Led By Reborn Bonneville, Brit Bike Brand Becomes #1 European MarqueThere was a time when British bikes ruled the motorcycle sales world and Triumph’s Bonneville was the apex British bike. Seems as if history has repeated itself. Starting with the “Bonneville Reborn Tour” spanning North America in the fall of 2015 and rolling through a record sales month in April, Triumph is the top European brand in the U.S. once again.
“The April sales show the incredible passion and loyalty of the Triumph customer and is a direct result of extraordinary effort all the way from the design and development team to the dealer network that is working to deliver a distinctive, cool, authentic and premium customer experience,” said Triumph Motorcycles America COO, Matt Sheahan. “We couldn’t be more excited for the future for our customers, our dealers and our brand.”
The charge to the top of the charts can be largely attributed to retro classics in the range, consisting of the Bonneville T120, Bonneville T120 Black, Street Twin, Thruxton and Thruxton R. When it was first introduced in 1959, the Bonneville T120 was as good as it gets. The ‘120’ was code for its 120 mph top speed – which made it a must have for everyone from Marlon Brando in the Wild One to Arthur Fonzarelli of Happy Days fame. Embracing this heritage, Sheahan adds, “These five bikes were developed from the ground up with three new Bonneville engines and all-new chassis and suspensions, to provide the optimal modern classic riding experience.”
However, it took a literal rebirth to bring about this success. When British industrialist John Bloor bought the venerated Triumph brand out of receivership in 1983, his immediate goal was to produce motorcycles based on performance and capability for a hardcore group of riders… having a sense of history was not a driving factor in design or model mix. In fact, there wasn’t so much as a passing nod to nostalgia and the Bonneville wasn’t part of the product range. It wasn’t until 2001 that the Bonneville 800 was introduced. For the next 14 years, the Bonneville was brought back each year with a series of slightly larger engines, eventually getting EFI and bored out to 865cc.
U.S. Bonneville sales weren’t exactly anything to write home about most years. Then came the Bonneville Reborn blitz coinciding with a wave of nostalgic overtones. The limelight and sales luster launched at The Theatre in the Ace Hotel in November 2015 and a star was reborn. During the next 90 days, the Bonneville Reborn Tour criss-crossed the U.S. and covered Canada with a blanket of VIP showings, dealer demo rides and appearances at virtually every major motorcycle show on both sides of the border.
Triumph says its semi trucks visited 53 cities in 26 states, plus Washington D.C. They estimate more than 20,000 miles were covered and 45 U.S. state lines crossed by the time the road show wrapped up in mid-February 2016.
Not only will the dealership staff get to dive into these products for training, but also we’re going to be holding some great launch events for consumers. Nearly every major urban market will get to interact with the brand and get to look at these all-new iconic motorcycles.”
It worked. Triumph became the top selling European brand based upon motorcycle sales in the on-highway and dual-sport categories through the first four months of 2016, a claim confirmed by MIC retail reports. But they are not content to rest on their laurels! In a strange role reversal, Bonneville sales should bolster the Tiger’s reach into the ADV market (for those who haven’t studied their mid-century British bike history, the original Bonneville was born when Triumph took its existing single-carbed Tiger and added another Amal to the mix).
“To help ensure continued success for Triumph dealers, the recently announced Tiger Explorer 1200 range will see an early release,” Triumph trumpeted when they announced the Q1 sales figures. “It will be available to fill pre-sold deposits by the end of the month of May.” Billed as the ultimate transcontinental adventure motorcycle, the Explorer family features five models, each with what Triumph is calling “state-of-the-art rider focused technology… More torque, power and performance.”
Between the Bonneville beating the drum for the retro/hipster set to the Tigers exploring the ADV fringes and the triples in between, Triumph’s marketing mantra is to be “the British premium, lifestyle brand, which produces a wide range of distinctive, cool, and authentic Modern Classic, Adventure, Sport, Cruiser and Touring motorcycles.” A tall order, but for fans of the brand and dealers alike, it would appear that happy days are here again!
TEAM TRIUMPH EXPANDS
The Bonneville Reborn tour and continuing record sales numbers are just part of the news coming from Triumph Motorcycles America headquarters in Atlanta these days. Top-level talent has been added to the roster, including two top level execs. Industry veteran Rod Lopusnak has been named national sales director and most recently, Phil Read, Jr. was appointed public relations manager. Both Lopusnak and Read were literally born into the motorcycle industry.
Lopusnak’s grandparents owned and operated a BSA and Yamaha dealership in New Jersey. As a youngster, he started out sweeping floors in his grandfather’s dealership and he eventually worked his way up through the ranks at the parts counter, in service, sales, and eventually as general manager of several dealerships. This fundamental undertaking of dealership operation served him well in senior management positions at AMA Pro Racing, Tucker Rocky Distributing and the past 18 years with Suzuki. Most recently, he had replaced Larry Vandiver as director, operations head – motorcycles, ATV & scooters at Suzuki in the spring of 2015.
At Suzuki, Lopusnak had held eight different leadership positions, starting as a district sales manager and later ATV operations manager and then national sales manager. Every step of the way he has built a strong rapport with dealers and is also well-versed in new product development – strengths that should serve him well with Triumph. Lopusnak now resides in Georgia and is based in Triumph’s Atlanta office.
After being given his first motorcycle at 4 years old, Triumph’s new PR manager Phil Read Jr. has rarely been out of the saddle since. While his father was busy winning multiple world championships for Yamaha and MV Agusta, young Phil was literally raised in the paddock amongst the legends and heroes of international roadracing. To this day, his fondest motorcycle memory was riding at Goodwood Festival of Speed alongside MotoGP legends Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz and “King” Kenny Roberts.
Read brings longstanding PR and media experience to the Triumph team, combining his birthright with decades of professional experience. Originally from England, his previous roles were within Unilever and Bauer Media motorcycle publishing. Most recently he served seven years at the Piaggio Group as marketing director, with the last two years being based out of New York.
“Both these gentlemen bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to Triumph,” says Triumph Motorcycles America COO, Matt Sheahan. “We are proud of the record we have achieved, but we are even more excited about our future.”