Wheel alignment

Wednesday 19 January 2011

How's this for great service?

I've owned the Street Triple for 18 months from new and my admiration for it still remains undiminished from when I posted the extended rider review in August 2010.  Fast?  Plenty for the area I live in.  Handles?  Has brought a new dimension to cornering ability.  Ergonomics?  An amazingly comfortable bike for a 5'8" old fella!

Despite all the positives, towards the end of winter, I noticed what seemed to be small rust bubbles appearing on the mirror stalks.  You know how it is when you're familiar with something, you tend not to notice day by day change but  last week, I suddenly noticed that the corrosion had spread.  This was quite disappointing given that the bike is garaged and has an inordinate amount of fuss lavished on it, including good quality wax.

Right mirror stem

Left mirror stem

The greatest corrosion on the right stem is on the locknut with only small pitting on the stem itself.  The left stem has more corrosion on the stem and a little less on the locknut.  Both stems have corrosion beneath the rubber boot where they attach to the handlebar mount. Root cause is problematic.  The majority of the corrosion is at the front, suggesting that the weather whilst riding could have had some influence but why isn't it apparent on other forward-facing parts of the bike? Everything else is in excellent order.  It's possible that the metal could have rusted before painting but looking at the paint on the locknuts and stems, it looks VERY thin indeed and I'm not actually sure there's any primer/base coat!

Be that as it may, the first instinct was to rectify it myself as it was hardly a big job.  However, after a bit of thought, decided to email the Triumph dealer in Hamilton with the photos above, asking for their opinion.  Next day, I received a reply from Heath, the dealer principal saying that it was well worth notifying Triumph NZ and that he'd ask Matt, the workshop manager, to get onto it and see what eventuated.  Two days after that, I got a call from Matt saying that Triumph were happy to replace them and that a courier pack had just arrived with 2 new mirror stalks.  Because it was a warranty job, they were required to fit them and was I likely to be in the Hamilton area anytime soon?  Isn't that extraordinarily good service?

Always a good excuse to ride to Hamilton with most of the 160-odd km being on largely deserted back roads so last Friday, it was up early with clear skies and cool air...... perfect!  Pulled up outside the workshop 2 hours later to be greeted by cheery waves and a handshake from both Heath and Matt and then straight in to replacing the mirror stalks.  I felt pretty special and guess that's the sign of a top dealership where all the clients are made to feel so valued.  I'd seen comments on a local website bike forum that Triumph NZ were difficult to deal with.  Indeed, one person said that they "moved with glacial speed" on complaints.  I mentioned this to Heath in light of my outstanding service from both them and Triumph.  He replied that there was a formal process which they followed and there had never been any problems.  Maybe it's all in the approach - I can't speak highly enough of them. The corrosion issue hasn't actually disappointed me as it's more than outweighed by the fact that once the problem was acknowledged, it was resolved without delay -  the sign of an organisation which has systems and processes which work.

As the whole business had been settled at quite the opposite of "glacial speed", I didn't spend as much time in their wonderful showroom as normal, but here are some shots:

Triumph Sprint GT

I was very much taken with the new Sprint GT.  Beautifully finished and a true grand tourer.  Very good value for money with ABS and a whole host of goodies.  This is what my Honda Super Blackbird should have evolved into rather than the fuggly over-priced VFR 1200 with abysmal range.  No wonder world-wide sales of the VFR are poor and it's nearly NZ$8k more than the Sprint GT too.  Got it badly wrong, Honda San!

The legendary Bonneville

My current preference is for something a little more sporty but there's no denying that the Bonnie in black looks absolutely stunning.  Maybe later???

A brace of Thunderbirds

I couldn't resist the semi-arty front end photo of the two Thunderbirds - black and chrome looks soooo classy! Going for a big capacity parallel twin to differentiate the T'bird from a sea of V twin cruisers seems to have paid off handsomely in terms of market share.  Data from the UK market  indicates that Triumph sell more bikes there above 500cc than any other manufacturer.  There are strong rumours that they'll soon be entering the small capacity market which should worry the Japanese manufacturers, particularly with sales into S-E Asia where bikes are essential family and commercial transport.

As homage to Triumph's design team, a few photos of componentry from the Street Triple whilst it's clean!  If you didn't know what sort of bike it was, I'd bet that more people would pick it as European rather than Japanese origin.  Not that I'm anti-Japanese bikes in the slightest but as has been remarked previously, they seem to have lost their way a little in the last year or two in terms of innovation compared with Europe.

A sensuous tangle of piping!

Predator mates with Short-Circuit!

Each component a design gem

A lady with curves.....

As an aside, my route home from Hamilton was slightly different from the outbound run.  Going down a long straight  in the country miles from anywhere, my radar detector started to chirp - no big deal as I was legal or thereabouts.  The detector had picked up a brand new fixed speed camera on a pole by the roadside! (Presently puzzling as I thought that fixed cameras weren't operated by microwave).  Anyway, the point is as far as I'm aware, this area isn't a hazard black spot and has clear visibility all around for miles.  In the absence of data to the contrary, it's probably safe to assume that revenue collection is the primary objective given that it's in the middle of a nice long straight.  I suppose the one good thing is that in NZ, speeding fines incurred by cameras don't carry the additional penalty of demerit points against your license!  I fully expect one of the rural locals to have taken a hacksaw or shotgun to it shortly - if they haven't done so already.

