An exclusive peek – with Vimal Sumbly, Managing Director – Triumph Motorcycles India

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

― Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Fresh out of engineering college, the path ahead of me was full of possibilities – all these new things I could do, and new places I could be. How would I choose what was right for me, I thought. In a quiet unassuming moment, I decided to let my passion for a good machine drive me ahead. Now, nearly two decades later, life’s come a full circle. And what a remarkable journey it has been!

In the ten years that I spent at Bajaj Auto, I learnt the nitty-gritties of the two wheeler business – what worked, what didn’t and what made a motorbike durable. Constant innovation was the key to keeping the product fresh and appealing – I learnt. That’s when pro-biking was born. During these years, my passion and love for a ‘perfect biking experience’ only doubled, and believe it or not, the more that I rode, the more demanding I became of my machine. When the opportunity to work with Triumph presented itself, it didn’t take very long for me to say yes. I had to do it! After all, Triumph is THE iconic motorcycle brand. That was three years ago.

Three years of blazing from one milestone to the next – Triumph’s record growth has made it one of the fastest growing premium two-wheeler brands in the country. This success is not an overnight phenomenon, nor is it attributed to just my business acumen and market savvy as some people like to put it. The most important driving force behind this accelerated growth is a great range of bikes & accessories and our desire to give India the real riding experience that does not end with just buying the bike. We have carefully put together all our learning about the Indian luxury motorcycle market and have engineered that perfect ride for the discerning Indian rider. Our many achievements have been due to the strategic choices we have made, and also because of our commitment to creating THE RIDE and igniting the passion for it.

For those unfamiliar, a little lesson in history. Triumph is a 113-year old iconic British Motorcycle brand. It was established by John Bloor after the original company Triumph Engineering went into receivership. The new company (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd) continued Triumph’s record of motorcycle production since 1902. As of mid-2012, the company produced 49,000 motorcycles and employed 1,600 staff. Triumphs are legendary and at the center of the Classic British Motorcycles universe. Names like the Triumph Bonneville, TR6, Trophy, Tiger, the radical 3-cylinder Trident, and the awesome TT Specials are just part of the story. One of the first motorcycle companies in England, and the last one to go belly-up in 1983, Triumph Motorcycles have always been (since World War 2) the best-selling, and most well-known, and some would say the best looking of all the Classic British Motorcycles. These days you will spot a lot of celebrities zooming about on their favourite Triumph.

The Triumph family in India has grown from a single dealership in Bengaluru in 2013 to 14 dealerships across the country currently. We have won 29 prestigious auto awards already! It is always amazing to see customers and partners share the same passion and enthusiasm for super biking as Triumph. As a keen biker myself, ensuring a true riding experience with the most advanced technology and styling for all motorcycling enthusiasts, comes naturally to me.

Triumph Motorcycles India offers bikes across categories which caters to varying needs of bike enthusiasts. Globally, luxury bikes are noted for styling and riding features. For instance, you ride classic bikes with a straight posture. In cruise bikes, you are almost relaxed while in adventure bikes, you are literally standing and riding. In super sports bikes, your chin almost touches the fuel tank. The Bonneville range, a classic with its timeless style and modern technology, has been our best-selling model in India.  The adventure & touring bikes have also earned a lot of loyal customers in recent time. The thrilling acceleration of super sports series which includes the Daytona has already won many hearts.

We want to be associated with the luxury and lifestyle brand segment and do not want to be in the entry level category. There is a huge potential in the segment we intend to address where latent demand will eventually grow. In India, the luxury space is evolving. It is no longer restricted to the wealthy. A new aspiring Indian has emerged who is potentially our customer, be it a CEO or a young student. Today, luxury bikes have become an experiential product.

Ride fit for every type of rider

The perfect ride starts with “the right tool for the right job”. For India, it started with carefully hand picking the best of global brands and putting together an enviable line up of category winning brands across 5 broad motorcycle segments. The Triumph motorcycle lineup in India ranges from the iconic Modern Classics to the confidence inspiring Cruisers, the aggressive Roadsters, the exhilarating Super sports, and the versatile Adventure motorcycles – all designed to provide the ride suited to all types of riders.

