Ready To Move To The Next Level

A motorcycle firm appealed, nevertheless, partly because its products are tangible and, unlike houses, have the potential to be sold abroad. "Bikes are an end product and I like end products. They're engineering and I like engineering. There's no bloody ego trip for me," he said on that day in June 1990, advising us to take photos because he wouldn't be giving interviews in future. More than two decades later, I still haven't spoken to him again, let alone persuaded him to change his mind.

Those first production Triumphs were unveiled at the Cologne Show that autumn and were well received, at least in Britain. The powerful Trophy 1200 sports-tourer was an improbably close rival to Japanese superbikes including the ZZ-R 11 00. The Trophy 900, essentially the same bike with one cylinder missing, was a capable bike with an engaging three-cylinder character. The Trident 900 that followed later in the year was a lively naked triple, though the short-stroke 7S0cc variant was less impressive. The modular concept, though largely successful, did have its limitations.

Bloor's fledgling firm soon established a reputation for solid if unspectacular engineering, but things were far from easy for Triumph. As well as facing cynicism from motorcyclists who had seen previous so-called British world-beaters fail, Triumph encountered resistance from some Brit bike loyalists who thought the new liquid-cooled, multi-cylinder machines too Japanese. Some cynics even claimed Triumph had links with Kawasaki,

Sales in Germany and Spain, the first export markets, were disappointing and the modular format made Triumph's Daytona sports models uncompetitive against purpose-built rivals, especially when Honda's FireBlade arrived in 1992. Nevertheless, despite those setbacks, production rose steadily from 2414 in 1991, passing the 10,000 mark three years later. With the help of much hard work and some clever advertising, Triumph slowly but surely developed a reputation for good all-round performance and reliable engineering.

An important advance came in 1995, with the start of exports to America and the launch of the Thunderbird 900 triple, the firm's first classically styled model. Bloor had been cautious about exploiting Triumph's history. He was desperate to earn his company a reputation for modern, high quality engineering; and to shed the previous, Meriden-built models' reputation for unreliability.
However, the Thunderbird's success-it was by far Hinckley's best selling model in 1995, contributing over 5700 of the firm's total production of 13,500 - confirmed the worldwide nostalgia for all things Triumph. The closely related Adventurer, released a year later, was another hit with over 2000 sales.

By this time Bloor and his team were planning the stunning T595 Daytona sportster and naked T509 Speed Triple, the first non-modular bikes, that would be launched in 1997. They must also have been turning their thoughts towards development of the Bonneville twin that would eventually appear in 2001. Triumph was firmly established, and ready to move to the next level.