2007 Triumph Cruisers Press Introduction
Triumph's Long Journey Home
It's finished with a 4.4-gallon fuel tank, a more comfortable passenger seat and some other touches. There's the giant Smiths-esque speedo face and nice chromed tank panel, newly restyled chainguard and passenger footrest brackets, and adjustable brake and clutch levers.
There's also a new two-tone paint scheme with hand-laid pinstripes -- which Triumph proudly claims is the only such pinstriping on a mass-produced machine -- with each tank signed by the pinstriper. Big shrouds over the forks, wide-set forktubes and a big chrome headlamp give the front end a substantial, aggressive look. Price is $7,999 or $8,199 for the two-tone paint. There is also a healthy selection of accessories, like windscreens, lighting kits, floorboards, exhausts and all the other stuff we like to dress our rides up with.
Triumph has also gussied up the Speedmaster. The Speedmaster is a power-cruiser take on the America, with a blacked-out motor, drag-style bars, a sleek chopper-style seat, slash-cut mufflers, a small tachometer (that's available as an accessory for the America) and an extra
front brake disc. It also gets new cast wheels for 2007, along with four new paint schemes and the new footrest hanger and chain guard as well. Pricing is $8,299 for solids, $8,499 for two-tone. Moving up the ladder we find the Rocket III. We've spent some time on this bike, "Triumph has also gussied up the Speedmaster."most recently in 2005, but we can take another close-up look. The basic Rocket III is actually a pretty exotic machine. It's built around a liquid-cooled, 2,300cc DOHC inline-triple motor that uses multipoint sequential-port fuel injection to pump out a truly frightening 140bhp and 147 foot-pounds (yes, that's 147, and we really did see 142 foot-pounds at the unfortunate rear wheel on our much-abused Dynojet MO dyno) of torque. It crams the power through a wet clutch and five-speed gearbox to the shaft final drive.
The chassis is a twin-spine tubular-steel job that puts a not-unreasonable 66.7 inches between the two big tires. Those meats -- a 150/80-17 front and a mammoth 240/50-16 rear -- are mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels. Suspension is handled by a pair of preload-adjustable chrome shocks in back and an inverted 43mm front fork. The front braking duties are handled by a pair of full-floating 320mm discs and four-piston calipers (with steel-braided brake lines, like most of Triumph's machines), while the rear is happy with a single 316mm disc and a two-piston caliper. It all weighs in with a not-exactly-light-but-surprisingly-reasonable-considering-it-has-a-car-engine 751-pound (claimed) dry weight.
"The gearbox and clutch are easy and precise to use."
There's also a tachometer and speedometer, a 6.3-gallon fuel tank, a big chrome handlebar, distinctive dual headlamps, a cool straight-pipe-style triple exhaust and a big, wide seat. The Classic gets some extra chrome, floorboards and a pull-back handlebar. Both of these bikes get a blacked-out engine treatment that goes a long way towards making the big block of an engine look less industrial.
Triumph dealers noticed they were selling a lot of touring accessories for the Rockets, so for 2007, Triumph decided to sell a bagger, all set up and ready for the open road. The Rocket III Classic Tourer gets over $1,900 worth of touring accessories, including a windscreen, passenger backrest and accented saddlebags.
The Tourer also keeps the unpainted engine from prior years. You get this for just $700 over the Rocket III Classic's MSRP of $15,699. The Rocket III is a buck under 15 grand. The next morning brought us clear weather to explore the Central Coast. I first mounted up on an America finding a relaxed riding position that's less extreme than many cruisers, with the pegs not too far from my feet and a comfortable reach to the bars that weren't too high. The motor started easily after pulling out the quaint choke knob, with less of the tingly, unpleasant vibration common to parallel twins. The exhaust note is unique -- somewhere between the blatting of a parallel twin and the smooth melody of a V -- but very subdued and quiet.
