This Looks Interesting…

MY13_Trophy_Pacific_Blue-1The long-lived staple for Triumph’s touring motorcycle was the Sprint ST. It’s dead now. In it’s place is the new Triumph Trophy, and it looks like a motorcycle aimed squarely at the BMW R1200RT.

The new Trophy has…well…everything, because here in North America, we’ll only be getting the top-of-the-line SE model, which comes fully loaded.

This all-new Triumph rides on an aluminum frame fitted with a single-sided swingarm and shaft final drive, and it is powered by a retuned version of the same 1215cc, dohc, 12-valve three-cylinder engine found in the Tiger Explorer adventure bike. It offers amenities comparable to or even exceeding those of some other big-rig tourers: linked ABS braking; traction control; cruise control; a ride-by-wire throttle system; a large (6.9-gallon) gas tank; a windshield electrically adjustable over a 6½-inch range; 31-liter detachable saddlebags with an optional 55-liter top trunk that includes a 12-volt power port; heated seats and grips; an adjustable-height rider seat; provisions for mounting an optional GPS receiver; a centerstand; and electronically adjustable headlights.

2013-Triumph-Trophy-02

Needless to say, that makes for a bit of a complicated cockpit, but certainly no more so than the RT has. It even looks quite a bit like the RT, though the its triple powerplant puts out 135HP and 89 torques. That’s 25HP more than the R1200RT, but, it also weighs about 70 pounds more.

No one has gotten one for testing yet, and I have to admit, I’d love to be able to test it, because I’m very curious to see how it stacks up to the RT in comfort and handling. Whatever else you may say about the RT, the handling is unmatched. It’s practically telepathic. It’s the best touring bike I’ve ever ridden in terms of how ridiculously easily it corners. I’d love to see how close Triumph came to nailing that.

I’m also interested in the price, which we won’t know for another month. The thing about the RT has always been that, at around $20,000, that sharp handling and comfort comes at a steep price. And the thing about Triumph has been their ability to price their bikes at a price significantly below the competition.

If they can nail the handling, and still come a couple of K under the price of the RT, they may have a winner with this one.

I’d love a chance to spend the day on one, to see how well dialed-in Triumph’s first stab at an RT-killer is.

New PR2s for the VFR

The front tire on my VFR was finally getting a bit…baldy, so it was time to replace it. I went a ahead and just replaced both tires with a new set of Michelin Pilot Road II CT’s. Once again, the handling of the bike has been transformed. The more aggressive tire profile makes dropping into the corners a breeze, and the bike—heavy as it is—now responds just to shifts of body weight.

I chose the PR2 instead of the new PR3 because I’m in Southern California, and rain just isn’t really an issue here. It rains maybe 45 days a year. Yes, the PR3 is a better, grippier tire in wet conditions, by all accounts, but I don’t really face those conditions. And the price difference between the PR2 and PR3 is great enough to keep me perfectly happy staying with the older model tire.

Maybe I’m wrong, and some of you can provide some better guidance on the advantages of the PR3 over the PR2. But none of the service guys I’ve talked to seem to think the PR3 is worth the extra price here in SoCal.

Anywaym I’m way happier with the bike’s ride than I am with the Bridgestones. I know the Bridgestones—in both the BT021 and BT023 models—are really poular both as EOM and aftermarket tires, but I’ve never gotten why. I mean, I understand why they’re popular as an OEM tire: they’re cheaper, while still being reasonably grippy, and very stable, along with having decent tread life.

But every bike I’ve ridden with them just has a far more leaden feel. With both my old FJR and the new VFR, the Bridgestones required far more effort to initiate a turn, and were completely unresponsive to shifts in body weight. They would do anything you wanted them to do, but you have to provide a lot more steering input than I like. Very stable tires, to be sure, and very trustworthy, but they just needed so much effort to corner. Of course, having said that, they hold a line like nobody’s business.

But then, so do the PR2’s. They’re significantly more expensive, but much easier to live with on those twisty, turny country roads I ride on every day.

If you spend the majority of your time in town or on the highway, there’s nothing at all wrong with the Bridgestone BT021 or BT023 tires. But if you like to dive in and out of the twisties, they can’t touch the Michelin Pilot Roads.