BUILT IN BRITAIN?
Both the Triumph and Norton are inspired by a British tradition and to a large degree are sold on the strength of their ‘Britishness’. Triumph, for example, recently redesigned their logo which now resembles a section of the Union flag, while on their own website the first two words about the new Bonnevilles are ‘British icons…’ Norton, meanwhile, puts a plaque which reads ‘Handbuilt at Donington Hall’ on the top yoke of all their bikes and their website says: “Norton is delighted to fly the flag as a hand-built, all British marque.”
But how British are both in reality? Although some of Norton’s components are bought in from abroad, specifically Brembo brakes, Öhlins suspension and so on, boss Stuart Garner says he’s determined to keep Norton bikes as British as realistically possible, that 83% of the bikes’ components are British and points to the UK built engine and exhaust, Donington-made frame and final assembly and more as proof of that commitment.
With Triumph, however, it’s a different story. Although a large factory remains at Triumph’s Hinckley HQ, since 2007 the Bonneville, including this all-new version along with other ‘maturing’ models, have been built at a brand new, wholly Triumph-owned factory in Thailand. Triumph are very upfront about this and claim any concerns about quality are nullified by the fact that the facility (along with two other component plants in Thailand) is overseen by ex-pat British nationals who manage the Thai plants.
The fact remains, however, that although conceived, designed and managed in Britain, virtually 0% of the new Bonneville is actually made in Britain. Whether any of that matters is up to you. But Bonnevilles used to wear a triangular badge which read: ‘Made in Britain’. Not any more.