As you may have guessed, press conferences aren’t the most exciting part of this job. So, normally, I happily steer clear of the ballroom (they come in a variety of sizes and grand names) action.
However, after waiting for nearly two years, Triumph was finally coming to India and that was something I did not want to miss. This wasn’t about witnessing a launch; it was about the remainder of the not-so-privileged motorcycling communities' dreams taking flight, me included. We have waited impatiently for the day when a serious motorcycle could be bought without selling an organ or a distant family member. Our recent meeting with Triumph’s India CEO, Vimal Sumbly, only gave my hopes a boost. You could sense that Triumph wanted to underwrite the dreams and smiles of Indian riders. Would it be a press conference or a concert? Or Keynote? Would people cheer and clap? Would a indeterminably distant and perpetually hazy future, zooming into focus drive people crazy? I wanted to welcome the new era, inhale the anticipation and savour the excitement.
However, I couldn’t. You see, the Jury Round of the Autocar Car of the Year Awards 2014 fell on the same date. So, at 12 noon on the 28th of November 2003, I was glued to my phone, following the launch as it happened, via Twitter. And when the news came, I was shocked.
The evergreen Bonneville hit the spot with a Rs 5.7 lakh price tag and two variants were unveiled too. The bikemaker nailed the pricing of the Street Triple and Speed Triple nakeds. The Street Triple is an accessible and punchy everyday toy, and the 1050cc Speed Triple ups the ante further. The cruiser line-up includes the iconic Rocket III, which rightfully commands a hefty Rs 20 lakh price tag, and the Thunderbird Storm took on the Harleys with its 1700cc motor and Rs 13 lakh price tag.
However, I was far from ecstatic, as prices of the two bikes closest to my heart, the Daytona 675 and the Triumph Tiger, looked wrong, horribly wrong. Equipped with the full trick components, the Daytona 675R was launched at Rs 11.4 lakh. Meanwhile, the more ordinary Daytona 675 wasn’t launched at all! What made it all the more frustrating was that the Daytona shares the basic 675cc motor with the Street Triple, which was priced at a remarkable Rs 7.5 lakh. Taking UK prices as an indicator, the Daytona 675 could have been priced at Rs 9 lakh! Meanwhile, the Tiger family starts at a pricey Rs 12 lakh for the baby 800XC, while the big boy 1215cc Tiger Explorer is priced at Rs 17.9 lakh! That’s neck and neck with BMW’s F650GS and R1200GS. In which case, I know what I would pick.
So, while most people are breaking fixed deposits, dipping into their children’s education fund or sweet talking their bank’s branch manager to get the funds together to buy their desired Triumph, it’s all quiet at the Singhee residence. Triumph, my meagre savings and credit ratings were yours to cash out. I was almost forcing you to take them away. Sadly, there they are, sitting safely in the bank, and I wish it weren’t so.