Triumph Tiger History

First gen Tiger from the late ’30s

I’ve been finding out the history of Triumph Tigers from various places on the interwebs. The first Tigers were born just before World War 2 and were quickly put on hold when the war started. With rigid rear frames and girder front suspensions, these were 1930s bikes in every sense.

Tigers followed the steady evolution in motorbike technology throughout the Twentieth Century, and also followed some rather silly styling trends, like shrouding the mechanicals in 1950s aero inspired nonsense.

’69 Tiger made in the UK the same
year I was!  Nice high pipes!


Things get interesting again in the 1960s, with late ’60s Tigers, along with the British motorcycle industry in general reaching a zenith before being crushed by their own weight and a lithe, hungry wave of Japanese imports.

Pam Anderson riding
a Tiger!

Through the long, dark tea time of the soul in the ’70s and ’80s (and while my parents and thousands of others fled the country) Triumph went down in flames along with much of British manufacturing.  In ’83 John Bloor, a building contractor who was looking into the purchase of the derelict Triumph factory to build more homes ended up buying the brand.  After sitting on it for a while he rebooted it and built a new factory.  

It’s one of the best examples of British manufacturing rising out of the ashes of old money and old ideas and embracing a more effective approach to manufacturing.  Without the conservative  establishments of aristocratic ownership and unionized labour Bloor was able to reignite British engineering and give it chance to shine again.  You might think that it isn’t properly British if it isn’t mired in limited social mobility and the kind of Kafka-esque bureaucracy that makes building something well next to impossible, but that was only a moment in Twentieth Century British history and doesn’t speak to the engineering prowess of our little island.


After Triumph rebooted in the early ’90s, the Tiger reappeared in ’93 during the second wave of model introductions.  An early example of what came to be known as adventure bikes, the Tiger was a tall, long suspension, multi-purpose machine running a three cylinder engine.  

Having tapped into this trend while it was still only popular in continental Europe, Triumph’s Tiger line has been a key part of their brand for the past twenty plus years.  If asked what bike I’d want to take around the world tomorrow, the Tiger Explorer is at the top of the list.

Tigers have been around, in one form or another, since before World War Two.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the one I found this month.


TigerLinks:
www.motorcyclenews.com/news/2013/march/mar1113-triumph-tifer-timeline/
www.classic-british-motorcycles.com/1969-triumph-tr6.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_TR6_Trophy
www.triumphworld.co.uk/pages/triumph-enthusiasts/all-things-triumph/tiger-history.htm
www.rat-pack.com/TriumphHistory.php
www.gregwilliams.ca/?p=1693
www.ianchadwick.com/motorcycles/triumph/time03.html

Night Rider

We’ve already had a couple of frosts up here and there was another one on Thursday night when I had to get over to Erin, a 90km round trip from home.  It was a cool day, but sunny and the fall colours were coming on strong.  I make the monthly trip over to lodge in Erin from September to June, and try to ride whenever I can.  This might be my last time on two wheels for a while.
 
Waiting out the winter is never easy, and the coming snows tend to urge me onto two wheels even more as the darkness arrives.  The ride over was cool but spectacular: a blood red sunset across some astonishing trees.  I stopped in the hlls of south-west Erin at a horse farm and took a picture.

It was about 8°C (46°F) on the ride over.  The Tiger takes this in stride.  The only part of me that gets cold are my hands, and the hand guards and grip warmers had me covered.

I got back out at about 9:45pm.  The temperature was hovering just above freezing.  I had the fleece zipped up and the leathers on over top.  That combination does a remarkable job of retaining heat and stopping the wind from getting in.

I pulled out onto the empty, streetlighted road and headed into the darkness.  The moon was waxing gibbous and cast long shadows across the road.  Any exposed skin would have been instantly frozen, fortunately I didn’t have any.

I stopped in the dark and snapped that picture on the left.  Best I could do with a smartphone.  I want my next smartphone phone to be a camera with some smartphone on it rather than the other way around.

A single car drove by while I was stopped and asked if I was OK, which was nice.  Back on the bike I thundered through the frozen moonlight, weaving my way down empty country roads back home.

