From the latest incoming mail, the tempo in the discussion about the merits or otherwise of Meriden and Hinckley Triumphs seems to have quickened, with some of the emphasis on the real meaning of the word ‘heritage’.
It can be argued that any manufacturer buying the rights to a cherished brand name rather than simply inventing one of its own must already have one finger on the ‘heritage’ card, but it can also be argued that doing so must logically be a mark of respect rather than disdain for what went before. I mean, if those ‘real’ old bikes were the unreliable, oil-leaking monsters that so many people still insist that they were, why on earth would anyone want to perpetuate the name in the first place?
If I was going to buy a brand new Triumph Bonneville (which I’m not), I’d be buying it for what it is – a pleasant, well-built, reliable machine that’s light and nippy enough to deliver virtually everything I could wish for from a bike, and I’d buy it whatever the badge on the tank said – but would you?
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If I wanted to go back to the 1950s and 60s (how I wish I could!) I’d buy a ‘proper’ Meriden Triumph because one of the best machines I ever rode was a unit-construction 1966 orange and ivory Bonnie – light, fast, economical and nice-looking (even though I cannot deny that some bits did fall off it during our Motor Cycling road test).
But even then, would some enthusiasts still make out that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ Triumph because it didn’t have the original-style engine with a separate gearbox?
Just as what we ride, and why we ride it, is entirely up to us, so is the choice between simply enjoying the amazing comradeship of our hobby (whatever our machines might be), or cutting ourselves off into an ever-narrowing clique whose members see no merit in anyone else’s machines but their own.
This one’s going to run and run, isn’t it?