If your motorcycling is all about seeing a big slice of the world, you need three things; a big lazy engine, a comfy saddle and plenty of luggage space.
Introduced in the early 1990s as a sports model, available in 900cc triple cylinder and 1200cc four cylinder guises ever since, the Trophy has matured into a tall, classy handling, gentleman´s touring express.
The only weakness the Trophy has as a 20,000 miles a year motorcycle is its chain drive – shaft drive would bring it on par with the BMW and Honda competition.
“So you´re a roadtester – what´s the best bike then?” If we at insidebikes had a quid for every time that question´s been fired at us, then we´d be…still considering signing on at the job centre.
But the real answer often lies at the sharp end of several thousand miles of riding. This is what 2,000 miles on a Triumph Trophy 1200 in one month feels like. We know what you think about magazine roadtests; A banquet in some sunny resort, five star accommodation, dancing girls etc. all paid for by the importer, then a laughable attempt at buffing up our knee sliders around some racetrack, before jetting home with yet more free drinks. Well yeah, sometimes life gets that good. But here at insidebikes.com, we generally turn up at a dealership, blag the keys to a demo machine for three days, then spend six hours freezing our nuts off in godforsaken corner of the Pennines trying to get more than three photos where the sun is almost shining. We do get all the free sheep we can handle though.
So getting a Trophy tourer from Hinckley for a couple of summer months , was a real bonus. Firstly because the rugged, four cylinder, 1180cc 106bhp lump is one of the best engines on the market for real road riding; gutsy, reliable, pulls like a monk and returns halfway decent fuel consumption into the bargain.
But there´s more to the Trumpet than sheer oomph, as welcome as that quality is when overtaking a line of cars following an Eddie Stobart. Like comfort for example, a much underrated virtue in any motorcycle in my book. Here, the Trophy scores for both rider and pillion, with deep padding and sensibly placed footpegs.
In addition, this Trophy came with the standard equipment panniers, which are big enough for a full face lid, easily detachable and – hurray ! – leakproof, even in torrential thunderstorms. A re-designed screen and full fairing for 1999, also give you excellent weather protection, making 130 mile sessions between fuel stops a pleasure, rather than aback-breaking pain.
Of course, you´re thinking that the trade-off for all this practicality is that the Trophy handles like a barge on a river of jelly. Wrong. The shock news for all you hardcore sport riders out there is that tourers have real ability these days. OK, you won´t pass half the advanced group at your next trackday, but if you pull your ass over the side of the Trophy and force the 235kg ( 517lbs ) bike down, you will be surprised at how well it responds. It even has adequate ground clearance for normal type road biking too.
The only area where the Trophy feels a little weaker than some of its rivals, like the BMW R1100RT, Pan European or Yamaha Diversion 900, is in the braking department, where the huge front discs feel a tad spongy. They work, but they need serious squeezing. This sponginess did get less noticeable as the miles racked up past 1,000 however.
What the Trophy does supremely well, is what advanced riders call `making good progress, ‘ which translates into respectable average speeds. Like Cadwell to Chester in two hours, 41 minutes, including two stops, which is 65.5mph. No big deal, you might think, especially as it´s mainly motorways, but take a long trip on your Fireblade sometime and check your odometer against a wristwatch – you´ll struggle to beat that average, and still keep your licence.
Speed you see, is all relative. So if what´s important to you is a blend of biking abilities that add up to an easy life while you rack up plenty of mileage, then the Trophy is a good choice.
In terms of reliability, the only maintenance required in 2,042 miles has been several coatings of lube and two adjustments on the drive chain. Yeah, I know, chains don´t make much sense on a tourer, but at least the factory item seems durable. Adjustment is simple enough on eccentric rollers, but Triumph had fitted the toolkit from the 955i under the seat, so the allen keys were the wrong size for the job.
That niggle aside, it´s the little things on the bike which make you feel like Triumph listen to their customers and then design a bike, not vice versa. Like the handy handle that folds out on the left side to assist lifting onto the centre stand – yeah, centre stands, remember them?
The side-stand is also long and engages with a reassuring clunk when you kick it down.
Pillion grab-handles, which are big enough for gloved hands to grip. Two cubby holes in the fairing, both with pin holes at the bottom so that if water does get in, it drains way too. A large fuel tank holds over four gallons of fuel, plus it has that handy gadget, a reserve setting on the fuel tap. The fuel gauge is very accurate too.
You only notice all this stuff when you live with a bike, day in, day out, which is the best type of road test we know.
Get Triumph motorbike insurance for the triumph trophy.
|ENGINE||Watercooled dohc 16-valve transverse four|
|TYRES||Dunlop Sport radials. Front: 120/70 17. Rear: 160/60 18|
|FUEL CAPACITY||25 litres|