Motorcycle Daily takes note of Triumph’s sales strength in the US, while other manufacturers’ sales are slumping. They explain it as follows:
The advantage Triumph has is its heritage of triples and parallel twins. Virtually no other company has this heritage, and Triumph can therefore develop motorcycles that have very little competition in the market. “Competition” here means similar heritage and design.
When Triumph realized the folly of competing with the Japanese in the inline-four cylinder supersport market, and abandoned that format for the 675cc triple, it instantly found success. The triple gave it a different exhaust note, broader power curve, narrower engine and chassis, and, most importantly, a tie to its heritage of building performance triples.
While everyone else is building v-twin cruisers, Triumph cruisers are parrallel twins with a strong heritage that includes Marlon Brando, among other notable reference points.
I’m not sure that the “parallel twin” argument carries much weight. The Big Four all have a number of parallel twins. But the Bonneville, Scrambler and Thruxton definitely have a certain recognizeable heritage, especially to people in their 40’s, like me. We remember those bikes from when we were kids. They were really–outside of the then-monster Harleys–the gold standard of style and power in an era where the 500cc motorcycle was the big boys bike.
Where MD really hits the nail on the head is Triumph’s dominance of the triple powerplant. Other than Benelli, which is hardly a premier marque in the US–Triumph stands alone with a line of three-cylinder motorcycles. Based on sales figures, a number of riders seem to be learning that the Triples have a unique performance advantage compared to the twins or I-4s. Triumphs offer the low-end grunt of a twin, without sacrificing the high-end horsepower you get from an I-4.
They also have a distinctive look. Triumph really has hit it out of the park in terms of styling, whether it’s the retro-cool of the Scrambler, or the smooth modernity of the Sprint ST–with a single-sided swingarm, no less. (Not all of Triumph’s bikes are a hit with everyone in the looks department, of course. The agricultural engine of the Rocket III really divides opinions sharply.)
Triumph also competes aggressively on price. For instance, the 2010 Sprint ST sells for $12.7k, while the big four are pushing their STs at $15K and up. They really are an outstanding value for the money.
John Bloor really has done a fantastic job of bringing this venerable brand back to life.
Now, If he could just get the Sprint fitted with a shaft drive…