When I got in my hands were still working even though I’d only wornn normal leather gloves.  My core temperature was low, but it didn’t take long to warm back up.  Next time I’m out in that kind of weather I’ll try out the winter gloves.  I’ll keep going until the snow flies and the roads are salted.  At that point I’ll clean up the Tiger one last time and let it hibernate under a blanket until spring.

Some variations:

 

 

My local Triumph dealer and stealing a late November ride

I keep thinking I’m at the end of the riding season but opportunities are continually arising.  After a fairly miserable trip to the doctor I found myself free on an unseasonably warm late November day.  My usual M.O. is to head into the country and find twisty roads.  Less people+twisty roads = happiness!  This time I did the opposite.  I was curious where my local Triumph dealer was now that I own one.  It turns out it’s 136kms away, so not exactly local.  Getting there involved a blast down the highway, something else I don’t frequent.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve been on a major highway since the Lobo Loco Rally in August.  I live in the country and avoid population centres and the highways that connect them.  People are tedious.  People in traffic are doubly so.

The Tiger almost ended up here last March
until I made a desperate plea to the previous
owner on the eve of him trading it in.  It
finally showed up at the dealership it was
almost sold to for a quick visit.

Inglis Cycle is located in the east end of London, Ontario.  I hadn’t been around there since attending the air show in the late 1980s; it’s much more developed now.  After a blast down the 401 at warp speeds I worked my way through an awful lot of traffic lights before finding the dealership behind an abandoned factory.  With their parking lot cut up and the neighborhood looking like a demilitarized zone I cautiously went inside.

I was met by one of the Inglis brothers and he gave me a quick, low pressure introduction.  Walking into a dealer you sometimes get the sense that they’re only interested in you if you’ve got money to spend that day.  Inglis Cycle was welcoming and relaxed.  I felt like I could wander around and look at the bikes on display without any tension, so I did but I was only really there for one particular brand, the one I can’t find at home…

 

The Street Triple is a pretty thing, but I still think I’d go Z1000 if I were to get a naked bike.

 

 

 

I really like Triumph.  I consider them an example of what Britain is capable of when it doesn’t get all bound up in socialist nonsense or historical classism.  Freed from all that cultural weight the new Triumph is a competitive global manufacturer.

After a wander around the Triumphs on display I came back to the Triumph Tiger Explorer which is a nice piece of kit.  As an all purpose machine it’ll do everything from swallowing highway miles to light off road work.  I’ve thrown my leg over enough bikes to be aware of how silly I look on typically sized machines; the big Tiger fits.

The Street Triple is a lovely looking thing but too small.  Were I to do the naked bike thing it’d be on the more substantial Kawasaki Z1000.  The other classically styled Triumphs are also things of beauty but I don’t think I’d fit on any of them.

I wrapped up the visit with a trip to the accessories department where they had your typical assortment of dealer-type motorcycle gear and a sad lack of the lovely gear Triumph sells online.  I ended up picking up an Inglis Cycle Triumph t-shirt, but it was a pretty low rent printed t-shirt compared to the bling on Triumph Canada.  It’s a shame as I was ready to drop a bit of coin on a nice bit of Triumph wear.

I headed north through heavy lunch-time traffic out of London getting stopped twice by people wanting to know what kind of bike I was riding (it says Triumph Tiger on it).  Score another one for the increasingly unique old Tiger 955i with its Lucifer Orange paint and stripes.

Once clear of the flotsam I was able to burn down some country roads in June-like temperatures, though all the trees were bare.  I’d seen a comely sign for St Mary’s when we were riding back from the Lake Huron navigation so that was my lunch destination.


 I’d looked up Little Red’s Pub the day before (highest rated place to eat in town) and was aiming there for lunch.  As luck would have it there was a parking spot right out front and a front window table waiting for me.  I had a lovely fish and chip lunch (hand made fries, a good bit of halibut) and a good stretch before getting back on the Tiger for the long ride home.

St Mary’s is as pretty as its sign.

