Whilst at the Branscombe Air Show (sadly, now ceased), I…
At 14 years, living at the time on a smallholding in North Wales, my father bought me what was probably the best present I ever had – a Honda SS50 motorbike. Since then, I’ve always been keen on motorcycles.
After many years of motorcycling, culminating with a bevel drive Ducati 900 SD Darmah, I’ve spent the last 10 years without wheels and on many occasions I’ve thought about getting a bike again. Where would you start though, the machines have moved on immensely since my last bike and I wondered what sort of bike would make a suitable steed for my requirements. I didn’t really need one of the 190mph hyper bikes, for starters, they’re generally quite heavy and you can imagine how quickly a £120 rear tyre lasts on one of these!
I decided that I’d like enough power for safe overtaking with a fairly lean chassis so that it would be easy to handle round the back lanes. I came to the conclusion that an unfaired middleweight would be a good option. The next question was which make, there are so many – well what about something British, this would make sense as parts would be easily available and also of course, it’s patriotic to boot. My thoughts turned to Triumph. Unbelievably, Triumph are still here, resurrected by property developer John Bloor in the 1990s. Reading a recent Motorcycle News, featuring middleweight bikes from a range of manufactures; Ducati, Yamaha, Aprilla, Kawasaki and of course Triumph, imagine my surprise when the 4 test riders rated the Triumph 675 as the cream of the crop. They’d rated it highly on engine, brakes, chassis so I thought this would be a good starting point for anyone returning to bikes.
Local motorcycle dealership Bridge in Exeter were the obvious place to approach for a test ride. They’re Triumph main dealers for the South West with a wealth of experience, so a day was arranged for the test.
Martin at Bridge Motorcycles greeted me and I was led to the Triumph. The choice was a good one, as it’s a very compact bike with a really comfortable riding position. It’s also a very attractive bike, the detail and finish is excellent, so it was a real treat to climb on board and start her up. The engine’s a triple which fits very neatly in the frame and the bike seems to have a very slim front end compared to equivalent sized 4 cylinder bikes. Blipping the throttle resulted in very rapid engine pickup and a fantastic roar from the triple.
Starting off from Bridge Motorcycles, it was instantly apparent that the compactness of this bike combined with the riding position made for a very manageable bike. I hadn’t been on a bike for a few years, and had to navigate my way out of Marsh Barton to get onto the open roads of East Devon. I found the Triumph instinctively easy to thread through the traffic.
Out on the open road, the combination of light weight, neutral light handling and linear power make for a great experience. The engine thrives on revs, but at the same time wasn’t unhappy pooling around at low revs if that’s what’s required. The night before my ride, I’d been onto YouTube to look at the videos of people discussing this bike. There was one particularly interesting video of a chap giving the Triumph a good work-out. Is a 675cc engine powerful enough to meet your needs you may ask? Well I have to say that if you really wind the bike up, it’s like lighting the blue touchpaper on a rocket, the acceleration is staggering for this size of engine (actually, for any size of engine). Overtaking was an effortless blur, the only problem was keeping up with the engine as the bike gathered speed so quickly, you invariable had to be ready to brake hard to bring the speed down. (incidentally, they make an even more powerful version of this bike called the Daytona (124 bhp) which is fully faired – god help us).
The balance and handling of the bike has to be experienced to be believed, it really is excellent. I found the bike light to handle around the backroads of East Devon as well as easy in town and on the open road it’s a dream. My only criticism of the bike is that the gearing is on the low side, but that’s not really a problem, if you fit a larger rear sprocket.
So, if you’re coming back to biking, or want a really competent all-rounder which is better than the rest out there, then this must be the machine for you – what’s more, it’s British designed and made – hard to believe these days, but true!