Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment -

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.

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