Road-oriented Triumph Speed Triple shows the benefits

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Waiting for Triumph to update the venerable-but-much-revered Speed Triple?

Don’t hold your breath, because a new one isn’t due until the end of 2016.

Despite the Speed Triple being the seminal Triumph model of the John Bloor era, and this “R” version being arguably the Hinckley factory’s sportiest flagship, development is proceeding at a leisurely pace.

Road-oriented Triumph Speed Triple shows the benefits

We generally get a new Speed Triple every 10 years, so the third-generation version is overdue considering a 21st Anniversary model called the 94 (historic colours, new decals) has just reached our showrooms.

Yet this lack of updating doesn’t matter, for you know instantly that the current Street Triple R is one of the most righteous streetbikes on the market as soon as you throw a leg over one.

That realisation becomes all the more tangible if you don’t like gizmos.

The ST-R simply doesn’t need any at present as the model is quickly becoming the counterpoint for the all the over-complication that is currently occurring in bike development. If you like your streetbike to be well-sorted, well-balanced, and equipped with quality suspension and brakes, the STRumpet still has much to recommend it. That includes the simplicity that is a welcome by-product of Triumph’s lack of development.

Late Bauhaus design movement instigator, Walter Gropius, once defined the future of luxury by saying that the luxuries of today would become standards tomorrow, and that some current standards would evolve into luxuries. Simplicity is something that is rapidly becoming a luxury, and you’ll find ready examples of this trend in the interiors of high-end luxury cars. Look at the way the Rolls-Royce Ghost hides away all its secondary controls behind a thick layer of wooden dash panelling until required, or how an Audi disguises its information screen by lowering it into a slot when not in use.

The 2015 Speed Triple R might be an old-school streetbike by current standards, but it has handlebar switch-blocks that aren’t over-burdened with a mass of controls. Resetting the trip meter is therefore a quick n’ easy task aboard the Triumph. Try doing the same on gizmo-festooned competitors like the Ducati 1200S Monster or the BMW S1000R…

The Speed Triple R is more than just a rallying point for Luddites however. Triumph has had more than 10 years to get the current model right, and it shows. You climb aboard, and everything falls instantly to hand and foot. The slightly-confining riding position might lock you into a single place but it’s a superbly comfortable place in terms of access to bars, levers, and controls. Selecting first gear allows you to admire the light action of the clutch lever, and off you go, whisked towards the horizon by a plateau of torque that maintains its altitude throughout the entire rev range.

Road-oriented Triumph Speed Triple shows the benefits (3)

In the search for more top-end power, many of the Triumph’s streetbike competitors have adopted race engine architecture, with large-diameter valves stoking their combustion chambers that struggle to maintain gas flow at low revs. The Speed Triple benefits from having an engine designed purely for road use, and it shows in the flawless throttle response at all points of the analogue tachometer’s needle. There is a potency that can be tapped into anytime, in any gear, at any speed. That this muscularity is always smoothly delivered, sometimes with a Porsche-like bellow, only makes the 1050cc inline triple more endearing. However the gearbox is one area where this powertrain is starting to get a little long in the tooth, so to speak. Once one of the best shifters on the market, the six-speed now lacks the precise short-lever-throw action of newer transmissions.

You’ll get absolutely no complaints from me about the ST-R’s chassis. The analogue Ohlins suspension might be set-and-forget but it works wonderfully well on our roads. There’s an initial firmness that allows plenty of feedback from the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tyres, and, as more wheel travel is consumed, it’s followed by supple bump absorption that’ll keep the Triumph faithfully adhering to the rider’s desired track through bumpy bends. Steering is beautifully neutral, the bike seemingly simply following the rider’s line of sight while feeling like an extension of the body. With the back-up of strong Brembo M43 front calipers and well-calibrated ABS, the Speed Triple R has everything it needs to be a compelling and involving bike to ride.

So the real issue with the 2015 version isn’t its comparative lack of development, it’s Triumph’s newfound desire to become a more upmarket brand. The $26,990 Speed Triple R therefore costs a wallet-pummelling $3000 more than it did last year, with nothing new to justify such a price increase. Maybe Triumph is reading a little too much into the foresight of Gropius that simplicity will soon become a luxury.

Road-oriented Triumph Speed Triple shows the benefits (2)

Triumph Speed Triple R:

Engine: 1050cc liquid-cooled dohc 12-valve inline triple, stoked by electronic fuel injection to develop 99.3kW (133bhp) at 9,400rpm and 111Nm at 7,750rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed sequential gearbox, chain final drive.

Frame: Tubular alloy frame with alloy rear swingarm, 43mm Ohlins NIX30 fully-adjustable inverted front forks with 120mm of travel and fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 rear monoshock with 130mm of travel.

Price: $26,990

Hot: Still one of the best-sorted streetbikes on the market, and arguably the Triumph model that most lives up to the traditions of one of the world’s oldest motorcycle brands.

Not: Loses the forged alloy wheels of previous R-spec Speed Triples while gaining an unjustifiable three-grand price increase; gearbox now feels dated

By Paul Owen Courtesy Stuff

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