Speed Triple RS
THE HARDWARE LINING UP at the pit exit, ready for the fast group session at the No Limits trackday, is mighty impressive. There’s some serious tackle about to take to the track, and it’s all headed by a trio of full-on Moto2 bikes on slicks, and a bog standard Triumph Speed Triple, complete with numberplate, mirrors and Michael Rutter. He may be many things, but he’s not shy, or lacking in confidence. I’d be lurking somewhere towards the back of the group for fear of getting in other people’s way, but not our boy Rutter. This is his backyard, and he’s not about to be intimidated by anyone or any bike, regardless of the fact that he’s on a naked road bike with cold, treaded tyres. True to his racer instincts, as soon as the marshal raises her hand to wave the assembled bikes on to the circuit, Rutter is gone and on his way to Redgate before anyone else has even selected first gear. I’m glad it’s him and not me now being being chased down by two dozen hardcore trackday-ers, on hardcore bikes.
As the session unfolds, watching from the pitlane, it becomes apparent that Rutter and the Speed Triple are motoring. No one has really caught him, and in fact, he catches and starts passing the tail of the group. The Arrow exhausts crackle as he shuts off and downshifts for Redgate, but otherwise, the Speed Triple is the every definition of civility. He stays out until the chequered flag, which is a rare thing. Usually Rutter will only lap if he feels there is space for him to log a time, or if he has had instructions to stay out for extra pictures because our snapper forget to take his lens cap off earlier in the day. Having seen the amount of unobstructed clear laps he has had, and knowing that our photographer is well aware of the location of both his arse and elbow, my suspicions are confirmed when he eventually returns. He has been the sort of self-indulgent glee you experience when you know you’re on the slowest bike on track, yet because it is such a sweet handling bike that you’re able to use every single horsepower.
Through the stench of burning brake pads, Rutter begins his appraisal of the Speed Triple. “It’s got really good ground clearance, which lets you use everything the tyres have to give. The engine is really smooth, and has a brilliant throttle connection, which really lets you feel what’s going on with the tyres, especially the rear. The front end felt a bit light on the power down Craner Curves, but was really stable in a straight line, which is at odds. The traction control is a bit keen for my liking, but you’ve got to remember, ultimately, it’s
RUTTER ON SPEED RS ‘I was really impressed with the fade-free brake set-up, ground clearance, and mostly the excellent throttle connection’
not a sportsbike, and not really supposed to do this kind of thing. I’m surprised the brakes didn’t fade considering the hammering that I was giving them (a fact backed up by my stinging eyes). That’s a really impressive brake set-up, because there isn’t one hint of fade”. Rutter is full of praise for the bike, and the datalogger reveals a best lap time just under 1min 41sec, which is just about as quick as I can go round Donington Park on an R1.
James from K-Tech gets his measuring tape out and declares the Speed Triple’s standard set-up far too soft for track use, and he gets busy with the spanners. Twenty minutes later, James is much happier with the Triumph’s springy bits, and Rutter doesn’t even need it pointing out that he needs to go back to work. He’s all over it, and keen to go out again. I sense a genuine fondness for the bike from him. When all is said and done, he may have skills on a motorbike that most of us will never understand, and be able to do things with a motorbike that defies reason, but he is also first and foremost a biker. He has a genuine appreciation for the Speed Triple, and clearly is getting a kick out of riding it.
Another full session completed, and straight away, he declares the new set-up a huge improvement, in particular the way the front end
‘It’s blisteringly fast for a bike with 140bhp, no fairing and essentially a decade-old design’
tracked down Craner Curves under power. The datalogger backs this up, and reveals a lap time of 1:39.51sec, which is blisteringly fast for any bike, let alone one with only 140bhp, no fairing, and essentially a two decade-old design. Impressive lap time aside, even more impressive is seeing Rutter’s genuine enjoyment in riding the Speed Triple RS.
Decent ground clearance makes a huge difference
Suspension tweaks give more confidence in the front end