Triumph Motorcycle Problems: 5 Common Issues (Explained)

When it comes to true legends in the motorcycle industry, Triumph is one brand that will be counted up there with the best.

This manufacturing giant stands as one of the best motorcycling companies in the world. Triumph motorcycles have come a long way since the olden days and have consistently carried quality standards throughout all these decades.

From the very first models like the 1990’s Triumph T300’s all the way to the latest models like the 2020 Triumph Rocket 3, the company has kept its promise of delivering both powerful and reliable engines.

Keeping such a huge array of models in constant development and production can become a problem for aftermarket support. This means that even though Triumph does its best in delivering great bikes, there’s still room for error.

Those errors, in this instance, result in different issues affecting multiple Triumph models.

So in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the known issues that Triumph bikes face:

1. Triumph Regulator/Rectifier Problems

Triumph estimated that between 2006-and 2009, over 10,000 Triumph Motorcycles left the factory with faulty Regulator/Rectifiers in them.

To explain why it’s important to put this hazard on Triumph owners’ radar, let’s first examine what the Regulator/Rectifier is and why it’s significant.

While cars use an all-inclusive alternator to keep their battery charged, a motorcycle uses a small charging system that starts with a part called the stator.

The stator is a coil of wire in the engine case with a spinning magnet inside of it to generate an alternate current (AC).  The AC flows through the rectifier/regulator, converting it to DC power at a consistent output.

As engine speed accelerates, the stator outputs more and more power, and if left unregulated, it can overcharge the battery.

That’s where the rectifier/regulator comes in.

The rectifier/regulator is the component responsible for sustaining the appropriate current. If your rectifier is bad, the battery will be damaged.

Triumph has one of the strongest teams of engineers in the game. They design machine-parts that can be cross utilized on a slew of completely different styles of motorcycles.  The downside to this is that if a part has an issue, the issues span across various Triumph models.

A Quick Summary of the Recall:

In 2012 Triumph issued this recall statement:

Triumph is recalling certain model year 2006-2009 Street Triple, Street Triple R, and Daytona 675 motorcycles. The regulator/rectifier can overheat and prevent the motorcycle from charging. Once the battery is fully discharged, the motorcycle may stall.

If you’re the owner of a bike that qualifies, be vigilant about the battery’s condition.

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your local Triumph dealer ASAP to get the appropriate upgrades.

Symptoms of a Failing Regulator/Rectifier on a Triumph:

  • High Voltage Output.
  • Power-Dips.
  • Problems Starting.
  • High Beams Not Working.
  • Corrosion.
  • Dead Battery.
  • Instrument Cluster Doesn’t Work.
  • Dimming or Flickering Lights.
  • Check Engine Light or Battery Light Clicks On.

After noticing that the fuel gauge and other dash indicators showed incorrect values, mechanics and riders alike might initially chalk the problem up to electronics on the bike.

Inspecting the battery’s condition and the voltage output are good first steps to indicating the regulator/rectifier on the bike was misbehaving.

Armed with this information, you might be able to shed some light on the issues you’re having for the Triumph mechanic to ease their diagnosis. By now, Triumph is well aware of the issue, and taking steps to rectify it won’t be as mysterious as it once was.

Triumph Models with History of the Regulator/Rectifier Problem:

  • Street Triple
  • Street Triple R
  • Daytona 675

Before the Recall, owners took matters not their own hands and began upgrading /replacing their regulator/rectifier with an aftermarket one.

They figured out that bad arts were leaving the factory and feared that replacing them with the same OEM part that had the problem could cause a repeat offense. In contrast, aftermarket parts were, in general, longer-lasting and better charging than the regulator/rectifiers that came from Triumph.

More owners found that MOSFET regulator/rectifiers had reliable improvement compared to the factory-installed SCR type regulator/rectifiers.

It’s important to note that this issue has since been resolved.

