Britain’s famous motorcycle manufacturer scores a big hit with the Triumph Trophy SE, a smooth yet powerful touring bike, writes Tiff Needell
As winter sets in, it’s a good idea to think about how you might spoil yourself when summer returns. A Ferrari 458 Spider is a warming thought but, more realistically, have you ever thought about owning a motorbike?
The two-wheeled world has come a long way since a teenaged Tiff ventured out on a second-hand Frances Barnett powered by a single-cylinder, 197cc Villiers engine. Most of us switched to four wheels and a roof over our heads as soon as we were 17 – by which time you’d probably have passed the motorbike test so you could switch to machines over 250cc.
If you were thinking of taking to two wheels again, I would recommend a refresher course to ease yourself back into the saddle. But where should you look for a refined riding experience? It’s worth considering a touring bike. All the top manufacturers produce them, but only one is British.
Triumph’s Trophy SE sits in a completely different world to the manufacturer’s famous Bonneville, which I dreamed of owning in the Sixties. No greasy chain but a smooth, vibration- free shaft drive, ABS brakes, traction control, tyre pressure sensors and adjustable electronic suspension. Having not ridden a bike for a while, I was daunted by the size of the Triumph Trophy SE as it rolled out of a van onto my driveway weighing just over 300kg, but it quickly felt light, well balanced and easily manoeuvrable.
Much of the bulky look is due to panniers mounted on either side at the back that can each take 31 litres of luggage – they’re easily removable if you are riding light. Travelling with a friend, you can add an extra top box, which not only acts as a comfortable backrest but also boosts luggage capacity to 117 litres – almost as much as some small hatchbacks.
The throaty, three-cylinder engine purrs along at lowerrevs and roars into action when an extra twist of the throttle fires it towards its 8,900rpm limit. If you don’t want to feel the force of the wind in your face, you can raise the front screen of the Triumph Trophy SE with the press of a button and ride at over 100mph with your visor open.
Large mirrors below the handlebars give great rear vision and the world comes alive around you. There’s a wonderful feeling of liberation as you cruise along with your senses tingling and alert – not just because of the freedom you feel but also due to the extra concentration riding a bike demands. It’s the sort of concentration we should have when driving our cars – but too often don’t.
Shielded from the elements in front by the aerodynamically enhanced fairing and adjustable screen, you only have to worry about what’s dropping from above – but modern clothing will brush that aside. Best of all, you don’t really have to wait until the summer to get started because the Triumph Trophy SE also has heated handlebar grips and seats. Now put another log on the fire and dream on.