Zane headed out to Hinckley, England to check out the Triumph Visitor Experience. Check out his tour of the famous factory and spectacular in-house museum that is entirely open to the public!
Ever wonder how your motorcycles are constructed? If you find yourself in the U.K., Triumph Motorcycles is one of the only major manufacturers that offer a proper, fully open-to-the-public factory tour experience. I jetted out to Hinckley to check it out!
The Midlands of England is one of the most motorcycle-rich cultures in the world. As I’ve mentioned in my previous U.K. trip stories, Vincent, Triumph, Royal Enfield, Norton, BSA, Brough Superior, Ariel, etc., were all birthed out of the Midlands. With that being said, if your partner is not an automotive nut, it might be best to leave them in London because there is seriously not a lot to do near Birmingham if you’re not visiting transport museums.
The new Triumph factory resides just outside of Hinckley. It’s best to rent a car if you plan on hitting the Midlands to visit all the notable motorcycle historical points because the public transport is quite average. It cost me something like 15-20 pounds ($35ish AUD) EACH WAY on the train. I then had to hop on a bus and walk to the factory!
Travel aside, the Triumph factory is absolutely massive, and you seriously cannot miss it. This factory was funded by Nick Bloor back in 2011 and then created to be a visitor experience in 2017. It’s mainly the construction of special editions that are still actually built here, with most models now being constructed in Asia. However, there are still a few aspects that will remain in Hinckley and be a part of every Triumph in the world.
Stepping in the doors at the factory, there’s a gorgeous little café with some of the more reasonably priced coffee I had in Europe, complete with a Moto2 machine just sitting there! It appears to be a destination for motorcyclists to meet up and enjoy a weekend ride.
To the right of the café is a completely free exhibition of some of the rarest and most gorgeous Triumphs ever made. I wish I had the time to spend all day here because there are two whole floors of iconic motorcycles. Starting with the first Triumph “motor-bicycle” prototype from 1902!
You make your way down the entire line of Triumph’s growing range, the 1916 Model H (built for the transport of the Allied troops in WW1), the first Speed Twin, the early Tigers, 3 T’s, Thunderbirds, essentially every major step up in Triumph production between 1900-1950 is lined up, and you’ve only taken a few steps.
You make your way across to check out Triumph’s rich racing history, starting at the early Isle of Man TT machines and the current ones. Dominating the display downstairs is the massive 2015 Land Speed Rocket Streamliner and its massive turbos strapped to two methanol-fueled Rocket 3 engines! Making 1000hp and weighing only 816kg, this thing clocked in at 274mph during testing. However, it’s capable of 400mph+ but missed out on the opportunity due to poor salt flat conditions.
You’re in luck if you’re a Steve McQueen or a Bond fan. In pristine condition is the original Great Escape TR6 Trophy sitting on display. It’s hard to think of a Triumph more iconic than this, let alone a motorcycle that multiple generations of people can identify. Also included in the exhibition are all the Triumphs used in the James Bond movie “No Time To Die”, including Daniel Craig’s personal Scrambler 1200!
Upstairs, there are some iconic ISDT, Flat Track and other dirt-centric machines. This is paired with plenty of current models and an information overload of exploded views of engines, suspension components and even original clay models. Even if you don’t get in for the tour, it’s worth heading out there for the free exhibition.
The tour costs 28 pounds (around $50 AUD) and goes for an hour and a half. Compared to my train tickets to get there from Birmingham, it’s pretty reasonable! You aren’t allowed to use your phone or take any photos, so be prepared to drop off the face of the planet for this epic experience.
Our tour guide for the day is Danny Clarke, a brand ambassador for Triumph and an all-round great bloke. Danny’s knowledge of the brand is exceptional, and he can answer every question about Triumph’s history, engine components, paint and construction with ease.
“We don’t set anything up; it’s not pretend and it’s a proper working factory. When you come for a factory tour, I’ll run you through all the steps we go through, where the goods come in, where the parts come from and where we ship the bikes to.”
We pile in and get given our special little hi-vis vests and a speaker to hear precisely what Danny is showing us. Before heading out into the factory, he runs us through where the bikes are currently being constructed and distributed worldwide.
Starting the tour is the massive shipping area. There are thousands of motorcycles packed into crates stacked a mile high. The Australian distributors we are used to seeing here have nothing on the scale of motorcycles coming in and out of the Hinckley factory.
We move into the section where Triumph machine and harden every single crank that enters a Triumph. The way Danny put it is that despite some models being constructed overseas, the heart of every Triumph is Hinckley, and they want to keep it that way.
We get an in-depth demonstration of how the cranks are made from a raw shape into an engine-ready piece of equipment. It’s unbelievable to see the difference in size between their smallest Speed 400 and their largest Rocket 3 crank!
The cranks leave Hinckley where they go to Thailand for engine construction, and then if the bike is to be constructed in the U.K., the engine will then make its way back to the England where it’ll be dropped in. Somehow, this is cheaper than just building the engines in the U.K.
From here, we are led through the secret doors of the R&D centre. This is where a lot of company secrets are held, and I don’t doubt they’re hiding a few secrets in here. The most exciting part of this section is the fact that they have a room full of all the latest technology, 3D designing and printing machines. But, next to that is a room full of old-school lathes with a bloke making parts by hand and modifying things the old-school way.
Everything is obviously hand-painted here. The paint section wasn’t running on the day I was there, but you’d usually be able to find expert painters here. We got to see some prototypes and upcoming tank designs/paint schemes. The whole area is simply massive, and you can tell a lot of pride is put into the paint jobs on these bikes.
We make our way down to the construction line. It should be noted that we most likely receive Australian bikes from a different factory (unless it’s a limited edition), but it’s still interesting to see these machines being constructed. The new Tiger range is built here for the European market, and the Speed Triple, Rocket 3, etc., will make its return to being constructed in Hinckley for the Euro market too. Their goal is to pump out 8-9000 bikes a year with the end goal of 21,000 and above.
All bikes that come off the Hinckley line get a quick test on the dyno to ensure all the electronics, brakes, engine, and clutch are in working order before they get shipped off to a customer, then it’s home free and ready to go to its new home.
We end the tour by checking out some of the special editions hanging up along with a few notable machines like the amazing TE-1 prototype, land speed bikes and some from Nick Bloor’s personal collection. The last stop is the Triumph gift shop, where I load up on all the little pins and memorabilia I’ll never be able to get my hands on in Australia.
There’s certainly a lot to take in during the factory tour, but I’ve managed to condense it down into a small feature. If you do end up in England, then this will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip. You don’t even have to spend the money on the factory tour to enjoy the place, but if you’ve made your way out there, then you may as well.
If you want to learn more about the tour and the factory, head here to grab your tickets and see what else is in store. They usually change some bits of the museum, so there’s always something fresh to see there. It’s definitely worth the trek out to the Midlands.
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