Still Waiting

This is my 2015 Triumph Trophy SE, on the day I bought her home last January. She gave me almost 10,000 miles of memories. Indeed, she was such a great bike, that I sold my car, and the Trophy was my only transportation

It seems like a good deal. I could do without the necessity of paying for a car’s maintenance and upkeep—at that point, I had a 2006 Pontiac GTO—and, if the weather was too bad to commute here in San Diego, which is relatively rare, then I’d take an Uber to work.

IMG 0377 2015 01 03 212925

Sadly, the 10,000 miles of memories have now turned into nightmares.

It started when shifting into second became a little rough. Instead of smoothly sticking into second, the gears would grind slightly. Then, when accelerating in second gear, the rear wheel would lose all power for just a second, then the power would come back on full-speed, giving you a bit of a jolt. Since I was close to my 10,000 mile service, I scheduled it, and told them I wanted them to look at the tranny, as well.

The night before I was scheduled to bring the bike in for service, I was accelerating onto the I-5 freeway, through a decreasing-radius cloverleaf when, in second gear, I lost all power to rear wheel for about 2 seconds, which was a pretty scary experience. I stopped using second gear, shifting from first to third gear every time.

When I dropped it off at North County House of Motorcycles, I told them the transmission or driveline was having a serious issue, and they kindly gave me a ride to my office, which is about 3 blocks away.

Later that day, I got a call from them. Apparently, after taking a quick test ride that scared the tech witless, they tore down the transmission, which, it turns out, was in the process of shredding itself due to a failed part. Also, because they nearest replacement parts were in England, I was going to be without my bike for between 6-8 weeks, but Triumph had approved the warranty repair.

Which didn’t really solve my problems, because now, I was completely without transportation. I can’t afford to spend $40 a day on Uber, or a similar cost for renting a car. That means I had to buy a vehicle. As it turns out, I found the V70XC I wrote about a few days ago, and my bank gave me a 4,000 personal loan so I could buy it. So, now, I’m on the hook to Wells Fargo for $134 per month for the next three years. Naturally, the Volvo turns out to need another $1,200 in repairs to make it as reliable as it needs to be, the last of which, a timing belt replacement, is scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.

Long story short, my “free” warranty repair turns out to have cost me $5,200 (plus tax, title and license), just so that I can go to work every day.

Needless to say, I am really not a happy camper about this. When I buy a bike so new that they have to unship it from the create to deliver it to me, I expect it to last for more than 10,000 miles before it strands me without transportation for two months or so. It was a really hard decision between the BMW and the Triumph bikes I was looking at, and I chose the Triumph, based on the purchase price. Frankly, I bet that, if I had spend the extra $2,500 or so for the R1200RT or just totally splurged on the K1600GT, I’d still be riding now. But I’m not. I’m pissed, and, of course, I’m still too upside down on the loan to trade in the Trophy for a BMW.

I am now very unhappy with my Triumph purchase.

Who knew that a British bike would turn out to be unreliable and prone to stranding me without transportation? Indeed, not only stranding me, but spending weeks in the shop, waiting for replacement parts? (Oh, we’re entering week 4 without a bike, now. Just one more month to wait. Yay?)

No matter. My next bike definitely won’t be a Triumph. In fact, my current bike won’t be a Triumph, as soon as I can economically get rid of it and get something else. This has soured me on Triumph. If you charge me $20k for a motorcycle that doesn’t even last 10,000 miles without a major mechanical failure, you can forget any further business from me. And the sad thing is that this was a bike I loved. When it worked, it was just about perfect. But now, I’m just gonna wonder what other major mechanical flaw is waiting to bite me.

Note to motorcycle manufacturers: Do you want to lose customers? Because this is how you lose customers.

UPDATE: I emailed Triumph America’s customer service email yesterday, expressing my disappointment, and linking them to this post. They haven’t replied. Clearly, my concerns and opinions are unimportant.


Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

4 thoughts on “Still Waiting”

  1. You’re facing multiple levels of customer services fail:

    * the transmission breaking. That is bad, but these things happen, on new machines. That’s what the warranty is for. Sometimes some random part is out of spec, not caught in inspection, and wreaks havoc in its surrounding. Shit happens, but that would be something I’d not bother much about – if it were not for the consequences. One blown up gear box is most probably a fluke and does not indicate the bike is going to fall apart soon. Could’ve happened on the BMW too – in fact many BMW gearboxes feel like falling apart as a standard feature.

    * if a spare transmission is in England, 6 to 8 weeks travel time is not acceptable. These things can go into an express carton onto an airplane and be there within a week. Faster if required, but then it may not be worth chartering a direct flight to carry it over.

    * if there’s a waiting period, and your new bike is your sole means of transport, the dealer should help you out. I cannot see how he could not source some bike that he could borrow to you to keep you on the road. Doesn’t have to be new, doesn’t have to be free of charge (your Trophy wouldn’t have been free of charge to ride either), but he’s gotta come up with something.

    If either one of the three wouldn’t have failed, it might’ve left you unhappy, I guess, but not pissed to this point.

  2. Just for my interest, did you challenge any of them? If so, what were the reactions?

    I am currently driving a VW that spent close to six weeks in the dealership during the 2 years of warranty offered by the manufacturer. I have (friendly, but direct) told both manufacturer and dealer what I assumed I should expect from them and how I appreciated their performance.

    1. Well, in their defense, you bought a VW.

      Anyway, I asked for a loaner at the dealer. They laughed and laughed. I wrote to Triumph’s customer service email address. So far, they’ve been unavailable for comment.

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