Since that day the temperature has plunged (below freezing as a high every day) and it has snowed multiple times.  This time the end really has come.  The batteries are out of the bikes and down in the warm basement on trickle charge.  This time of year with its increasing gloom and lousy weather makes that first ride of the spring feel so very far away.

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Riders & Tigers & Rivers (oh my)

a 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i… sketch!

A somewhat-warm and sunny Saturday meant a short ride up and down the river banks.


With a dirth of twisting roads around here, the Grand River is one of the few geological obsticles that forces local roads to do anything other than travel arrow straight.

It was a nice ride with a lot of bikes out and about.  At one point, waiting to turn onto the highway, I came across half a dozen BMWs and a lone Suzuki Vstrom – the local BMW club and a friend?

Were I lucky enough to live near some mountainous terrain, I’d be bending the bike around some real corners.


Saturday morning had me cleaning up my gear (check out those shiny boots in the video!) and fixing my Roof helmet.  I love that thing, best helmet I’ve ever owned.  I’d be heartbroken if I couldn’t fix it.  The plastic cams had gone out of alignment on the visor.  The last time I closed it they snapped, leaving me with an always open helmet.  Fortunately I had a spare set that came with the original clear visor.  It took a bit of aligning, but everything went back together flawlessly.

That Roof is one of the only ones in Canada.  I’d need to take a trip to Europe just to get another!  I’m starting to regret only buying one when I had a chance to pick up the last ones in Canada.




Replacing Triumph Tiger fuel tank couplings

According to Haynes, the Tiger’s gas
lines will automatically close when you
unplug them, except when they don’t
and make a mess.

I’ve owned the Triumph Tiger for a season now and intend to do some maintenance on it while the snow if flying.  Pretty much everything you need to get to is under the gas tank, which is a pain in the ass to remove.  More so in my case because the lower fuel line doesn’t self seal like it’s supposed to.


Last summer I had the tank off for the first time and it poured gas everywhere.  I ended up sticking a pencil in it to slow down the flow.  A gas leak isn’t a big deal on a warm summer day, but it’s -20°C outside at the moment and heating the garage with a gas leak is problematic (I use a propane heater).


By the time I found that I couldn’t get the valve to seal there was a lot of gas about.  I ended up washing the bike and floor clean with the water hose, but doing that in a cold snap is pretty miserable.  It’s turned the driveway into a skating rink.


With the gas line back on I decided to have a look online and see what people say about early two thousand Triumph gas lines.  It turns out they don’t say nice things about them.  Rather than using more durable metal fittings for the gas line releases, Triumph saved some money and put on problematic plastic ones.  They evidently did a recall but they only ever replaced the leaking ones so some bikes have half metal half plastic.  In my case they’re all original plastic ones.  I eventually came across this video which led me to a site with a detailed fix.

If you join tigertriple.com (free) you get a detailed how-to on fixing the under-engineered fuel fittings on a Triumph thanks to Evilbetty.

I bounced over to quickcouplings.net and ordered the needed bits:



They’ve got a good reputation so I should have the parts next week.  Some people had issues with the smaller sized end so I got a couple of the larger ones.  It was $18 extra but it means I’ll be able to do this once and be done.  I’ve probably already lost ten bucks in gas on this.  
Next up will be draining the gas tank which I topped up for winter storage.  With the tank empty I’ll be ready to go with the fitting change.  I’ll post on that when it happens.

Front wheel up and ready for
some fork attention – eventually

I was removing the tank to start the fork oil change.  That’s been a pain in the neck as well.  I went down to Two Wheel on January 2nd only to discover that they were closed.  I figured I was already half way to Guelph so went over to Royal Distributing to get the fork oil.  With two bottles of the stuff in hand (not on sale) I headed over to the register to discover a forty minute line up to get out the door.  It’s this kind of thing that prompts me to buy things online.  I ended up walking out the door without the oil.


At my local Canadian Tire I had a nice chat with a former student now taking welding in college and he rainchecked me some quality synthetic fork oil that was on sale for much less than Royal Distributing was charging anyway.  No line up, no shipping costs and the oil will be here in two days.  Because of the gas tank fittings it all ended up being not time sensitive anyway, so a two day wait and some money saved is all good.


