Speed Triple RS

Performance Bikes (UK) - - THE RUTTER TEST -

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

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