2012 Triumph America Review: By Way of Great Britain

2012 Triumph America Review

If it’s all about the journey, the 2012 Triumph America is just the ticket.

Settle into the comfortable seat, turn the key below your left thigh, flick the start button and forget about everything else.

This easy and comfortable cruiser allows the rider to focus on the sights, sounds and smells of the ride, instead of keeping half a mind on the bike beneath.

A mechanically-close relative of the Triumph Streetmaster, the 2012 America is an intuitive ride, with ergonomics that place the rider in an all-day comfortable, slightly laidback seating position. The handlebars sweep back so that your hands fall naturally to the grips for effortless steering. Footpegs are modestly forward, with shift and brake levers well placed under the toes for easy access with minor foot movement. Operation of the foot controls is intuitive.

The Triumph America’s firm and supportive 27-inch one-piece seat provides secure flat-footed confidence at stops to a wide variety of riders, and the well-balanced, narrow conformation makes slow speed maneuvering stress-free. At a (claimed wet) 550 pounds, the America carries its weight low so it is nimble on its feet.

There is a fast-idle pull-knob at the left EFI throttle body–they are effectively camouflaged as half of a pair of carburetors – that is useful when the engine is cold. A minute or two of engagement is enough to make the Triumph America’s air-cooled 865cc vertical twin purr.

Power delivery off idle is smooth, predictable, and the Triumph America won’t get novice riders into trouble. To make take-offs easy, maximum torque comes at a mere 3300 rpm.

Experienced riders can move the America smartly off the line with a healthy twist of the throttle, running things up to the horsepower peak at 6800 rpm, and following it with a quick shift into second. While the bike is certainly not underpowered, it does require encouragement for fast acceleration when conditions dictate.

Triumph engineers keep vibrations well under control, and the bike feels great, even after a long day in the saddle. I sometimes have difficultly finding a sweet spot in cruiser ergonomics, and I prefer the Speedmaster’s body positioning, though other staff members vigorously disagreed with me. Still, I was able to spend entire days on the America and not end up with a sore back by scooting my rear back into the seat and sitting up fairly straight.

While there isn’t a lot of spare travel in the Kayaba suspension (4.7 inches in the forks, 3.8 inches at the rear axle) to cushion your backside on rough roads, the fat 16-inch front tire provides a secure steering footprint and stress-free ride over real world conditions. The relaxed 33 degrees of rake and roomy 63.6-inch wheelbase gives the Triumph America plenty of stability.

Long and low works surprisingly well at a spirited pace winding through the Hollywood Hills along Mulholland Drive’s keeping-it-real asphalt. Here, the Metzeler Marathon tires’ solid grip on the road is confidence inspiring. The occasional peg scrape as I lean the Triumph America into a turn is the only distraction from taking in the spectacular sunset.

The 865cc is plenty one-up for someone my weight – 115 pounds – on the freeway. You sit down low enough that the windblast isn’t bad, and the wide bars are easy to hold onto. The motor and long exhaust is quiet and easily overpowered by wind noise at high speeds. There are only five-cogs in the transmission, so it’s not a tourer, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid the freeway.

The single 310mm front disk with a four-piston caliper does a fine job of slowing the America appropriately quickly without drama, and the 285mm rear rotor is more than capable. Both have good feel.

The speedometer is easily read and there’s not tachometer. In the daytime, the tank mounted warning lights are virtually useless, and the tank depth at the filler cap makes it a hassle to put gas in.

I enjoy having an alternative to the traditional V-twin. Triumph brings its own English spin to the genre, and the America stands out thanks to its vertical twin motor. The Caribbean Blue with Crystal White holds its own visually in urban settings, and the Triumph logo on the tank is iconic.

Sporting distinctive good looks (with classic touches like chrome and an authentic chain drive) and an agreeable personality, the 2012 Triumph America is a perfect alternative mid-size cruiser for fun, easy riding.

Photography by Don Williams


  • Helmet: Arai RX-Q Urban
  • Eyewear: TAG Heuer Squadra 5504
  • Jacket: River Road Ladies’ Sapphire
  • Gloves: River Road Ladies’ Tallahassee
  • Jeans: Icon Standard
  • Boots: Dainese Lola Lady Gore-Tex

2012 Triumph America Specifications

Engine and Transmission

  • Type…Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 270º firing interval
  • Displacement…865cc
  • Bore/Stroke…90 x 68mm
  • Maximum Power…60 hp @ 6800rpm
  • Maximum Torque…53 ft-lbs @ 3300rpm
  • Fuel System…Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
  • Exhaust…Stainless steel twin-walled headers, twin chromed silencers
  • Clutch…Wet, multi-plate
  • Gearbox…5-speed
  • Oil Capacity…4.75 quarts
  • Final Drive…X-ring chain


  • Frame…Tubular steel cradle
  • Swingarm…Twin-sided, tubular steel
  • Wheels
  • Front…Cast aluminum alloy 12-spoke 16 x 3.0 inches
  • Rear…Cast aluminum alloy 12-spoke 15 x 4.0 inches
  • Tire
  • Front…Metzeler Marathon 130/90 R16
  • Rear…Metzeler Marathon 170/80 B15
  • Suspension
  • Front…Kayaba 41mm forks with polished stainless steel shrouds and painted lowers, 120mm travel
  • Rear…Kayaba chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 96mm rear wheel travel
  • Brakes
  • Front…310mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
  • Rear…285mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
  • Instrument Display/Functions…Analog speedometer with odometer and trip information

Dimensions and Capacities

  • Wheelbase…63.6 inches
  • Rake/trail…33 degrees/143mm
  • Seat height…27.2 inches
  • Fuel capacity…5.1 gallons
  • Curb weight… 550 pounds

2012 Triumph America Prices:

  • Black: $8299 MSRP
  • Two-tone: $8599 MSRP