Update as of March 2022. Since I wrote this article Triumph have opened a new assembly facility at their Hinckley headquarters that will build all bikes for the UK and European market place. They cite above expected sales in Europe with the new Trident and Tiger 660 performing exceptionally well.
The updated breakdown of where the bikes are built is as follows.
Where are Triumph motorcycles made? Around 20% of all Triumph bikes are built at a new Hinckley assembly facility. 71% are built at their 3 Thailand facilities and the remaining 9% are assembled at their Brazilian plant. All research and design is carried out at Hinckley.
Who Makes Triumph Motorcycles?
Bloor Holdings Limited is the privately owned parent company of Triumph Motorcycles Limited.
Successful British businessman John Bloor purchased the rights to the Triumph brand back in 1983 and formed the new Triumph Motorcycles Limited. It wasn’t until 1993 that he opened the then state of the art headquarters at Hinckley where all the new Triumph’s were originally built.
John Bloor owns one of the largest house building companies in the UK. The story goes that he attended an auction to purchase the land the old Triumph factory had sat on at Meriden and in the process got the rights to the Triumph brand.
Today Triumph is still a privately owned company. In 2011 Nick Bloor (son of John Bloor) became CEO.
Why Has Production Moved To Thailand?
To continue to grow Triumph believe they need to compete globally. While 9000 Triumph’s are sold at home in the UK, the other 56,000 are sold worldwide.
The Southeast Asian market is seen as the area with most potential for growth and having production at their Chonburi plants allows Triumph to avoid the huge 60% import duty as well as low cost distribution to other countries that Thailand has a free trade agreement deal with. Among others, these include the emerging markets of China, India and Vietnam.
Triumph hope to triple sales in Asia over the next 3 years from 8,000 to 24,000 units.
Triumph had a jump start on their competitors when John Bloor had the foresight to open the first of 3 Thailand plants as early as 2002 in readiness to be able to play with the big boys on the world market.
- 2002 – 19,000m2 first plant opens manufacturing Triumph parts.
- 2006 – 35,000m2 second plant opens with a production line and paint shop. First time ever Bonneville’s are built outside England.
- 2007 – 50,000m2 third plant opens and includes machining and casting facilities.
Bloor’s original idea was to have parts made in Thailand and then shipped to the production line in Hinckley.
Impressed by the work ethic of the Thai staff and the high standard of parts being produced, Bloor opened the second plant and introduced the companies first production line outside of England.
This was quickly followed by the third and largest plant which opened in 2007.
Choosing Chonburi was an inspired decision. It is in a free trade zone meaning there are no import taxes when they ship parts and materials from outside Thailand. The purpose built facility also had handy neighbours like parts manufacturers Ohlins suspension and FCC clutches.
Thailand has become the Mecca for motorcycle manufacturing in Southeast Asia. Thanks to its strategic location and corporate tax breaks it has become the largest motorcycle producer in the area and the 12th largest in the world.
Many of Triumph’s competitors have since followed them to the Land Of Smiles.
There are at least 12 factories in the country which includes plants owned by each of the big four Japanese manufacturers, Ducati and BMW. Harley Davidson is the latest with a new plant opened late 2020.
Are Triumph Motorcycles Made in Brazil?
Around 5,500 motorcycles arrive at the purpose built plant at Manaus each year. They are shipped to Brazil in parts and then assembled at the plant. There is no manufacturing at the facility.
Triumph are the best selling premium motorcycle brand in Brazil. Having a plant in the country means they have been able to compete favourably with other marque manufacturers.
Which Triumph Motorcycles Are Made at Hinckley?
All current and future Triumph Factory Customs (TFC) will continue to be built at Hinckley on a new purpose built production line. Other high ticket machines in the pipeline are also likely to be built at Hinckley.
A new assembly facility at Hinckley is about to be opened that will build between 15,000 and 20,000 motorcycles per year for the home and European market place.
All the research, design and development was done at Hinckley as were the prototype builds and this is set to continue with the introduction of a new 16,000 sq-ft R&D centre at one of the current 2 plants at Hinckley.
Are Triumph’s Made in India?
Triumph have teamed up with Bajaj, the worlds third largest motorcycle manufacturer and the second largest in India. They sell over 3 million motorcycle a year.
Triumph are designing a range of sub 500cc motorcycles which will be built by Bajaj with a targeted starting price in India of less than 2 Lakh ($2,750).
Although aimed directly at the emerging markets this new range will also be available worldwide via their dealer network and sold as entry level motorcycles. A move designed to build life time brand allegiance with younger riders.
Bajaj will handle distribution in India and other Asian countries where Triumph don’t yet have a presence. They will be offering the new entry level range of motorcycles along side the full Triumph line up.
The first of these new mid range machines are expected in 2023.
Should It Matter Where Your Triumph Is Built?
Back in 2017 when I ordered my Triumph Bobber I wasn’t aware it was built in Thailand until the dealer gave me the shipping details so I could track its journey.
Did it surprise me? I’ll admit it did a little but only briefly. Iconic brands the world over have had to adapt or sink so it would be naive to think Triumph wouldn’t also follow suit.
Most of the European and North American manufacturers now have facilities in other countries in order to be able to compete globally.
For example, during my research on the Brazil plant for this article I discovered that BMW, Harley Davidson, Ducati, MV Agusta, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki all have plants in the country to avoid the heavy import taxes.
As of 2019 Brazil was the 8th largest market for motorcycle sales and it would simply be impossible for Triumph or any other motorcycle producer to compete price wise if they were having to add the 30% import duty onto the price e tag.
Does anyone care that their Kawasaki Z900 or Z650 is made in Thailand rather than Japan? How about Yamaha’s XSR700 only being made in France? Maybe if you own one these you see it as a bonus.
What about a marque car brand like BMW? Does the typical BMW driver even know his car could have been built in any number of countries including Mexico, China, South Africa and America?
How about the all American Ford Motors with its 65 worldwide plants, is anyone shocked to learn only 8 of them are in America?
The problem for Triumph and a few other motorcycle brands (Harley Davidson is the other obvious one) is that unlike the examples given above, their heritage is a huge part of the branding.
Triumph counter with the fact all their motorcycles start life on the drawing boards of Hinckley so that makes them British and I tend to agree. It helps of course that the lineage is there and can be followed back to the early Triumph’s thanks to sympathetic designs that pay homage to their history.
At the end of the day the choice is the buyers. I believe though that the lines today are blurred. I buy a pair of Levi 501’s with an image in my head of a cowboy sat by the camp fire in the Rocky Mountains, not with the sweatshop in Vietnam that’s mass producing them.
Triumph is a British company, as English as fish and chips. Where the motorcycles are actually made doesn’t change that.