Anyway, onwards and upwards.  The drained tank first and then install the upgraded fittings, then on to fork oil and a coolant flush (that also requires gas tank removal).  Considering the majority of maintenance on the Tiger (even changing the air filter) requires gas tank removal, using dodgy plastic fittings (replaced in later models) wasn’t a great idea.  Failing to get them all replaced in a recall was another dropped ball.  I knew that running a thirteen year old European bike as my daily rider would be a challenge.  If I can get these oversights sorted, hopefully I can get another good season out of it.

Washed clean and with a minus twenty windchill blowing in under the garage door.  Not the best time of year to mess around with a gas leak, but I’ve found a fix.


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The 1, 2, 3s of why Tigers are Awesome

I’ve been putting miles on the Tiger and have a developed some ideas about why it’s awesome in comparison to what I’ve come from.  Here they are in no particular order:

1… The tiger growls.  The Ninja had a nice snarl to it with its 270° twin, and the Concours’ massive inline four thundered like a Norse god, but the tearing silk growl of the Tiger can be virtually silent (less noisy than the wind) when I’m cruising, or growl like its namesake when you twist the throttle.  It has enough presence to make people jump when you give it some revs – maybe because it’s so quiet otherwise.

The 955i Triple (an epic engine) has that same lopsided warble that the Ninja had, but amplified by a third cylinder.  I’ve had a twin and a four, but now that I’ve gone triple I don’t think I’ll ever go back, it feels like the best of both worlds.

2… Lithe tigers are fun tigers.  At 50 kilos (almost 110lbs!) less than my last bike, the Tiger does everything better even though it’s taller.  From backing it out of the garage to winding it through corners, I don’t miss an ounce of that chubby Concours.  While the Connie hid its weight well in motion, it was always lurking in the background.  There is no substitute for a lighter bike.

3… Hot tigers aren’t so hot.  The cowling was nice on the Concours, but the volcanic heat that came off that engine cooked my man parts.  I might be hanging more out in the wind on the Tiger, but that’s kind of the point of motorcycling.

The engine barely seems to produce any heat at all and what there is is so well managed that I only occasionally feel a breath of warm air.  Time spent in the saddle is cool and comfortable, and much less like meatballs in hot sauce.  

The one place I’m warmer are my hands.  Between the hand guards and heated grips I’ve been able to ride the Tiger in near zero temperatures with no issues and without winter gloves.  My legs went from getting cooked to being one of the coolest parts of me when I’m out on the bike.

4… It’s not wise to upset a tiger.  Between that radical weight loss and an engine that puts out 7 more ft/lbs of torque 2000rpm lower than the Concours, the first time I wound out the Tiger it almost wookie-ed my arms off.  It’s amazing what a small bump in engine grunt and massive weight loss can do to a bike’s forward velocity.  The Tiger will comfortably lift a wheel in the first three gears, and it isn’t a little bike.


5…  Suspension that soaks up lousy Ontario roads.  Kawasakis have a rep for budget suspensions.  Between that and the barely paved roads of Ontario, I’d often hit bumps that would lift me out of the seat and rattle my bones.  This led to constantly worrying about knocking something loose on the bike.  The long, pliant suspension of the Tiger makes Ontario’s wonderful roads ride-able without any such worries.  Another benefit is that I’m able to corner and brake more effectively because the bike is never juddering over potholes, it just soaks them up.

6…  Lucifer Orange is magical.  I’ve yet to own a bike that a coat of spray paint didn’t radically improve, but there is only so far you can go with a can of spray paint.  The clear coated, metallic, red-orange on the Triumph is mind-bendingly brilliant.  Sure, the tiger stripes are a bit over the top, but that paint can manage it. When my eleven year old first saw it he said, ‘oh yeah!’.  Pulling up behind a school bus creates an avalanche of kids in the back window giving me thumbs up.  It’s the opposite of the too-cool-to-care leather clad biker pirate, but I’d rather give an enthusiastic thumbs up back than sit there trying to look indifferent about everything.

