BIKE - January 1999 issue
| Article posted in its entirety with
permission of Kevin Ash - Copyright Kevin Ash and Bike Magazine
Reproduction of this article without permission of Kevin Ash strictly prohibited
As written by Kevin Ash of Bike magazine, Jan 1999 edition.
"I was pretty pleased with myself when I got back from riding Triumph's new Sprint ST, because I'd found two things to criticize- the wobbly mirrors and the ugly gap between the fairing and frame. The ST project chief, Chris Hennegan, wasn't worried. "These aren't the mirrors well be using on the production bikes and that gap will be closed too."
I say this to prepare you for a barrage of praise for what is one of the most unexpected, yet deserving, contenders for the next bike of the year title. The Sprint ST is not just good, its exceptional. The best accolade I can come up with is its probably better than a VFR.
The first reason is the engine. A huge amount of work has gone into refining the fuel injected triple, sourced from the 955i Daytona but tune for extra mid range at the expense of 18 top-end horses. And its paid off. The throttle response is crisp, immediate and utterly reliable right across the rev range with no hint of a flat spot or stutter, with the additional reward of the growling exhaust note that's unique to three cylinder motors.
The engine doesn't complain about pulling top gear from tickover, but starts working hard just past 3000rpm. From there to 8000rpm the torque curve is as fat as you want and the bikes better if you stick in this range rather than revving it up to the 9200rpm power peak. Still even if you do, there are more horses than either a VFR or ST4 can muster and the Sprint ST can put on a pretty serious turn of speed - Triumph claims it will reach 155mph.
What it also claims are some rather astonishing fuel consumption figures, such as more than 50mpg at 75mph. The press pack states "on one test route the Sprint ST returned 56mpg while a leading competitor [come on boys we all know you mean the VFR] could only manage 38mpg." Which will be easy on the wallet, and the environment, as well as endowing the Sprint with a very handy 200-mile plus range.
You'll be happy that to do that on one bit, too, because comfort is excellent. The suspiciously VFR style riding position induces no aches or pains, the seat still feels like a seat after four hours aboard and the fairing wards off the wind pressure without making a lot of noise about it. Protection isn't up to tourer levels, mainly because of the low screen, but its as good as anything in its class.
The final seal on ensuring long distance happiness comes from the suspension, which provides you with a remarkably good ride without making you feel like you and the road aren't on speaking terms. Adjustability is limited to preload at both ends and rebound damping at the back, which also alters the compression slightly, but unless your expecting the bike to deal with a porky pillion and a kitchen sink, you're unlikely to want to bother.
That's the touring side sorted, but this is meant to be a sports bike too. And if thetas what you want, that's exactly what you the Sprint ST will give you.
The motor is explained in full on page 10, but its worth adding how easy it is to pop the front wheel up with a snap of the throttle; always a neat trick to remember your 'sensible' tourer can boot ass with the flash lads.
A longer wheelbase than the 955i means more stability and slower turning, as befits the role, but the Sprint is no sluggard on the snakey bits. Triumph says that on some racetracks its just a gnats nadger short of the Daytona's lap times, and the precise, faithful handling certainly inspires plenty of confidence. Yet most impressive is the high-speed stability, which is a whole league better than the vagueness (at 120mph plus) of the VFR and to a lesser extent the ST4. Only at very low speeds does the Sprint give way to the Honda, which is better balanced and more natural up to 20mph or so.
There's more to come, as even the brakes are the biz. They don't bite quite as eagerly as a 955i's at first squeeze, but thereafter give you lots of power and all the right messages to help you use it. Even the backs not bad, which seems to be rare these days.
So it seems that everything is sorted then: handling, brakes, engine, comfort all fine (at worst). Even the gearbox was light and positive where Triumph's can - could - get a bit notchy.
Which leaves the most subjective thing of the lot: the styling. When I saw the Sprint at bike shows I was underwhelmed, if not turned completely off like some. Well out on the road it does look a lot better in a restrained sort of way, though it wont stop traffic like the 996.
And if that's the ordinary bit, its the only one, as this is an extraordinary bike. At about £8000 its £500 more than the newly discounted VFR - the full comparison test cant come too soon. Just as well its next month. Kevin Ash. Bike magazine Jan 1999."