The Triumph that wanted to be a BMW


At the beginning of the 1990s, Triumph launched a sport-turismo in two versions: a three-cylinder 900 -with the Speed ​​Triple engine- and a 1200 powered by a four-cylinder. This bike received the name Trophy.

Almost two decades later, in 2012, Hinckley’s brand set its sights on the most valued touring vehicle at the time by Europeans, the magnificent BMW R 1200 RT, and set out to compete with its own weapons. Or, rather, copy the German bestseller, but using British weapons.

The task was not easy: the RT had an attractive and elegant aesthetic, a high ride comfort and remarkable dynamic behavior.

The 2011 Tiger 800 XC also resembled a BMW, the F 800 GS.

To attack the first section, Triumph was clear: shoot directly the aesthetics of the BMW. It was nothing totally new, since at that time the Tiger 800 also looked quite similar to the BMW F 800 GS, but with the Trophy all limits were crossed.

The tank, seat and pannier part is virtually identical on both bikes. The air vents on the sides want to remind the boxer cylinders of the BMW. Nothing was free here…

The profile of the British GT was virtually identical to that of its German rival: The rounded shapes of the tank and seat contrasted with the more angular ones of the fairing, as on the RT. The mirrors added to the ends of the front also acted as air vents for the hands, and integrated the front turn signals… exactly the same as in the German one.

At the front, the Triumph’s double multi-convex headlamp closely resembled the BMW’s triple, as did the pop-up windscreen.

triumph trophy
The front of the Triumph Trophy also copied the angular shapes of the RT. The integrated mirrors, the embedded turn signals…

Even the instrumentation had an aesthetic very similar to that of its rival.

From the ‘command post’ of both bikes the view was also very similar. In any case, the handlebars of the British motorcycle were higher.

The rear view was another copy, with the pair of standard cases with a design very, very similar to that of the German motorcycle, and the rear light… identical. Hinckley’s brand also opted for a single-arm cardan transmission, only theirs was much thicker and heavier than the one on the Munich bike.

The rear view pretty much only varied in the gimbal and exhaust arrangement. Look at the similarity of the bicolor suitcases and the rear light-indicator set.

triumph trophy

Obviously, it was in the mechanics where there were more differences: if the BMW mounted the classic air-cooled boxer twin, which yielded 110 CV, the Triumph used a 134 CV LC three-cylinder.

As we have commented, the Hinckley brand also opted for a single-arm cardan transmission, only theirs was much thicker and heavier than the one on the Munich bike. and placed on the left side of the bike, while on the RT it was on the right.

What Triumph failed to achieve with its Trophy was the dynamic behavior of its rival. If, despite its bulk, the BMW R 1200 RT was a surprisingly agile and very neutral motorcycle in its behavior, the Trophy was another matter entirely. Their respective frame parts and geometries aside, the RT clearly had one thing going for it: weight. While the German motorcycle declared 259 kg in running order, with gasoline, oil, etc., the English declared 301 kg in the same conditions (but without suitcases). That is, 42 kg difference.

triumph trophy
Is it the Triumph Trophy or is it the BMW R 1200 RT? From this angle it is difficult to differentiate them.

In favor, it had a smoother engine to use, practically without vibrations and with a totally uniform power delivery, with a certain joy at the top. The BMW vibrated a little more and its power delivery was a little rougher at low revs, but in return it was much more manageable on the highway and infinitely easier in low-speed maneuvers or in urban driving. Even so, it was a stable and noble motorcycle, nothing to say about it, only with clearly greater inertia than in the BMW. Note that the BMW also had a much shorter wheelbase than the Triumph, 1,430mm versus 1,542mm for the Trophy. This figure, together with a much lower weight, made the BMW a much more manageable motorcycle.

The Triumph was offered in two versions, the standard and the SE (with electronic suspensions) and at a lower price than its rival. That was one of its main arguments: to offer a product with characteristics very similar to those of the popular German router, but at a lower price: €16,295 (€17,795 for the SE) and €18,450 for the RT. Even so, it never managed to knock the RT off its well-deserved podium, which is still on the market with its 1250 LC version, while the British one ended up disappearing.

The British brand rightly turned to enhance its own designs in a more marked way and forget to imitate other motorcycles, something that has gone well for it.

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