Triumph redesigned the Speed Triple ergonomics almost two years ago now, but between the track launches and zero test time back home, we had yet to get a feel for how Triumph’s new ergonomics package would work in regards to day-to-day commuting. Testing the Speed Triple R would give us some insight. At 32.5 inches, the R-model’s seat height is a smidgen lower than the 2010 Speed Triple’s measurements, and overall pretty easy on riders looking to balance the 479-pound bike (wet, full fuel) on more than just the balls of their feet. Reach to the handlebar is best described as short thanks to the 2011 update that saw the bar pushed more toward the rider. Having just hopped off the Tuono V4 R however, Kento noted that the Speed Triple R’s handlebar is mounted relatively low, while Bradley confirmed that the bar’s comparatively flat bend didn’t help matters. Footpeg-to-seat distance is tight, but surprisingly affected overall comfort very little during commutes to and from the office.
A generous thumb to the starter brings the 1050cc triple to life and the bike settles in at a reasonably high 1300 rpm, with the exhaust emitting your typical three-cylinder note once the throttle is blipped; really, there’s almost no need for an aftermarket exhaust. As you sit there letting the bike warm up, rock it from side to side and you’ll notice the R doesn’t feel more than a pound lighter than the standard model. The difference is that the bike’s weight loss has been more than offset by its new ABS system. But the R is still plenty manageable at city-street speeds, and the light steering makes knifing through traffic child’s play. This is a streetfighter, after all.
We’d rate the Triumph’s instrument...
We’d rate the Triumph’s instrument cluster a seven out of 10. There’s plenty of information and it’s easy to read at a glance, but it could be more organized. We’d score the mirrors similarly, because while they are vibration-free, they’re mounted pretty close to the rider and don’t provide the widest view of what’s behind you.
There are two things to notice...
There are two things to notice here, Ohlins and Brembo. Both the NIX30 fork and monobloc calipers make riding in the tight stuff a better experience. Tied to the monoblocs is a Brembo master cylinder that thankfully doesn’t provide an overly aggressive initial bite.
Like ‘em or not, Triumph’s...
Like ‘em or not, Triumph’s new headlight design is here to stay. We really don’t have any complaints, and Bradley actually likes them better than the old design. Unfortunately, most hardcore Triumph fans won’t agree.
The aforementioned ABS can be turned off, so don’t shun the Triumph just yet. The system (which we were unable to test at the bike’s launch) reverts to the On position when the key is cycled however, meaning you’ll need to dedicate an extra 10 seconds or so to each gas stop should you wish to toggle back to the Off position. Thankfully, the LCD screen that flanks the Triumph’s analog tachometer is easy to navigate, with two buttons on its left side that allow you to swap between trip meters and adjust settings. Unless you’re a hooligan at heart, there’s not a pressing need to turn the ABS off. The system works surprisingly well to keep cycling to a minimum, and only out back did we occasionally get frustrated with the intervention levels.
The Speed Triple R’s brakes feel noticeably tamer than the 675R’s, be it because of the ABS plumbing or the added weight the naked bike carries over its sportbike sister. The first quarter-inch of pull is soft, but grab the brakes beyond that and you’ll have so much stopping power you won’t know what to do with it…aside from “inadvertent” stoppies of course. “No really, officer, I didn’t know this 479-pound bike would go on its nose so easy.” Back to reality, this brake package really is impressive, with great power and enough feedback from the lever to make stoplight-to-stoplight riding a one-finger chore.
The Öhlins NIX fork and TTX shock match the Brembo brakes in terms of performance — especially when you get into the tight stuff, where the more aggressively damped suspenders feel immediately at home. Conveniently, Triumph will ship each Speed Triple R with recommended suspension settings (based on extensive testing done with Öhlins) for Comfort, Sport or Circuit — as the Brits label them. The Comfort settings provide little compression or rebound damping front or rear, whereas the Circuit settings require you significantly tighten the suspension up on both ends. Sport splits the difference, and was where we set the clickers. Aside from a few small damping adjustments, we went about taking some preload out of the front fork.
The biggest difference between the R model and its less-equipped counterpart is that the bike is much more stable through the corner, without that soft feel that has the standard model pumping over the smallest undulations in the road. Feedback from the front isn’t overly inspiring (this is a 479-pound naked bike after all), but feel out back is rock-solid once the suspension settings are dialed in to suit your pace — and weight. Getting the bike to work well in the tight stuff — for us at least — didn’t come at the expense of a brutal ride down the freeway either.
Another advantage the R model holds over the standard Speed Triple — and perhaps its biggest advantage — is that it requires less effort through the transitions. One reason is its firmer suspension, which sits higher in its travel rather than packing down. The PVM wheels reduce inertia by 16 percent up front and 25 percent out back, and play an even bigger role in the Speed Triple R’s quick steering. These hoops are 2.5mm thinner along the walls, and are perhaps the most overlooked addition for 2012.
Because there were no drastic changes made to its powerplant, the Speed Triple R feels identical to the standard model when you roll the throttle on. Power is immediate and available throughout the rev range thanks to the triple’s extremely flat torque curve. Most jaunts down the freeway are spent with the tachometer needle hovering right around the 5000 rpm mark, and there’s enough midrange power to squirt past cars when need be. The 1050cc engine doesn’t feel like it revs as quick as its 675cc siblings, but power builds seamlessly up to the bike’s 10,300 rpm rev limiter. In the canyons especially, we found ourselves making fewer shifts and using the bike’s torque to launch us off the exit of corners.
Forged aluminum wheels direct...
Forged aluminum wheels direct from PVM drop an astounding 3.75 pounds and turn the R model into a much quicker steering motorcycle…thankfully. Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires come standard, and offer superb grip plus improved steering characteristics. Notice the ABS ring out back.
Even when ridden aggressively, our test mule was capable of some impressive fuel mileage numbers. 150 miles were a breeze on a full tank, and 40 mpg wasn’t much of a problem. The Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires took a bit more of a beating when speeds picked up, their softer construction wearing a bit quick after a few spirited rides. Grip is absolutely superb however, and we gladly traded mileage for traction.
Switching through the gearbox is evidence that the transmission is better than in years past, although it’s still not perfect. Shifts are just a bit notchy, and you need to roll off the throttle pretty generously in order to grab the next gear. Finding neutral requires some patience, and why we couldn’t get a quickshifter for the extra money we don’t understand. Especially considering how well the 675R’s unit works.
There are a few other concerns with the Speed Triple, but it really comes down to us being nitpicky. Windblasts are pretty brutal the second you pass the 80 mph mark (Triumph’s most popular accessory is its flyscreen), and there isn’t an overabundance of room in the saddle for bigger riders to move around. These are aspects we didn’t bother to recognize when blasting around the racetrack, but found important when commuting on a daily basis. Aside from that, our only gripe goes back to having to turn the ABS off every time we cycle the key.