I picked up my first ROOF helmet last summer, and it has quickly become my go to lid.  The combination of an open face or fully safetied close faced lid (most flip up helmets only pass open face standards, the chin guard is ornamental) makes this a brilliant all-rounder.  I got it in orange because I liked the design, but it happens to look splendid and intentional with Triumph’s Lucifer orange.  It’s a happy accident, but I’ll take it.


7… It fits.  Less bend in the knees, my feet just go flat on the floor, less bent forward riding position with no weight on the wrists with a comfortable, upright stance, the Tiger fits like nothing I’ve ridden before.

Those wide bars mean I can leverage corners easily and with precision.  Other than keeping you tight to the bike aerodynamically, I’m not really sure why sportier bars are considered better, the wider geometry encourages finer control.

I also look like I fit on the Tiger.  I looked like a circus bear on a tricycle on the Ninja.  On the Concours I still looked like I was too tall for the bike, but the Tiger fits my 6’3″ frame like it was made for me.

Ready for my first night ride –
those lights work great.

8… the bad things aren’t.  The first owner seems to have addressed every shortcoming on this Tiger.  Last night was my first time out with it after dark and the supposedly anemic headlights were as good as the Concours’ lights ever were, and when I hit the highbeams it was like having a football stadium light up in front of me.

The fueling is smooth and perfect, and I haven’t even fine tuned the Power Commander on it yet.  The front fork does dive a bit under heavy breaking, but some adjustment seems to have resolved that and made the bike respond to my weight perfectly.  I have no trouble getting the Tiger to chase its own tail around corners.

With the second wing on the windshield adjusted I have at least as much upper body wind protection as I did from the fully faired Connie, so I’m not missing all the plastic of my last bike either.

9… a made in the U.K. success story.  Riding a British bike fills me with pride.  Riding such a good British bike makes it even better.  Triumph’s rise from bankruptcy in the 1980s to a multi-million dollar, international success story suggests that British manufacturing is anything but history, and that British habits around manufacturing can change and become competitive in a global economy.  It’s nice to ride such a fine machine made in the same place I was.

10… brilliant panniers.  I’ve enjoyed built in luggage since the Concours, but the Tiger panniers are totally next level.  Unlike the finicky attachments on the Connie, the Triumph panniers slip on and off effortlessly and lock into place as well as locking closed.  They are a good size and look right on the bike.  That they’re colour matched is just another bonus.

As you might have gathered, I’m enjoying Triumph ownership so far.

Tiger Pre-Flight Checks

I’ve never monkeyed with the suspension on the Tiger, but since I’m a 250lber and I ride 2-up with my son who’s an easy 130lbs, I thought I’d look into setting the suspension before our 1500km round-Huron trip.

A kindly Dubliner on Triumphrat had a copy of the owner’s manual page that explains how to set the Tiger’s rear suspension.  A two-up loaded bike should be spring pre-load set to the highest setting (5), while the rebound damping should be set three clicks out from all the way in.

Making the changes was pretty straightforward.  The spring pre-load adjuster is easily accessible under the seat.  The numbers on it are bit tricky to see, but you can quickly set the pre-load to the desired setting once you find them at the bottom of the cylinder.

The rebound damping adjuster is at the bottom of the shock and easily accessible.  Turning it in until it was snug was straight forward and the clicks are loud and easily detectable.  Turning it out three clicks was an obvious process.

I took the bike for a ride today to get gas and prep for the trip.  It feels firmer, less bouncy and taller than before.  I’m enjoying the change.

Once back I set the tyre pressures to 36psi front and 42psi back and looked over the tires for any issues.  I’ve spent the rest of the day packing as if for a portage canoe trip (packing for a long bike ride is similar).

While out and about I stopped in at Two Wheel Motorsport and picked up an Airhawk.  I’d been thinking about getting one anyway after the nasty case of monkey-butt I got riding it to The Bruce last week.  The gel pad I was using gets moved to the pillion seat, so everyone gets a seat upgrade.

Airhawk pricing is a bit baffling.  The tiny dual-sport seat (11.5″ deep x11″ wide) cost $230, the much larger medium cruiser seat pad (14″ x 14″) costs $148.  We tried out the medium cruiser sized one and it fit the Tiger seat better anyway, so I saved myself eighty bucks and purchased the larger pad. (?)  I’ll give an update after I put an intensive 1500kms in unbelievable heat on it.

