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2011 Triumph America First Ride

Thursday, February 24, 2011
The 2011 Triumph America is seen here in its Eclipse Blue and Crystal White colorway.
The 2011 Triumph America, seen here in its Eclipse Blue and Crystal White colorway, sports clean, simple lines and a classic look.
Cruising through Carefree, Arizona, the sky is full of nothing but sunshine, the desert air is cool and I’m heading out of town to the refined beat of an 865cc British Parallel Twin. I’m getting my first spin on a 2011 Triumph America and I’m noticing the nature of the bike matches the laissez-faire name of the town. It’s easy to just sit back and enjoy the ride on the America. The engine is Rico Suave smooth, the ergos are laid-back cool, and the mellow pipes are a welcome attribute in a town with 92 dB sound ordinance signs publicly posted.

At six-feet tall, the rider’s triangle on the 2011 America feels very compact. And it should, considering the thrust of revisions to the bike were aimed at ergonomics. The handlebars pull back closer to the rider and are 5.5-inches narrower than the bars used last year. The foot controls have likewise been moved in tighter and sit within a comfortable stretch. Triumph also dropped the seat height 1.2 inches to 27.1 inches making it easier for a wider range of riders to get both feet flat on the ground at a stop. The saddle is also new as a single-piece seat replaces last year’s two-piece version. It’s about hip-wide and provides a cushy bucket for the relaxed upright riding position.

Pushing the America back out of a parking spot, the bike feels lighter than its claimed 550-lb curb weight. The 865cc Parallel Twin is electronically fed and has an electric starter, but still utilizes a plunger-style choke. It’s an unseasonably cold 34-degree day in the desert and the choke comes in handy this particular morning. The pistons begin to pump within the healthy 90mm bore at a relatively short 68mm stroke but the engine is very sedate thanks to dual counterbalancers that cancel out almost all vibrations. Though it has the same 270-degree firing order as the Triumph Thunderbird Storm, there is a noticeable difference in cadence and character as the Storm feels more like a V-Twin.

Pulling in the light-action clutch lever and kicking the five-speed gearbox into first, the America’s yields a steady flow of usable torque a little higher in the rpm range than a Harley-Davidson Sportster. Delivery is smooth and even throughout the powerband with no flat spots, but it isn’t particularly wide. Power numbers are a claimed 53 lb-ft of torque at 3300 rpm with its 60 bhp coming in closer to the redline at 6800 rpm. At the throttle, the America’s Parallel Twin has mannerisms that remind me more of the zinging V-Four used in a Honda ST than a lumping V-Twin. On the open road, roll-on power is fairly moderate, but the engine’s best traits are definitely how smoothly it operates and how evenly it distributes its power. At speed, the bike is very quiet, with a mellow burble emanating from its twin chromed pipes.

The Americas engine cases and the perforated chrome fixtures in front of the airbox are cues that hark back to classic Triumph vertical Twins. You can get a decent amount of lean out of the 2011 Triumph America before you start scraping hard parts. A single-piece seat on the 2011 Triumph America replaces the two-piece seat of last year.
(L) An air-cooled, DOHC 865cc Parallel Twin sits at the heart of the America. (M) You can get a decent amount of lean out of the 2011 Triumph America before you start scraping hard parts. (R) The latest version has a new single-piece seat.
Running through the gears is a treat thanks to a transmission that matches the character of the engine – smooth. Gears engage quickly and quietly with a short throw. Its gearing is somewhat compact and short-shifting works best to stay in the meat of the powerband. The action of the wet, multi-plate clutch likewise is smooth and reliable which makes take-offs from a dead stop easy.

The 2011 Triumph America has a light feel at the bars. Narrow and pulled-back, it’s easy to control the action of the front tire with just a little push. The America’s 41mm Kayaba fork is set out at a 33.4-degree rake angle but the bike turns in without much effort. You can get a decent amount of lean out of the America before you start scraping hard parts and it’s stable when angled over. Overall, the bike is very manageable, not aggressively sporty but very rider-friendly.

The engine on the 2011 Triumph delivers power smoothly and efficiently. Dual counterbalancers keep vibes to a minimum.
The engine on the 2011 Triumph delivers power smoothly and efficiently. Dual counterbalancers keep vibes to a minimum.
The Kayaba fork is beefy for a bike this size and in our 40-mile stint at its controls, we never blew the 4.7-inches of travel on the front. The high-profile tire on the front is 20mm-wider than last year and contributes to the solid feel of the front end. Twin Kayaba spring shocks anchor the rear and are preload adjustable. The action on the rear suspension wasn’t as responsive as the front, but that potentially could have been remedied with a stiffer setting. For a rider weighing 225 pounds, the stock settings were a little soft and a few hard bumps blew through the compression. If we had more than a 45-minute ride on the America we would have worked to dial in the rear more, but our time in the saddle was limited.

