TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE R
‘It’s the very essence of the original 1994 hooligan distilled and digitised for the 21st century’
ver noticed how it’s usually a Brit that plays the villain in Hollywood action movies? Impossibly stylish, refined, charming even, yet wouldn’t think twice about pulling your toenails off one by one then feeding you to the pigs!
The 2016 Triumph Speed Triple R is the very embodiment of that quintessential English evil genius; suave and smart but devastatingly dastardly. Beneath its squat new stance and glowering headlamps is a revamped 1050cc engine making more power and torque than before, a full ride-by-wire system packing five rider modes, multi-level traction control and switchable ABS. Plus it’s loaded with enough highclass details to make the £11,500 price (£10,200 if you opt for the Showa-shod S model) seem reasonable, and offers such a level of finish that your neighbours will think you’re caught up in a money laundering exercise.
The Spanish Costas have always provided a safe haven for British bad boys so it’s little wonder Triumph chose the roads and race tracks around the Costa Dorada to develop and launch their new Speed Triple. Blasting along the region’s super-smooth roads it feels as through Hinckley have pulled off the crime-of-the-century. Somehow they’ve made the 2016 Speed Triple feel familiar but very different; it’s the same rip-roaring brute, but now it’s wearing a Savile Row suit.
Sat seemingly much further forward and more over the front end, the Triple flicks through S-bends with a new-found agility, enough to make you think that Triumph have sneakily sharpened the steering geometry. Yet under heavy questioning, Chief Engineer Stuart Wood maintained the Speed Triple’s innocence claiming that the chassis was unchanged, and the dramatic difference in riding position and handling was down to nothing more than the front of the seat being 20mm narrower and the tank being lower (and two litres smaller). The narrow perch encourages you to sit further forward, and the flatter tank gives the illusion that the bars are lower which, combined with the grip from the front Pirelli Supercorsa and
Efirm-but-communicative feedback from the Öhlins NIX30 fork, makes for one fantastic front end.
Yet for all its flickability, the Speed Triple remains solid as a rock at speed. There’s no hint of a headshake even as the windblast tries to peel your fingers from the grips. On roads as smooth as these the track-focused Öhlins allow you to paint precise arcs around corners with complete confidence. However, for our less-than-perfect roads, the more softly set Showa suspension fitted to the S model may well be a more comfortable and practical option.
The inherent stability is also boosted by the reworked gearbox which works so well that you soon get over the fact that the R doesn’t come with a quickshifter as standard (one is available as a £300 extra). Triumph have honed the gearbox selector drum mechanism and slightly lengthened the gear lever travel to make shifting smoother and less effort. The result is a gearchange that’s positive but slick, and a vast improvement over the previous model.
More engineering genius has taken place inside the engine itself in order to make the big-bore motor both more powerful and efficient. Everything from the cylinder head porting, cams and timing sprockets, to the piston shape, compression ratio, fuel-injection and ride-by-wire throttle has been refreshed, and the result is a bike that not only pleases tree-hugging Eurocrats by being cleaner and greener, but also etches a smirk on riders’ faces.
The 2016 Triple makes a smidge more power (up from 133bhp to 138bhp), and torque’s been boosted by an average of 5ftlb across the rev range. But it’s in the low and mid-range where the changes are most noticeable. Assisted by the high-tech ride-by-wire throttle, the initial twist of the wrist rewards with instant, urgent response, meaning that below 3500rpm the new Speed Triple feels much more aggressive than the previous model. Yet despite that snappy
‘The Speed Triple is the same riproaring brute, but now it’s wearing a Savile Row suit’
pick-up, the new Triple has a beautiful air of sophistication and refinement in its power delivery, allowing you to get swept along on the swell of mid-range courtesy of an engine that’s keen-asEnglish-mustard to rev.
For all its new-found silkiness, the Speed Triple’s lost none of its rorty character; it’s still bold and mechanical, and the new, freer-flowing and lighter under-seat exhaust system does a magical job at amplifying the triplecylinder roar. It’s the very essence of the original 1994 hooligan distilled and digitised for the 21st century.
Ultra-modern ride-by-wire technology has also paved the way for the new Speed Triple’s five switchable rider modes – Rain, Road, Sport, Track and Rider – which all give the full 138bhp but alter the bike’s throttle response and levels of electronic intervention. Toggled on the move via a dedicated button on the left switchgear, the system also allows riders to create their own custom mode, and turn off traction control and ABS entirely.
The Speed Triple’s power characteristics mean it’s always given riders a confidence-inspiring connection between right wrist and rear tyre, but the addition of traction control for 2016 is an added boon. Even powering through the tight, technical twists of Calafat circuit’s highside-inducing corners, the refreshed 1050 pulses power through the 190-section rear without a slip or spin. Track mode lets you dish out liberal fistfuls of shove with only the smallest amount of traction control covering your rear, and neither this mode nor Sport will stop the Speed Triple doing what it does best: wheelying. The switchable ABS system is another welcome addition. Triumph claim the Brembo M4 monobloc calipers (common to both the Speed Triple R and S) have been modified to tone down the initial bite, but the brakes are still pretty sharp for road riding.
The slip-assist clutch does a decent job of keeping the rear stable during high-speed on-track corner entries, but the real bonus comes from the effect it has on the clutch lever. The old model had a heavy clutch which was a pain in the proverbials when filtering around town, but the 2016 bike’s clutch is feather-light and a joy to use.
User-friendliness is a theme that runs through the 2016 Speed Triple; it’s a bike that’s at home burping between bends on fast-flowing mountain roads, hustling on a trackday, or commuting through town. The only real limiting factor in its use as an everyday machine is just how stunning it is. Gone are the Dame Edna headlamps and in their place are a pair of scowling lights, mounted lower than before, featuring a strip of daytime LEDS that can be turned on or of via a switch on the bars. There are also cool bar-mounted mirrors (that actually work), dinky LED indicators and a radiator that’s smaller and more aesthetically pleasing than before. Without doubt, the 2016 Triumph Speed Triple R is the most detailed and high quality bike to ever come out of Hinckley.
The 1994 Speed Triple was the original factory streetfighter and inspired a generation of copycats. But the 2016 model is here to reclaim its patch, and we think it’s criminally good. Q Meet seven generations of brilliant Speed Triples, page 43
BRIT SPECIAL Celebrating the
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Slimmer tank and new seat have revolutionised the Speed Triple’s riding position
Looking good Restyled headlamps and flyscreen give the 2016 Triples a definite moody scowl, and in true streetfighter style the latest model also features factory-fitted bar end mirrors (which actually work) and tasty touches such as LED indicators and ma
Flowing free The Speed Triple retains its twin under-seat exhaust cans, but for 2016 the whole system has been completely redesigned and is not only 600g lighter than before, but also 70% more free-flowing and better sounding too while still being Euro4