Harley Davidson and Triumph are the beasts that motorcycle lovers look up to. While Harley is American, Triumph is British. These fuel guzzling bikes have become symbols of adventure, superior lifestyle, and comfort. Both these brands are known for manufacturing high quality heavy motorcycles that are stylish, reliable, comfortable, and smooth to handle. Both Harley Davidson and Triumph motorcycles come with hefty price tags, giving their owners the privilege of a luxurious lifestyle.
Harley Davidson and Triumph have their niche markets. Both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. So, pitting one against the other is really not possible. However, I’ll try to give a few pointers to let you decide for yourself.
Triumph Vs. Harley Davidson
Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. (Triumph) has a wider range of heavy motorcycles on offer. Their range includes cruisers, street fighters, sports bikes, sport tourers, and retro bikes. Harley Davidson (Harley) on the other hand manufactures just two types of heavy motorcycles: long haul tourers and cruisers (also called bar hoppers).
Harley Davidson built 883 Sportster, the all time best one-person bar hopper. The iconic Electra Glide Ultra is essentially a long haul luxury tourer from the Harley stable. All other models built by Harley have quality and satisfaction between these two extremes. Therefore, until and unless you are going for Electra Glide Ultra or 883 Sportster, Triumph seems to offer you a wider choice of quality motorbikes than Harley Davidson.
Consumer Reports National Research Center’s Annual Product Reliability Survey has pointed out that Harley and Triumph customers have reported 26% and 29% repairs or serious problems respectively. Though Harley’s performance on this parameter is slightly better than that of Triumph, surprisingly both performances lag significantly behind Yamaha (11% repairs or serious problems), Suzuki (12%), Honda (12%), and Kawasaki (15%).
The survey result also gave Harley-Davidson a higher overall-reader-score in terms of motorcycle satisfaction than that of Triumph. While Harley got 72, Triumph got 63. The survey parameters included owner satisfaction, comfort, handling, styling, fun factor, acceleration, and cost of maintenance & repair.
When it comes to performance, Harley and Triumph fans have their own versions of truth. Most persons having both Harley and Triumph motorcycles in their stable say that the latter has a better performance than that of the former in almost all comparable motorcycle categories.
The closest comparison is said to be between HD 883 Sportster and the basic Triumph Bonneville. Both of these motorcycles are virtually the same in terms of performance. As the bike-category gets bigger or heavier, the performance differential also expands. As the Triumph doesn’t build anything in the Electra Glide category, comparison can be done between Harley-Davidson Rocket III Tourer and Triumph Road King. Road King is definitely way ahead of Rocket III Tourer.
The owners who have Harley-Davidson motorcycles in their garage generally highlight the following points:
– Harley motorcycles are mainly built for the wide (four or six lanes) straight highways where you need least effort to turn, maneuver, or brake suddenly.
– On Indian city roads, pedestrians crossing the road, a cow walking through the street, and other unforeseen events are a daily occurrence. Harleys are not meant for cruising through such hustle bustle and congestion. You can’t use them on city roads, as these heavy machines easily get too hot and you may need full riding gear. If you are going to your office through jam packed city roads, drive anything but a Harley.
– Many people report that Harleys are highly unpredictable. You never know when they might suddenly stop, and that too for no reason.
– Harleys come with miscellaneous wirings and batteries that can be a reason for headache. As these machines are so heavy, fixing them can be a really tough job (no matter whether you are in the middle of the road or working in the garage).
– Harleys have very large turning radius, and it can pose a problem when either parking your motorcycle in a mall or taking it out of a mall.
– If you are considering taking your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to tour the Deccan plateau, hills, or Himalayas, just scrap the plan. Harleys are simply not meant for that.
Triumph Motorcycles Limited and Harley-Davidson are both fuel-guzzling beasts and are best suited for the highways. Riding these monsters is a part of an adventurous lifestyle and the craze to experience the thrill of highway driving. Both Triumph and Harley are on an equal footing. Plus and minus points are there on both sides. Motorcycle aficionados are fiercely divided between both groups, and they don’t want to hear anything bad about their preferred bike. If you want to taste the riding comfort of these monsters on highways, buy the one that suits you best (definitely consider the points mentioned above because they are real life case studies from real riders of Triumph and Harley-Davidson).