I first rode motorcycles for 5 years (1988-1993) when I lived in Northern California and it was one of the greatest periods of my life. At that point, the motorcycles that I rode were used or new Japanese motorcycles, Triumph having waned to a very limited production status. Ironically, given my current love for their products, I got out of riding due to incipient fatherhood just as Triumph was about to start their brilliant comeback under the able leadership of John Bloor.
Flashing forward to 2007, I had been longing for a return to motorcycling for quite a while and a longish (30 mile) commute provided a convenient pretext for a return to riding. When I started researching the field, the changes to motorcycles were quite startling, with bikes having vastly improved their capabilities and handling during my riding hiatus. Since my last bike (a Katana 750) had incurred silly plastic replacements costs the times that I dropped it, I was immediately drawn to the current crop of naked bikes. I had planned to choose between a Yamaha FZ1 and a BMW K1200R when a friend recommended looking at Triumph's Speed Triple. It caused me to give its reviews another look and to take a test ride on one.
I ended up purchasing that very Speed Triple on the day of the test ride. From what I hear that is a common phenomenon.
That was my first Hinckley Triumph. I have now had a total of 3 of their bikes, 2 Speed Triples and a Tiger 800 XC.
(Photos: the Northern Exposure TV show mural in Roslyn, WA. Near Duffey Lake North of Whistler, BC)
While the loss of that Speed Triple gutted me, by that time I was completely enamored of Triumph's motorcycles. I'm not somebody who has ever been interested in following a brand just because the cool kids do: for a major purchase like a vehicle I demand high quality construction for the money and robustness. What amazes me about Triumph motorcycles is that they deliver quality and reliability aplenty, yet I always arrive on my Triumph with a wicked grin across my face: Triumphs also deliver extreme FUN with a combination of performance and playfulness that I still find astonishing, seven years on.
I purchased another Speed Triple the year after the first was lost and have taken it on further trips into BC and the Canadian Rockies. The picture below is that second Speed Triple by the Crowfoot Glacier near Alberta's Icefields Parkway. Here is a blog post about that day.
Aside from enjoying top quality bikes with a bit of the hooligan about them, I have also been thinking about doing more offroading and bike camping. I had a DRZ400 for a while and, while it was a blast around town and on backroads, it was not any fun at highway speeds. When the Tiger 800 became available here in the Seattle area I quickly took one for a test ride (blogged) and eventually bought my own. The picture below was taken with my Tiger at the Continental Divide in BC's Kootenay National Park (blogged).
At this point, I know that I have my personal best combination of motorcycles in the world and expect many years of pleasure from riding them into adventures.
This Spring, we will be visiting England and Wales. The sites that we will be visiting are a nerdy combination of cultural (e.g., seeing Henry IV Part 1 in Stratford-on-Avon), historical (Bletchley Park, the Tower of London) and bitterly partisan in nature (looking for scooter riders to taunt in Brighton). Triumph is presently not conducting tours of their factory but it would add to our experience tremendously if they considered opening their facility up for visits this year. Or perhaps giving one of their enthusiasts here in the USA the privilege of a short visit that can be raved about on this blog.
How about it, Triumph?