Back when motocross racers (and movie stars who raced) wore wool jackets and primitive helmets (if even that), Triumph was a force to be reckoned with out in the dirt. This was before Japanese motorcycle makers debuted lightweight, high-powered specialty motocross machines that transformed motocross into the high-flying spectacle it is today. But Triumph folded in 1983, its glory days long past.
Revived by industrialist John Bloor in 1990, the “modern” iteration of Triumph has maintained a focus on street-legal motorcycles like the iconic Bonneville, while also dabbling in off-road capable but still road legal adventure bikes with its Tiger line. Now, however, the company has debuted its first clean-sheet modern motocross bike, the $9,995 TF 250-X, and a dedicated support program for those riders who’d like to take it racing. And there is much racing in the new bike’s future, as Triumph is entering it in the 2024 FIM Motocross World Championship in the MX2 class, and the 2024 US SuperMotocross World Championship. Beverage maker Monster Energy is on board as a sponsor. The 250cc class is the premiere motocross racing league, the F1 of dirt racing as it were.
It’s a big gamble for Triumph as the segment is crowded with competitors from Japan and Europe who have honed their offerings with decades of racing and development. But Triumph says they can compete, and the TF 250-X spec sheet seems in line with what the competition is offering as well.
The TF 250-X is based around a compact 250cc single cylinder liquid-cooled, fuel injected motor sporting titanium valves and a stratospheric 14.4:1 compression ratio – similar to that of MotoGP machines. Triumph has not released horsepower and torque figures, but with that kind of compression, it’s likely at or near the top of the class. Brembo brakes, fully adjustable KYB long-travel suspension, an aluminum spine-type frame and lightweight carbon fiber bits help keep the stock weight under 230 pounds ready to ride.
And while it seems like “dirt bikes” are simpler mechanical creatures, at this level they are stuffed with tech, including launch control, ride modes, engine resonator systems and parts made to very strict tolerances. Triumph enlisted motocross racing champions and industry icons Ricky Carmichael and Iván Cervantes to help develop the TF 250-X, and Carmichael was quoted by Cycle World saying “this is the bike that we set out to build. When you talk about the chassis, the powertrain, the components—it’s the best of everything you could ever want. And whether you’re a professional rider or an amateur rider, you will not be disappointed.”
The $9,995 price point is just the starting point for bikes of this sort. Buyers typically upgrade aspects to their liking, such as competition exhaust systems, engine tuners, different tires and other bits to customize the fit or prep for racing.
Triumph is expected to expand its off-road offerings with a similar but larger 450cc “enduro” model in the near future.