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The National Rally on the Speed Triple!

In July I was entered to take part in the National Rally. A minimum of 500 miles around the UK following a route we worked out to take in as many checkpoints as possible to get points and mileages correct. This was in order that out little team of 4 bikes could go for the Gold award. We started at 2pm on Saturday and had to finish before 10am on Sunday morning, a bit of a challenge, yes, but was it going to be possible as I was riding the only unfaired bike of the pack?

Saturday came and we departed to the start point some 15 miles away. We checked in, got our time cards, looked at the weather and concluded that we would be fine right through the night and into the following day. The route took us from Bucks down to Surrey, then down to Wiltshire, back up to Oxon, Warwickshire, over to Herefordshire and on into Wales, then the night came! Two compulsory stop overs en-route and then up we get and forward up to Cheshire and Staffordshire to the finish at Uttoxeter.

During this time the speed Triple was proving to be a truly comfortable bike for covering long distances with no signs of stress or strain on any part of me, which was good so far. Having covered some 686 miles from leaving home to the finish and back home again, I was not feeling at all tired and could go on for a lot longer, unlike the sportsbike riders in our team! No aching arms or legs, no backache, just feeling good, a true testimony to the touring ability of the Triumph.

 

Triumph Speed Triple - hinckleys Bad boy

Road Test by Adrian Percival

The latest version of the Speed Triple still remains one of the most distinctive looking bikes on the road, and especially in the livery and colour of the bike we had on test from Hinckley. The Speed Triple is the street fighter of the Triumph range, with all the looks and performance to match. While the 'old' 509 version of the Speed Triple was no slug, this revamped version has upped the game even further. This bike is a stunt riders dream, but it's not just single minded, as during the two weeks we had the pleasure of it's company we covered some serious mileage on it during a 12hr road event around the UK. That was enough to say to me that this is an excellent all-round roadbike, and serious fun. Triumph claim that the changes to the chassis, styling and engine have taken the production street fighter concept to new levels, and I've got to say I totally agree!

 

The Speed Triple first appeared back in 1994 as a part of their modular approach to manufacturing, and was in essence a nude Daytona - back then with a steel spine frame. Nine years later the current model is more of the same, sharing many of its parts with the current Daytona 955 - including a re-tuned version of the 955i engine and the Daytona's superb aluminium tube frame.

The current model benefits from a number of revisions including a revised chassis. The changes made were directed at increasing the bikes agility through quicker steering and lighter weight, as well as styling changes looking for a leaner, meaner looking Speed Triple. The new bike is also 2.5kg lighter than its predecessor, with the revised engine running a new cylinder-head which sports new valve sizes (1mm larger inlet, 1mm smaller exhaust) and redesigned inlet and exhaust ports. The compression ratio has also been bumped up to 12:1 from 11.2:1, and the fuel injection mapping has been altered to improve the mid-range torque. This now sees the Speed Triple claiming 120ps at 9100rpm, somewhat less than the Daytona's impressive 133.1ps at the rear wheel, but having said that, the Speed Triple has that seat-of-the-pants feeling that only a naked bike can give you, and with the revisions it has become a superb bike for all types of rider and roads.

Riding the bike is an absolutely pleasure and is so easy that I wondered why I had never considered this bike as a practical alternative before. When I collected the silver hooligan bike from Hinckley I had a nice gentle ride back some 80 miles through the Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside on some of the best biking roads in the UK. On these roads you can cruise in top (6th), rolling the throttle on and off, the fuel injection responding cleanly at these speeds and the fantastic torque of the motor grunting the bike along with absolute ease.

After that shakedown ride it was time to get to grips with the Triple on some of my favourite roads! Things got 'hotter' the next day, in more ways than one as I got to test the limits of power, handling and general rideability of the Triple.

The wide bars on the Speed Triple make levering the bike from side-to-side a joyous task, no doubt aided by the new chassis dimensions. Wheelbase is reduced by 11mm to 1429mm, as well as steeper rake and shorter trail figures at 23.5 degrees and 84mm. The rear ride height has also been increased. This combined with a dry weight of 189kg, some 7kg lighter than the previous model, now makes the Speed Triple hustle through the curves and with the best of the superbikes.

There was a bit of a hint of front - end 'nervousness' on some rough surfaces and a little tendency to weave a bit on uneven roads under hard acceleration, but I suffered no tank slappers or anything worse than a bit of a shimmy. The Bridgestone 010 tyres on the test bike were some halfway worn when I collected the bike so I put some of the road manners down to this and the fact that we did do over 1500 miles during the time we had it on the same tyres, which were indeed 'done for' by the time we returned it to Hinckley. The Bridgestones do give great feedback and grip but personally I would like to see something like Pirelli Diablos fitted to the Triple, I just think that the bike deserves it as you really can take liberties on the Triple. Any rider that may get stressed about this slight flightiness on the roads could just fit a steering dampener to cancel it all, but to be honest I enjoyed the feeling, it never felt unsafe, yet it was predictable and a seriously fun ride.

