Tri­umph at about to un­leash chaos in Moto2. Bike ride the rea­son why.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Adam Small­man Pho­tog­ra­phy Tri­umph/gareth Har­ford

IN­TIM­I­DA­TION. THAT’S THE word. Tri­umph’s moody and mono­chrome Moto2 pro­to­type is giv­ing me the jit­ters days be­fore I go to Sil­ver­stone to ride it. Will it eject out of my hand like a mil­lion Youtube wheelie fails? Will I re­mem­ber it’s one-up, five down? Could its weight and brakes be com­plicit in fir­ing me into the gravel? And what would Tri­umph, Si­mon Cra­far, Charley Boor­man and Da­mon Hill, all in at­ten­dance, say if I do? Leathers on, head in hat, heart in mouth. Here goes…

What’s it like to ride?

You may know Si­mon Cra­far’s honeyed Kiwi tones from his pit-lane pun­ditry for Mo­togp (and if you don’t then think of Neil from the Young Ones). But now, here at Sil­ver­stone one dry day af­ter the washed-out Bri­tish non-grand Prix, he is fall­ing out of his tree over Tri­umph’s de­monic-sound­ing triple tester that he’s just sprinted around the Stowe cir­cuit. The win­ner of the 1998 Bri­tish Grand Prix is de­claim­ing into his hel­met as Tri­umph’s team gather around him. ‘It’s the torque… it just pulls you off the’s so for­giv­ing. It’s magic, just bril­liant,’ he gushes, hunt­ing for breath. Bike’s turn comes soon af­ter and the first give­away that this is no mere Street Triple with stiff sus­pen­sion is the shout from a Tri­umph tech­ni­cian be­hind me in the pit­lane: ‘Put it in first and I’ll give you a push.’ Blip the throt­tle to avoid a pit-lane stall and the newly-cut tall first and sec­ond gears in this third and fi­nal gen­er­a­tion mo­tor are cleared, ac­com­pa­nied by a Spar­tan bat­tle cry howl. To­day, the big­gest prob­lem isn’t the bike but the tid­dly Stowe cir­cuit, barely more than a moped track (see p58). Housed in a Day­tona chas­sis – Tri­umph tested their own beam frame but it of­fered few ad­van­tages, de­spite the sports bike hav­ing been dis­con­tin­ued in 2016 – the 765 is kick­ing out a claimed 135bhp-plus, at least 12% more than the Street Triple RS. That ‘plus’ is a Tri­umph se­cret – we’ll as­sume it’s closer to 140bhp – and it’s fac­tor #1 in how this con­trol engine in Moto2 could trans­form the class. And at up­wards of 15% more power than the ru­moured 120bhp of the cur­rent Moto2 Honda engine, it nar­rows the gap with the premier class. Fac­tor #2 is that easy-to-ac­cess torque, courtesy of new gas-flowed cylin­der heads, with help from lighter valves, a higher 14:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio, lighter race al­ter­na­tor and more. Cra­far’s right. The bike flies off cor­ners and is, un­ex­pect­edly, sooo easy to ride that you fret about brak­ing too early, your po­si­tion on track, cor­ner speed and...well, ev­ery­thing but that hor­net of a bike be­neath you. It’s gas-and-go and it sweeps away musty rid­ing habits and re-en­gages a tardy brain. The power of three – light weight from its car­bon fi­bre body­work, Oz Rac­ing wheels and more, plus that fath­om­less pool of torque and pow­er­ful yet man­age­able sub-litre mo­tor – sign­post the way riders could bang in fast lap times next sea­son. It’ll be less about high cor­ner speeds and more of a riot of ball­sout early gassing to pocket those few ex­tra tenths.

How does it com­pare with the road bike?

Bluntly, the only thing the Moto2 bike and the Street Triple have in com­mon is three cylin­ders. Tri­umph have thought­fully brought a road bike to Sil­ver­stone for com­par­i­son. On track, the

plainer Jane Street Triple R is a gig­gle, bounc­ing its way around Stowe in Tig­ger­ish en­thu­si­asm and with foot­pegs drag­ging. Its mild 116bhp and trac­tion con­trol de­mand you whup the throt­tle wide with­out a jot of fear. Good fun. Throw a leg a lit­tle higher and land on the Moto2 de­vel­op­ment bike’s seat and – noth­ing gives. The K-tech sus­pen­sion hardly you and there’s a no-frills com­pact­ness to the bike (the engine cov­ers are nar­rower for a start). Stir in the low-key grey paint job and crack­ling Ar­row pipes at idle and, be­fore you even get to that push from be­hind, it’s clear. This. Is. The. Daddy.

So, will Tr iumph make one for the road?

The of­fi­cial line is a well-worn ‘we’re lis­ten­ing.’ It takes around three years to bring a new bike to market and it’s hard to be­lieve that Tri­umph haven’t got plans for a fresh Day­tona. But there are rea­sons why a new, Moto2 in­spired Day­tona may not ap­pear… In the ten years since Moto2 re­placed the 250 two-stroke class with Honda Cbr600-pow­ered bikes, sports­bike sales in the UK have halved and de­clined else­where too. The mid-class has born the brunt of that col­lapse. Sure, Yamaha’s salty and niche R6 is out there and, yes, there’s talk of a Kawasaki re­turn­ing to the class in 2019 too. But Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki all killed off their once-piv­otal 600-plus sports­bikes. Emis­sion rules and the shrink­ing market meant ten years of Tri­umph’s won­der­ful 675 Day­tona ended in 2016 too. The flinty eye of Tri­umph owner John Bloor won’t look kindly on en­ter­ing a market on its arthritic knees. At least not un­less he thinks Tri­umph can re-light it and own a siz­able chunk. Coun­ter­in­tu­itively, a new Day­tona may be the least im­por­tant as­pect of this Moto2 deal. Wit­ness: KTM. The Aus­trian’s are present in all three Grand Prix classes but they don’t have a flag­ship sports bike in their range and there are no signs of one com­ing. Mean­while, they con­tinue their ex­pan­sion of twin­cylin­der-led per­for­mance nakeds and ad­ven­ture bikes. ‘We’re not as well known around the world as we’d like,’ says Tri­umph’s Head of Brand, Miles Perkins. ‘The re­la­tion­ship with (Mo­togp rights holder) Dorna is... an op­por­tu­nity to be in­tro­duced to a whole new au­di­ence of very pas­sion­ate mo­tor­cy­cle fans,’ who can be wooed with the Street Triple fam­ily. ‘It’s about ex­po­sure and en­gi­neer­ing cred­i­bil­ity,’ adds the com­pany’s Chief Prod­uct Of­fi­cer Steve Sar­gent, as cer­tain as he

