RE­VIS­ITED Tro­phy 1200 still feels fresh

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

It was an ig­no­min­ious be­gin­ning: a grey, damp spring day; an equally grey, bland-look­ing and surely sim­ply-not-good-enough sport­tourer to as­sess plus a some­how un­quan­tifi­able weight of ex­pec­ta­tion hang­ing in the murky skies…

How lit­tle I knew then. It was early 1991. I was 26 and Tri­umph didn’t mean much back then. Cer­tainly not to me. To my gen­er­a­tion mo­tor­cy­cles were Ja­panese (apart from the few rich fools who bought Ital­ian). ‘Bri­tish’ meant old, rub­bish, leaky, un­re­li­able di­nosaurs. And my dad.

That all changed that day in 1991. Don’t get me wrong, the Tro­phy 1200 wasn’t amaz­ing or bal­lis­tic or so­phis­ti­cated or gor­geous or any of the usual things that get road testers ex­cited. It was merely de­cent, ad­e­quate and ef­fec­tive. But be­ing all that and Bri­tish was ex­cit­ing enough.

Twenty-five years on, ev­ery­thing’s dif­fer­ent – and yet oddly fa­mil­iar. Hinck­ley Tri­umph is now ce­mented in our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness for be­ing not just cred­i­ble and com­pet­i­tive, but char­ac­ter­ful, and, in some cases, gen­uinely class-lead­ing. So surely, the 1991 Tro­phy 1200 I’m about to ride can’t be any­thing other than a dis­ap­point­ment? It’ll feel old, slow and un­so­phis­ti­cated – pretty much what I ex­pected of the orig­i­nal all those years ago.

But once again: how wrong I was. The big Tri­umph is im­pres­sively clean (there’s not a hint of crud or cor­ro­sion), tight (there’s no slack, no sag) and re­spon­sive (it starts on the but­ton, idles eas­ily and ev­ery­thing works. I wish the same could be said of me a quar­ter of a cen­tury on.

Head­ing off it’s all easy, nat­u­ral, in­tu­itive and, well, ‘OK’. The fu­elling’s as good as ever, the con­trols light, the gearchange neat enough and that big 1200 al­ways did im­press with its in­stant grunt.

Yes, the Tro­phy 1200 is tall and rather top heavy – but it’s never awk­ward. In­stead the only im­me­di­ate give­aways to its age are the old­fash­ioned switchgear and oddly bar­mounted clocks.

But the big­ger ac­com­plish­ment, I think, is what I’m only now re­al­is­ing to­day, 25 years on. I al­ways knew those early Tri­umphs were ov­erengi­neered, rugged and hugely durable. But on the strength of the bikes we’ve seen to­day, most with over 30,000 miles on their clocks, they’re vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible, too.

Sure the big en­gine is grunty and ef­fort­less. I ex­pected that. Sure, too, the slightly ‘tall’ han­dling is OK. And yes, it was al­ways go­ing to look ba­sic and old fash­ioned, af­ter all it was al­ready that when it was brand new. But what I didn’t ex­pect was for it to wear so well and still, a few de­tails aside, feel so us­able and com­pe­tent to­day. Bloor and his team sim­ply had to make those first bikes cred­i­ble and durable. They did it so well those bikes are still geat to­day.

‘25 years later the big Tri­umph is im­pres­sively clean tight and re­spon­sive’

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