I already knew that the dohc, 12-valve engine in the Trophy is based on that of Triumph’s 1200 Explorer, but I was surprised to learn that, as far as camshaft specs, compression ratio, valve sizes and throttle body dimensions, it is in the very same state of tune, yielding a claimed 132 horsepower at 8900 rpm. The only differences are the exhaust system and the programming of the ECU for fuel delivery. The Trophy also has a taller sixth-gear ratio more suitable for its sport-touring mission.
Those small changes are intended to slightly soften the throttle response, which some people felt was too abrupt on the Explorer. No such problem with the Trophy, which reacts to changes in throttle position predictably and smoothly. The bike isn’t exceptionally fast by today’s performance standards, but that strong, linear torque output allows it to accelerate crisply and steadily in any gear, at any rpm and at any speed. Just give the throttle a twist and the Trophy moves forward, never pinning your eyeballs to the back of your skull but always rushing the bike down the road with enough authority to be satisfying.
As I learned during the Trophy’s world press introduction in northern Scotland, that power delivery is even more lovable on a twisty backroad. Along with a half-dozen other American motojournalists, I spent a full day chasing along some of the finest, most isolated and challenging two-lane (and even a few miles of one-lane) roads between intriguing and beautiful little towns with names that seemed to have come from a Dr. Seuss book—Forfar, Tullybelton, Bankfoot, Aberfeldy. Some roads were mirror-smooth, others choppy and uneven. But the Trophy always remained agile and flickable; yes, it will snap into a deep lean and bank over into a turn almost instantaneously with only light pressure on the grips. And combining that outstanding cornering ability with an engine that pulls hard in every gear allowed me to arc through many corners without the need for a single downshift. But no matter if the corners were tight, first-gear hairpins or fast, high-speed sweepers, or if I attacked them at peak rpm or just cruised through in a taller gear, the big Trumpet sliced through with amazing ease. Plus, the shaft drive never jacked the bike up or down, even during hard throttle applications and abrupt braking.
“That’s what we wanted to accomplish,” said Warburton. “It was our top priority. Triumphs are about excellent handling, and we wanted the Trophy to be no different.”
Ergonomically, the SE is configured more like a big-rig touring bike than a sport-tourer, but that’s just one of the things that contribute to the bike’s “luxury” role. The rider sits upright, the seat-to-footpeg dimension is uncramped (especially with the taller stock seat) and the seat itself is well-shaped and reasonably wide. The area below the very front of the seat is a bit wide, which may prevent some short-legged people from getting both feet firmly on the ground at a stop, but the ¾-inch lower seat should be a remedy for many of those riders.
One day of riding is insufficient to evaluate the long-distance comfort of any motorcycle, but I never found myself squirming in the Trophy’s seat or wishing for a coffee stop, and I thought the handgrip location just about perfect for me. My bike had the optional larger windscreen, which did an excellent job of shielding me from the occasional chill when raised close to its maximum height and routed turbulence-free air at my head and chest when at its lowest; I was unable to try the stock shield, so I can’t comment on its effectiveness.
On some of the rough roads, the ride was just a bit on the taut side but far from harsh if the suspension was set on Comfort; on Normal, the ride got a little choppier but the stability in fast corners was better; and on Sport, the SE was rock-steady through the turns but a lot closer to rock-hard in the rough. Overall, the suspension calibration is close to ideal for the Trophy’s calling as a sport-tourer.
But not your typical sport-tourer. This bike is a complement to Triumph’s other sport-touring model, the Sprint GT, which favors the “sport” part of the equation more than “touring,” whereas the Trophy SE reverses those priorities. Neither is it a serious challenger for the Gold Wing or other bikes of that ilk, but I did get the sense that it would probably hold its own on long runs on the open road. We’ll find out when we get a test unit and can do a thorough evaluation.
Triumph has set the MSRP for the SE at $18,999. On one hand, that’s a pretty tall stack of money. But when you assess all you get on a motorcycle that can do what the Trophy SE can do, 19 Large seems like a bargain.