Monday, April 10, 2017

An Open Letter to Triumph Motorcycle LTD re: Dealer Closures

10 April 2017

Mr. John Bloor, CEO
Triumph Motorcycles Ltd
Normandy Way
Hinkley, Leicestershire LE 10 3BZ
United Kingdom

Greetings Mr. Bloor:

I am writing to express my disappointment in the loss of the Triumph franchise by my local dealer Santa Rosa (California) BMW Triumph.  My interactions with the dealership have always been positive and professional whether when servicing my BMW, consigning my Moto Guzzi or purchasing my Triumph Thunderbird.

Rumor on the street suggests that the loss of Santa Rosa’s franchise – and that of other small dealers – is related to a requirement on the part of Triumph that dealers maintain a greater minimum floor space, locate closer to other motorcycle or automobile dealerships and operate their businesses six days per week.

While such requirements make sense and may prove beneficial for Triumph sales in larger markets, smaller dealers are confronted with simple economic question: meet the requirements and lose profit margin or kill the brand for the area.  Sadly, it appears that many dealerships are opting for the latter.   As a result, enthusiasts such as myself, must scramble to find authorized service or to simply drool over a new Bobber or Bonne 1200.

The owners of Triumph motorcycles with whom I have come into contact are passionate about their machines, the brand and the legacy.  Corporate decisions that limit small dealers’ access to Triumph cause me to wonder whether the passion riders hold for their Tigers and Bonnevilles is shared reciprocally by Triumph Ltd. toward their riding customers.

I look forward to the day when the Triumph brand returns to California’s North Bay region.



  1. We are pretty good friends with the owner of the former Triumph shop in Eugene, Oregon. Rod got the letter and wouldn't play ball so he lost the Triumph brand. Hansen's in Medford, Oregon were the same. In fact they had their letter posted on their website so the world could see how they were treated by Triumph. It has since been taken down and they've transitioned to all BMW.

    Our only Triumph dealers in the State are in Portland 89 miles away. Because of the distance and how they treated their store owners I wouldn't ever buy another Triumph no matter how much I love the bikes. Sad, but true.

  2. Good luck.

    A few years ago, we had two Triumph dealers in Colorado Springs. Now, there are none. Not sure what happened. After talking to the remaining parts/service folks at both dealers, there gave me similar reasons.

    Good luck.

  3. So, where do I write?

    My purchase of a T120 is completely unknown to Triumph, and there is no dealer in Vietnam that I know of. In fact, should there be one, I wonder by what feat of luck we might come across each other: they won't write to me for sure.

    So please tell me: where should I write?

    1. I addressed my concern to Mr. Bloor using the following:

      NON-UK ENQUIRIES For enquiries relating to Triumph outside the UK and Ireland please contact the Triumph-authorised distributor for your territory. You can find these details on their website. Otherwise you can contact the Triumph factory on +44 (0) 1455 251700 or write to Triumph Motorcycles Limited, Normandy Way, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 3BZ.

      Not sure it'll get to him...

  4. Santa Rosa BMW is closing its Triumph dealership?
    Why, why, why??
    It was one of the strong selling points for buying my Bonneville!
    Having a local dealership is my security in knowing that service and parts are minutes away.
    This is a major, major bummer in my motorcycling life.

    1. Me too. The major reason I sold the Guzzi (a wonderful bike with all kinds of mojo) was because my local Guzzi dealer stretched the term "local" to the absurd.

      Curiously, the motorcycle dealer closest to me was Santa Rosa Triumph - not the singular reason I bought the T-bird, but certainly a consideration.

  5. If you want a letter to go to Mr. Bloor, put his name at the top of the Triumph factory address in England that you see fit. Any company will have an internal mail system. If you worked for Triumph, would you dare to open the company president/owner's mail without his permission? No, you would pass the letter along to him.

    The letter should get to Mr. Bloor's secretary who is likely charged with opening Mr. Bloor's mail with instructions from him to give him mail that he, personally should see and to send other mail to the appropriate department better fit to handle it. You should expect that department to either provide you with a reply to your concern or else ignore you at their peril regarding your continued patronage. If you, as a Triumph employee received a letter passed along from the company president's secretary, would you dare to ignore it?

