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This article reprinted with permission from Inside Motorcycles - Copyright
© -1999 Inside Motorcycles
Unauthorized reproduction or duplication prohibited.
By Ian Chadwick
The first time I saw Triumph's new bike, the Sprint ST,an alarm must have gone
off somewhere. My wife immediately rushed over and took my arm, guiding me away
from the bike. "You can't have one," she told me. "You already
have a motorcycle".
Besides, I'm a cruiser kind of guy. I like low, slung-back bikes, with plenty
of chrome and loud pipes. The Sprint is Sporty with a fairing, not my sort
bike. It's, well, too young for me. Or so she said.
But when I was offered a chance to test ride the new Triumiph Sprint ST for a
week, I jumped at the chance. I was actually pretty apprehensive. It looked
like too much bike for me; too sporty, and too fast. I imagined I'd need a
chiropractor to unbend me after a few minutes in the saddle.
Sportbikes seem to have a throttle that has about l/16th of an inch of twist
between idle and light speed. I get nervous just standing beside one. They are
twitchy, eager to rise up on one wheel and race away. Not the Sprint. My first
reaction was pleasant surprise that gave way to face-splitting grins.
This is a remarkably well-behaved machine, a thorouhbred, not just a
high-spirited racer. The throttle is smart and responsive, but Triumph tuned
the Sprint to put the power in the middle, all at the low end. Within a few
days I had put 500 kilometres on the ST and taken it to the limits of the local
roads - and my riding abilities.
Triumph has completely rebuilt the Sprint for '99, starting with the same 955i
engine used in the T955 Daytona and the Speed Triple. The fuel-injected triple
is smooth and powerful. Although positioned as a sport-tourer - the emphasis is
on sport - the tuning makes the ST a competent and comfortable street bike as
well. Impressed ? I was knocked out by the confort level the ST offered, not to
mention the sheer grunt. The seating position puts the rider forward, but not
aggressively so. It's more forward than the Triumph Trophy and Honda ST1100,
but less so than the Daytona and most spolrt bikes. I quickly got used to it
and found it comfortable, even for long rides.
I never felt I had lost control of the bike when accelerating, even quickly. In
passing, a twist of the wrist gave a whopping power surge, but it was delivered
smoothly and without being choppy or twitchy. The tachometer redlined at 9,500.
I reached l40 km/h in sixth gear at around 5,000 rpm. I'm not sure where I'd
need the rest of the power. At every speed, the ST was agile and steady, and
inspired confidence. I was able to ride it into corners on the back roads and
never felt uncomfortable or unsure of the bike. Around town, even in wet
weather, I made low-speed turns faster and at lower angles than I normally can.
It's such a competent bike that I always felt I was in the safe zone That
doesn't mean the ST is a middle-of-the~road bike. There's a hooligan hiding
inside that engine, but it waits for you to command it to come out. The EFI
system provides a silky-smooth power flow that doesn't even need a choke to
fire it up cold. Up front are twin-four-pot disc brakes that provide solid
stopping power. The windscreen is small and gives partial protection, but
unless you hunker right down on.the tank, it's really too low for most riders,
directing the air up around the head level. The fairing provides adequate
protection from the wind, but at street speeds, you'll notice the hot air from
the engine is directed over your legs and the frame can get uncomfortably warm
The adjustable suspension was fine - the ST didn't Feel mushy and didn't bottom
out. Triumph rebuilt the tubular Daytona frame, reverting to a more
conventional beam cross-section. It looks serious, but stylish. For a'cruiser
guy, the ST is very quiet. When riding there were times when I couldn't judge
the need to shift by the engine sound. I'd opt for the add-on pipe that gives a
heartier sound. Finish and looks are beautiful. The bike came with hard-shell
bags large enough to store a full-face helmet. The fairing is clean, and twin
headlights make a pleasant face. The sidestand folds neatly away, with the
kicker between the left footpeg and the shifter. There's a snap-on peg on the
left to provide leverage if you want to add a centre stand.
The ST gets appreciative glances from the younger crowd.. Older riders turned
back to look only when they realized the tank says Triumph. Then it got nods of
approval. I was thoroughly impressed by all aspects of the ST. The saddest day
of the year was when I returned it to J&R. But it left a lasting impression
My thanks to Triumph of Canada and J&R Cycle of Wasaga Beach for providing
tbe Sprint ST for this test ride.