17 Jan 2011

For your (Triumph) eyes only

I find that eyes are very important, and I am talking about looking at them, not out from them.
Which of these two pairs of motorcycle eyes do you prefer? (I have put them in low definition as it kind of gives an impression of speed).

Bikers will of course by now have recognised these front views of the 2010 and 2011 models of the excellent Triumph Speed Triple. Above you have the latest model, and below the one that has been superseded.

Such details may seem of total insignificance to most people, but they can, and do, generate empassioned debates amongst aficianados. I have never owned or even ridden one of these bikes, but I find them very attractive, and, judging by all the accounts I have read from journalists, they are excellent machines. The latest model has, also according to the accounts I have read, been improved considerably in many ways over the previous one. Yet one of these modifications seems to me to be superfluous, and indeed counter-productive: the abandoning of the "double round-eye" look at the front for a rather clumsy and bulbous squashed pentagon shape applied to the new twin headlights. 

Important things can sometimes lie in details, and the twin round headlights of this Triumph were, to me at least, one of the key elements that signed its visual identity. They had elegant simplicity, which is a precious commodity in the often cluttered  and "plasticy" esthetics of modern bikes.

I am sure that the new lights produce a better and wider beam pattern or something like that, but couldn't that have been done without producing ugliness as well? The old adage "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" would seem to apply 100% to this case. Triumph motorcycles, whose phoenix-like resurrection thanks to to John Bloor is one of the miracle stories of the modern motorcycling business, have made small mistakes like this before, and this will certainly not damage them much. But I feel it is a mistake nonetheless. Singularity is a precious element of any marketing mix, and diminishing it, as I feel thay have done by this little stroke of the designer's pen, is not the way to go.

At any rate, if I were to buy one of these machines, I would ask the dealer to change the headlights for the old model. I hate riding at night anyway.