Did you know Triumph Motorcycles run a state-of-the-art training and adventure experience center in south Wales? No? That’s the problem. Well, maybe not much of a problem for Triumph since they seem to be running at near capacity out of the space they’re in. Just outside Ystradgynlais (Welsh names and words make me happy this is written and not a video), just northwest of Cardiff, sits an unassuming world class ADV headquarters just a few miles from a rented forest in which Triumph runs its training.
When I got back from a day of splashing through the mud in Triumph’s personal adventure playground the only criticism I could think of was, why was no one talking about this place? I’ve heard mutterings of what Triumph had going on, but not often. And, if folks had heard in passing of the Triumph Adventure Experience, most people, aside from those who have attended, likely have no clue just how much of a top notch operation it is. As I read the letters taped to the wall of the instructor area of the HQ, it became quickly apparent that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
“The instruction was absolutely brilliant, I can’t express enough how impressed we all were… Never in all the experiences that I have ever had, have I been in receipt of such confidence inspiring tuition. The riding and coaching skill is second to none” — Gareth
What was most perhaps most inspiring about the wall of thank you letters was how proud of them the instructors and facility managers seem to be. And they should be. They absolutely make the experience. The building is just a building without quality people to manage it. Matt Reed, the Operations Manager and spearhead of the program is hungry to provide the best experience possible while constantly keeping the operation in a state of evolution. We’re told there are big plans for the coming year at the Triumph Adventure Experience center, and with a guy like Matt at the helm, I don’t doubt it.
The Triumph Adventure Experience Center
What is it? Well, it’s all in the name, really. Triumph Motorcycles have put together a facility and routes though the surrounding area in south Wales to provide visitors with varying levels of training while also offering one and two day programs which are more focused on the entire experience of adventure riding rather than just the training.
Customers are able to choose one of three levels for the two-day training classes. Tiger 1200, Tiger 800, and Scrambler 1200 XEs are all available to use for the training. Lowered options are also available in certain models. Level 1 covers the basics of riding an adventure bike off-road, such as low-speed control, braking, hills (basic), trail riding, momentum techniques, and ruts with Level 2 and 3 gaining in difficulty. Level 2 includes a recap of Level 1, using ABS, traction control, and riding modes, intermediate bike control, ruts, water crossing, advance hills, braking turns and sliding, preloading and lofting the front end, braking downhill, intermediate trail riding, and a Level 3 taster. Level 3 compounds on all of this while ramping up the technical trail riding and scenarios.
As for the experiences, there are currently three offerings: a single day 120-mile adventure ride or a two-day 240 mile adventure ride. Both of which contain approximately 20% off-road riding that increases in difficulty throughout the ride. Also offered are “light off-road” days on the Triumph Street Scrambler. These are geared more toward fire roads and other areas where ground clearance might not be as crucial.
Also of note, the motorcycle rental price is included in the cost of the program without the requirement of a hefty deposit or hold on the customer’s credit card.
So you’ve picked your poison. What now?
The Morning Of
Setting the tone of the experience is Meg and her team. They handle all of the administrative business while answering any questions, including working with the instructors to be sure you’ve been placed in the right level and group to ensure you get what you want out of the program. If you’re having trouble deciding what level you should sign up for, instructors are happy to discuss your riding background to help place you correctly.
Everyone arrives in the morning at the center and is welcomed with tea and coffee and given the chance to chat with each other, the instructors, and facilities managers. At this point, everyone has registered prior to arriving and, if needed, has rented gear. The Triumph Adventure experience rents everything from off-road boots and body armor to waterproof outer layers. The only thing they do not rent at this time is helmets.
After everyone has arrived, the group convenes in the briefing room. The Instructors go through a presentation of the motorcycles, what to expect, a little bit about themselves, and of course, the riding area.
Once finished with the presentation, customers are directed to the locker rooms – of which they have men’s and women’s – where, if they rented gear, it will all be placed inside a locker with their name on it ready to go. The group convenes outside for a rider’s meeting and some quick notes on the bikes they’ll be riding. Then the group heads off to the training ground, a privately rented forest that is gated and locked during the program to keep others out (aside from some potential equestrian traffic).
