Cleveland IMS: Courting the big cat

20150131_152715The moment of truth was upon me, after browsing the various wares of the show, I was finally stepping into the Triumph booth. I’ll apologize now for the British obsession, hopefully you can see past it, or get caught up in it with me.

20150131_152706The Triumph Bonneville is an icon that is probably one of the most recognizable motorcycles on earth after the Harley Davidson Sportster. After  the company went into receivership in 1983, the 900 cc triple kept the company afloat until Triumph finally relaunched the classic parallel twin Bonneville in 2000. The new Bonneville combines aesthetic 20150131_152650legacy with modern amenities, and like the Sportster, has infinite customization potential. This year Triumph brought a custom Gary Nixon tribute bike, the 2015 Bonneville “New Church” edition, and the Thruxton “Ace”.


20150131_153138It’s probably safe to assume I doled out $15 a ticket simply to sit on the new Tiger 800. The big advantage of coming to the IMS is the no pressure opportunity to see and feel all the new models without having to hassle with sales guys ready to steal you shirt. With no further hesitation, I climbed aboard the excessively tall Tiger 800 XCx. The seat is almost 34″ from the floor; I was without a doubt standing up on the balls of my feet to hold the bike upright, but admittedly I expected this. Triumph offers a 3/4″ adjustment on their factory seats for all the Tiger models, which is pretty sweet. I’ve read several reviews where riders talk about using a given seat height for road or highway riding, and the lower setting for off-road when the reach to the dirt is more critical. Aside from the increased reach caused by the new WP suspension on the XCx, the controls and display look essentially the same as they have from the past few years. There are obviously more menus and whatnot now that Triumph has added “on-the-fly” switchable ride modes, but aside from the cruise control (first in class) everything is familiar. My mind drifting away to endless adventure, I help my wife climb aboard. Tense, awaiting disapproval and fearing a wrecking ball to my dreams of the triple cylinder adventure bike, the wife scoots in close and tells me how acceptable the seating arrangement is. Having her aboard actually compressed the rear shock to the point where I was completely flat footed. 20150131_153152(0)While the factory “low seat” was already on my list of mandatory accessories (additional 3/4″ lower than standard, making the effective seat height 32″), knowing this makes me feel good knowing that when we’re two up around town, firm footing will not be a problem. The XCx comes with pretty much all the farkles short of luggage direct from the factory, skid plate, engine “guards”, hand guards, spoked wheels, center stand, 12VDC power socket, among other things. The Tiger weighs in at 487 lbs., makes 95 HP and 58 ft-lbs. of torque (impressive against my 865 Speedmaster) all for the hefty price of $13,499. I have “master plans” for the new aluminum hard cases (Givi trekker bags, rebadged for Triumph), $1,250 including mounting side racks, and heated grips for $250. All in all it’s a heavy penny for an 800, but I am already familiar with how sporty the Tiger 800 chassis is, combining all the new throttle maps, cruise control, 8″ suspension, and bags for the long haul, I offer this is a feasible touring solution that keeps going when the road ends. Considering that the “roadie” version of the new Tiger was right there, the wife and I tried on the new XRx for size as well. The XRx comes loaded with all of the rider modes and cruise control just like the XCx, but replaces the spoked wheels with cast wheels, maintains the previous model year Showa suspension, and has comfort seats standard. That last point was actually the part I was most curious about. I knew the seat height would be about an inch lower for me on the XRx, but I wanted to see how the boss liked the “comfort” passenger seat. As it turns out, I can save the $250 needed to add it to the XCx, as she said it was so stiff it wasn’t as comfortable as standard.

I was a little salty they Triumph didn’t bother to bring the Tiger Explorer this year. I was hoping to do a side by side comparison between the 800 and the 1200 as far as rider comfort is concerned. I have been debating the 1200 for a while considering it comes with all the creature comforts I really want, including shaft drive; but the price tag is hefty and so it the weight. I suppose if a used model became available, for the right price, I could probably be sold; we’ll see what happens.

