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Triumph Trophy 1200 and 900

The Triumph Trophy got its start back in 1991 with the release of both the 1200 and 900 versions of the all new touring bike that had equally interesting sporty attributes.

The idea behind the Trophy was that it would be a touring bike that could compete with other tourer models already on the market such as the BMW R1100 S.

It was these kind of motorcycles that were becoming very popular with sports bike fans who wanted performance driven motorcycles but could also offer comfort and economy for longer road trips.

The Trophy name was taken from Triumph’s original Trophy TR5 and later TR6 that was in production from 1949-73 although the new Triumph Trophy shared very little in common with the originals aside from the name.

Both the Triumph Trophy 1200 and 900 had a run until 2002 when it was discontinued. For a while the Sprint ST filled the gap for a sports tourer in the Triumph line up.

The Trophy name was then revived again in 2012 with a model relaunch in which Triumph released an updated tourer with a 1,215cc engine shared with the Tiger Explorer.

Our focus in this post is going to be on the 1990-2001 Triumph Trophy 1200 and it’s smaller brother the Triumph Trophy 900.

Let’s get to it.

Triumph Trophy 1200 and 900 Review

As many Triumph fans know, John Bloor took over in 1983 but it would take a while before the storm settled. During this time, funding was sought along with engineering materials, tooling engineers themselves, designers etc. and the construction of the all new factory in Hinkley took place.

By 1991 the new Triumph factory was ready to roll out new motorcycles and part of that line up included the all new Triumph Trophy 1200 and 900.

The bigger Triumph Trophy was actually the first Hinkley Triumph available to the public, after the unveiling at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in 1990, the public could purchase the Trophy between March and September of 1991.

Engine and Transmission

The smaller Trophy would share its engine with the Triumph Trident 900, Daytona 900, Tiger 900 and the Sprint. It was a three cylinder engine with a contra-rotating balance shaft mounted at the front.

All the engineers did for the 1200 was add on extra cylinder and you were left with the Trophy 1200, although the 1200’s engine did benefit from twin balance shafts which were mounted directly beneath the crankshaft, for the time this was a unique design feature.

During this period of time Triumph had developed a modular design for both the engine and main frame that could be used across their entire line.

This would allow them to produce several different models that all shared the same or similar components, the public would have a choice of models but production costs and time were reduced by doing things this way.

The original modular idea had been put forward back in the 70’s when Triumph-BSA were a joint company for their air-cooled designs but this wasn’t taken up until the Hinckley Triumph era with their new liquid cooled engines.

Upon the release of the new range, the Trophy 1200 was the biggest bike a rider could get from Triumph as it was the only model built from 4 x 300cc cylinders. By 1992 though the same engine was used for the new Triumph Daytona 1200.

Both engines were applauded for being incredibly smooth and solid. The downside was that they were heavy and this was very much noted by press at the time who felt the weight needed to be removed in order to get the best out of the motor.

In the early years of production Triumph were quick to make changes according to feedback but for the Trophy it was the 900 that got new crankcases (along with the other 3-cylinder models) and high presure casting; this reduced a lot of the weight and made for a nicer riding experience.

The starter also was failing to work properly on the early models and this took some time to get sorted but Triumph did eventually fix the issue.

Both engines were suited to touring motorcycles across the rev range, there was plenty of power. At low and mid speeds they performed exceptionally well, and there was enough power at the top end for high speed on highways etc.

The bigger 1200 obviously had more torque originally producing 111Nm. In any gear the motor would pull smoothly and take you up to where you wanted to be. The smaller model still had plenty of grunt and made for an addictive rider experience with it’s smooth free-revving power delivery typical of three-cylinders.

One note several owners did have on the 1200 was that in terms of gear ratios it would have been ideal if sixth gear was a little higher as this would have in turn given better fuel economy when riding long distances.

It perhaps would have been an idea to implement shaft drive into the Trophy models as the shaft drive would have made maintenance a lot easiers and perhaps enhanced the smooth performance even further.

Chassis, Suspension, Brakes, Handling

While much of the motor was the same so was the chassis, the two motorcycles shared the single large diameter rigid steel frame. It held the engine as a stressed member. 43mm forks, and Kayaba rear monoshock equipped both Trophy models and Nissin brakes were employed front and back (twin discs up front and single on the back).

Sharing the chassis meant that the 900 was just as big as the 1200, with the exception that it was slightly lighter (largely down to the lack of the extra cylinder), if you put the two motorcycles side by side you would be hard pushed to tell the difference straight away.

Both were fitted with high quality suspension that had manually adjustable rebound damping it wasn’t until the Triumph Trophy model was revived in 2012 that the bike received electronically adjustable suspension.

The chassis was strong, rigid, stable at all speeds, the geometry wasn’t extreme in any way, ergonomics made the bike easy to ride.

However, the generous ground clearance, seat height and general size of the bike meant shorter and smaller owners may struggle overall especially paired with the excessive weight. In this instance the 900 outweighed the 1200 as the weight was reduced and it was therefore more accessible to a wider range of owners.

