The basic spec. of the Trophy is very good, it has basically been benchmarked against the BMW R1200RT at the design stage.
Although its a bit older than I might have ideally wanted, this one has just over 3000 miles on the clock, so its really only just run in.
The idea of changing my bike has sort of crept up on me over the last few months. I guess it really started with the onset of the brake problems. The R1150RT is 12 years old and has done 46000 miles, not a lot perhaps, but looking to the future, I expect to have at least another 10 years biking in me, so if I keep it, the bike will be 22 years old and I am not really into maintaining something that old except as a special project. If I replace the BMW now, a new bike will be about 12/13 years old in ten years time, so it does seem to make sense to do it now.
Which brings us to the details, if now, then why not before the round UK trip, which is certainly the longest single trip I have planned, rather than after it?
The scene is set therefore for some research and testing.
I have to admit that I started the investigation with a strong bias towards BMW. I like my R1150RT and have got used to its foibles, the agricultural gearbox is an old friend, the vibration from the massive opposed twin cylinders is managed via a good seat and some extra fleece to sit on, and if you are not used to it, you don't notice the absence of electronic toys. I have lowered the footrests and fitted a larger than standard screen, as well as my trusty Garmin Zumo 550 which has seen me safe on many trips. I expected therefore to be looking at the R1200RT as a natural successor.
As I started to read reviews in magazines and online, it became apparent that the R1200RT is indeed the benchmark for touring bikes, but surprisingly I learned that it was not as far ahead of the competition as I had expected, time after time I came across commentators who put the Triumph Trophy up there as a real competitor, which in some respects overtook the BMW. The two seemed to lead the pack with a few others, Moto Guzzi Norge, Yamaha FJR1300 , Kawasaki GTR1400 , Honda Pan European, trailing considerably. I left alone the big Harleys and Indians, as well as the armchair which is the Goldwing.
Setting my sights on the top then I headed off to Rainbow Motorcycles in Rotherham for a morning with a BMW R1200RT. Its a great bike but I was surprised that I wasn't wowed. I drove a 2012 model with about 9000 miles on the clock, the first thing that struck me was that the seat was uncomfortably low, lower than my R1150RT, and this meant that the angle of attack for my left foot on the gear lever was all wrong, resulting in the occasional missed change. I am tall, 6 - 4 so I accept I am at the top of the scale, but this is a big touring bike. The gearbox itself was not as clunky as mine, but still had a massive "clunk" factor. The instruments were clear and the bike was light and easy to handle. There is an annoying headlamp flasher switch which protrudes over the left handgrip, this means that I accidentally turned the light to main beam several times, just by shifting the position of my hand on the grip. I loved the heated seat, it was a cold day in the Peak District and this with the heated grips meant I was cosy. My verdict - a good bike, but not for me.
Next stop Pidcocks Triumph in Long Eaton. After the disappointment of the BMW I was ready for anything. As soon as I sat on the Triumph it felt good, the seat is firm, but wide and comfortable, the sound of the 1200 triple is firm and eager, and the selection of first gear as smooth as the first lick of a homemade ice cream. It was then that I realised how deep my habituation to poor gearchanging was. There were absolutely no clunks or crunches, the bike pulled away with ease and I settled in for a great ride.
In the end there were three things that made me decide on the Triumph over the BMW, they are broadly matched on equipment, and I don't have a desire to ride the fastest bike around so that's not a particular issue:
- Riding position has to be right, I plan to spend many hours on this bike so its no good compromising, and the Triumph has it by a long way for me.
- Smooth power makes riding easy and predictable. The Triumph doesn't vibrate in the way the BMW does, and the smoothness of the gear change is a real revelation.
- Cost has to be taken into account. I don't look for the cheapest at the cost of quality, but neither do I think it makes sense to pay over the odds without seeing a real benefit. I have not been able to identify any element of the triumph which is inferior to the BMW, there are no reported quality issues that I have seen reported, so why pay any more.
One thing I will be exploring is the new satnav. I like the one I have, I am used to the garmin way of doing things, and I have planned my whole route using Garmin's Basecamp software. It looks as if I will be able to convert this to upload onto the TomTom, I hope so or I shall get a bit grumpy!! I shall also have to change the description of this blog - Goodbye Berlin, Germany, Hello Hinkley, England. (or Chonburi, Thailand !!)