After some more miles on the Speed Triple I concluded that it blatantly refused to become unglued on any road I presented it, instead it just felt better and better, providing exceptional levels of accuracy, feedback and control. Flicking into corners and changing lines was easily achieved from almost any corner position and degree of attack with just a push of the wide bars. This encouraged staying out wide and taking super late entries into corners just to see what was around the other side, just accelerate and fire out of the corner rasping that 3 cylinder motor to the red line, its impressive!

Down to engine performance. There's no shortage of power available for blasting out of corners or involuntary hoisting of the front wheel exiting second or third gear corners, or voluntary for that mater! Slip past traffic with no fuss at all in any gear is just a part of riding this bike. If you have over 3000 revs on the dial the fuel-injection system and power delivery is just great. However, the same problem that existed with the Daytona still afflicts the Speed Triple. At small throttle openings or from a trailing throttle there's a little reluctance to pick up, which gets worse as the engine gets hotter, like in traffic. This means you have to hold the bike in a lower gear more often, instead of rolling down to low speed and pulling away using that clean and instantaneous delivery big engines should have. No there is a download engine management programme available from the dealer to combat this and I recommend it to anyone, but it shouldn't have to be done on a new bike to sort out a little problem that could so easily be rectified at the factory. I do hear though that this is on the cards for the new model (no change) in a month or two.

Now if any of this has made you look elsewhere get your cheque book out again, because with the addition of a Triumph high level race can and the latest engine management download you get the best sounding bike around and a resolved injection problem from the re mapping. All of a sudden the bike is hugely improved and will trickle away from traffic lights and pull smoothly from just under 1500rpm, from there on its smiles all the way to the red line! I just can't help wondering why it wasn't like that in the first place.

The gearbox is a distinct improvement on some previous Triumph 'boxes, although it still has a relatively long throw to shift the gears. The box is positive and shows no sign of false neutrals or jumping, the clutch is smooth to operate and not heavy at all, although the non-adjustable lever will trouble some riders with small hands, fitting an adjustable lever will fix that with ease.

The front brakes are typical Triumph, possibly the best brakes on any production bike ever made. How they do it is anyone's guess but I have been impressed with every Triumph I have ever ridded in the braking department. There is a super strong precise feel from the twin 320mm discs and four-pot Triumph stamped Nissin calipers, which easily coped with my demands and anything I could throw at it.

The rear brake on my testbike was a little lacking in any sort of feel and braking powers, but as I never use it except for a little trailing into corners it proved fine for that aspect of riding. Having had a look and a ride on another one, mine proved the exception to the rule, the other one was fine.

So the big question is, is it comfortable? Well yes, it is actually. The wide bars and tiny instrument cowl (which is an option) obviously knock those prolonged supersonic stints on the head, but up to about 100mph its really is fine, after that it depends just how determined you are to hang on! Depending on the condition of your licence this may not be a bad thing, but the position of the somewhat rearset footpegs and the flattish bars is good, so you can cruise away all day if you wish. The seat (which is the same as the one on the current Daytona) is actually more comfortable because you're sitting in it rather that perched on it with your bits bashing the tank all the time! At cruising speed you're nicely supported by the wind and the saddle, so for 90 percent of everyday riding it makes far more sense than the radical crouch of your average current sports bike. In conclusion then the wide, high bars and decent legroom means touring on the Speed Triple is not out of the question

The current styling shares many of the same features of the Daytona 955i. The tank, tailpiece and digital instruments are all the same. I wasn't that keen on the new style clocks initially, but they grew on me. The instruments are easy to read, and include the same features - engine temp, odometer and clock. There are also two trip meters. The Speed Triple also gave realistic mileage from its 21lt tank. I got about 145 miles during pretty fast rides before reserve came in, at a more sedate or legal pace it gave around 175 before reserve, which is pretty good by today's superbike standards.

So, is the Speed Triple a viable proposition? Yes, absolutely is the answer. The Speed Triple impressed me a lot with its riding characteristics, modern styling, and capability as a long distance bike. It is capable of not only performing a number of roles with ease, but it makes them serious fun as well, that's the difference between it and the other naked bikes on the market today.

It's a great all round package powered by one of the best motors on the market. It handles well, it's comfortable, well built and it's British! I could certainly live with the Speed Triple as an everyday bike.

I get asked all the time what bike is my favourite, I say "if it's got 2 wheels it's fun no matter what it is. From a Chinese scooter to an Italian dreambike, they are all bikes therefore they all represent freedom and will give someone pleasure wherever they are". Sometimes I come across something a bit out of the ordinary, The Triumph is one of those bikes, it stands out from the crowd in it's own special way. It's hugely enjoyable to ride and a true practical alternative.

AP

Can I insure it?

Read external Triumph Speed Triple reviews on ciao.

 

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