Motorcycling adventurer Charley Boorman can never sit still for long.
As the clock strikes 11 at his beautifully appointed south-west London home, his wife and daughter burst in to bustle him off on a pre-booked shopping trip he has clearly tried to forget. After successfully riding around the planet with close pal Ewan McGregor, a trip to the high street probably feels quite mundane, but his smile gives the game away… this is a guy who loves change.
For years his instantly recognisable face has been strongly associated with BMW, whose bikes served him so well on a series of long-distance all-terrain adventures. But now he’s shaking things up a little by becoming a global ambassador for Triumph along with superbike legend Carl Fogarty, in what he calls ‘a new chapter in my life’.
There is a certain symmetry here… we’re chatting the morning after the night before when Triumph unveiled their new Bonneville range to acclaim from media and bloggers who hailed it a new era for the range.
The Hinckley manufacturer’s rapidly growing reputation in the cafe racer sector was the clincher in making Charley think twice about his future.
“Triumph had approached me a few times down the years but I was really busy doing the documentaries, so the time wasn’t right,” he said.
“It is a big move for me because of my lengthy previous association with BMW, but one of the things that swung it for me was the way Triumph are becoming a key part of the hipster, flat tracker and cafe racer scene.”
But he admitted it was also a sneak preview of the Hinckley marque’s ‘stunning’ new bikes lined up for the next couple of years that helped reinforce his decision.
Triumph’s new Bonnevilles are stunning but they have also shown me some of the stuff that’s coming down the track and I like the whole feel of itCharley Boorman
“It wasn’t easy because I still think BMW are great bike builders and I’ve had a lovely relationship with them over so many years, but now it’s time for a new chapter in my life,” he said.
“Triumph’s new Bonnevilles are stunning but they have also shown me some of the stuff that’s coming down the track and I like the whole feel of it. I love the British cool of everything Triumph are doing at the moment, so it felt right to change.”
Charley began his love affair with bikes at the age of seven thanks to Tommy Rochford, a neighbour of his parents in Ireland who put him on a two-stroke Maho 500 and watched him hurtle around the yard until he fell off.
He now rides a ’59 Baron’s Speed Shop Bonnie, a Thruxton and one of the new 2015 Tigers, but concedes he has his eye on one of the new Thruxton Rs. He said: “The new range is amazing because Triumph have managed, somehow, to incorporate a lot of new technology without changing the retro feel of the bike. All the new kit is tucked away so you can’t see it.”
As his distinctive hair and facial furniture might suggest, Charley Boorman is also an advocate of individuality, and applauds Triumph’s move towards heightened customisation.
“Triumph’s dedication, attention to detail and confidence in opening up the custom market are huge developments. They’re reclaiming the custom market and saying they understand that people want to be different and stamp their identity on their bikes. Now if you can turn a screw you can make a bike truly one of a kind.”
Charley was reluctant to reveal whether he plans any future global challenges – this time on Triumphs – but added: “What Triumph have done with the new bikes is incredible and it marks a whole new chapter in their history, which I am excited to be a part of.”