This is turning into a week of discovery. On Tuesday I spotted that the Honda VFR1200F had been quietly dropped from Honda’s line-up. Then, today, less than 24 hours after suggesting it as an option for someone seeking to buy a sport tourer, I noticed that the Trophy SE had disappeared from Triumph’s official website.
READ MORE: Honda Quietly Gives VFR1200F the Boot
This is a sad day, mis amigos. It seems fewer and fewer manufacturers have faith in a genre that dominated the 2000s motorcycling scene in Europe. I’m particularly sad to see the Trophy SE go, however, because I came within 4 centimeters of buying one.
If you’ve read more than two articles on The Motorcycle Obsession you’ll probably have picked up on the fact that my everyday machine is a 2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XRX – but owning the 1215cc adventure beast wasn’t at all part of the plan. Instead, I had strolled into Bevan Triumph (my local dealership – would recommend) with my heart set on riding home astride a shiny new Trophy SE.
The Trophy SE struck me as the perfect weapon
Blatantly created to copy the BMW R 1200 RT, it was more affordable than its Bavarian inspiration and, in my opinion, equipped with an engine better suited to the intended task. Triumph knows how to do triples, man – better than anyone else – and it’s an engine that delivers both the performance needed for aggressive, twisty-tackling riding, and smooth, hassle-free thousand-mile slogs on the motorway/interstate. Add in ginormous fairing to block out the British elements, huge comfy seats for passenger and rider, an electronically adjustable screen, and goodies like cruise control as standard, and the Trophy SE struck me as the perfect weapon for a car-free guy like me. Goes everywhere, does everything – yes, please.
Admittedly, it wasn’t perfect. Triumph has gone through a kind of rebirth since 2015, transforming itself into a premium brand with greater attention to aesthetics, enhanced quality control, refined fit and finish, and an ever-improving dealership experience. The Trophy SE, first unveiled in 2011, was definitely a pre-rebirth machine. It was good, but, you know, not as high-level good as we’d now expect from the British manufacturer.
There were rumblings of early warranty issues with its shaft drive, and its aesthetics were decidedly non thrilling, with the most recent paint options being limited to Tolerable Black and Boring Blue (not the paint schemes’ official names, but accurate). Nonetheless, I was willing to take these issues in stride for the sake of all the bike’s positives. I had interrogated a number of Trophy SE owners and was satisfied that all the good would easily outweigh any potential bad. On the day I went to my local dealership a single concern lingered in my mind: the infamous garden gate.
In every first ride and ride review I do for TMO, I ask a series of questions about the bike, with the first being: “Does it fit my current lifestyle?”
This question actually evolved from a more directly pragmatic question: “Does it fit through my garden gate?”
When I first started TMO I lived in a one-bedroom flat that had a very small paved area in which to store a motorcycle. Problem was, access to said area was via a doorway that was just 84 cm (33 in) wide. So, any bike that I’d seriously consider owning had to be able to make it through the gap. That ruled out a lot of my favorite machines. The Victory Vision I rode to EICMA in 2015, for example – no chance in hell. That beast had to sit out on the street when it was in my possession and I fretted for its safety every second. Eventually, though, I moved into a house down the road and upgraded to a gate that is 96 cm (37 in) wide and thereby accommodating to a greater number of motorcycles.
A BIKE THAT WOULD FIT: 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide – First Ride
So, when I arrived at Bevan Triumph last year I came equipped with a tape measure. I strode confidently to the Trophy SE on display and discovered that it was… exactly 1 meter wide. I measured and remeasured but never managed to find an angle at which the fairing amounted to anything less than 100 cm. Wide handlebars can be overcome, but fairing will not give. Four little centimeters (1.5 in) of doorway had scuppered my dreams of Trophy SE ownership.
I test rode the Tiger Explorer XRX as a consolation prize and discovered that it’s kind of awesome. When my dealership offered to throw in luggage for free I conceded and I’ve been pretty happy with the bike ever since. Save the massive fairing, it has all the features I wanted in the Trophy SE while being a little more post-rebirth in its electronics, fittings, and performance; it is markedly better than the generation of Tiger Explorer that preceded it. There’s no stereo, but I never wanted one. For road use it is excellent.
Nonetheless, a part of me had held on to the idea of getting a Trophy SE some day. Maybe I’d move house again. Maybe I’d go crazy and have someone rebuild the back wall to create a bigger opening. I daydreamed that Triumph would apply its post-rebirth magic to the model and make it amazing. Now that seems pretty unlikely. Like the Sprint GT before it, the Trophy SE has shuffled off into the sunset without so much as a whispered adieu.