Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simon Warburton: Triumph’s Project Manager ..

Simon Warburton Triumph’s Project Manager talks the past, present and future of the brand.

Our main bike is the Speed Triple. It has been as important to Triumph in the 1990s and 2000s as the Bonneville was to us in the ’50s and ’60s. It was the first bike to define the class [streetfighters or nakeds], and now the Japanese have moved more toward where we are at, with more performance-oriented naked roadsters. There weren’t any others about to speak of in the mid-’90s. It defines the class as it is now.
The retro scene is becoming, dare I say, a bit more fashionable, especially in the U.S. For Triumph globally, the classic bikes are 20 to 25 percent of our sales, and I think it is a little bit higher than that in the U.S. They are important to us because we feel that no one else is really in a position to do them as well as we are. But you have to put it all in context, because they aren’t our main business. Bikes like the roadsters [Speed Triple and Street Triple] and the adventure bikes are at least as important to us.
Racing for Triumph isn’t a big priority. It’s not what most of our bikes are all about. We certainly have had some involvement in World Supersport [with the 675 Daytona], but we no longer have that direct connection, and it seems to be doing pretty well. It was never a big enough priority for us to do as good of a job as we would really like to do. It didn’t make sense to step up to the next level and do a “proper job” of it. It’s just one bike in our range [that benefits from racing].
We always had one eye on the racing rules, and that is why the Daytona is a 675 and not a 650, but it’s always been more important to make good real-world bikes. We pushed the 675 quite a long way. It’s really an extreme roadbike and makes an exceptionally good racebike. We’ve always encouraged grass-roots adoption of the bike; at the club-racing level, it’s now very common. With the kind of motorcycle range we have and the kind of company we are, we’re never going to go to, say, MotoGP.
We invested a lot in developing a couple new adventure bikes, and whether the market segment has staying power, we can’t predict, but we’re betting that it does. There is an awful lot to what an adventure bike is that is also what motorcycling [in general] is all about to a lot of people. It’s about that sense of adventure, to go traveling on a bike and visiting new places, and doing it on a bike is a completely different experience than going there in a car or on a plane or whatever. It just feels like an “adventure.” This image really strikes a chord with people; it’s what biking is all about. Our adventure bikes are a bit more touring-oriented, but you can still have a hell of a good time in the corners, and so they almost become sport-tourers.
We are continuing to expand the Triumph range, although we are nearly there. We can’t continue to expand indefinitely; we currently have around 24 bikes in the range. There’s room for a few more after that in the next few years, and then we’ll pretty much level off. But we’ll continue to look at opportunities and expand it that way.

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