Triumph is always working on improving its models, and they’ve 86’d the common problems such as a faulty regulator/rectifier unit.

2. Triumph Stator Failure Problems

Another issue with older Triumphs we’ve encountered is reports of bad stators.

In many cases, this was the handiwork of the aforementioned faulty regulator/rectifiers taxing the stator.

The symptoms of a bad stator are similar to a bad regulator/rectifier’s symptoms- these parts work closely together, and a bad R/R can affect the Stator.

The big difference is that with a bad regulator, the battery doesn’t charge at all. With a bad stator, the battery’s charging capacity gradually drains.

Some bad stators will charge a little; you might only notice it when the stator can’t keep up with the electrical system’s pull. Eventually, the stator loses its charge over a longer period of time.

The headlights put the biggest drain on it. In some cases, if you kill the headlights, the battery will catch a charge.

Still, it’s easy to confuse a stator with a bad battery; it’s hard to diagnose a bad stator without swapping out the battery first.

If it’s passed a certain point of damage, you might be able to do a visual test of the stator coils. Pull off the stator cover and check to see if one of the coil windings is burnt. If you’ve got burned coils, you’ve got a bad stator.

Some Symptoms of a Failing Stator:

  • Dead Battery
  • Hard starting/No starting
  • Weak Idle
  • Weak Spark
  • Engine Misfires
  • Battery Charging Issues
  • Flickering Lights
  • Flickering Display

The stator is sensitive to heat and increasingly degrades as it is exposed to more heat from the engine.

Owners eventually realized that the factory regulator/rectifier that came preinstalled on most Triumphs gets too hot too quickly, therefore endangering the stator.

In sine cases, an aftermarket or third-party replacement stator was installed along with an upgraded regulator/rectifier they believed to be the real culprit.

Other Ways to Diagnose and Fix a Failing Stator:

  1. Check Battery Voltage
  2. Check Battery Condition- Corrosion, etc.
  3. Disconnect Regulator/Rectifier
  4. Set the multimeter to “Resistance” or “Ohms” on the lowest scale
  5. insert one probe into one of the stator pin sockets
  6. Touch the other probe to any chassis ground
  7. Check Multimeter Display-  if it reads anything other than “Open” or the symbol for infinity, the stator is bad.
  8. Insert each probe into a stator socket
  9. Check Multimeter Display- it should read around 0.2 to 0.5 ohms. If you show an open circuit with the “Open” or infinity reading or have higher resistance, the stator is bad.
  10. If these test results are positive, the stator isn’t the problem.

The stator keeps the battery charged up during the operation of the bike.

A bad stator on a Triumph can lead to all sorts of issues, both electrical and mechanical.

It might seem like Triumph is littered with never-ending electrical issues, but this is an extension of the R/R issue mentioned above and has been rectified.

Most bikes have this connection between the stator and regulator/rectifier. It’s a lightweight, cost-effective and reliable way for a motorcycle to charge its battery.

3. Cam Chain Tensioner Issue

Cam chain tensioners on a Triumph motorcycle typically come in two types; manual and hydraulic.

A lot of owners swear by manual cam chain tensioners, reporting fewer faults and increased reliability.

The Triumph Speed Triple, for example, uses a hydraulic cam chain tensioner.

Cam chain tensioner issues on Triumph bikes typically start showing problems between 2,500 and 18,000 miles in the bike’s lifetime.

Symptoms of a Bad Tensioner or Badly Adjusted Cam Chain:

  • Cam chain slap
  • Noisy ticking sound
  • Bike stalling

Inspecting your chain tensioner should be part of routine maintenance on your Triumph bike.

This is an important part, and it sees a lot of action.

A worn-out cam chain can lead not only to noises, but it could end up jumping a tooth and throw the valves out of sync.

Unattended worn-out cam chains can become an expensive fix- the unsynced valves could hit a piston or cause engine damage.

