On a whim, I got up early and zipped over to Belle Plaine to check out the Triumph motorcycle demo truck, which wheeled into the dealership for Friday and Saturday. The 75 miles ride over was kind of nice: not much for twisty roads, but scenic in spite of the various detours (I took Hwy. 19 to Cannon Falls, then picked up Hwy 86 and avoided Northfield, traffic and LEO's that prowl around on that stretch.), then got back on Hwy 19 west of New Prague and that takes you in to BP. When I arrived at the dealership, I initially thought that many riders weren't there. Then I got to the otherside of the building, and about 25 malingered around the sign up area. I snagged a ride on a hooker-red Daytona 675 (one of my targeted bikes to ride). Triumph mapped out about a 15 mile route, mostly two-lane country stuff with a turn or two tossed in. When I mounted the 675, I really felt that my ass was up in the air, and that the bars were very low. But once underway and moving, the bike was comfortable enough. But let's cut to the chase, here are the Reader's Digest impressions: roomy seat; ergos weren't bad for a guy my size (6'2"); build quality high; throttle felt abrupt(gas on-gas off); clutch feel was very light (as comapared to the manly pull required on my Sprint), maybe too much so as initially I had a hard time launching this bike from a stop without over revving it (my bad?); solidly planted to the road, especially in corners. As for the power: it pulls fast and hard, but I gotta say, with other riders going slower in front of me, it was hard to put it through the paces. I did not get that hard, punch in the gut feeling that comes with rapid acceleration. But then again, I could only get the thing up to about 62 mph, and I was riding far from the redline, which is somwhere upwards of 15-16,000.
Now, for the big surprise. I wanted to ride a Tiger, but the time slots were filled until later in the morning and I did not want to hang around that long. (To my dismay, Triumph allowed only 2 demo rides per day: I also wanted to ride a Sprint.)So, I signed up to ride a Scrambler. This is the retro version of the Bonneville (also retro) but with high pipes and "oriented" toward the dirt. But not really. This bike put more smiles on my face than the Daytona 675. It's a parallel twin; 865 cc's; wide bars; high, flat seat; very comfortable for the tall (the other bikes in the Bonney line seem to have been made for the inseam challenged). When I fired it up, the engine gives off a nice throb but not like a paint mixer. Exhaust note was cool with the Arrow exhaust system. Throaty, but not obnoxious. Again, nice build quality. Once out on the road, the engine pulls well enough, but it's no torque monster. (Didn't notice a tach....) I managed to get the Scrambler up to 70, and it tracks through the corners rather nicely. I felt that the slow speed handling was not nearly as twitchy as the 675, though you could fell a vibey sensation in the bars from the pseudo-knobbie tires. For some reason, I connected with this bike. It's not terribly fast, but it just had a certain feel about it that I liked. It's a bike that inspires me to strap on a pack, tent, and whatever else, and go somewhere far away. Albeit at a more relaxed pace. And, no Tim, the high pipes were not a problem. Nary a scorch mark on the 'Stitch.
The downside to all of this was: the dealership had no coffee, and Triumph did not give out any free swag; not even a measly cheap-ass key chain. The dealership did give out t-shirts to the first 79 people who signed up for a newsletter on their website. I ended up buying one for 15 bucks.