If there is one manufacturer worth keeping an eye on in the coming years it’s Triumph. The British firm has virtually re-engineered its marketing strategy, and the results to date are impressive to say the least. Gone are the manufacturer’s finicky two-wheel time sucks of yesteryear; replacing them is a lineup of refined, well-packaged motorcycles that are more than capable of running with the Japanese — or European — competition on the street. And one need only look at the AMA Pro Racing results to see how Triumph’s aggressive efforts have paid off at the racetrack.
Much of Triumph’s recent success can be attributed to the brawn of its R models. Offered as an alternative to their standard counterparts, Triumph’s R-labeled bikes are everything you wish the base models could be — and for (typically) not much more money. They jettison middle-of-the-road suspension for high-dollar componentry, abandon run-of-the-mill brakes for something with more bite, and utilize carbon fiber where plastic panels would do. The result (as the Street Triple R and Daytona 675R have proven) is typically a class-leading package that’s one part practical, one part hooligan. For 2012, that impressive R lineup is one model stronger thanks to the addition of Triumph’s new Speed Triple R. Let the hooliganism begin.
The Building Blocks
The base-model Speed Triple was last updated in early 2011, and the improvements Triumph made back then would play a pivotal role in the success of the new R model. The chassis received the most attention, with the new Triple running a redesigned aluminum twin-spar frame that worked with a more heavily canted engine to put added weight over the front wheel. Steering geometry was tailored toward quick steering by means of a steeper 22.8-degree rake, while a 90.9mm trail (versus 84mm) and 18.5mm-longer swingarm were incorporated to add some stability to a bike that’s overly susceptible to windblasts (more on that later).
In an effort to put even more weight over the front of the motorcycle, Triumph engineers repositioned the battery to just in front of the reworked tank and pulled the handlebar closer to the rider, pushing the footpegs 29mm frontward to complement the aforementioned change. Engine updates were minimal in 2011, and consisted of little more than an updated airbox with increased filter area. The story is much the same for 2012 — no engine updates — with the R model retaining the same 1050cc powerplant that’s long made the bike a standout on the street. But what the Speed Triple R lacks in engine revisions, it more than makes up for in chassis and aesthetic updates.
The Speed Triple R’s numerous...
The Speed Triple R’s numerous carbon fiber panels are formed using an autoclave process and trimmed by CNC machines. It’s doubtful they offer much advantage in terms of weight, but boy do they look good.
Back in 2011, Triumph engineers hacked an impressive 6.6 pounds off the Speed Triple. And in embellishing the bike with its R treatment for 2012, they’ve lopped off another 4.5 pounds. Carbon fiber panels are placed just about everywhere the eye can see, but are more for aesthetics than weight loss. The PVM forged aluminum wheels, on the other hand, drop around 3.75 pounds where it matters most while at the same time significantly reducing inertia. Brembo monobloc calipers flank the new front wheel, and are identical to those seen on the Speed Triple R’s sportier sibling, the Daytona 657R. A Brembo master cylinder up front accompanies the new brake caliper setup.
But nothing transforms the Speed Triple R more than the Öhlins suspension front and rear. These Showa replacements ooze racetrack success, and while they’re identical to the 675R’s units in terms of architecture, they’re different in regards to spring and damping rates. The Speed Triple R’s NIX30 fork runs a stiffer 9.5N/mm spring, for instance (compared to the standard model’s 9.0N/mm example), whereas the twin-tube TTX36 shock runs a 100N/mm spring over the standard model’s 95N/mm piece.
Setting adjustments can be...
Setting adjustments can be made within seconds thanks to the TTX36’s easy-to-reach adjusters. The R-model’s shock is much more composed than the standard model’s Showa unit, especially when riding aggressively.
Earlier we mentioned that the R-model’s engine is identical, but that’s not entirely true — the Triple R runs a practically all-new transmission, bolstered by a new selector drum, selector shafts and tighter tolerances. Ten of the 12 gears in the six-speed transmission are retooled utilizing a five-dog design that’s intended to improve shift engagement, and sixth gear was shortened by 3.4 percent, a change we’d find difficult to discern on the street.
If all this number crunching and spec-sheet jargon sounds familiar don’t fret, it’s not your mind playing tricks on you. We did in fact recently test and report on the Speed Triple R following the bike’s official launch in Jerez, Spain (“The Right Stuff,” May ’12), but that test saw us running laps around the world-famous Circuito de Jerez, a fast, bowling-alley smooth track that told us little more than how the Speed Triple R would work when ridden at ten-tenths. A chance to test the bike stateside, on our roads and at…well, just a tick below ten-tenths, right Bradley?…would ultimately tell us more about how the bike performs in a real-world environment.