    More stringent dealer requirements and restricted parts availability from Triumph headquarters that may cause some marginal operations to cease existing to enhance those remaining is a gamble by Triumph in hope that they will eventually come out of this with increased sales. You can believe that this was not done without running it by Mr. Bloor because if it fails without his blessing, heads will roll. Harley recently went through this; imposed new, higher standards on their dealerships. Cadillac talked about cutting out marginal dealerships as they had and still have way more dealers than BMW or Benz. The discussion included making each remaining dealer more prosperous and therefore financially better able to serve their customers. I don't know if they pulled it off as the number of Caddy dealers where I live is only one fewer that I know of. Chevrolet tried to do it several years ago but from what a dealer employee told me, their dealers resisted; said that GM marketing people at headquarters did not understand small town buyers. If small town "A" has a Chev dealer and small town "B" dealer 12 miles away has a Ford dealer, each town will tend to buy locally.

    Mr. Bumpa's post at the beginning of this thread is an excellent example, in my opinion, of how a letter should be written. The letter is to the point, does not threaten, is calm in tone and makes clear what might happen if the writer's concerns are not addressed in a satisfactory way.

    Thanks for reading, I'm off my soapbox for now.

  6. Nice letter. Send it if it makes you feel better. However, I've written two such letters to the morons at Triumph and I conclude they simply don't give a @hit what you or anybody else thinks about their business practices. After the second letter I sent, I received a rather curt reply that they know what they're doing and we peons should just butt out of their business.

    Well, that's fine in the short term but if they continue to march through small towns tearing down Triumph dealers it will probably bite them in the longer term.

    My solution is to enjoy the two Triumphs I have but shop elsewhere the next time I feel the urge for a new machine. didn't their new attitude about customers help that sales figure?

  7. I bought my first Triumph in 1996 and quit a few since then, maybe 18-19.

    My 2013 Tiger Explorer is the last Triumph I will buy. Given I bought Triumphs because of uniqueness, rarity and devoted dealers and the original rat raids. I do not see Triumph doing anything but the typical "we know what you want, what you need and you will like it" response to peon buyers.

    I rode many Jap bikes over the years and except for the lack of uniqueness and soul they were like a Timex watch. Beat the crap out of them and they just keep running. Oh, there are more than a dozen Jap bike dealers near me and I buy lots of motorcycle gear and service (state inspections for my bikes with out an appointment three weeks in advance) from both a Honda/Ducati and Yamaha near dealer just down the road.

    Having written and called Triumph America about many of the issues voiced here, I received one response from a tech/customer service rep that was so prompt, factual, helpful and polite that I wrote a thank you/good job letter.

    The rep was the only response I got. Waste of time and effort on my part to try and correspond with Triumph.

    Point is, this is not the Triumph company of 20 years ago nor even 10 years ago. My next bike either this year or early next will be Japanese. And the only Triumphs I will keep are two 1999 Daytonas, a 955 Daytona and a 1200 SE Daytona. Just me I guess.

    1. All of which makes me wonder whether the corporate culture changed when the CEO responsibilities went from John Bloor to his son Nick. Also, having read just a tiny bit about Bloor's holdings, I'm wondering if Triumph is simply a pawn in a portfolio - which, if that's the case, makes me sad and a bit angry, feeling as if I and other enthusiasts have been played for fools.

  8. I wrote Triumph when the dealer in Lancaster, PA lost their franchise.
    My argument was it's best to have a LOT of dealerships for the brand, their response was fewer big ones are better.
    I disagree but not my company, not my call.

  9. I've owned BMWs since the '70s, and that company is nothing like what it once was, either. In my opinion, BMW has lost its way.

  10. Everyone has their own business model, and it appears that Triumph Corp prefers the high cap dealers in populated areas. I don't want to name any names, but I heard from a direct source that one current dealer was expected to move closer to the city center! This is the kind of corporate policy that is devoid of any kind of sense of who buys their bikes. I would wager that MOST of the folks that can afford a $14,000 motorcycle live in the burbs, and they only go into the city center if they have to, its NO fun! Someone at Triumph (?) should know that American cities are not like European cities (yes, Ive been to Europe & lived there too), although they would like to be, and now immitate the Euro lifestyle as best they can. There are some well to do city folk, but its not the norm in the USA of today. How can this be mysterious??,
    You go look where Jag dealers locate, or any high end transportation sales venue, its in the burbs, where THE MONEY IS.