While I was under the seat I found the height settings on it, so I moved it up one from minimum.  It might quickly find its way to the top setting, but middle with the Airhawk has already relaxed my knees dramatically, just in time for a Great Lake ride-around.

Replacing Plastic Fuel Fittings: that was a pain in the ass

Well, that was a pain in the ass.  It began well enough.  Removing the metal clips from the plastic fittings was pretty straightforward.  Push the pin in and then gently tease them apart and you don’t have springs flying everywhere.  I’m a bit confused as to why I needed to save the bits as the new fittings come with clips, but I’ll hang on to them anyway.


Following the directions online, I next took out the lower plastic fuel fitting in about thirty seconds.  The upper one (that leaks) immediately broke (I suspect it already was) and proceeded to spectacularly fall apart.  I spent the next two hours with a hot pick pulling bits of brittle plastic out of the metal fuel tank threads.  It turned into tedious dental surgery rather than a quick repair.


With the plate now clear of detritus, I should be able to install the new metal fittings and resolve my leaking fuel tank once and for all.  Since I have to remove the tank to pretty much do any engine maintenance at all, this fix will make the Tiger maintainable again.


With the fuel tank fittings sorted I’ll next be doing the fork oil (never done that before), change the plugs and do a coolant flush (which requires multiple fuel tank removals).  The Tiger will be fit should spring ever arrive.


Online Notes on Fuel Fitting thread sealant:
What to use for fuel fitting thread sealant:
ift.tt/2iuP8r8
Don’t use teflon tape for fuel fittings!
ift.tt/2iA2FAX
These guys make it:
ift.tt/2iuLGwL
It’s available locally:
ift.tt/2izXotl

The metal plate the fuel pump is connected to on the gas tank has a couple of plastic fuel fittings screwed into it.  The top one is leaking and was a pain in the ass to get out, the bottom one came right out easily.
The plastic male ends go into plastic female ends in a metal fuel pump plate.  Shortly it’ll all be stainless steel.
Getting it that clean took some patience.
The big, orange Triumph Tiger in maintenance mode – the battery pack is on the back to raise the front wheel off the ground for the coming fork oil change.

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Tiger Winter Maintenance Notes

Rims:   Front: 36 spoke alloy rim 19 x 2.5″  Rear: 40 spoke alloy rim 17 x 4.25″
2005 Tiger:  14 spoke cast alloy: same size (is this findable?  Yes it is!  Not rears though)


Tires: Front: 110/80-19 Rear: 150/70-17


Coolant flush.  2.8l of coolant (50% distilled water 50% corrosion inhibited ethylene glycol)
– cool engine
– remove fuel tank
– remove pressure cap- 
– unscrew bleed hole bolt (thermostat housing)
– remove reservoir cap
– container under engine
– unscrew drain plug (left side of engine) & drain (keep the old washer for flushing)
– remove lower coolant hose and drain
– flush with tap water
– reinstall old washer & plug & lower coolant hose and fill with water & aluminum friendly rad flush
– reinstall drain plug (25Nm) rad cap and bleed hole bolt (7Nm)
– put fuel tank back on
– run engine to warm (10 mins) then let cool
– re-drain
– refill with plain water, repeat running, cool and redrain
– use a new drain plug washer and torque to 25Nm
– with everything but the bleed bolt installed slowly fill with coolant
– fill reservoir to MAX and cap everything and install bleed bolt (7Nm)
– run 3-4 mins, rev to 4-6k a few times to open it up, check rad and reservoir levels


Spark Plugs:  NGK DPR8EA-9   0.8 to 0.9 gap  20Nm  (under gas tank, like everything else)


