120, Thruxton R, Speed Triple and the all new Explorer.
As you can imagine, that’s a lot of bikes when you have 5 groups running. Epic organisation.
The route was a mixture of mountain roads, super sharp hairpins, super super sharp hairpins and more mountain roads that eventually led down to a rip along the coast back to the hotel. There has been bundles of reviews written about all of the machines and it doesn’t take much reading to know that the press love all the new Hinckley marvels. Rightly so. However, the customers that have actually placed their hard earned where they put the pizza on a Saturday night want to understand that they are entering into a new era with their loved brand, want to feel that the informed (or not! it was a rush of passion) choice they had made is the correct one.
All I can report is, that if you placed your order on one of these incredible machines you are going to be the proud owner of the most accomplished and polished pieces of automotive art and functionality on the planet!
My day started on the T120 black. The big 1200 twin was fluid, massively torquey and had the tallest gearbox that I’ve had the pleasure to ride. The gears snicked into place and the motor tugged the bike along with control and ease. The rider can enjoy it’s poise and power or, just boogie around town on a single cog swooping in and out of the traffic.
Next. Explorer. Definitely taking an already excellent adventure style motorbike and moving on to a place that only others can look in awe. It not only boasts semi active suspension that soaks up the quite enthusiastic Portuguese potholes but also incorporates cornering stability which aids the bike track through corners even when the line tightens and requires a demanding push on the bars to roll through the bend. Our guides all used the Explorers and could manage a brisk and safe pace while keeping their groups intact.
Now my love of the Speed Triple is immeasurable. It is the best bike on the planet bar none. FACT!
The new Speed Triple R is sublime. The power is delivered with infinite control, the Ohlins suspension offers a level of feel and stability which translates into an experience that the bike just disappears. It’s like you just fly along. This new evolution increases that emotion and you get off patting the tank every time.
We have had our Street Twin for some time so, I’m pretty used to the way the bike handles and goes. However, this was the first time I’ve ridden this 900 baby over such demanding
circumstances. All of my fellow riders preferred the bigger engined bikes over the Street Twin. I disagreed. The Street held its own admirably over all the sections of the route I rode in on and you could completely trust it to tip into bends, scrape the foot pegs down and exit on a selected line not offering any protest over poor surfaces. Keep that engine short shifting through the slick 5 speed box and the bike will fly! Fantastic.
I guess the bike we had all been waiting to ride was the Thruxton R. I’ve been fortunate to sit on many of the bikes as we went through the show season and I thought it was tight, comfortable and had a presence to it that I’ve certainly not experienced before. The pre orders have been very encouraging with the second wave of customers who want to ride the bike first waiting patiently to have a go.
My recommendation? Put your name on one as soon as you can! This bike is a record breaker and will be the singly most successful machine that has been conceived and built by the team at Hinckley. It is quite simply a package that gels together, a package where every element is so neatly entwined the rider can’t select which one makes the bike so perfect. It handles, goes, stops and sounds inspiring! It fits, and flatters all that ride it with it’s massive hammer blows of torque smoothly put exactly where they are supposed to be. On the road! It will effortlessly drift along in a low gear nearly making a dent in the rev range or, dab it down a hear or two and crack the perfectly weighted ride by wire throttle open and feel the bike pull like the proverbial train! For all of our customers that have pre ordered one of the Thruxtons, I salute you!
Our day came to an end with all of the riders enjoying an experience which will be hard not to put into the memory banks as one of “those” special lifetime events.
Best bike of the day? Best bike for doing everything asked of it and being courteous and
manageable whilst it went about its business in an affable and effective manner?