Triumph gives customers seven new models to choose from in 2011, and they will be pleased with the direction that new CEO Greg Heichelbech is taking the fast-growing motorcycle manufacturer. Just outside Phoenix, Triumph presented the new Thunderbird Storm, along with the Speedmaster, America and Rocket III.
Built upon the chassis of the Thunderbird, the Storm brings the rider to the dark side, literally. All blacked out with little chrome this powerful cruiser comes with attitude, standard. Riders can choose between metallic black and matte black. It's powered by a big bore, 1700cc engine, cranking out 97 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, and 115 lb-ft of torque at 2950 rpm. The moment I pull out of the parking lot I can feel the raw power as I roll on the throttle. Shifting is smooth, and neutral is easy to find. Triumph reworked the rider's ergonomics, creating a more comfortable ride. The seat is lower at 27.5 inches, the foot pegs are lower, and the handlebar is wider. The Storm is manageable and comfortable for short and tall riders. It doesn't have much ground clearance, and the pegs scraped at times, especially during 90-degree turns. For such a big cruiser, however, it handles surprisingly well. The gentle sweepers in Tonto National Park are the perfect playgrounds for the Storm. Twisting on the throttle through the curves really shows off the power, and the weight and 200/50 R17 rear tire place it on the road with confidence.
Powerful four-piston brakes (with optional ABS) grab twin 310mm floating discs, providing plenty of stopping power in the front and a single 310mm fixed disc with a Brembo two-piston floating caliper in the rear. The 47mm fork tubes in the front and five-way adjustable twin shocks at the rear ensure a plush but somewhat sporty ride. The engine's dual counter balancers do a good job of subduing the pulses, but they're not completely gone. Although this doesn't produce vibration in the handlebar, it does remind you of the 1700ccs below. The temperature was in the low 30s so the little heat coming up from the engine was appreciated. During hotter seasons the heat should be dissipated evenly with the open engine design. The analog speedometer includes a rev counter, and a button on the handlebar controls two trip meters, a clock and a fuel gauge. Dual headlamps scream Triumph from far away and make this cruiser stand out in the crowd. Triumph offers almost 100 aftermarket accessories for true cruiser customizing.
A slew of updates to this cruiser include a 19-inch cast aluminum front wheel, blacked-out engine cases, teardrop tank, and headlight design. The Speedmaster has an 865cc parallel twin engine just like the America. Although it's not the biggest in the cruiser lineup, it will attract riders looking for the hot-rod look. The low seat height of 27.1 inches and wide handlebar are quite different from the previous model. And Triumph is also introducing a new color dubbed Cranberry Red. The classic metallic Phantom Black is also available.
The lightest of the bunch, weighing in at 550 pounds, feels even lighter once aboard. Here, too, Triumph dropped the seat height to 27.1 inches and improved rider ergonomics. This easy-to-ride motorcycle will appeal to all riders, but especially to those looking for a fun and light machine. The classic British look sets this cruiser apart with its air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin engine. A range of genuine Triumph accessories are also available to turn this into an even more able touring machine.
Rocket III Roadster
By far the biggest and boldest of not just this bunch, but of all motorcycles, the Rocket III is a beast. There is no other way to put it. The world's largest mass-production motorcycle, with its 2.3-liter, 2294cc, three-cylinder engine, will humble any rider. It doesn't matter how long you've been riding, or how much of a "bad boy" you are, the Rocket III will make you quiver. Straddling this powerhouse and just revving the engine lets you feel the raw power and tremendous torque as the bike sways noticeably left and right from throttle application. With that much power at your fingertips a good riding position is essential. The relatively upright and mid-mounted foot pegs allow the rider to navigate the Rocket III, Triumph's flagship bike. Sophisticated anti-lock brakes, which were specifically designed for the Rocket III, make sure you can stop. To create a comfortable ride the Roadster comes with 43mm inverted front fork tubes, adjustable rear suspension, and a low-maintenance shaft drive.
Triumph will have a demo fleet roaming across the U.S. so make sure to check the schedule at http://www.triumph.co.uk/usa to find one in your area.