The relationship between you and your bike is sacred, we understand that. Which is why we take a lot of time to customise your bike for your needs. This starts from the moment you enter our dealership. No one will ask you about the purpose of your visit, instead an ample amount of time is dedicated to give you details about each of our products. We even give you, our potential buyers, a platform to customise your bikes before making a purchase decision.

Being in the superior technology 500+ cc category, we encourage riders to experience the bikes through test rides. As I said earlier, we truly believe in creating a lasting connection with our customers and not just ending the relationship once they have purchased the motorcycles.

Best of technology, easily affordable

Triumph Motorcycles is never motivated by fads or gimmicks and applies its obsessive attention to detail to every single part, material and technology to deliver stunning handling, comfort and control. We are the only motorcycle brand in the country which has equipped all its bikes across the range with rider-focused technology like ABS and traction control as standard fitment. The engine range in India boasts of the critically acclaimed British Twins and the high performing Triples tailored to deliver the best ride for every type of riding.

Further, India-focused pricing and easy finance options has made it easy and possible for riders to own their dream Triumph and experience the truly exceptional technology every Triumph motorcycle comes with.

Promoting culture of safe riding

In India, our goal is to create a culture of safe riding. In the last three years, we have focused keenly on this aspect through the introduction of ride-focused technical clothing range and education of customers on the hows and whys of riding safe. The policy of “no ride without riding gear” at each of our 13 RAT chapters is helping make safe riding a habit for all Triumph owners in India. We also have a whole range of premium riding gear and accessories on offer so that our customers get to purchase them along without the bike, without having to hunt for it elsewhere.

Curated riding experiences

Passionate isn’t the word; Triumph Motorcycles is obsessed with riding. For Triumph owners, we provide specially curated riding experiences to ensure they are fully able to explore and experience their machines for the job they are designed for. In the racing arena, Triumph’s support for RACR and California Riding School continue to help riders make the most of their track machines, get more competitive and win races. In the last two seasons of JK Tyre National Racing Championship, Triumph Daytona 675R has dominated and become the undisputed National Champion in the 600cc category.

We also want to create something so engaging and fulfilling that even I would be forced to turn away from cricket, which is my other passion, and go out to attend such an event.  Riders Association of Triumph Packs exist to find great riding experiences that stimulate and thrill.

 Some of the other rides we organise on a regular basis in India are the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride (DGR) and The Independence Day Ride in association with Smile Foundation for saving the girl child. Celebrating Independence Day with over 300 Triumph owners from across the country all riding to raise funds for the education towards the girl child. Thank you Triumph riders for making this such a great success and making a difference.

The Tiger Training Academy

The Tiger Training Academy is another sincere effort to give back to our passionate riders with seasoned quality training and interactive sessions. It is also a great way of showcasing how much more their very own Tiger is capable of in terms of performance. It is a great way to reconnect with our customers in line with our goal to provide them with a holistic riding experience. It also offers a unique opportunity for our customers to better understand their motorcycles and get the right skills to ride safely – both on and off road. Participants also got a chance to interact with seasoned riders and other customers of Triumph Tiger. For new owners it certainly is an eye opening introduction to the capabilities of the bike and for seasoned riders like some of us, we got to understand a lot of technical details and capabilities of the bike as well.

Looking Forward…

Our key focus for 2017 is to re-inforce our positioning as a luxury motorcycle brand – get more enthusiasts to experience the unique design and technological superiority of our product, expand our dealer network, and introduce new products into the Indian market. Ultimately, we are looking at growing our sales by over 25% in the fiscal 2017.

We believe adventure and classic bikes will be at the forefront of motorcycling in India. The classic range is becoming a style statement here and overseas. The adventure bike segment is also taking off in a big way given that people want to travel with their friends and engage with the riding community.

By 2020, we intend to have 20-25 dealerships with greater penetration into Tier I and II cities. For now, I am just going to put on my favourite riding jacket and zoom off to work to make that happen!


Source: Ashutosh Raina in conversation with Vimal Sumbly