Tri­umph speed Triple Rs

Al­though rain played spoil­sport, we still man­aged to have a re­ward­ing ride on this street­fighter from Hinckley that has re­ceived one of its most sig­nif­i­cant up­dates since 1994


Bri­tain’s favourite big naked road­ster gets an over­haul for 2018

Today’s speed Triple Rs test wasn’t sup­posed to be like this. I’d headed for donington park this morn­ing dreaming of carv­ing around the fa­mous Grand prix cir­cuit astride Tri­umph’s lat­est su­per-naked star, ac­cel­er­at­ing out of turns with my kneeslider clip­ping the kerbs and the rear tyre paint­ing black lines on the track.

In­stead, I’m splash­ing down a ru­ral road nearby in the english Mid­lands in the pour­ing rain, feel­ing dis­tinctly damp due to the naked Tri­umph’s lack of weather pro­tec­tion (and the fact that I, ahem, for­got to re­place the water­proof lin­ing that I’d re­moved from my jacket). The road’s sur­face is slip­pery with wa­ter plus oc­ca­sional patches of gravel or farmer’s muck, whose smell hangs in the air…

and de­spite all that, I’m hav­ing a bril­liant ride. on the straights the speed is punch­ing for­ward at an ex­hil­a­rat­ing pace, helped by flaw­less fuel-in­jec­tion and with its high-level car­bon cans howl­ing a tune­ful three­cylin­der sound­track. In the bends the Triple Rs’ bal­ance and agility are mak­ing it de­light­fully easy to ride. Its Brem­bos and cor­ner­ing aBs are tak­ing the risk out of brak­ing and its classy Öh­lins sus­pen­sion and high­tech trac­tion con­trol are help­ing its pirellis max­i­mize the limited grip.

I cer­tainly wouldn’t have cho­sen such typ­i­cally Bri­tish weather for today’s road and track test, but the rain is ar­guably high­light­ing the Triple’s key fea­tures more vividly than a hot, dry day could ever have done. Hinckley’s iconic three-cylin­der street­fighter has been up­dated nu­mer­ous times since snarling on to the scene in 1994. But this update, which in­tro­duces an IMU-con­trolled elec­tron­ics to the up­mar­ket Rs ver­sion, is among the most sig­nif­i­cant yet — and the more tricky the con­di­tions, the more ob­vi­ous its ben­e­fits are.

Vis­ually, the speed Triple is lit­tle changed from the model that was in­tro­duced two years ago, fea­tur­ing a fly-screen above the twin head­lights and a stubby rear end with twin high­level si­lencers. But this higher-spec Rs ver­sion has ti­ta­nium-and-car­bon ar­row cans that save a few ki­los, plus

The Tri­umph is huge fun and its ABS and trac­tion con­trol make light of the fa­mously slip­pery­when-wet cir­cuit

car­bon front mud­guard, and ra­di­a­tor cowls. Both the RS and stan­dard S in­cor­po­rate more than 100 new com­po­nents in the 1,050-cc, 12-valve en­gine, in­clud­ing lighter cylin­der lin­ers, crank­shaft gear, starter mo­tor, and al­ter­na­tor.

Many top-end parts are also new, in­clud­ing the cylin­der-head, which has re­shaped ports and new cams, and re­designed pis­tons that in­crease com­pres­sion ra­tio to al­most 13:1. The air-box and ex­haust sys­tem are new, help­ing to al­low the en­gine to rev 1,000 rpm higher and boost­ing max­i­mum out­put by 10 PS to 150 PS at 10,500 rpm. Peak torque is also in­creased (by five Nm, to 117 Nm), and de­vel­oped 700 rpm ear­lier, at 7,150 rpm.

The elec­tron­ics upgrade sees both RS and S mod­els get cruise con­trol and il­lu­mi­nated switchgear, plus a large and colour­ful TFT dis­play sim­i­lar to that of last year’s Street Triple R. As be­fore, the ride-by-wire sys­tem al­lows mul­ti­ple rid­ing modes: four for the Speed Triple S and an ex­tra Track set­ting for the RS. The up­mar­ket model also fea­tures key­less ig­ni­tion and an In­er­tial Mea­sure­ment Unit, which al­lows more so­phis­ti­cated trac­tion con­trol plus cor­ner­ing ABS.

Chas­sis lay­out is ba­si­cally un­changed, in­clud­ing the tubu­lar alu­minium frame and the sus­pen­sion which, in the Rs model’s case, com­bines Öh­lins’ 43-mm NIX30 forks with TTX36 rear shock (the s has showa springs front and rear). Most brak­ing hard­ware also re­mains un­changed and is shared by both mod­els, with Brembo’s ra­dial Monobloc calipers up front and a twin­pot Nissin at the rear. The Rs’ front brake lever is ad­justable for span and lever ra­tio, both mod­els get new fivespoke wheels wear­ing pirelli’s di­a­blo su­per­corsa sp rub­ber.

