2013 Triumph Trophy SE | First Ride

2013 Triumph Trophy SE Sport Tourer Test

Building on the great success of the Triumph Tiger Explorer, Triumph has taken the same short stroke 1215cc liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline-3 and dropped it into a proper luxury/sport touring chassis, to create the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE.

Designed to compete head on with the venerable BMW R 1200 RT, the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE is long on luxurious features-including electronically adjustable WP suspension, traction control, linked ABS braking, highly customizable dashboard, adjustable windshield, and a full-bodied sound system-as well as being a highly capable handler.

Taking the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE out for its first flogging, we tackled roads that ranged from long freeways to the tightest one-lane country roads through the hills. 

In a straight line, the Trophy SE is quite stable up to 125 mph.

Triumph credits its Triumph Dynamic Luggage System, which allows the panniers to pivot through a five-degree arc. This is claimed to enhance stability. Of course, we couldn’t test the Trophy SE without the system. However, with it in place, there is no oscillation anywhere through the chassis when running at racetrack speeds-stability is outstanding.

As turns are introduced to the mix, the 2013 Trophy SE continues to shine. Utilizing high-end Pirelli Angel ST tires, the Trophy SE sticks to the road. There’s no pushing (51.5% of the weight is on the front wheel at rest) and the back end does not step out. Traction control and ABS help things along nicely, and we did have experiences with both systems functioning-they did so flawlessly.

Get into tighter turns and the Trophy SE defies its size. Much more agile than you’d expect from a 662 pound bike (claimed wet, but no panniers), it handles direction changes controllably and predictably, even when the road surprises the rider.

 There are three preset suspension settings for the 43mm inverted WP forks and linkage rear shock-Sport, Normal, and Comfort.

Sport is definitely best on smoother roads, as the ride stiffens up noticeably. When conditions are right, it truly helps the Trophy SE knife through corners. On more typical roads, the Normal position still resists wallowing and the bike goes where you point it.

The nice surprise is how well the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE handles when it is in the Comfort suspension mode. Sure, it’s great on the superslab, where all you want to do is relax. Yet, on undulating, poorly paved roads, the Trophy SE smooths out the bumps while keeping the bike steady. Even when pushing fairly hard, the damping is still firm enough to give the bike the sporting experience one expects from a Triumph, regardless of genre.

Acceleration is less intense than the Tiger Explorer, despite the fact that they share the same motor, including the camshafts. Different sized airbox and exhaust, plus a longer throw throttle, means the Trophy SE does not leap like a jungle animal. 

Instead, the ride-by-wire throttle always feels gently rolled on, and you get strong, but not abrupt, acceleration.

We’re still looking at 132 horsepower at 9500 rpm, so the Trophy SE is no slouch. Torque peaks out at 89 ft/lbs at a relatively leisurely 6450 rpm, and the torque has a broad strong spread from 2500 to 9500 rpm. It’s a six-speed, but you can hardly be in the wrong gear.

Keep in mind that the Trophy SE is a three-cylinder bike, so there is a bit of busyness to the motor. It is never truly relaxed, even when in overdrive sixth gear. It’s not annoying, but the feel is there.

Get going too fast on the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE and the linked ABS brakes are magic. Squeeze the front brake-which isn’t grabby, though it is surprisingly strong for a tourer-and three of the four front calipers grip the twin front discs. Touch the rear brake lightly, and only the rear disc is used. Push harder on the rear brake pedal and pressure-moderated by a Proportion Control Valve-sends some hydraulic fluid to the fourth front caliper.

In real world terms, this means you can rely on the Trophy SE’s rear brake the majority of the time, and only access the front brake in an emergency. Certainly, hard chargers will use the front brake heavily and enjoy the feel and performance.

Ergonomics are outstanding. Americans get the low seat. If you don’t require that lower seat height, you’ll be happier with the roomier ergonomics you get with the taller seat. The bike is still very easily manageable with my 34-inch inseam at stops. 

The bars come back nicely, so the roomy bike doesn’t feel too large.

The seat allows the rider to move around, making long treks more comfortable. We didn’t take a passenger out, but the rear pillion also has room for the passenger to change position. Heated grips and seats are available as an option, and they work well when it chills.

We look forward to longer, more extensive testing of the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE, but we can assure you from our first ride that this is an outstanding machine and a great addition to the sport-touring segment.

Riding Style


Helmet: Bell Revolver EVO
Jacket, gloves and pants: AGV Sport Telluride
Boots: Fly Racing Milepost