20150131_153322(0)Like last year, Triumph brought several of their own custom bikes. Triumph has partnered with (or sponsored, I don’t know which) Icon, Empire (Ernie Vigil & Nick Apex) among others to promote their brand. I’m a really big fan of Ernie Vigil and his company Empire. For the most part they are stunt riders on hooligan bikes, but they’ve done even more for Triumph in the past year. I first found Ernie Vigil in the YouTube video “Scramble Me” where Ernie takes a stock Scrambler on the track, off road, and to pick up his date. 20150131_154435It was pretty sweet to see a stock “standard bike” handle the dirt. Last year Ernie partnered with Icon to outfit custom Tigers to compete in the Mexican 1000 and the Alcan 5000. All the gnarly videos of the Empire boys ripping it up off-road on the Tiger 800 only reinforced my obsession with the bike. Triumph also brought along one of the customized Street Triples from Empire. Some of you probably know these triples from the “Motorcycles vs. Car Drift Battle” series on YouTube. While Triumph didn’t bring the drift machines this year, they did bring the turbo charged Daytona 675 last year.

20150131_154235While unremarkable, I did finally get to see the 2014 Speedmaster up close. The wife and I both were somewhat disappointed to see the sweet new paint scheme on the Speedmaster when it was released last spring; considering we liked it better and just bought black. I’m a huge sucker for blacked out bikes, which I have, however the 2014 Speedmaster is blacker than ever, including solid black wheels, black headlight, black bars, sprocket, I can go on. Ultimately polishing aluminum wheels sucks, and that’s less chrome to wipe down, I’m sold. If you haven’t seen my long term review of the Speedmaster, the 865 cc Triumph weighs 550 pounds, makes 60 HP, 53 ft-lbs. of torque, and goes for $8,399.

20150131_172043Technically Triumph “updated” the Rocket III and Thunderbird Storm this year, while I feel it’s essentially paint and stickers (hopefully we’ll see real upgrades next year). Speaking of blacked out bikes again, there are few bikes as black as the Thunderbird Storm. While the pipes tend to be a bit polarizing, if you’re not loyal to a given brand, the Thunderbird Storm packs a mean punch that should be considered if you’re a power junkie. The Storm makes 115 ft-lbs. of torque and 98 HP as the worlds largest parallel twin; it also weighs like 750 pounds with a $14,999 sticker. Last year Triumph launched two new sister bikes in the Thunderbird line, the new Commander & LT. The new models have the same 1700 cc engine as the previous Thunderbirds, tuned for a more 20150131_172139moderate ride (109 Ft-lbs. of torque), however they included a new custom frame to accommodate what has been heralded as the most comfortable stock seat on a motorcycle. While I’m not particularly interested in a 750 pound motorcycle, these bikes will be in consideration when I finally decide to calm down in the corners. The Rocket III is a whole other story; I won’t spout on about the new features because I honestly don’t know what they are. What I do know is that the Rocket III is a 2300 cc mammoth of a motorcycle. From afar you see a massive muscular cruiser rolling up on you, only to be mystified by the sound of s triple cylinder engine. The “Roadster” tipping the scales at 808 pounds makes 148 HP and over 150 ft-lbs. of torque. I’m told it’s deceivingly sporty, but I think it will be some time before I discover it for myself.

20150131_151358I’m of course quite at home in the Triumph booth, considering they don’t make a motorcycle I wouldn’t want parked in my dream garage (and I’m at the dealer like once a month). Like Yamaha and Kawasaki I feel that they have a wide variety of models to choose from. While disappointed that certain models were not brought to the show this year, I think I was more disappointed in the representation of the staffing of the booth. For whatever reason they couldn’t be bothered to say hello to anyone when we were walking around the book at mid-afternoon, mostly talking among themselves. Fortunately a rep volunteering in the booth from the local Warren Triumph dealership finally came by to make casual conversation. I suppose it sounds petty to be put off about customer service at a “Trade Show”, but I’ve run booths at trade 20150131_152009shows. You never know who the next person walking into your booth may be. It may be some college kid with no money, or it may be the purchasing manager for a fortune 500 company, so girls chatting on their phones at the “stand” really irks me.

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1 Response to Cleveland IMS: Courting the big cat

  1. Pingback: Lusting After New Wheels: The Dual Sport Conundrum | Moto Adventurer

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