After riding to the forest from the HQ, the instructors use cleared areas to focus on everything from clutch modulation and braking to using the bike’s momentum to carry over obstacles and hills. Tight turning maneuvers are also practiced and shortly after the fundamentals have been covered, a trail ride begins giving riders the opportunity to put what they’ve just learned into action. For level 1, the trail ride seems to stick to mostly gravel and sometimes muddy fire roads, but all are easily handled with instruction from the staff.
Getting into level 2, things get a bit more interesting as riders have the opportunity to check out smaller side trails as well as the muddy gravel roads to get to them. Also included are a few rocky climbs and descents that are fairly straight forward. You’ll want to have the basics mastered from level 1 to properly enjoy just how much fun level 2 can be. And, depending on the bi-polar Welsh weather, the levels can begin to mix into each other as heavy rain can change the difficulty quickly.
Level 3 seems to be in a constant state of fluidity. I was told there aren’t that many folks from the UK area who attend the program that are riding at such a level. They tell me the lack of areas to ride off-road in England coupled with a disinterest for doing hard enduro routes on 600-pound motorcycles make the level 3 programs hard to fill up. “They don’t run as often,” says my instructor Keith.
I was told the long muddy hill strewn with rocks, ruts, and bumps that took me three attempts to conquer was a level 3 hill. I’m not sure if that really was the case or if Keith was trying to boost my morale. He had already helped me pick up the bike twice and was kind enough to let me give it a go again. It may not have been pretty, but I conquered the hill.
A couple of tea or coffee breaks are also included throughout the day as well as lunch.
The 120- and 240-mile experiences have a similar departure scenario while spanning a much larger swath of the countryside around the Brecon Beacons, an absolutely gorgeous place to ride, no matter the weather. The latter of which also includes an overnight stay. This part of the Triumph Adventure Experience I’m told may be receiving some updates as well as the possibility of new tours in different countries. Time will tell.
A Hard Day’s Riding
After a long and hopefully somewhat challenging day, riders reconvene at the HQ. Tea and coffee is had, stories are exchanged, and the piss is taken. After a hard day of riding or falling in the mud there’s nothing better than a hot shower. And the Triumph Adventure Experience has a few of ’em. Being able to shower after a hard day’s rockin’ in the mud on a big bike is a godsend. Kudos to Triumph for building showers at the center.
There isn’t much in the world that can bring a group of people together like a nice difficult day of riding off-road. I liken it in a small way to those who have been in the military. The bond made from enduring hardship together and helping each other through is about as strong as it gets. Again, on a different level, that’s what these groups come back into the Triumph Adventure Experience feeling. After talking to Meg at the end of my day of riding, she says it’s one of her favorite parts, to see the crew rumble back into the center covered in mud, smiling from ear to ear, joking and laughing like old friends.
Right now, the Adventure Experience center is keeping busy simply from word of mouth and dealers in the UK. After running through the entire program, the only thing I could fault is Triumph’s marketing of the experience and facilities. I feel they’re selling themselves short with the lack of awareness around the Adventure Experience. With the time and money that has been invested into top level instructors like Keith, renting and grooming a forest to run the classes in, and the premium facility it’s all run out of, you’d think the brand would want everyone to know what they’ve built. Hey Triumph, do yourself a favor and put some marketing effort behind the Triumph Adventure Experience! You’ve built an incredible product and team. Let everyone know about it!
|The Triumph Adventure Experience Pricing|
|£499||2-Day Triumph Tiger Level 1 Off Road Training Experience|
|£499||2-Day Triumph Tiger Level 2 Off Road Training Experience|
|£499||2-Day Triumph Tiger Level 3 Off Road Training Experience|
|£299||1-Day Triumph Tiger 800 or 1200 Experience|
|£299||1-Day Triumph Scrambler Experience|
|£649||2-Day Triumph Gravel Tours Off-Road Experience|