Triumph America Problems: 5 Known Issues (Explained)

A quick browse around for the best motorcycles will usually pop out one or more Triumph models. Triumph has outdone itself countless times by delivering some of the most reliable motorcycles around.

This holds for the Triumph America. The bike gives an all-around stellar performance for both beginners and old-timers who love motorcycles. Still, no bike is perfect, and America has undergone a few rounds of troubleshooting over the years.

Triumph is proactive about making adjustments, but we’ve analyzed the problems other owners have experienced how they solved them

Here are a few of the issues one might experience with Triumph America:

1. Problems with the Igniter:

For a few years, Triumph Americas were known to have a frustrating issue with their  Ignition Control Units, also known as Igniters, sometimes spelled “ignitor.”

The issue stemmed from the Ignition Control Unit’s location- to was kept under the rear of the seat and, when sat upon, the unit would get disrupted or even permanently damaged.

Taller drivers ran into problems since they sit further back in their saddle, and riders with passengers experienced issues.

Symptoms of a Failing Ignition Igniter:

  • Engine misfires,
  • Power decreases,
  • Acceleration lags,
  • Fuel efficiency drops, 
  • Check Engine Light comes on,
  • Motorcycle has problems starting,
  • The motorcycle dies when hitting bumps in the road.

Triumph has redesigned the bikes in recent years to detour issues with the ignition ignitor’s location, but if you’re on an older model, be vigilant about these symptoms.

If your ignition igniter/ignitor goes out, there’s not much to do besides replacing it. A new unit from Triumph averages around $600, but an aftermarket unit costs less than half of that, and some have programmable performance enhancement features.

Replacing the unit yourself isn’t particularly difficult, but tampering with electrical on a vehicle can cause bigger issues if you’re unsure about what you’re doing; be honest about your skillset and contact a Triumph-literate mechanic if you’re less than confident in your ability to swap out the bad igniter yourself.

2. Triumph America Starting Problems:

A complaint we’ve encountered often with Triumph America owners is problems with the bike starting. We’ve all heard the story. The rider presses the starter but only hears a click.

These could mean a few different things; let’s jump into the problem for other America owners.

It’s important to determine what part of the bike is clicking.  Also, scrutinize what else is going on with the bike when the button is pressed.

A strong click, enhanced by a buzzing sound, tends to originate in the starter solenoid. This is one of the most common issues we hear about.

The blame is usually low battery voltage from an old, blasted battery. Sometimes it’s as simple as loose battery connections; that’s always the first thing I check.

The sound results from the solenoid coil attempting to operate from a much lower voltage than the suggested 12 Volts, causing the already weak battery voltage to weaken even more. This causes the solenoid coil to de-energize, cutting the current to the starter motor and the battery, now freed of the burden, raises its voltage slightly, and the same cycle repeats- causing that”buzz.”

A weaker click is indicative of problems with the starter relay, aka the “headlamp relay.”

To diagnose the starter relay as the culprit:

  1. Remove the left side panel.
  2. Put a finger over the relay casing.
  3. Press the starter button- the click will be more distinct, and the action of the relay will be felt through the case.
  4. Assess what else happens when you press the button.
  5. If the headlight turns off, this is fine; the relay function is to disconnect the headlight load and divert its power momentarily to the starter solenoid coil.
  6. Inspect the lights. If they don’t dim or flicker, the chances are that the diverted current is not going anywhere; you’ve either got a faulty solenoid coil or damaged relay contacts. These relays aren’t always sealed properly. Over time dirt, water, and oil collects on the contacts, creating resistance. This reduces the current to the solenoid coil to a level where it can’t operate.
  7. Clean all these relay contacts. Re-install and experience sharper lights and consistent starting.

Finally, if it’s not the battery or the starter relay, it might be a malfunctioning alarm. When the alarm on the bike is broken, the bike switches off the starter as an anti-theft mechanism. This renders the bike unresponsive.

Alarms for the Triumph aren’t costly and can get replaced under warranty.

The main problem with this was that the alarm is usually never checked or checked last when running a diagnosis.

3. Uncomfortable Seat:

Comfort is one thing that adds to the overall riding experience on a Triumph America. The bike’s handling and power make it a fantastic bike to ride, but not so much for the seat. The seat is one part of the motorcycle that owners complain about.

Motorcycle seats should be as comfortable as possible for the rider, but the Triumph America seat lacks that department.

The seat has been reported to feel a bit clunky and not as comfortable for long rides.

Riders who rode the bike for long periods of time experienced hardness on the Triumph America seat. Other owners also complained that the bike seat was a bit higher than the average cruiser.

One of the great things about Triumph is that parts and accessories are readily available. This means that installing a custom or after-market seat isn’t much of a hassle.

You can get a seat that is a lot more comfortable and reduces fatigue on long rides.