The gearbox and clutch are easy and precise to use (kudos for adjustable levers) and the motor responds with sufficient, if not earth-shattering power. The gearing is tall enough for high-speed cruising to be a relaxed affair, with the powerplant ticking off low RPM, but ample acceleration is there when you downshift once or twice. The touring accessories like the windscreen and bags we tested extend the America's usefulness, although many of us complained of buffeting from all the accessory screens.
Triumph gear and Bell Helmets
Sympatex Expedition Gloves, $95
Triumph knows all about cold, miserable weather, so they're a good company to buy cold-weather riding clothing from. These gloves are a good example. If you were to design a winter glove in California, it would not be designed with everyday use in mind, but these gloves utilize high-tech materials like Keprotec, Sympatex and Hitena (I don't know what that is, either) as well as our friend the cow to keep your hands dry and protected from abrasion. They also feature some kind of hard armor under the leather knuckle guards.
In use, these gloves are lightweight and offer plenty of feel, yet are durable and very warm. They're also suitably waterproof, and I appreciated the slim gauntlet that allows a jacket cuff to fit over the glove to keep rain from running down your sleeve and pooling under your gauntlet in a downpour. I also liked the handy rubber squeegee attached to the left thumb to wipe your visor. I was also surprised at how comfortable and unbulky these gloves were, without bunching or looseness from the liner. They lack the perfect fit or sensitivity of a summer or racing glove, but for cold weather gloves they're tough to beat, in my opinion. They're available at Triumph dealers and online in sizes small to XXL.
Bell Apex Helmet $189.95
If you and your riding mama were heavies back in the `70s, you might have crammed your oversized afro into a Bell helmet, if only to keep from being hassled by the Man. Bell has a long, long history of building brain buckets -- they pioneered the use of energy-absorbing liners and sold the first full-face helmet in 1963 -- but recently they haven't had the market penetration they used to. However, like Triumph, they are making a slow, steady comeback.
In 2001, Bell re-acquired the rights to selling Bell streetbike helmets from Italian brand Bieffe and proceeded to design a line of helmets at their Santa Cruz, CA headquarters. One of these helmets is their top-of-the-line full-face model, the Apex.
The Apex has a lot of features you don't normally find in a sub-$200 helmet. It uses a DOT and Snell M2005-approved Kevlar composite shell to keep the weight down and to protect your noggin. There are extensive vents, and the EPS liner has deep channels in it for maximum airflow. The liner is removable and the cheekpads can be swapped out for a custom fit. The inside of the visor (Bell offers heated visor kits as well as iridium and smoked) is coated with a "NutraFog" anti-fogging film. My "Double Crossed" matte-finish model is covered with a rubberized paint that feels nice to the touch and sports the all-important flaming Maltese Cross (there are also eight glossy finishes). It weighs in at 3.5 pounds on my postage scale. To compare, my Shoei X-11 weighs seven ounces less.
On this head, I found the Apex to be a very comfortable fit, as close to perfect (after Bell's Chris Sachet swapped out the cheekpads for me) as any helmet I've worn. Build quality is only average, but there are thoughtful touches, like moisture-wicking fabric on the EPS foam and easy-to-use vents that can be operated easily with a gloved hand.
The helmet was a little less noisy than my Shoei RF1000, and although the visor sealed sufficiently, wind came up from under the chinbar more than I'm used to.
I found the anti-fog treatment very effective in all but the most cold and damp conditions (the west side of Mount Tamalpais at eight in the morning, and there is nothing that won't fog in those conditions, including the wonderful Fog City Shield), and found this to be a very comfortable helmet, even for hours on end.
Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this helmet to someone looking for a good lid under $200. I like the styling and anti-fog, but build quality might be a factor. However, Bell offers a five-year warranty (and you're supposed to retire helmets after five years, right?) so that shouldn't really be an issue. My head shape is somewhere between Shoei and Arai, so if that describes you, try on a Bell.