REVISITED Trophy 1200 still feels fresh
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’