Fork oil change:  Kayaba G10 or equivalent 107 mm from top of tube with fork spring removed and leg fully compressed.  Larger riders (like me!) might want 15 weight oil.
Tiger oil change intervals.  Tiger fork oil.
Fork oil viscosity  –  More Tiger fork oil info.
Capacity: 720cc/ml  oil level: 107mm (from top of tube with spring removed and compressed leg)
Removal of forks (with body work & front wheel removed)
– one at a time and with all gubbins removed from fork
– loosen fork clamp bolts
– loosen top fork bolt while it’s still on the bike (hard to do when it’s off)
– note alignment of fork before removing it
– loosen lower clamp bolts, it should slide loose out the bottom
top fork bolt:  30Nm
clamp bolts top yoke:  20Nm
Handlebar holder clamp bolts:  26Nm


Brake fluid flush   DOT 4


Chassis lubricant (swing arm, stearing head, levers & pedals): Mobile Grease HP 222 or lithium based multi purpose grease.

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Whimsical Tigers


On our recent cross-Ontario ride we were stopped a number of times by people who were curious about the Tiger.  This is an eye catching, obviously modern looking bike with a Triumph logo, it prompted questions.  If they see a new ‘classic’ Triumph, most of the general public think it’s actually a classic.  They wouldn’t recognize the difference between fuel injection and carburetors even if it’s advertised on the bike, they just see an old machine.

Colourful Triumphs of yore.
The Naughties were neon!

The confusion of a new-looking Triumph (even though it’s 13 years old), and what they thought a Triumph should be isn’t too surprising, and I’m happy to fill them in on the triumphant return of the brand (it’s a good story), but it makes me question the modern bike colours and styles.

When we went to get the Tiger, 11 year old Max’s eyes bulged out of his head and I knew we had a winner.  Who makes a Lucifer orange tiger with stripes?  Triumph in 2003, that’s who.  When they weren’t churning out violently orange Tigers, they were putting out a wild assortment of colours.  Of course, this was before Ewan & Charlie jumped on their austere Bayerische Motoren Werkes R1200s and reset the aesthetic paradigm for adventure motorcycles.

Why so serious?
That muted blue is as close as you get
to colour on a new Tiger.  Other choices
include military green or grey.  A purposeful
look is what sells  adventure bikes  nowadays…

and don’t forget to dress like a starship trooper!

Nowadays everything has to appear relentlessly purposeful and ridden by people who look like they’ve just landed on an alien planet.  Whimsy and fun are replaced by bikes that look like they come from Army surplus, and riders who just got decommissioned from the special forces.  No wonder people were eager to walk up and start a conversation with the guy and his son on their brilliantly orange Tiger that looks like it just popped out of Winnie the Pooh.  The public wants to be curious about motorcycles, but a lot of motorcyclists seem determined to make themselves as unapproachable as possible, and manufacturers have to cater to that attitude in order to sell.

Besides paint options there is also the issue of styling.  I find the compound curves and organic look of our 955i Tiger very engaging.  Whomever was designing Triumphs in the early Naughties did it pretty much exactly the same way I would have.  Since then Triumph, along with most other brands, have been chasing a more chiselled, hard edged look.  Lamborghini did a stealth fighter aesthetic after the Diablo with crisp, folded edges and it seems to have spread.  Between the muted colours, sharp edged styling and attitude driven rider styles, it’s little wonder that our whimsical Tiger had people approaching us.

I realize manufacturers have got to build to the tastes of the day, but I’m hoping there are a group of motorcyclists out there who aren’t so serious and miss those fantastic styles and colours.  If there are, there is hope that my whimsical Tiger won’t be so exceptional in the future.




LINKS

Even when they’re blue, they’re
mostly  black.

rideapart.com/articles/what-the-color-of-your-motorcycle-says-about-you
Black motorcycles are dead sexy. No, really. Researchers at the University of Kentucky (March, 2011) found that in 36% of crashes involving a driver’s failure to observe a motorcycle and then turning into its path involved black motorcycles.

Army green, ready to attack
those adventures!

Looks like whimsical colours can keep you alive!  It might be time to bring back peppermint green and neon puce!

www.motorcyclenews.com/news/new-bikes/2013/june/jun0413-triumph-releases-new-colours-and-a-sprint-gt-special-edition/
As the years go by, the colours get more and more muted.

I like my Tigers Tigger-like…

Triumph has a great sense of humour, just not with adventure bikes (those are very serious).