The Trophy wasn’t noted for it’s outstanding sporting ability, but it was a very capable all rounder. Steering was neutral, suspension good, ground clearance good and power on tap, therefore it could fly along the straights but equally tuck into the corners where you wanted to.

It was a cumbersome weighty bike but offered decent handling which is always a bonus, you just needed some muscles to ride the thing at slow speeds especially.

It didn’t have Japanese handling capabilities or BMW’s tech but the Trophy had a quality and a class that other similar motorcycles didn’t quite have, it screamed British and proud, think of the Trophy as a distinguished ride above anything else.

Okay, so it wasn’t going to take you to the track for a day out but it definitely had the sporty spirit that bikers were attracted to, it was much happier and at home locked in sixth gear drinking up the miles.

Long distances on either the 1200 or 900 were a bikers dream and you could happily run down a couple hundred miles all day long before doing it again the next day on the Trophy.

The brakes were good enough to do the job and bring the heavy bike to a stop. There was no traction control, linked brakes or other rider aids at this point in time, just good old skilled braking to slow your touring machine down.

Even on the 900 engine vibrations are very minimal and the 1200 you would be hard pressed to find any at all so there is no fatigue that kicks in on long days in the saddle or irritation in your hands or feet.

Styling and Features

Triumph equipped the Trophy with a big windscreen and paired with the chunky bodywork, weather protection was good although the screen arguably could have been slightly taller. The riding position was very much upright and so taller bikers heads would stick out over the screen and the wind/rain would hit the them straight on the helmet.

With touring in mind the big bike had a plush large seat that was built for comfort, the passenger also got a pretty thick and wide place to sit and decent sized grab rails.

Intitially released in Caribbean Blue and Charcoal Grey the Trophy then received British Racing Green, Candy Apple Red and Caspian Blue paint scheme options in 1992, it was this year that the motorcycles became known at the Trophy 3 and Trophy 4.

A 25 liter fuel tank was more than up to touring duties too although fuel consumption could certainly have been better. In 1995/6 the 1200 engine was slightly detuned for a better smoother touring style riding experience and this in turn did slightly improve the fuel consumption.

In 1995 the Trophy was revisited and improved upon. It was at this point the engines were revised and looked at to make sure they were as light, efficient and smooth as possible. The bodywork also got an overhaul, a close look at the front fender will show the differences made for the bike to be more aerodynamic.

Hard luggage including a top box (on the 1200) was a standard feature and the Trophy at this point had offically turned into a bonafide sports touring motorcycle.

Early models (the first two years of production) suffered with rough finishes, poor paintwork etc.

This was however quickly addressed and Triumph moved their painting and plating operation in-house to Hinckley in 1993. Quality standards were much improved along with the durability of the finish.

At the end of all the work and when the components were put together in the Trophy package, you were left with a durable, long lasting, strong, competent touring bike and the only decision left to make was how much power you wanted or needed, to choose between the 900 and 1200.

Performance

On a test ride in 1996 Nick Hayman for Motorcycle magazine wrote:

“Arguably though the 900 is a better cruiser than its bigger brothers. Although it shares the same running gear, weight, although substantial, is still 33 lb less. An effortless, highway-distance, loaded-up, supra-legal, rain-soaked, homeward-bound dash showed the 900cc machine to be endowed with adequate horsepower…But the Trophy isn’t designed to hack through canyons: it’s a bike you can use to accumulate hundreds of miles in a day, with a smile on your face.”

MCN rates the Trophy at 3/5 stars but owners reliability ratings on the site give it a 4.4/5 stars.

It was maybe the fact that Triumph had produced quite so many models for their new line up that the Trophy didn’t have the longevity as some of the others, let’s face it, it was never going to be on the same level as the iconic Bonneville.

However, the fact that the Trophy was brought back in 2012 suggests that it filled a gap for riders looking for a bike that is an awesome all rounder and an initial 10/11 year production run is nothing to be laughed at.

Triumph Trophy 1200 Specs list

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine – Four stroke, DOHC, transverse in-line four cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder

  • Capacity – 1,180cc

  • Bore x Stroke – 76 x 65mm

  • Compression Ratio – 10.6:1

  • Cooling System – Liquid-cooled

  • Starting – Electric

  • Induction – 4 x Mikuni BST36 Flat Side CV Carburetor

  • Transmission – 6 speed

  • Final Drive – Chain

  • Clutch – Wet, multi-plate, hydraulic operated

  • Max Power – 141 horsepower at 9,000rpm

  • Max Torque – 111.87 Nm at 8,000rpm

  • Top Speed – 135mph

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – High tensile steel

  • Front Suspension – 43mm Telescopic fork

  • Rear Suspension – Swingarm with mono-shock, adjustable spring pre-load and rebound damping

  • Front Brakes – Double solid discs 296mm, 2-piston calipers

  • Rear Brakes – Single disc, 255mm, 2-piston caliper

  • Dry Weight – 235kg/518lbs

  • Wet Weight – 262kg/577lbs

  • Wheelbase – 1,490mm

  • Width – 760mm

  • Length – 2,152mm

  • Seat Height – 800mm

  • Ground Clearance – 138mm

  • Fuel Capacity – 25 liters

Triumph Trophy 900 Specs list

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine – Four stroke, transverse three cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder

  • Capacity – 885cc

  • Bore x Stroke – 76 x 55mm

  • Compression Ratio – 10.6:1

  • Cooling System – Liquid cooled

  • Starting – Electric

  • Induction – 3 x 36mm Mikuni carbs

  • Transmission – 6 Speed

  • Final Drive – Chain

  • Clutch – Wet, cable operated

  • Max Power – 98 horsepower at 9,000rpm

  • Max Torque – 83Nm at 6,500rpm

  • Top Speed – 132mph

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – Steel, trellis frame

  • Front Suspension – 43mm telescopic forks

  • Rear Suspension – Swingarm with mono-shock, adjustable spring pre-load and rebound damping

  • Front Brakes – 2 x 296mm floating discs, 4 piston Nissin calipers

  • Rear Brakes – Single 255mm disc, 2 piston Nissin caliper

  • Dry Weight – 217kg/478.4lbs

  • Wet Weight – 250kg/551lbs

  • Wheelbase – 1490mm

  • Seat Height – 780mm

  • Fuel Capacity – 25 liters

Triumph Trophy 1200/900 Variants

There were no special edition versions of the Trophy 1200/900 or any that were different to the base model motorcycles that were released.

The first two model years suffered some teething issues with poor finishes but this was addressed in 1993 and in 1995 both motorcycles were overhauled with new bodywork and touches to improve on the foundation of the original bike.

The motorcycles were named differently though and the 900 was given the Trophy 3 title and 1200 the Trophy 4 title. With the 3 and 4 designation referring to the number of cylinders.

Triumph Trophy and Trophy SE (2012-17)

The new Triumph Trophy 1200 can’t really be compared to the original tourer as it was a completely new bike with a new engine and new frame. It also featured all the modern spec that riders had started to become accustomed to:

  • electronically adjustable rebound damping

  • integrated stereo system

  • audio system

  • traction control

  • cruise control

  • heated seats

  • electrically adjustable screen

Buying an original Triumph Trophy 1200 or 900

When it comes to buying a Trophy 1200 or a 900 you will be surprised at how little you have to spend, in the UK prices average around £2,000 but can go up to around £2,700.

In the US prices sit around $4,000. There are far fewer examples currently available for sale in the US than the UK, although there are plenty of the revived 2012 + editions.

When shopping around try to avoid the very early models and go for one from 1994 onwards when the initial issues were resolved, after 1995 the motorcycles were much improved so they would be even better options.

Restoring a Triumph Trophy 1200 or 900

In the UK largely thanks to the cheap prices for a Trophy you can pick yourself up a project at a reasonable price and do it up at a reasonable price too.

A clean 30,000 miles, 2001, 900 model is up for sale in Herefordshire for £2,790 with the dealer willing to discuss doing a trade deal with no warranty. This might be suited to someone handy with a wrench who could potentially grab themselves a bargain.

You would be getting one of the later editions with the early issues solved and any work that crops up over time would be fairly cheap to resolve.

For parts World of Triumph is your best bet to start with, as they give full diagrams and listings of each part and component. Parts are cheap, easy to come by with eBay being another obvious choice.

However, don’t expect your restoration to make you much if any money, the Trophy’s aren’t motorcycles that attract a lot of collectors or interest from investors.

I would say that a Trophy is a good place to start with restoring bikes, it would make a good project for someone who wants to work on 3 or 4 cylinder big engines and get to know their way around what a rebuild looks like.

Is the Triumph Trophy 1200 and 900 a good investment?

The Trophy isn’t going to make you a lot of money and it isn’t a bike that is looked at as a collectable or desirable model in terms of financial value. You should instead just pick one up if you are in the market for a really good touring machine that can hold it’s own with all the modern tourers.

However, if you are looking for an investment there is a current listing on Car and Classic that might be worth taking a look at. Sure it is a lot more money (£20,000) than current prices for Trophy’s, but this one is a First Edition 1991 model in pristine museum worthy condition.

While I don’t think the Trophy is a future classic generally, this one off is a piece of Triumph’s history and is one of the first Hinckley Triumph’s ever produced which now and down the line will mean it is a motorcycle of sentimental and more importantly financial value.

Verdict

On the whole I think the original Trophy tourer was a great motorcycle. Strong, tough, capable, practical big heavy tourers that could take you across country, with your partner and full luggage.

They were certainly more refined than other bikes of the time from an aesthetic point of view, and I think the early Hinckley Triumph’s were proof that modular systems for both engines and chassis’ can work if done properly which is quite a feat.

The model isn’t my favourite Triumph of that era but it is a good one, one that I hope we still get to see for a while on the streets hauling through towns standing firm as Triumph’s premier touring machine.

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Brian Lewis

Tuesday 8th of November 2022

I own a 1992 Triumph trophy 1200 it's fantastic . Lovly to ride and will get up and realy go .for.30 Yr.old its marvellous its a naked street bike and looks great. Wish I could put a.pick on . Bri Derbyshire UK

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Jon B.

Tuesday 8th of November 2022

Had mine last 20 years, just brillaint