‘It’s the torque… it just pulls you off the turn... it’s so for­giv­ing’

can be that grids won’t be lit­tered with ex­plod­ing mo­tors and red-hot valves in the goolies. Crit­i­cally, the enor­mous growth in the world’s mid­dle classes in coun­tries such as Brazil, In­dia, China and else­where is where the ac­tion is for Tri­umph, al­ready rid­ing record sales these past two years. Buy­ers in these coun­tries are into ad­ven­ture bikes, mod­ern clas­sic and cruis­ers, not high-per­for­mance sports bikes. These mar­kets are Tri­umph’s pri­or­ity. A Day­tona 765 with Moto2 cre­den­tials can help. But it isn’t a must-have.

What can we ex­pect from Tri­umph in Moto2?

Tri­umph are to sup­ply enough mo­tors and parts for up to 34 bikes in the 2019 sea­son and one goal for Dorna is to ease the tran­si­tion of Moto2’s most suc­cess­ful riders into Mo­togp. That means nar­row­ing the gap with Mo­togp on elec­tron­ics, power and de­liv­ery to make Moto2 a bet­ter train­ing ground for riders. The prom­ise of in­creased power and torque is part of that, but of equal im­por­tance is the new Mag­neti Marelli engine man­age­ment sys­tem, which we couldn’t test on the pro­to­type Tri­umph. The Mag­neti Marelli ECU ‘gives the teams a lot of choice to make changes with ig­ni­tion, fu­elling, engine brak­ing, elec­tronic throt­tle maps, quick­shifter ad­just­ments and pit lane speed lim­iters,’ con­firms Steve Sar­gent. ECU aside, Si­mon Cra­far falls hook, line and sinker for the Tri­umph which he thinks will be trans­for­ma­tive for the class. ‘I’ve never liked 600s. Those Hon­das... the riders have to dance on the gear lever, scream the heads off (the mo­tors), use loads of cor­ner speed into turns. That’s bor­ing. We’ve got Moto3 for that.’

How will Tri­umph change Moto2?

Dis­missed by some for hav­ing nei­ther the man-wres­tles-bear el­e­ment of Mo­togp nor the all-or-noth­ing loop­i­ness of Moto3, Moto2 needs a shake up. And for Bike’s race pad­dock in­sider Ju­lian Ry­der that’s a key point. ‘We’ve had ba­si­cally the same rules in Moto2 since 2010 so the equa­tion that needs solv­ing to be com­pet­i­tive, the chas­sis sup­plier and rider skills, has been an­swered. It’s what hap­pens in tightly con­trolled series. Switch­ing engine sup­plier, power char­ac­ter­is­tics and the elec­tron­ics pack­age will in­tro­duce some chaos. Af­ter eight years the class needs fresh vari­ables’. We won’t re­ally know whether the ex­tra power, torque and elec­tron­ics will make the rac­ing closer un­til the che­quered flag drops af­ter the first GP in Qatar next March, but it should make grad­u­ates from Moto2 bet­ter equipped to deal with the chal­lenge of Mo­togp. ‘As well as be­ing more pow­er­ful it’s go­ing to be a more com­pli­cated mo­tor­cy­cle,’ ob­serves Ju­lian. ‘So as with a Mo­togp bike, there will be more vari­ables in the equa­tion.’ Roll on 2019.

‘Bluntly, the only thing the Moto2 bike and the road bike have in com­mon is three cylin­ders’

FRONT CALIPERS Nissin four-pis­ton ra­dial front calipers FRONT FORK CARTRIDGES K Tech DDS front fork cartridges BRAKE HOSES Bri­tish-made HEL brake hoses STEER­ING DAMPER Us-made GPR steer­ing damp­ing nd RA­DI­A­TOR Day­tona 675 race ra­di­a­tor QUICK­SHIFTER Tri­umph In­tel­lishift quick­shifter REAR SUS­PEN­SION Bri­tish-made K Tech DDS Pro rear sus­pen­sion REARSETS Bri­tish-made Pro­mach rearsets

Bike’s Small­man (surely the most in­ap­pro­pri­ate sur­name ever borne) and as­ton­ish­ing Tri­umph Moto2 pro­to­type on the snug Stowe cir­cuit, Sil­ver­stone SI­LENCERS Ital­ian-made Ar­row Pro-race si­lencers TYRES Dun­lop Moto2 slicks WHEELS Ital­ian-made Oz Rac­ing six-spoke forged mag­ne­sium Cat­tiva wheels

The start of a new era for Moto2, and from rst im­pres­sions at the Sil­ver­stone test it’s look­ing good Not a lot re­mains of the road bike Small­man and Cra­far: quite im­pressed with Tri­umph Ar­row pipes crackle at idle

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