Triumph designers claimed they tried to give the America a “fat-bike” footprint. Its fenders are full and valanced, its tires are thick and its 5.1-gallon tank is much wider than the one used just a few years back. The tank also creates an optical illusion with its two-tone paint scheme which makes it look like it has the knee cut-outs of the original tank. The America's engine cases and the perforated chrome fixtures in front of the airbox are cues that hark back to classic Triumph Vertical Twins. In the 2011 version, Triumph tidied up the rear by removing the big mounting bracket used for the passenger footpegs.

A quick-release windshield is on the list of accessories for the Triumph America.
A quick-release windshield is on the list of accessories for the 2011 Triumph America. The analog speedo is small but mounted high enough that it's easily visible.
The round analog speedo between the Americas bars is mounted high and easily visible.
Instrumentation on the 2011 Triumph America is split between a round analog speedo mounted between bars and a chrome tank console. The dial and numbers on the speedo are easily visible and a digital readout serves as an odometer and trip meter. There are also a couple of indicator lights embedded in the face of the speedo including low fuel and check engine. The tank console houses its own assortment of indicator lights – a neutral indicator, oil temp warning light, a turn signal indicator and a hi-beam button. The hand controls are four-way adjustable, a feature you wouldn’t expect from a cruiser that lists for only $7999. But the plastic control housings are cheap, more in line with what you’d expect in a bike at that price. Our final grievance is with the placement of the ignition under the left leg. It’s impossible to see sitting on the bike and difficult to locate without looking directly at it. Sure, this is something owners will quickly acclimate to, but until one reaches that point, access is cumbersome.

Available accessories for the 2011 Triumph America include a quick-release windshield, sissy bars, saddlebags and a variety of leather and chrome trim. Sitting in the tubular steel cradle frame, the Parallel Twin opens up the area underneath the tank more than a V-Twin. Otherwise, the America’s styling cues are clean and classic. After our first venture on the America, we found it to be a very manageable bike highlighted by a smooth engine and gearbox. The rider’s triangle is compact and the seat height low. It fills the niche as a gateway bike to Triumph ownership, but leans more to the conservative side than its 865cc running mate, the Speedmaster. But Triumph is aware that variety is the spice of life, and variations of the theme should appeal to the full-spectrum of riders. The Speedmaster is more for a ride on the wild side, while the America is a ride on the mild.
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Technical Specifications
The 2011 Triumph America
2011 Triumph America Specs
Engine: 865cc Air-cooled, DOHC, Parallel-Twin
Bore/Stroke: 90 x 68mm
Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Final Drive: Chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 5-speed 
Front Cast Aluminum alloy 12-spoke 16 x 3.0in
Rear Cast Aluminum alloy 12-spoke 15 x 4.0in
Front 130/90 R16
Rear 170/80 B15
Front: Kayaba 41mm fork; 120mm travel
Rear: Kayaba chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 96mm rear wheel travel
Front - 310mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Rear - 285mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Length: 95.2 in.
Width: (handlebars) 32.3in.
Height: 46.2in.
Seat Height: 27.1 in.
Wheelbase: 63.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 33.4-degrees/155mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.1 gal.
Wet Weight (claimd): 550 lbs
Colors: Phantom Black, Eclipse Blue and Crystal White
Price: $7,999 (single color); $8,199 (two-tone)

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busterb   September 5, 2013 01:56 PM
I've had a 2004 sportster 883 and loved it, however I now own a 2011 america and although the Harley had more character the america is a better finished off bike and an overall better bike. Finishing is a 100% better on the America and the ride is far superior. My try the Thunderbird next. With all the competion out there in the cruiser class Harley are quickly fallen behind. Such a shame as Triumph did the same in the early 70's
Dan225   July 19, 2011 01:01 PM
I just picked up a 2011 Triumph America a few weeks ago and so far I love it. I've been wondering about the top speed being around 110 mph, however. On a long highway trip you could be cruising near 80 mph for extended periods of time. Given that you are approaching the top speed of the bike at that point is there much risk of damaging the engine?
Smokey3214   April 1, 2011 04:28 PM
Beautiful bike. Don't like the one piece seat, though. Nice change from all the white bread V-twins out there. They all look alike.
Ray   March 1, 2011 01:10 PM
They ruined the look of this bike when they changed the tank in 2008. Now it looks like a Suzuki.
Scoot   February 27, 2011 11:29 AM
Very nice bike but I must admit that I still like the Thunderbird better. If I was in the cruiser market the Triumph Thunderbird or the Kawasaki Vulcan would top my list.
uber.twin   February 25, 2011 12:22 PM
why won't they let the Cruiser to the Americans and stop embarrassing themselves doing something they're no good at
Mike in WV   February 25, 2011 11:16 AM
Very clean looking bike. I like the lines!