Triumph Trophy 1200

Twenty Years and Counting  

Three years have passed since I wrote the following 50k mile post. One more milestone has recently been achieved as this is my 20th year riding the Trophy. The rear end is now suspended with a Hagon shock which I like very much. New tires, brakes, chain and sprockets, and oil changes round out my maintenance items over the past couple of seasons. So we start another year of back and forth to work with a few long trips thrown in here and there. Still liking Triumph's efforts from 1996. Only five more years and it is eligible for antique plates! 

Putting a Hagon shock on the Trophy. A nice upgrade. 

also....I smoked a rabbit on the way to work recently with the Trophy. I was always afraid to hit a small animal for fear of it making the front wheel slide out. It was dark and I saw it just before impact...didn't have time to brace or change path...poor little thing. Although I barely felt it I am sure a larger animal would cause the problem I fear.  

Trophy 2 - Nature 0 

50,000 miles on a Trophy 1200 -  Summer of 2014

So this is a milestone for me, after 17 years of riding my 1996 Trophy, I have reached the 50,000 mile mark. Although I am a motorcycle enthusiast I have several and only manage to roll up 4-5 thousand miles per year among them. The primary use of my Trophy is going back and forth to work although I make a few small trips within the state on it during the year. From my other blog pages you can see I am an antique motorcycle fanatic. In Michigan a motorcycle must be 25 years old to have antique plates. It dawned on me during the past year that I am making my own antique. At least I am well past the middle point of the timeline and a few recollections are in order…..

Grindstone Harbor on one of my annual trips around Michigan's "thumb".

Buying & Modifying the Trophy

The Trophy is an excellent motorcycle which I have enjoyed very much. It was purchased from Life Cycle of Kalamazoo Michigan as a demo with 3,200 miles on it and remained unmodified for the first 5 years. Although it was a great bike out of the box I like to tinker.... Worthwhile changes made are cartridge emulators and progressive suspension springs in the forks, Nology coils, a Corbin seat, a jet kit, a K & N air filter, and straight through mufflers which I fabricated. A Scots steering damper was also a nice addition. The most recent change was a Bridgestone Battlax GT BT023 tire on the front which is great. EBC HH sintered brake pads front and rear improve stopping noticeably. The Trophy likes mid grade fuel just like the manual says. Lower octane causes spark knock & it doesn’t like diesel at all, but that’s another story…..

Putting on a new front tire. 
Causing Commotion

Last year, while on one of my longer rides, I had the unfortunate experience of losing a saddle bag on a 4 lane highway. A very excited guy said he chased me for about 15 miles to tell me it fell off. I was wearing ear plugs and never heard a thing. I remember all of the cars that were following me disappeared rather suddenly. He said it went right down the road between them and didn’t hit anybody. Lucky me I guess. Although it supposedly landed on the edge of the road in plain sight, it was nowhere to be found when I went back for it. It looks and feels like a different bike without the bags and I miss the storage space.  Tank and messenger bags now take care of daily needs while a duffle bag strapped to the seat works for overnight trips…

My swanky parking space under the loading dock overhang at work. 

In Conflict with Nature 

Another unfortunate experience was an altercation with a white tail deer on the way to work one morning. It was dark when he jumped on the road and I did not see him. The collision took place at 55 miles per hour. I would normally have been going a little faster but was approaching a speed trap and had slowed down a bit. An oncoming car had just gone by and my headlights were dimmed. With bright lights I probably would have seen the deer approaching the road and been able to avoid it.

The initial impact was pretty significant. It was hit dead center and wedged between the bikes fender and fairing. Its back end and hooves came up and hit me hard enough to rip my pants and take fabric off of my motorcycle boots. It jumped up and down while we went down the road about 200 – 300 yards. During this time I was all over the road. The ditches are pretty deep in this area and I did not want to go into one of them. It was all I could do to keep the bike between them. I tried everything to get the bike to stop swerving back and forth; more brakes, more throttle, less throttle, less brakes. Finally the deer fell off the bike, dead, and I proceeded down the road in the dark eventually pulling into a church parking lot. I took off my helmet and put it on the ground by the bike, unfortunately in the same spot where the anti freeze later pooled. Although not badly hurt my left leg and hip felt jammed. The feeling was similar to catching a baseball on the end of your fingers as recalled from years previous.

I did not have a cell phone at the time and went to some nearby houses to call the police. It was about 6:30 AM and still dark when houses were approached for help. It shouldn’t be too surprising but no one will answer the door when a guy in a black motorcycle jacket is knocking at an early hour. I went back to my bike, sat down and waited for the sun to come up. Shortly after sunrise a guy came out of a house and let me use his cell phone to call the police. They couldn’t believe an ambulance wasn’t needed but I convinced them not to send one. I did not want to pay for a ride to the hospital that wasn’t necessary.

Although I did not try to wave down passing cars I am surprised none stopped once it became light. A dead deer on the road and a busted up motorcycle poring anti freeze on the ground should be a sign of trouble. The only person who checked on me was a fellow motorcyclist on a clapped out late 70’s Honda who was heading home after working the night shift. He stayed with me until the police arrived even though I told him I was alright. It reminded me of the slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. The reporting police officer could not call a wrecker for me but was kind enough to let me use his personal cell and he recommended a towing service. I also called my wife to come and get me since I was covered in deer fluids and did not want to get into the wrecker. A deer squirts like a tube of toothpaste when you hit it really hard dead center. Blood comes out one end and poop out the other. The bike and I had a disgusting amount of both. When my wife arrived she refused to let me in her Jeep with my soiled clothes and made me to take off my pants before getting in. I didn’t blame her. The officer was still there and thought it was all quite amusing.

To make a long story short, (actually longer), I worked with an insurance agent to get the bike fixed.  The day my repairs were estimated he said mine was the third bike accident in his queue. One guy was dead and one was paralyzed. We agreed I was quite lucky. I had the Trophy repaired as it was a little less money than buying a replacement. Next time a different decision would be made as I found issues with the Trophy for several years after it was back on the road that pertained to the accident. Lesson learned. The deer accident was near the end of May and the bike was not returned to me until September. That was alright. I had temporarily lost my desire to ride it, although it came back the following year.  

Busted up but fixable. Just barely.

The poor little guy didn't make it. 

On to the Next 50,000 

Other than these few experiences owning the Trophy has been pretty uneventful. Put in gas, complete the scheduled maintenance, and it keeps running with no complaint. I love the riding position and the way it handles. The styling is unique and after 17 years it still looks great to me.  I think I picked the right bike in 1997. Hopefully my next bike will live up to this experience, if the Trophy is ever replaced. I am sure it will be another Triumph, but with all of the great models, which one will it be? I am quite fond of the new Bonneville but have to admit the new Explorer is exciting. The new Trophy looks like a great bike and is in the running too. Decisions, decisions, decisions….  

Hitting 50k on one of my favorite local rides, Fathers day to boot!

50,000 miles still running & looking good. Just five days ahead of my 50th birthday. I think the Trophy has held up better than me. 


  1. I enjoyed reading you r trophy tales. You might like mine too :-)

  2. Thanks for the comments Trimotorevival. I checked out your blog - and now follow it. I do not know a lot of people riding Trophys in the US and it is interesting to see the work you have done on yours and the experiences you have had. Thanks for sharing them.