Nearly three years have passed since we reported that Triumph had put on hold its plans to build small-displacement motorcycles. Just a week has passed since Lemmy mused about how sweet it would be to have a smaller displacement Street Triple.
Now it appears we'll actually get those smaller Triumphs. Or, at least, Asia will.
Triumph and Bajaj of India have announced a "new global partnership [that] will enable Triumph to significantly expand its global reach by entering new higher volume market segments, especially within the emerging markets across the world."
This all makes sense. The U.S. motorcycle market is stagnant. Europe is doing better, but sales are still uneven across market segments. Asia is where the action is, and that will continue as more consumers there edge into the middle class and will be looking to step up to a "premium" brand of motorcycle over their current rides. That's why BMW is partnering with TVS Motor Company in India to build the G 310 R and subsequent models in that line. Bajaj already owns a large minority stake in KTM and builds the 390 Duke in India, where it sells almost as well as the Bajaj Dominar that uses the same engine, even though the KTM is more expensive. Bajaj will soon be building Husqvarna motorcycles, including production versions of the Vitpilen and Svartpilen concept bikes that caused a stir at the EICMA show in 2014.
Because I live with a woman who has a Ph.D. that includes a specialization in post-colonial studies, I could explore the irony of Indian companies buying up the icons of their former colonial masters who considered them inferior, such as Tata Motors buying Jaguar and Land Rover. But as fascinating as that line of thought may be, it would probably fall flat on a motorcycle site, so we'll stay on topic.
The point is that while Triumph already builds motorcycles in Thailand and Brazil to keep costs down, what's different with this news is that the company is going beyond building existing bikes and plans to enter new market segments — not just building bikes in India, but selling them there in significant numbers, too.
So will we finally see the 250 cc Triumph that has been rumored for years? Will Lemmy get the 425 cc Street Triple derivative he was dreaming about? Whether models like that ever make it to the U.S. market is a very open question, but the odds just got a lot better.