Tri­umph Tro­phy 1200

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

in Ja­pan, by Nissin. Else­where qual­ity was high, if a lit­tle stodgy and old­school, and de­tail­ing im­pres­sive. The ec­cen­tric chain ad­justers, for ex­am­ple, built into the alu­minium swingarm were a par­tic­u­larly nice and novel touch you wouldn’t find on run-ofthe-mill ri­vals.

But with the early em­pha­sis on re­li­able per­for­mance and qual­ity it also meant the new bikes’ styling, al­ready largely ho­mogenised through the mod­u­lar ap­proach, was also ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive. As the years pro­gressed, and as bikes like the later Speed Triple started to show, this be­came less of a hin­drance. But no-one could hon­estly call the orig­i­nal Tro­phy or Day­tona beau­ti­ful or in­spired.

But all of that’s miss­ing the point. The key twin goals of the orig­i­nal Hinck­ley Tri­umphs were sim­ply to be cred­i­ble and re­li­able. That they did in spades. Any at­tempt at class-lead­ing dy­namism or de­sir­abil­ity could wait. Their per­for­mance was roughly on a par with any­thing in their re­spec­tive classes. Their han­dling, if a lit­tle tall and ‘top-heavy’ due to the tall en­gines and steel spine frame, was bet­ter than av­er­age. And if they weren’t ex­actly cut­ting edge or lav­ished with lux­ury fea­tures, don’t for­get they were the first Bri­tish mass-pro­duced mo­tor­cy­cles that were gen­uinely per­for­mance and price com­pet­i­tive in an in­dus­try that had been dom­i­nated for decades by the Ja­panese. That was the true mea­sure of Bloor’s suc­cess. The legacy is the price­less foun­da­tions for what Tri­umph, 25 years on, has be­come to­day.

And those early bikes them­selves? While, Speed Triple per­haps apart, they’re yet to be con­sid­ered in any way clas­sics (they’re prob­a­bly too hum­drum for that), their time may yet come. The ex­am­ples at Lil­ley’s im­pressed for ex­actly the same rea­sons they orig­i­nally did a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago: they’re good, ba­sic bikes, are im­pres­sively durable (most of the ma­chines here were vir­tu­ally mint) and are Bri­tish, dammit! They’re also, un­til that ‘clas­sic sta­tus’ ar­rives, im­pres­sive value . Lil­ley’s also have a clean, glossy black 900 Day­tona (ef­fec­tively a faired Speed Triple) that some­how now seems more hand­some than ever at just £1999!


O Hinck­ley Tri­umph’s all-new range is un­veiled at the Cologne Show in Novem­ber and goes on sale in early 1991. It com­prises six mod­els, all based on a ‘mod­u­lar’ ap­proach. These are: Tro­phy 1200, Tro­phy 900, Day­tona 1000, Day­tona 750, Tri­dent 900 and Tri­dent 750 clip- on bars was slightly higher, too.

Although de­lib­er­ately con­ser­va­tive in its style, con­ven­tional in its con­fig­u­ra­tion and never Hinck­ley’s big­gest seller, the Tro­phy 1200 was a suc­cess where it mat­tered most: putting Tri­umph back on the map as a cred­i­ble, com­pet­i­tive mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer.

Though slightly top-heavy and fairly ba­sic in terms of trim, the Tro­phy 1200’s grunty 125bhp was on par with all its more es­tab­lished ri­vals and it proved com­fort­able, durable and re­li­able. It also ended up be­ing the one of the longest-lived of Hinck­ley Tri­umph’s early mod­els. Sub­tle up­dates in­clud­ing new wheels, ex­hausts and fin­ishes fol­lowed be­fore a sub­stan­tial makeover for 1996 saw all-new body­work in­clud­ing a taller, more touringori­en­tated, twin beam fair­ing and, for the first time, op­tional pan­niers. It was fi­nally dropped from Tri­umph’s line-up in 2003.

What we said at the time

‘The Tri­umph Tro­phy 1200 is a proper, big (and tall) old school tourer with de­cent abil­ity and classy touches.’

‘The key twin goals of the orig­i­nal bikes was sim­ply to be cred­i­ble and re­li­able’

cantly, the 43mm front tele­scop­ics were now fully ad­justable for preload along with com­pres­sion and re­bound damp­ing (some­thing not to be sniffed at even on the lead­ing sports­bikes of the day back in 1991) while its front stoppers were also up­rated to twin fully-float­ing discs gripped by sta­teof-the-art four pis­ton calipers.

Fi­nally, although the side-fair­ings and seat were the same as the Tro­phy, the top fair­ing was all new in be­ing lower, racier, with a smaller screen and, in place of the Tro­phy’s sin­gle, rec­tan­gu­lar head­lamp, sport­ing racy twin round beams. All of that was fin­ished off with race-style, white-faced, asym­met­ri­cally-mounted clocks and bolder, sporty colourschemes.

Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, of all the early Hinck­ley bikes the Day­tonas were the least well re­ceived. They were still un­com­pet­i­tive with the pre­vail­ing class kings of the day – mostly from Ja­pan. Sim­ply, although de­cent and pleas- ing on road, nei­ther the 1000 nor 750 were any­where close to, say, Yamaha’s FZR1000 EXUP or Kawasaki’s ZXR750. It’s also true that in this seg­ment more than most, the Tri­umph name had less ca­chet, too.

As a re­sult, the 750 and 1000 were dropped and, although Tri­umph tried again with 900 and 1200 bikes, it wasn’t un­til 1997’s T595 that a cred­i­ble sport­ster ar­rived. To­day, the early Day­tonas are the rarest of all early Hinck­ley bikes.

That all-im­por­tant Union Flag on the fair­ing sig­nalled the re­turn of the Brit bike in­dus­try 37k on the clock and plenty of life left in this hand­some slice of his­tory 750 Day­tona never hit the spot against its Big Four ri­vals Old-school Tiger still looks

White-face clocks but not that sporty Thun­der­bird 900s roll down the Hinck­ley line Who says Hinck­ley were con­ser­va­tive? T595 brought in a whole new era for the firm

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