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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I doubt this will be read by anyone at Triumph UK much less responded to.

I like Triumphs. Although I have no experience of, or desire to own, Triumphs from the Meriden era I like the history of the company. John Bloor's acquisition and subsequent successful relaunch of the brand is inspiring, noble and a brilliant story. It shows that countries like Britain can still compete with the best in the world in the area of complex manufacturing. So it is with considerable sadness that I read of their plans to relinquish the final production capability of the Hinckley plants and have all manufacturing take place at their plants in Thailand. Yes, I know they will keep the TFC lines in the UK but bolting on a few carbon parts and an Arrow exhaust while adding some unique pinstriping to bikes made elsewhere is not manufacturing.

Motorcycles have been a huge part of my life. They've made me friends all over the world, they've taken me to places all over the world, they've been a sport, a hobby, a passion, a teacher, a leisure pursuit, a means of transport and a prop when life turns to sh!t and you get sad. And it does and you will.

My first Triumph was an early 90's Trident. Took it in part exchange for a BMW that wasn't really providing much in the way of riding joy. The Triumph was interesting. It was heavy, didn't go that hard, didn't handle especially well but, unlike many other bikes I've had from most of the major brands, somehow it made me smile and feel good whenever I rode it. And the feel good factor has remained ever since through many different Hinckley models. I have my favourites but that's not important. What is important is that somehow, someway, I felt a connection to the brand and to the fact it was made in a country and by hands that I could relate to. It had parts that weren't just designed and engineered in Britain but parts that were cast, turned, milled, welded, painted, chromed, moulded, assembled, tested (and occasionally stuffed up) by people with skills that may well have had a direct link to our parents, grandparents and great grandparents who once wore overalls or brown or grey smocks. Yes, I'm well aware that many components were bought in from some of the best suppliers around the world just as I'm well aware the production team sourced the best machining centres, the best surface finishing systems, the best automated assembly jigs from around the world. Still, the bikes were made in the UK and made proudly by an involved, engaged and enthusiastic workforce. This all conspired to instill in the bikes, their owners and riders something quite intangible. Something I'm not sure there is a word for, it's certainly not something you can itemise and properly put a value on. The closest analogy I can think of is the value assigned to that most nefarious of assets when companies are bought and sold - goodwill. It's a poor analogy I know but, like the feeling you have when your cold, wet, still have 300kms to go and car drivers are looking at you with pity it defies explanation.

I don't doubt the bikes now all being made in Thailand will be at least as good, maybe even better, as Hinckley built models. Many models, and certainly many components, have been made there for some time now. And as much as Triumph reassure us that design, prototyping and engineering will remain in the UK, and supervision, direction, quality control and overseeing of production skills transferance will remain under the watchful eye of the British team something very valuable will be lost. And it won't be apparent from a spreadsheet, an ROI analysis or any other financial business case.

So what was it that prompted me to write this? I'll tell you.

KTM. Yes that's right, KTM. If you want to ride a motorcycle that offers everything that we love about Triumphs, a motorcycle that makes every ride an event, a motorcycle that will infuriate you with it's foibles but offer an riding experience so good you forgive it, ride a KTM. Especially a big one. You can sense that undefinable connection to the familiar hands that built it. As KTM continue their transition from a dirt bike company into a mainstream street bike manufacturer they have instilled into the riding experience that something Triumph managed so well. Yes KTM have a joint venture with Bajaj in India to manufacture their small single cylinder range however their commitment to manufacturing in Austria is stronger than ever. The energy from every communique from KTM is palpable. You can sense the involved, engaged and enthusiastic workforce. And you can relate to them. Sound familiar? Sure, they buy in lots of assemblies from some of the best suppliers around the world but they still cast, turn, mill, weld, paint, chrome, mould, assemble, test (and occasionally stuff up) most everything. They have a growing workforce of people with skills that may well have had a direct link to our parents, grandparents and great grandparents etc etc.

The plant at Mattighofen is expanding successfully under the direction of CEO Stefan Pierer and they are now Europe's largest motorcycle manufacturer. Austria is a higher wage country than the UK and yet they are very profitable and have no plans to wind down local production because of a need to contain costs. Quite the opposite in fact. This is what so baffles me about Triumph's business direction and under whose watch it is really occuring. It is well known that John Bloor's son Nick has taken over as CEO of the company. He has a good grounding in the business having started with Triumph in 1998 as a design engineer following graduation from Loughborough University. In addition to working in the design department, Nick worked in manufacturing, production control, sales and marketing and purchasing. Does he seem like someone who would push the business case for winding down UK manufacture? I'm not sure. If he has advisors perhaps they are not of the calibre of Stefan Pierer. Might have been worth calling him for his thoughts though.