Finally, I was delighted to meet for the first time yesterday a couple of really nice people from Auckland, a father and son; who have been reading this blog for a while.  They were holidaying in the area and I got an email from them asking whether they could drop in and see/chat about my Street Triple as they were thinking of getting one in due course.  We chatted for the best part of an hour and a half about the Triple and about motorcycling in general and it reminded me that informal networking like this is one of the special things about motorcycling - it draws people together irrespective of background, cultural or any other differences come to that.  Wonderful!


  1. Hi Geoff,

    Always a joy to read your posts about trips to the bike shop in Hamilton! Love the photos as usual....and despite my love of all things fast and sporty, I think that Bonneville (in black) is an absolute cracker! I sat on one at the Motorcycle expo on the Gold Coast last year and could have sat there all day, just dreaming of miles and miles of tarmac disappearing beneath me.

    Love the Striple shots too! Have a great day,


  2. Sounds to me as if Suzuki could learn something about warranty claims from your Triumph mob, Geoff! My lovely dealer ended up footing most of the bill for a new fuel pump for my last SV - because Suzuki steadfastly refused to admit a failed fuel pump on a K8 bike after less than 2 years and only 60,000kms was a 'fit for purpose' issue as part of their '2 year unlimited kilometre warranty'. Grrr.
    PS I contemplated a new Bonnie as a replacement, but eventually stuck with a new SV because I could swap all my short-arse bits over from one bike to the other... There may still be a Bonnie in my future though!

  3. Anthony:
    Thanks mate. The Hamilton Motorcycle Centre really set the standard for any automotive detail. They have a "structured" informality which makes you feel instantly at home. Yeah, that Bonnie... 'nuff said!

    Yep, that warranty biz on your SV doesn't sound satisfactory. When I had the Blackbird, I was always a bit disappointed in the professionalism of my local Honda dealer and I wonder whether part of the problem is partly the relationships which individual dealers have with the franchise holder. I know that Hamilton Motorcycles have always had excellent relations with Triumph NZ and maybe this helps with any claim process.

    The Bonnie (Thruxton version)was the second choice when I finally ended up with the Striple. The ergonomics put me off and that may have been a common criticism because they changed the bars and footpeg geometry on the 2010 model. Like you, a "touring" version may be a consideration later on.

  4. Geoff:

    I love the Striple too. I did go and look at them but they looked ugly with the side cases. It's more of a sports car with no room to carry anything.

    I liked the Sprint GT too, . . . and the Bonneville, and the Thruxton, and the . . . Actually I like everything you like

    Wet Coast Scootin

  5. Hey Bob!
    Yep, don't think side cases would do a lot for them, that's why I use the Ventura pack system. Also have some Oxford throw-overs but I've still to figure how I can keep them away from the hot mufflers short of asbestos cloth!

    Yes, Triumph have really got their act together!

  6. Sounds like a great day. It is good to hear the Triumph staff treating you so well with those types of issues and nice to know they covered it under warranty and had you race ready in no time.

  7. Geoff,
    Good to hear that Triumph takes care of their bikes and fairly quickly too. This is a nice story that is good all the way around for everyone. I too enjoy reading about your travels around NZ. Thank you!

  8. Trobairitz:
    Any day on two wheels is a great day. The area we live in is acknowledged as one of the great biker rides in the north island but like anything, too much familiarity gets boring so a ride down to the dealership is a great break from the routine, especially when you get service like that.

    I think that research shows that for every 9 complaints about poor service, you only get to hear 3 positive stories (We complain more than we praise) and it's important to give credit where it's due. Thanks for the kind words - off to watch the annual classic bike racing in Auckland in a couple of weeks. Hope to have plenty of photos from that event.

  9. Great to hear of such great service. I have to admit the Thunderbirds are quite eye catching and have a good bit of muscle to back it up. I was quite impressed at a local showing by a Triumph dealer here a year or so ago.


  10. Hi Allen,
    I saw a bit of showmanship at the Triumph dealership a few months ago. He started up a T'bird, let it warm up then stood a coin on edge on the crankcase it was that smooth - amazing!

  11. Ok Geoff, You just trying to wind me up with pics of all those beaut trumpys! I personally think Triumph have moved forward with innovation and design (675 daytona just supurb), and the stiple just confirms that. I must admit I like the look of the GT, as a lot of my riding is with my partner and I they have all ready mentioned how comfy it looks!

    I have to agree with you on The VFR, what the hell were they thinking, and it hasnt grown on me and and I doubt it will!!!!!!!!

    As usual always enjoy your post and pics, hopefully bump into you at the classic bike weekend. P.S I know what you mean by wanting one of everything.

  12. Geoff, what goes around, comes around. I assume the dealer received one of your extraordinary letters, and hence were extra glad to serve you ;-)

    Please stop posting those sexy motorcycle pictures from Triumphs, my desire to get one of those is getting stronger...

