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OEM Update: Triumph Motorcycles

In 2019, Triumph is projected to again hit record sales, as underlined by the positive performance reported in the first nine months of the year. As of September 2019, year-to-date global sales have been 55,192, up 3.5% from the previous year. Total 2019 sales are projected to be 67,000 units. “We revamped our line of modern classics — our best sellers — in 2016. Other manufacturers, seeing the market was soft, just revised the paint and graphics. We invested in engineering. As a result, we are building bikes that customers want.”

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Triumph is once again climbing to the top. 

The history of Triumph resembles the big rollercoaster at Coney Island. The Speed Twin was introduced in 1937 to popular acclaim — and then the factory was bombed during World War II. Triumph rebuilt its factory in time to catch the postwar motorcycle boom and did very well during the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, the company failed to modernize the machine tooling and lost touch with the buying public. 

After ceasing operation in the early 1980s, Triumph’s trademarks and patents were bought by John Bloor, who invested in a state-of-the-art facility and started manufacturing reliable motorcycles that made customers happy. Sales were good — and then there was a major fire at the Hinkley factory in 2002. 

Triumph quickly rebuilt and has continued on an upward trend since. Global sales have grown from 48,199 in 2012 to 64,752 in 2018. At present, Triumph is building well over 60,000 bikes per year at facilities located at Hinkley, Great Britain and Thailand, as well as CKD facilities in Brazil and India. 

Triumph’s current performance is driven by sales in Europe, which represents 56% of the total, with sales increased 2.2% in 2019, and North America (Canada, U.S. and Mexico) where 2019 sales are up 6.1% at a time when many other manufacturers are seeing a downwards trend. In fact, Triumph has increased U.S. sales in 2019, with a record volume of 12,600 units in 2018 and a full year 2019 projection above 13,000 units. Triumph is the largest British motorcycle manufacturer and has around 650 dealers across the world.

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Modern classics — twin cylinder machines that have the look of the bikes Triumph was building in the 1950s and 1960s – comprise 60% of Triumph’s sales. Keller believes that customers like these bikes because they are great everyday bikes that can do just about anything. “If a person can only afford one motorcycle, they can buy a Triumph modern classic and take it just about anywhere. The bikes look great, too!” 

Other manufacturers are concentrating on adventure and dual sport machines. Triumph does not share this emphasis but does build several choices for the on-and-off road enthusiast. 

“Even though the Tiger 800 is still the best in its class, we have been doing more development, and are going to release the Tiger 900 in a couple of months. The Tiger 900 will really be ahead of anything else on the market,” Keller said. “The Tiger 1200 is another great adventure bike. We also build the Scrambler 1200 for people who want to be Steve McQueen. It’s for adventure people who like cool, classic styling.” 

The Scramblers are not just style-they work in the dirt. “The new 2019 Triumph Scrambler XE and XC are more than capable off-road and have put the other manufacturers on notice,” said one magazine report. 

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In addition to the modern classic and Tiger lines, Triumph has been very successful with its Street Triple sport bikes and the Rocket 3 big cruiser. The company has branched out into factory customs, with the 2020 lineup featuring three Triumph Factory Customs, one of which, the custom Rocket 3, is already sold out. Additionally, Triumph sells a wide variety of parts for DIY customizers, as well as in house designed clothing and luggage. 

The company has just announced a partnership with a large Indian motorcycle manufacturer, Bajaj. Triumph stated that the partnership “will build new engine and vehicle platforms in the mid-capacity range (200- 750cc) and offer multiple options to address different segments in this class. The proposition will focus on producing both aspirational and affordable machines, creating a new entry point to the Triumph range around the world and attract new customers to the brand.” 

In earlier years, Triumph marketed the Cub as an affordable entry point for new riders. The Bajaj partnership will again provide Triumph with an entry level bike to sell. The new bikes will be designed in England and built in India. Keller predicts that they will be in the marketplace in three years. 

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Triumph is assuring dealers that, outside of India, motorcycles developed together from this partnership will join the current Triumph product portfolio and be distributed by the Triumph dealer network. One of the aims of the Triumph/Bajaj partnership is to give dealers entry level bikes to sell to young people taking up motorcycling. 

The company has also undertaken other initiatives to increase Triumph awareness among the buying public. The company has a three-year contract, starting in the 2019 season, to supply engines for the FIM Moto2 World Championship. 

“Triumph has been involved in racing forever,” Keller explained. “We had the opportunity to be involved in the biggest international motorcycle racing series, and it made more sense for us to be the engine provider for Moto2. The R&D we did to make that engine is already trickling down to our street bikes. We made some revisions to the 2020 Street Triple line as a result of our experience with the Moto2 engine.” 

Other contemporary racing achievements include Triumph’s first place at the 2014 Daytona 200, the 2014 Isle of Man Supersports TT, the 2014 and 2015 British Supersports titles and World SuperSport racing, and the 2019 Isle of Man Supersports TT win, with Peter Hickman aboard. The company has successfully placed its machines in major movie productions, most recently the new James Bond movie — No Time to Die. To show community spirit, Triumph partners with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Rides, a charitable organization that raises funds for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health organizations. 

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“Over the next five years, we will continue to deliver new premium motorcycles,” Keller said. “We are planning to grow our dealer network. There are places where customers are asking for bikes that do not have a current dealer, and we are looking for the right people to set up dealerships in those areas. We have absolutely great dealers. Our dealers are making it happen for Triumph.” 

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