After-market seats come in various heights, textures, styles, and firmness; have fun finding the right seat for you!

4. Faulty Pick-up Coil Issue:

A few years ago, a string of Triumph America owners encountered issues with their pick-up coil. The issue turned out to be faulty instructions on what the ideal gap-size was. To explain what that means, let’s start with the basics.

What is a Pick-Up Coil?

The pick-up coil, or ignition coil, serves as a high voltage transformer. It builds the ignition system’s primary voltage up from 12 volts to thousands.

The firing voltage required to create a spark that spans the spark plug’s electrode gap depends on many factors that are constantly changing. Put simply, the ignition coil kicks in to meet that demand.

Ignition coils are built to be reliable, but they can still bomb. Heat and vibration can cause shorts or damage its inner windings.

However, the most frequent culprit for coil death is the energy overload created from bad spark plugs/plug wires. It’s important to make inspecting and changing your spark plugs a part of routine maintenance.

Symptoms of a bad pick up coil:

  • Difficult starting
  • Misfiring
  • Backfiring
  • Rough Idle
  • Replacement Spark plugs don’t fix the above symptoms.

Triumph Factory pick up coil problem- solved:

Up until 2009 or so, the ideal gap for the pick-up coil recited in service manuals was “1.0 mm +/-0.20 mm.” Due to numerous warranty claims, Triumph realized that that number was incorrect and has since been adjusted. The following statement was issued to dealers and mechanics by Triumph:

Affected Models: Bonneville/T100, America, Speedmaster, Thruxton, and Scrambler.

Should a bike (see above) demonstrate faulty ignition coil type symptoms (most commonly an engine misfire), please initially check and adjust the ignition pick-up (IPU) air gap (we recommend an air gap of 0.8mm).

Since changing the IPU air gap in production to 0.8mm, we have had no ignition coil warranty claims.
If adjusting the gap on those older models doesn’t do the trick, take the bike to a Triumph mechanic and have them look at it. You may have a fried pick-up coil on your hands.

You should also be reading our article which talks about 4 Most-Common Problems With Triumph Scrambler

5. Windshield Buffeting Problems:

The polycarbonate windshield on the Triumph America was once known for jolts in buffeting. This is when the wind creates too much resistance, and the wind makes a vibrating noise.

A motorcycle windshield is designed to deflect the wind that hits the bike when riding effectively, but other variables contribute to its efficiency.

How could a problem like this bother one rider so intensely without phasing another in the slightest? It depends on rider-specific variables,  things like the height of the rider.

An old but good recommendation for most owners experiencing buffeting with the stock windshield was to try a better helmet to counter the buffeting.

If that doesn’t work, a replacement windshield should be in order. A lot of Triumph America owners opt for the Clearview shields as they have minimal buffeting.

An after-market windshield is a great way to curb buffeting on Triumph America because you have a chance to choose the height of the windshield according to your preference.

Aftermarket windshields require brackets and other accessories for installation. Be sure you have all the parts required for the articular windshield you chose before you start wrenching.

Quickly scan our article that talks about 6 Most-Common Problems with the Triumph Bonneville

General Pros And Cons For The Triumph America:

Pros:

In all essence, the Triumph America is one cruiser that handles really well and has more power to satisfy even the harshest bike critics.

With the 865cc motor, cornering and acceleration is pure joy. The looks of envy while riding by or when the bike is parked is just more evidence that this cruiser is a looker.

If you happen to be mechanically inclined, this bike will be a breeze to work on and fix minor issues or install upgrades, and parts are readily available.

The Triumph America brakes are more than adequate, and the sound from the pipes has a distinctive character.

What sets the Triumph America apart from other cruisers is the value of money you get with an easy-to-ride bike with excellent resale value.

Cons:

  • Triumph America Ignition Problem
  • America Starting Problems
  • Uncomfortable Seat
  • Faulty Pick-up Coil Issue
  • Windshield Buffeting Problems

What Do the Reviews Say?

Not everyone is searching for the latest in throttle-by-wire electronics and lean-angle-sensing traction control technology.

“Many of us, in fact, feel that two-wheel cruising is best when it’s kept simple. And the low-frills Triumph America cruiser meets that need perfectly, appealing to internal combustion lovers who don’t want every innovation.”

[Source: CycleWorld.com]

“Sporting distinctive good looks (with classic touches like chrome and an authentic chain drive) and an agreeable personality, the 2012 Triumph America is a perfect alternative mid-size cruiser for fun, smooth-riding.”

[Source: Ultimatemotorcycling.com]

What’s the Resale Value On The Triumph America?

Year Mileage (miles) Price ($)
2007 42,259 2,995
2010 11,124 4,995
2013 28,879 5,995
2016 19,058 4,995
2016 8,882 5,799

NB: The above prices are estimates and are subject to change according to location and bike model, and mileage.

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