2015 Triumph Trophy: Triple Touring Fun

Text: David Burbach • Photography: David Burbach, Stephen Calsbeek

All it takes is a quick glance at the Triumph Trophy to know who and what its designers were targeting when they built it. If you squint a little, the bike is hard to distinguish from its rival, the BMW R 1200 RT. Yet, the Trophy is its own motorcycle with unique character, thanks in large part to its fantastic powerplant.

Powertrain and Performance

Triumph’s triples are well known for their combination of power and torque, smoothness, and an addicting exhaust note. The 1215cc example in the Trophy is no exception. The in-line three breathes through four valves per cylinder actuated by dual overhead cams. The motor belts out a healthy 132 horsepower (claimed) at 8,900 rpm to go with 88 pound feet of torque at 6,450 rpm. The engine loves to rev, and banging quickly up the gears is an absolute blast. From the saddle the bike feels undeniably quick with plenty of torque down low and a top-end that doesn’t disappoint. Even with the relatively conservative stock exhaust, the Trophy manages to make all the noises that make riding it just a little more fun.

This motor debuted in Triumph’s Tiger Explorer adventure bike, which I rode several years ago, soon after it hit the market. In the Explorer the throttle response was too sharp, making smooth, precise inputs difficult. Thankfully, the Trophy’s ride-by-wire system doesn’t suffer from this problem, and dialing up just the right amount of power is intuitive and effortless. If your wrist still manages to write a check the rear tire can’t cash, the bike’s traction control system will save your bacon.

The power is channeled to the rear wheel through a six-speed gearbox and maintenance-friendly shaft final drive. The gearbox is smooth with a positive action, and I experienced no jacking from the shaft drive. Neutral is easy to find and the gear ratios are well spaced with sixth providing a comfortable freeway cruise. 

Chassis and Handling

Hustling the Trophy down a twisty road is more fun than it’s got any right to be considering the bike weighs just under 700 pounds with a full tank of gas. You can credit its well-sorted chassis and suspension. The aluminum twin-spar frame is supported by 43mm WP upside forks in front, and a WP monoshock connects to the single-sided swingarm in back. Both ends are adjustable electronically for preload and damping. There are three settings for preload (one up, one up with luggage, and two up) and three for damping (sport, normal, and comfort). The suspension provides a plush ride while maintaining plenty of sporting prowess. Still, I wouldn’t mind a little more feedback from the front end as it doesn’t transmit much information back to the rider.

Those who often ride two up or who tend to pack a lot of stuff will be happy to learn the Trophy has an impressive load capacity of 527 pounds. With a combined maximum weight of more than half a ton, the bike better have some good brakes, and it does. Twin Nissin four-piston calipers squeeze 320mm floating discs up front with a single two-piston caliper and 282mm disc out back. The brakes have plenty of command with good feel while linked ABS is there to help if you get a bit overzealous.

Features and Ergonomics

The Triumph Trophy is built for touring, and eating up serious miles is its forte. The seating position is nicely upright with wide bars offering plenty of leverage and a comfortable reach. The large, electronically adjustable windscreen is the best I’ve ever experienced. At its lowest setting it rests well below the rider’s sight line and allows plenty of airflow for hot weather relief. Raise it up and a bubble of clean, still air flows in with little buffeting. Of course there are infinite possible positions between the two, and a convenient rocker switch on the left-hand grip raises and lowers the shield. 

The seat is unspectacular but does its job just fine with no obvious sources of discomfort, though more support and a backrest would be nice. Seat height is adjustable between 30.3 and 31.1 inches.

The Trophy’s instrument panel is well laid out and fairly easy to navigate through the bike’s more complex menu options. Analog tach and speedometer gauges flank a central digital display with fuel level, engine temperature, gear position, ambient temperature, trip, clock, fuel economy, and odometer readouts. All the instrumentation is refreshingly simple to read at a glance.

The motorcycle has a long list of standard and optional equipment. Without having to pay extra, you get a Bluetooth audio system that automatically adjusts volume with speed, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, heated grips, and a pair of detachable hard saddlebags with 31 liters of storage each. There’s also a USB port, lockable dash storage compartment, and electronic immobilizer. On the option sheet, buyers can add a heated rider and passenger seat, a 55-liter top case with a 12-volt charging socket, and a higher windshield.

In Conclusion

The Triumph Trophy ticks all the right boxes for a stellar sport-touring machine. It has a fantastic engine, good suspension and handling, plenty of practical storage, great load capacity, and is all-day comfortable. Rounding out its touring credentials is a comprehensive list of features and equipment, as well as impressive range from its 6.6-gallon fuel tank. Though there are a lot of options available to the sport-touring rider, the Triumph Trophy SE certainly deserves to be on the short list. 

Expandable Touring Tankbag by Touratech

With a large luggage capacity and roomy map pocket, the expandable tankbag from Touratech is a perfect fit for the Trophy. Made for Triumph’s touring bike, installation is straightforward with a clean final look. The capacity ranges from approximately 10 to 15 liters and features an electronics cable pass-through. Though water and dust resistant, a rain cover is sold separately, which we highly recommend. We tested several tankbags for the Trophy and this was by far our favorite.

PN#: 623-5800, $ 386.20 (bag)

PN#: 055-0069, $ 28.70 (raincover)

www.touratech-usa.com