Once a tensioner becomes loose, there’s no real way to adjust it back to its required tightness.  Over the years, riders have developed a few DIY mods for this. None of them are full-proof, nor are they much more economical than the cost of a brand new tensioner.

The best way to eliminate the noise in a cam chain is to replace it with a new, properly tuned cam chain tensioner.

Owners that were able to take the bike to a dealership to have it checked also reported that the tensioner and o-ring were replaced and that the noise went away. If your bike is under warranty, this service is covered.

If a Triumph is still under warranty, it is recommended to take it in to a dealership to have the noisy cam chain checked out.

4. Triumph Engine Whine Noise Problem

This issue has been brought up multiple times by various Triumph owners, mostly regarding the Triumph Street Triple family members.

Most complaints about the engine describe it as a whirring, whistling, or whining sound, typically high-pitched sound.

The noise isn’t indicative of a mechanical failure, and many owners have chalked up the noise to be part of the bike’s character. For others, it’s too loud and gets annoying after a while.

Earplugs and wind-noise-canceling helmets are a quick, easy solution for those folks.

So what’s the cause of the Triumph Triple’s signature whine?

There are actually two contributing factors to the noisy Triple:

Cam Chain Whine

The cam chain whine is normal on a Triumph Street Triple and many other sportbikes.

It’s more noticeable at low-revs; you won’t hear it much at highway speeds.

As we mentioned earlier, many sport bikers wear earplugs to block out engine and wind noise.

Motorcycle manufacturers intend for engine cases and covers to be as thin as possible to shed pounds, especially on a sportbike. It makes it easy for engine noises from the cam chain to cut through to the rider’s ears while riding.

The rear-wheel-drive chain running over the swing-arm screams and shouts, too, also more prevalent at speeds. Don’t let the low-end noises fool you. Performance bikes like the Triumph Triple want to Rev-High.

Straight Cut Gears

For a Speed Triple, the straight cut gear seems to be the most logical reason for the noise. The noise is especially noticeable at low or idling speeds.

In some cases, the final drive chain was responsible for the roaring whine. The final drive is part of the gearbox and transfers power to the rear wheel.

It’s much more likely, however, that the straight-cut gears (rather than helical-cut gears) are the culprit. Triples use straight-cut gears because they deliver more torque; the Street Triple was born to be a high-revving monster.

The downside with straight-cut gears is, you guessed it, they’re significantly noisier compared to their helical-cut counterparts.

When it comes to noticeably strange engine noises, have a listen to the other bikes of the same model. Sometimes the noise might be that faithful bike’s characteristic purr and totally normal.

If the noise is accompanied by a dip in the bike’s performance in any way, shape, or form,  it’s best to get the bike checked by a mechanic at a registered Triumph dealership.

5. Persistent Dead Battery Issues

Battery drain issues aren’t a Triumph exclusive by any means- motorcycle batteries are comparatively small.

Advanced, modern bike technologies put more strain on the battery.

Like most moto-manufacturers, Triumph has made an effort to upgrade its batteries on newer models.

Still, all batteries wear out eventually, so it’s important to make battery inspection and replacement, if necessary, part of routine maintenance on any vehicle.

 Signs of a Dead Battery or Draining Issue:

  • Bike not starting
  • Corrosion on battery contacts
  • Unresponsive dash lights
  • Starter clicking rapidly
  • The bike only starts when cold/hot.

The first thing to look into when experiencing battery issues is making sure the battery terminals are screwed on tight.

It seems like a nominal suggestion, but bikes rattle and screws shake loose; a weak connection can cause electrical failure on a whole bike, but it’s nothing a few 90 degree turns on the battery terminal can’t fix.

For most Triumphs with unconventional battery issues, the main culprits have been the regulator/rectifier we discussed earlier.

Remember, a  bad regulator/rectifier can cause problems that seem to be coming from the battery.

We’ve also encountered a few cases where it was a worn ignition switch.

