Words by Gugu Masuku

Since the 90s, Kawasaki Motors South Africa has been the handlers of the Triumph brand locally, and they weren’t doing a bad job. However, as with everything else, there came a time for change. Under the management of new CEO Bruce Allen, the Triumph brand has undergone a complete makeover, and I was there for the housewarming.

On the launch of the new Triumph, I was privileged enough to sample a few of their models and get a feel of what the revamped brand was all about. I was handed the keys to the Thruxton first; it wasn't the Thruxton R I had hoped for, but I went along with it since the guys from Triumph reassured me that the cafe racer would blow my socks off. Well, they were right.

 

Smoother than velvet

 

The Thruxton is a very unassuming bike, it looks like something Joe the classic collector down the road would own—but that isn't the Thruxton I rode. The first thing you notice when you ride this motorcycle is just how refined it is in every aspect. The shift action, clutch and all, is smoother than velvet; it probably has the most refined feel of any bike I’ve ridden. Its motor is nothing short of the above description and I grew fond of it very quickly. See, this 1200cc is tuned to deliver high torque and to do so right from the beginning all the way to the last cog in that 6-speed gearbox—very linear too. The torque on the Thruxton allows you to pull a speedy getaway even on the highway without the need for a change down. Its suspension is very kind but that depends on what mode you’re riding in. In the more aggressive sport mode, there’s a noticeable change in its character—it becomes very stern and lets you know that it means business.

 

The Tiger Sport

After handing the Thruxton back to its rightful owners, I was offered the Tiger Sport. This isn’t the type of bike I would run towards in a line up on motorcycles to choose from, and certainly not something you find many black brothers riding. But I went in with an open mind, always keen to try something new.

 

The bike not only reacted like an agitated tiger but also sounded like one with that standard pipe

 

First impressions? This thing is very high off the ground! It took a few rides to get accustomed to being that high up and not feel as tall as I normally do on other motorcycles. I didn’t realise the upside of this until further down the line. The Tiger Sport has a 1050cc motor with the same preset riding modes as the Thruxton (Road, Rain, and Sport). Fortunately, there was no need for Rain mode at any point during my test; I spent my time in the other two settings. Sport is in fact where I spent most of my days. The bike not only reacted like an agitated tiger (before I settled in) but also sounded like one with that standard pipe.

Towards the end, I was rather impressed with the Tiger Sport. You get the best of everything: a comfortable riding position with adequate wind protection for your body and hands (you’ll be grateful for this in winter), and you also get good sporting ability to keep every ride as fun as the one before. As for that height issue, it turned out to be more of an advantage than an issue. I realised that I could now see above and beyond a few cars ahead of me, allowing me to anticipate traffic activity, rather than being taken by surprise. Triumph says its their most underrated motorcycle, and I’m inclined to agree!