British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph is going offroad. Triumph has announced its plans to build motorcycles for the enduro and motocross markets, enlisting two world-famous racers to come on board and help.
American motocross star Ricky Carmichael and Spanish enduro world champion Iván Cervantes are both signed on to help with the effort, joining Triumph “as active partners in both bike testing and preparation for racing.”
What we know
At this point, Triumph has not shown off any photos or video of new bikes, but the company’s press release assures us that the development process is going full steam ahead.
Triumph Motorcycles is excited to announce that development is well underway on a comprehensive range of all-new competition Motocross and Enduro motorcycles. Joining our class-leading and globally renowned motorcycle range, this all-new competition MX and Enduro (Dual Sport) family will bring all of Triumph’s engineering expertise to riders and racers worldwide.
This will be accompanied by a landmark moment for Triumph and the MX and Enduro racing world with an all-new Triumph factory race program and a commitment to top-tier championship racing in both Motocross and Enduro series.
That’s the meatiest chunk of information we’re given, and it tells us quite a bit. For instance, note that Triumph says it’s building enduro bikes that will be street-legal—the press release specifically refers to them as “dual sport” models.
Most likely, that means a series of four-strokes like the models seen in the KTM/Husqvarna lineup, instead of peaky two-strokers. Of course, it would be silly to state this affirmatively, until we actually see the bikes built. However, it’s not as if Triumph has any recent two-stroke history to draw from.
In fact, the whole move is somewhat surprising because Triumph really has no recent dirt bike history to draw from, at all. During the company’s slow return to strength in the past 25ish years, Triumph has sold a lot of street bikes, a lot of adventure bikes, and even a lot of scramblers, but nothing that was really dirt-focused.
What we can guess
However, Triumph’s management is extremely canny, and no doubt sees an opportunity. Currently, there’s really only one flavour in the Euro offroad scene—KTM Orange. With Husqvarna and Gas Gas also part of the Pierer AG conglomerate, there’s certainly room for more competition. Beta is the only other made-in-Europe competition that’s even close to mainstream these days, and they don’t have the general market presence that Triumph already has.
With offroad motorcycle sales skyrocketing, and production interrupted and deliveries delayed by COVID-19, Triumph probably sees its own chance to get a foothold in the dirt bike market. The competition has chipped away at Triumph’s position in the naked street bike market, so why not fight back?
It’s also worth pointing out that the Japanese OEMs haven’t been as aggressive in the offroad market in recent years. Sure, they’ll put the effort into motocross sales, but for the most part, they seem content to run their enduro lines waste away. As for dual sports—for the most part, the Japanese are flogging barely-updated versions of the same-old, same-old, and except for the Honda CRF450L, there’s really no proper dirt-bike-with-lights available from the Big Four.
It’s also worth noting that Triumph’s working on new electric motorcycle tech, and developing its ties with India-based manufacturer Bajaj. Put all these pieces together, and the future could indeed be very bright for Triumph.
The hired help
With all that in mind, Triumph is very smart to bring Carmichael and Cervantes on board. Both riders will bring instant name recognition to the new MX and enduro lines, and they have the expertise required to develop proper machines. Here’s what Carmichael had to say about the deal:
This is an incredible opportunity for me to join this historic brand, and I am honored and humbled to be a part of the development and release of their off-road motorcycles. Building something from the ground up is something that really is intriguing to me at this stage of my career. What is impressive to me is Triumph’s dedication, and passion to develop a top of the class product. Everyone that I have been involved with this project, from the engineers, design groups, R&D dept., etc., have shown extreme passion for what they are doing and that is a recipe for success and something that I love being a part of. We all share that same passion, and that’s to be the best.”
Cervantes said this:
“To be working with Triumph from the beginning of this project is an amazing opportunity for me, not just because it is working with one of the world’s greatest motorcycle brands but also for being part of building something from zero. It is a dream come true for any racer!
“Like me, everyone I am working with at Triumph is focused to make the bikes the best they can be. I cannot wait to see the bikes competing at a world level, but I also look forward to when I can stand in a Triumph dealer and know I was part of this very special project.”
Win on Sunday?
Of course, the ultimate proof of Triumph’s machines will be racing. Offroad racing is probably the only place where the old “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” proverb is still true. If Triumph really does attack the enduro and MX scenes, and can win races or even championships, it will go a long way towards giving the brand credibility. And who knows, maybe we’ll even see a Dakar entry at some point? As Aerosmith put it, dream on …