    While you're writing to Mr. Bloor, it would be fitting to mention that it was the small Mom&Pop Triumph dealers all over the USA that were responsible for building the brand name and creating the "legend." Not to mention they had to deal with some real mechanical puzzles along the way! Mr. Bloor and company have made a great name even better, but all that goodwill from the 60's and 70's is certainly worth recognition. Both of the dealers that I bought my first Triumphs from, are gone. Not forgotten.

  11. I was at one of the nearby Triumph dealership yesterday. They are a multi-brand dealership. The number of Triumphs on display in their show room has shrunk in recent years. I asked about it and the salesman told me that they aren't selling well. I know for a fact that they are selling well at other dealerships in the regions, but I digress.

    He said that Triumph wants them to upgrade the display area in their showroom. Triumph wants wooden floors in the showroom and in the service area. Also he told me that with other manufacturers the get the bikes for 3 to 6 months interest free on their floor plan but that Triumph charges interest from day 1. His contention was that the upgrades to the display area were required by 2020 and in his opinion this dealership would be out of the Triumph business because of these requirements.

    That said he had some other facts wrong. For example he said Triumph had 500 dealerships in the US. I don't think they have half of that, so perhaps I should take what he said with a grain of salt.

  12. Man, that sucks. So,I guess San Raphael is now the closest?

    1. It appears to be, but judging from the comments others have made re: Triumph corporate/dealer relations, one must wonder, "For how long?"

    2. I believe San Raphael only has Triumph and Ducati so I doubt they can afford to lose Triumph, where Santa Rosa had both Triumph and BMW, and can probably do just fine with BMW only.

      I guess we'll see. But I agree, having a dealer only a couple of miles away is far more comforting that over 50 miles. It definitely makes you question whether you'd buy a bike with that situation in the future.

    3. I think you're correct. Plus, having taken my daughter's Duc to the San Rafael dealer when it was known as Hattar's, I believe their location (amidst an "auto-row") meets more closely the criteria rumored to be among Triumph's bug-a-boos that others can't match.

      PS: There's a Yamaha that's catching my eye, right about now...

  13. There are four Triumph dealerships in Iowa(that I know of) and I've been to all 4, none of them have wooden floors and all of them seam to be in fine standing with Triumph. Two of them have been selling Triumphs for a long time, at least back to the 70's, maybe earlier but I wasnt looking then. I'd be surprised if there are 500 dealers though, but I'd guess there are at least half that many.

    I can ride two different directions and be at a HD shop within 14 minutes but I'm not buying one because of the convenience, and if I were in the market for another Triumph I'd still buy one even if the farthermost Triumph dealer was the only one left in the state.

  14. Ive only owned 3 Triumphs since 1999, I still have 2 and most likely I will hold on to them, wont be buying a 4th. There isn't a model that appeals to me and I don't like the way things are being run. Dealerships whether big or small closing is never a good thing for business, no matter what kind of crap Triumph is trying to feed everyone. So Ill sit back and watch Triumph dig their own grave.

  15. My local dealer (50 miles) has expressed the same concerns with Triumph's demands and their sustainability as a single-line dealership due to these demands. I think business has been good since the release of the water-cooled twins, and more recently the Bobber, but I know they are wanting to add another manufacturer or two for long-term stabality.

    I don't care about wooden floors (Indian is already doing this with their showrooms) but I wouldn't complain if business hours were extended to six days. I was told the mandate was a six-day business week with with one day having a later close.

  16. Wow. I was just by there today and thought something looked off. They are closed on Mondays so I just chocked it up to that but now that I see your note I can explain the freshly exposed paint where the Triumph sign used to be. Bummer. I guess this leaves us San Rafael.

    1. I guess the good new is this: Once the SMART Train gets up and running, I can ride down to San Rafael, drop off the bike for service, walk a few blocks to the commuter rail station and ride the train north toward Santa Rosa and home. I'm always up for a good train ride...