Usually, however, it’s just an old, worn-out battery at the end of its life. A worn battery tends to lose its charge quickly, and its ability to hold a charge fades with time as well.

Reasons for a Dead or Draining Battery:

  • The battery is insufficiently charged.
  • Bad stator
  • Faulty regulator/rectifier
  • The battery has insufficient capacity to retain charge/supply.
  • Poor-fitting battery terminals
  • Shorted diodes in the rectifier
  • Burnt fuses

A mechanic should be able to check if any of the above is the case using a multimeter to check electricity flow and any shorts or faults in the charging system.

A Triumph that’s still under warranty can get battery issues fixed at no additional cost.

Also read our article on 6 Typical Issues With Triumph Rocket 3

General Pros and Cons for the Triumph Motorcycles

Pros:

Triumph motorcycles are still one of the best in the motorcycle industry. This is especially true for newer models with advanced modern technologies such as traction control, ABS, and even heated grips.

Owners of different Triumph models are impressed by how easy it is to upgrade the bikes. An upgrade can mean more security levels or installing protective accessories.

The latest Triumph models, such as the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 RALLY and the 2020 Triumph Bud Ekins Bonneville T120 Special Edition, show just how far this company has come.

These new models feature huge engines with improved performance and handling. From the early Triumph days in the ’90s, Triumph has kept its word concerning quality and reliability.

Keeping with the times, they’ve managed to listen to their customers and improve upon their bikes’ issues.

This is apparent on the Triumph Bonneville, one of the most recognized Triumph bikes. Not only have Bonneville survived the test of time, but it has also kept up with the times in terms of technological advances in the motorcycle industry.

Different bikers ride triumphs in a variety of situations. Long-distance riders, the speed chaser who loves track riding, and lounging cruisers all swear by Triumphs reliability.

This British motorcycling giant sets itself apart by the sheer quality and dedication to building its engines. Competitors are forever trying to keep up with Triumph’s innovation and flexibility.

There is surely a Triumph model that they’ll fall in love with for every different kind of rider out there.

Cons:

  • Triumph Regulator/Rectifier Problems
  • Triumph Stator Failure Problems
  • Cam Chain Tensioner Issue
  • Triumph Engine Whine Noise Problem
  • Persistent Dead Battery Issues

What Do the Reviews Say?

“Triumph has been the oldest British motorcycle manufacturer that has a rich 115 years of heritage and has been sweating it out on the arena and treating us with exceptionally new modern classics over and over again.”

[Source: TopSpeed.com]

“The new 2020 TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE 765 RS isn’t a quantum leap forward over the old model, but the extra grunt serves to make it more flexible and thrilling on the road, like the current R version we all know and love.”

[Source: MotorCycleNews.com]

What’s The Resale Value On The Triumph Motorcycles

Model Mileage (miles) Price ($)
2020 Triumph Bonneville T100 8 10,450
2020 Triumph Rocket 3 R 2 21,900
2020 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster 1 13,650
2020 Triumph Thruxton TFC 360 18,995
2020 Triumph Street Triple RS 4 12,500
2020 Triumph Street Scrambler 900 1 11,500
2019 Triumph Street Twin 42 6,495
2019 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRT 5 21,300

NB: The above prices are estimates and may vary according to your bike’s location and model.

Final Thoughts

When you think of a Triumph motorcycle, three things usually come to mind:

  • Reliability
  • Easy maintenance
  • Great value for money

In all essence, the motorcycling industry would be a lot different had it not been for the innovation and excellence of the Triumph brand.

This is because the company is forever looking to find new ways to get the best performance out of their motorcycles. With that said, Triumph is a huge motorcycling company with different bikes to suit every rider out there.

Whether you’re a long-distance, outdoor trails or racetrack rider, there’s plenty of choices for each rider’s preference in the Triumph family.

References:

TopSpeed Reviews

Motorcycle News Reviews

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike
Great!

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)