  13. Good to hear that Triumph came to the party - as they should - esp considering the mega-thread on KB dissing their service (I think you've got a good dealer there). I've had no hassles with Kawasaki either - 3 recall jobs done and one warranty job.

    My experience is that you don't give any company an opening to refuse - tell that what you expect and do not back down (works well with insurance companies too). Also, no ranting & raving first off the mark - calm, collected but forceful. Keep the ranting up ya sleeve if you continue to get nowhere.

  14. Roger:
    As if :-). Anyway, you already have a cracker of a bike! Are you planing on being at Pukekohe? I am unless there's a tropical storm or something similar.

    Is "extraordinary" a polite way of saying "grovelling"? No, in this instance, Heath and I already have a great relationship established so it was a straightforward, but polite enquiry. I'll stop those pictures for a while to let you get control, but suspect that your commitment to Bavaria is rock solid at present!!

    Yep, I don't know what to make of that thread. I think that a bit of good relationship-building by all parties is sometimes undervalued. Having said that, some issues do fall between the cracks I'm sure. Which raises your second point.... firm, reasonable, polite and don't give up. I'm certain that a lot of people lose the plot at a very early stage. I'm surprised about Brett's Aprilia problems given that he's a silver tongue in corporate affairs!

  15. Geoff

    I could not help noticing the familiar BMW roundel on the wall behind the brace of Thunderbirds - does this mean the dealer offers free coffee and patisserie too?

    All the best from Good Ol' Blighty, N

  16. Great service indeed. I love it when somebody provides me a with great service.

    Reading your post made me think about the level of service I have had with the 3 bike places I deal with and I have to say they have been brilliant. Maybe it’s something to do with being bikers – you know, that group of people with an affinity to each other, who help each other out whenever they can, slightly scruffy around the edges (me included), linked by the common bond of just enjoying something simple – riding motorbikes. All of the people I deal with in bike shops / dealers are bikers themselves, are cheerful (mostly), knowledgeable and friendly. It makes me feel good when I walk in and they welcome me with “Hi, Gary”. Looking back to when I haven’t received great service at some bike shops, those people have tended to be non-bikers (I think).

    I would be prepared to bet that Heath and Matt are bikers themselves.

    Love the Triumph pictures from the dealer. Great post as ever.

  17. Nikos:
    Triumph, BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki. Free coffee to all. Triumph owners get mushy peas, BMW owners get Weiner Schnitzel, Ducati owners suck on a bit of dried lasagne and the Kwakka owners have sushi of course.

    May your snow have disappeared!

  18. No doubt that triple is a beautifully designed and proportioned motorcycle. I think I read some speculation that there is likely to be a bigger engined version on the market soon. My local dealer has offered me a test ride on a GT (which I've delayed until we get some decent weather). As a "rusted on" (no pun intended) Honda buyer I find myself agreeing 100% with your analysis of the VFR1200. They cost the best part of $26K here as well!


  19. Gary;
    Agree wholeheartedly! Matt runs a Ducati 748SP and Heath has a BMW R1200GS. They're total enthusiasts but are excellent business people too. I think Heath has deliberately created the culture and standard throughout his business because although the workshop team at the Honda shop across the road were superb, "front of house" service was actually poor.

    You might be referring to the Triumph 800 which I think is being released world wide about now. There's a street version and adventure version. Looks superficially like the BMW range of adventure bikes only lower and lighter.

    The knowledge that Honda were going to introduce the VFR 1200 as a Blackbird "replacement"was one factor which influenced me to change brands. I was so disapointed.

  20. An interesting read Geoff, also good to read all the comments. I have always liked Triumph and that Sprint GT looks really good, I would REALLY love to have a Bonneville in my garage! As to that Honda VFR 1200, I had a look at that but who wants a bike without a clutch lever? Keep up the good work Bro I enjoy your blog.

  21. Hi Andrew!
    Yep, there's something about the Bonnie which appeals to us older guys. Maybe because it was once the ultimate superbike when we were growing up!

    Yeah, that VFR seems to be a competent bike but highly sanitised - no soul. I understand that HRC were working on a V% range of bikes based on their old race motor but it got canned. That's a real shame and has probably cost them dearly.

  22. I cant agree with you about the Sprint Gt. The blackbird is as good,if not better. The new VFR1200is probably not perfect but Honda will iron out the very small problems, they always do. Motorcycle News are big Triumph fans and they were not impressed with the GT either. Cost is a subjective thing anyway. If ,like me, you are only ever going to be looking for second hand bikes the honda will always be at the top of the tree because they are just soooo well engineered. As for "soul" I find this tends to mean "annoying fault you have to live with".

  23. Hi SB!
    The Blackbird is brilliant. What I meant was that they should have kept it and continually updated it. The new Honda is undoubtedly a competent machine apart from the range (and the purely personal thought that it's been hit with the ugly stick!) Shame to hear about the GT reports. I haven't read anything, just saw it in the showroom.

    Hahaha - love your interpretation of "soul". I thought the 'bird had soul but I'm struggling to think of a fault unless you count it being a tad high for my short legs!

    Be well.....


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