Times are tough and with everyone tightening their belts and watching budgets, what’s a biker to do? We could all use a little R&R and an inexpensive mini vacation might be just the ticket. Baggers are of course the best way to spend some extended saddle time and at $7,999 retail, the new Triumph America is easily baggerized. For me, a competent touring bike needs floorboards so riders have a variety of leg positions and the America delivers. A windscreen is mandatory and Triumph offers a quick-release windshield, and with the addition of Triumph-branded saddlebags, a tall sissybar with luggage rack, and a touring seat, all the requirements are fulfilled. The ’11 Triumph America boasts a larger 130/90-16 front tire to chew up those freeway miles and the 170/80-15 rear balance nicely. The America is surprisingly comfortable with a wide seat and revised rider triangulation, making extended saddle time enjoyable.
Enough of the sales pitch, back to this budget thing. I had 100 bucks and that’s it, that’s all she wrote, so I needed to set some parameters. First factor: the cost of gas. Two tanks, one there and one back. The America has a 5.1-gallon gas tank and with 45-mpg average that’s an easy 200-mile range. I needed a cheap place to crash with spending money for food, beer, and fun.
To put my Budget Bagger theory to the test, I called my riding buddy, El Chiefo. Mr. Lucha Libre thinks he can under-spend Captain Chapter 11 in this Battle of the Budget Baggers. He may be right (El Cheapo has ammo cans for saddlebags). Of course, El Chiefo suggested Mexico, land of one-dollar fish tacos and cheap tequila, and it’s only 170 miles away. I booked a room at Rosarito Beach for 40 bucks (I’ll haggle once I get there). El Chiefo is freaked out about some other Lucha Libre heisting his precious paint job, so I told him to check with his insurance company. It turns out that Allstate includes full coverage within 50 miles of the American border and Rosarito is only 20 miles south. My brand-new ’11 Triumph America is a press bike, and well, need I say more.
I’ve got the best girlfriend, and a break from my snoring is welcome relief as she gave me a kiss goodbye and slipped me 50 bucks. “Stay two nights in Rosarito, it’s no biggie,” she smirked. I guess some backup cash is wise and what the hell, I may like Rosarito Beach. The “Large” Triumph saddlebags are smallish but that’s fine because the optional sissybar and luggage rack would easily keep you cruising all the way to Cabo. Though only a five-speed transmission, the high rev limits allow for top-end acceleration and the powerplant never feels strained. The long stretch of freeway through San Onofre to San Diego let me ponder the pleasing purr of Triumph’s classic air-cooled 865cc motor. The throaty pipes fueled by a pair of gutsy jugs made keeping up with the 90-mph flow of traffic a breeze. Triumph has set the world standard for a great set of Parallel Twins
The border crossing into Mexico rolled without a hitch. Lanesplitting is authorized but it’s akin to navigating roundabouts in Italy until you’re through Tijuana. We caught Hwy 1D to Rosarito (the Scenic Route) and our first cash outlay was $2.50 at the toll booth. 1D has its own perils; we saw someone literally stopped and another person actually backing up on the highway. It’s rather exciting, but as riders, we’re accustomed to a little chaos. The highway skirts the ocean and the views are fantastic.