The rid­ing po­si­tion is un­changed, with a gen­tle lean for­ward to­wards the slightly raised one-piece han­dle­bar and fairly gen­er­ous legroom thanks to footrests that are only mod­er­ately high and rear-set. With the re­mote key in your pocket (ir­ri­tat­ingly, it has to be brought out to open the fuel cap), a long press of the starter but­ton brings to life the TFT dis­play, which of­fers sev­eral choices of view and a pleas­antly in­tu­itive method of tog­gling be­tween the rid­ing modes.

We’ve barely left donington’s pad­dock on the road ride be­fore the first spits on my vi­sor con­firm that the threat­ened rain is on the way, but al­ready the speed Triple’s ad­dic­tive blend of easy power, in­volv­ing char­ac­ter and sweet han­dling are re­mind­ing me just why it has long been so pop­u­lar. at 189 kg dry the speed is not out­stand­ingly light and you have to wonder if Tri­umph will one day re­vamp it with a lower and more com­pact ex­haust sys­tem, as they did five years ago with the street Triple.

But, maybe, there’s no need when it han­dles as well as this. on the twist­ing mi­nor roads west of donington the Tri­umph flicks into turns with a nudge of those wide bars and rides bumps non­cha­lantly thanks to its well­con­trolled Öh­lins units. It also fires out again with the ben­e­fit of a glo­ri­ously direct and ac­cu­rate throt­tle re­sponse, with ei­ther Road or the slightly more direct sport se­lected — and with the ex­pe­ri­ence height­ened by an in­tox­i­cat­ing bur­ble, hard­en­ing to a full-blown howl, from the air-box and those high-level ar­rows.

The Triple is se­ri­ously quick, too; those ad­di­tional 10 horses giv­ing it some use­ful ex­tra straight-line beans and rais­ing its top speed well above 240 km/h. It’s cer­tainly fast enough to be fun on a cold april day as we head northwards on the a515 main road, charg­ing for­ward at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity with the help of its mile-wide power band and the slick gear­box and quick­shifter, which has a de­li­ciously smooth ac­tion and won’t miss a change all day. shame the shifter’s not stan­dard fit­ment even on the Rs; it’s cer­tainly a worth­while ad­di­tion.

Be­fore long, those first drops have turned into proper rain, the road is in­creas­ingly damp and I’m al­ready glad of the Triple’s trac­tion con­trol, which au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs to suit the se­lected en­gine mode. Less clever is the fact that al­though the Triple Rs has an IMU, it isn’t clever enough to al­low wheel­ies with the trac­tion con­trol en­abled, as you can on bikes that have a sep­a­rate wheelie con­trol set­ting.

Not that I’m con­tem­plat­ing stunts by the time we reach the peak district Na­tional park. some of england’s best bik­ing roads are round here but it’s se­ri­ously wet now. With so much grit, muck and wa­ter on the road, it’s good to know that the pow­er­ful and

con­trol­lable Brembo front stop­per is backed up by a cor­ner­ing ABS sys­tem which, in the­ory, would let me grab a hand­ful while swerv­ing round a mur­der­ous trac­tor.

There’s plenty to keep the Triple’s rider happy in more ev­ery­day sit­u­a­tions, too. The Rs comes with a so-called com­fort seat that didn’t cause any aches. Fuel ca­pac­ity is an un­changed 15.5 litres; good for a re­al­is­tic 220 km at a typ­i­cal six litres/100 km or slightly bet­ter. The bar-end mir­rors stay clear, the new back-lit switchgear and TFT screen add to the air of qual­ity, and the lengthy ac­ces­sory list in­cludes heated grips that sadly weren’t fit­ted to the test bike.

By the time we’re back at donington, we’ve cov­ered about 170 km, most of them in the rain, and de­spite be­ing wet and cold I’m hugely im­pressed by a speed Triple Rs that is a dis­tinctly bet­ter road bike than its pre­de­ces­sors. It’s quicker and more re­spon­sive, looks and feels more so­phis­ti­cated, and gains a valu­able safety edge with its new elec­tron­ics. That’s con­firmed by a thrash round donington, where the Tri­umph is huge fun and its ABS and trac­tion con­trol make light of the fa­mously slip­pery-when-wet cir­cuit.

The only real down­side is that the Triple Rs’ ex­tra fea­tures and re­fine­ment in­evitably add to its price. avail­able in black or white paint­work, it’s roughly 15 per cent more ex­pen­sive than the s model and costs only slightly less than some classy ri­vals, in­clud­ing aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 RR, KTM’s 1290 su­per duke R, and yamaha’s MT-10 sp. But that’s fine, be­cause this speed Triple is a gen­uine su­per-naked, too, and it’s well up for a street­fight with all of them.

It’s quicker and more re­spon­sive, looks and feels more so­phis­ti­cated, and gains a valu­able safety edge

Back-lit switchgear looks awe­some and works well

The now fa­mil­iar Tri­umph colour dash

Lat­est it­er­a­tion of Tri­umph’s 1,050cc triple makes 150 PS

Slant­ing LED sig­na­ture adds char­ac­ter to the fa­mil­iar bugeyed face

Öh­lins for this top-spec RS vari­antTi­ta­nium and car­bon Ar­row ex­haust sounds hair-rais­ingSolid stop­ping power, cour­tesy Brembo

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