I'll end by quoting something from KTMs corporate page:

THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS WHEN YOU ARE FEARLESS

Driven by the passion of over 4000 employees, KTM is the largest European motorcycle manufacturer with a revenue of over €1.5 billion. To this end, we consistently pursue a long-term strategy based on the four pillars of brand, globalization, innovation and employees.


Could've been taken from Triumph's corporate philosophy not many years ago.
 

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Right on. A very sad day indeed when I heard the news. I had a 1998 Trophy 1200 and it was built like a tank. I proudly put made in england stickers on it. Somehow made in thailand doesnt sound the same

Oh well we live in a changing world.

My BMW is proudly made in germany.
 

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I have a 1996 Triumph Thunderbird and I agree with you Terry the early Hinckley Triumphs give a riding sensation that IMO the later models do not. It is all steel and aluminum, about the only plastic is the stitches on the bars and the airbox. The only other machine I’ve ridden and owned that gives the same riding pleasure is a Moto Guzzi Norge 1200.

With the changing landscape of rider ownership and the motorcycle economy along with the very corporate way Triumph is doing business has forced an excellent dealer (and good friends) to close their doors. They were one of the last true “enthusiast” dealers that had charm and personality. Very sad all the way around.
 

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i can say my 14' R3R was made at the hinckley Factory I confirmed the VIN you raise some good points I'm hopeful Bloor's son brings Triumph is a new direction. All of the bike manufactures are struggling right now even before Covid-19 KTM makes a good bike no question; their maintenance record is above average I will say they are a little overpriced. Triumph moving much of their production to Thailand which has outstanding quality control btw also assists with their distribution to more global markets. Whereas the Hinkley location you have higher production costs with added costs with shipping to global regions where motorcycle sales are strong
 

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Elegantly put Terry. Clearly Nick Bloor knows nothing about brand positioning. KTM's sell despite their price, because the 'brand' exudes quality, both real and perceived. When people think of KTM they imagine Austrian engineers in white coats designing and assembling their motorcycle.
The quality coming out of Thailand may be just as good, but the perception is destroyed. This puts the Triumph brand out there with the rest of the mainstream, where there's no room left, and where they will have to compete on price.
 

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Elegantly put Terry. Clearly Nick Bloor knows nothing about brand positioning. KTM's sell despite their price, because the 'brand' exudes quality, both real and perceived. When people think of KTM they imagine Austrian engineers in white coats designing and assembling their motorcycle.
The quality coming out of Thailand may be just as good, but the perception is destroyed. This puts the Triumph brand out there with the rest of the mainstream, where there's no room left, and where they will have to compete on price.
a lot more Triumphs are sold than KTM's
and I would imagine that there are British Engineers in white coats designing Triumphs.
having been involved in manufacturing all my working life, mass manufacturing is the easy part being so automated
the smarts are with the understanding the customer wants, design, prototype making, testing, design means of production, delivery and sales network and so on.
the bikes are not hand crafted by highly trained carftsmen but mostly by robots and automated machines put togother by parts made all over the place
 

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That's why I used the words 'perceived' and 'imagine'. You haven't changed my opinion, been in marketing most of my life.
 

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Here in Thailand, I’d suggest the ratio of Triumph sales against KTM sales is around 5 to 1. In fact KTM have virtually pulled out of Thailand.
(Still don’t know why we pay more for the same Triumph here????)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Let's give KTM some respect. KTM has indeed been gaining worldwide market share and has become an important player in the motorcycle market. According to this recent article, KTM had 2019 WW sales of 234,449 units, Triumph had much less:

 

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2019 KTM Sales 280,099 motorcycles
2019 Triumph Sales 56,582 motorcycles
interesting, I didnt know that. but getting back to Triumphs being made in Thailand, as I understand a lot of KTM's are made in India. I wonder what proportion of the above figures are Indian

my Triumph oil heat exchanger is branded KTM. apparently the heat exchanger divison was spun off from the bike division
 

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As I have said before, after my wife died I decided to buy another modern bike. So being patriotic it had to be the T120 Bonneville, stupidly thinking it was made in Britain/Hinkley where they had made all their bikes earlier whilst I still lived in the UK.
It came as a complete shock after joining the RAT group to be told that it was made in Thailand, something that has annoyed me ever since as the Bloor empire really push the British heritage etc and insinuating they are all still made in the UK. The main reason for buying British was to help keep people in work, something that will not happen now as the majority of a loyal workforce have no doubt been laid off permanently, not just for the coronavirus shutdown.

I will not be buying another Triumph in the future thats for sure, they are overpriced for what they are anyway. Not that I will be selling the Bonnie for some time.
 
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