|My first ever ride on an ST was sixty miles
against the clock on winding ice-covered January roads. Haste was tempered by
the knowledge Id have to pay a £1,000 excess should I crash Clay
Cross Powersports demo bike! Despite an understandably nervous ride the
Sprint impressed with its vice-free stability and excellent spread of power. I
I picked it up from Greens of Longton on a wet March 1st - £7,250 (a
£700 discount on list price) plus £400 for panniers and £366
(10% discount) for tank bag, inner pannier bags, heated grips, mudguard
extensions and a top rack. With plenty of mud and salt on Peak District roads
the bike was filthy by the time I reached home. Nevertheless, the machine looks
likely to survive many winters, as theres no chrome except for the
cable/lever adjusters and steering stem nut - almost every other major external
part is either stainless, plastic or alloy. The bike is easy to clean
superficially - just wash the deeply-lacquered bodywork. The stainless exhausts
and thick engine paint also keep things healthy under the fairing.
There were three small faults on first inspection: The plastic fork protectors
faced slightly sideways; the offside flexible mirror shroud was not hooked over
its fairing mount, and all three front lights had misted up (there was visible
water in the bottom of the central pilot light). The first two took five
minutes to fix, whilst the lights subsequently dried out and have shown no sign
of damp since, despite riding for hours in much worse weather.
Early modifications included:
1) Moving levers and switches inwards by about a centimetre and shortening the
bars, which is a bit fiddly, but looks tidier and gives a worthwhile
improvement in wind protection.
2) Drilling the clutch lever near the fulcrum and inserting a small stainless
self-tapper provides a simple span adjuster.
3) Gear and brake linkages were adjusted to raise and lower the foot levers
respectively. Even in its highest setting, however, it is still easy to wear
shoe leather away on fast lefthanders if one rides with the foot under the gear
Not until the thirteenth day of riding was it dry enough to begin scuffing the
edges of the tyres. Ground clearance seemed fine at first, but eventually the
footrest touched on a favourite bend. By 5,000 miles the entire hero blob had
gone and the footrest was down to the alloy, although in fairness I
havent seen another Triumph so afflicted. Seems you lot don't have the
fun or the roads we do around Buxton! Slightly more worrying is the way the
fairing is grounding on bumpy righthanders. Personally I view the damage as a
badge of achievement, but fastidious hard riders may worry about resale values.
A few weeks later, charging to keep ahead of a Kawasaki race rep, the centre
stand grounded on both sides and the sidestand on the left. Neither felt as if
theyd dislodge the back wheel and the sidestand is alloy, so that will
hopefully grind down safely. The suspension needs only a screwdriver to adjust
and was duly tweaked front and rear to pillion settings when panniers were
fitted. This restored the ground clearance, but of course one then simply rides
to the new limits!
Brim-to-brim, the first tanks yielded 56, 50, 56, and 55 mpg, which I find
astonishing, not to mention vaguely embarrassing. I have twice got over 60 mpg
and the worst ever was low forties. That involved lots of short town trips on a
cold engine, plus marshalling a running race, and later consciously staying in
3rd and 4th gears and using high revs on fast A-roads. I can't explain it, and
my footrests and tyres are wearing down normally, so Im not
pussyfooting around, but I have to report as I find. The odometer is
digital and seems as accurate as any Ive used. I do use the upper gears a
lot, especially as the clutch is superfluous above third, and I dont even
think about filling up until I see 200 on the trip meter. One attempt find the
ultimate range saw 250 miles, at which point the 21-litre tank accepted just
twenty litres. Fuel injection rules OK! From being reasonably accurate, the
fuel gauge started refusing to register much beyond half full. The fuel light
also started to come on at 70 miles or less, when previously it had waited
until 110-125 miles before telling its unduly pessimistic tales.
The run-what-you-brung results above speak for themselves and are the sort of
figures available in real-world use without spinning the rear tyre. Being a
proper drag-race tree system it gave reaction times (a modest
0.8-0.7 sec in my case) and I think these are included in the overall time,
whereas for magazine road tests the timer only starts when the beam is broken.
Perhaps a reader can confirm the former?
|The pannier kit was a revelation, consisting of about a hundred separate
parts. No wonder dealers complained it was taking them an uneconomic time to
fit them! They now come at least slightly pre-assembled, but it still leaves
six pages of instructions - still, its nice to do a bit of DIY. Included
in the kit is a folding lifting handle which sits just forward of the nearside
pannier and makes it even easier than before to lift a fully-laden bike on to
its centre stand. The silencer has to be lowered with the panniers, and the
front edge of the can has since dug in a couple of times. Having said that,
theres no fully-fledged tourer that comes close to the sports capability
of the Sprint, and only Ducatis ST2/ST4 and the VFR do so amongst the
all-rounders. Passengers find the rack an acceptable substitute for the missing
grab-rail and some think it an improvement in so far as it offers a range of
hand holds. The rack has a laughable litigation-conscious 5kg maximum load
warning cast into it - a top case weighs almost that!
By 1,500 miles the gears had become very slick and seem even sweeter at the
current 6,000 miles. In a break with tradition, selecting first with a cold
engine is noiseless, but with a warm engine theres a light but audible
clunk (thinner oil when hot?). Talking of sound effects, the horn gives the
usual anaemic beep at high speed and fitting my old twin air horns and
compressor is going to be tight.
In mid-April, with about 1,200 miles on the clock, I received Triumphs
crankcase bolt recall notice and provisionally booked the bike in for the work,
although there was no trace of an oil leak. Meanwhile, on an early Saturday
morning 110-120 mph blast to Scotland I collected a Vascar ticket for averaging
99.64mph over 0.462 miles, during most of which I was slowing down rapidly,
having spotted the Volvo parked just beyond the motorway crest Id come
zooming over. Shortly afterwards I stopped for petrol, and found oil all over
the bike from a loosened crankcase bolt (but even that run gave almost 48
For the first time in thirty years of motorcycling I called on a rescue service
to get me home. The RAC had instructions to ferry affected bikes to, a
Triumph dealer of the riders choosing. I toyed with the idea of
suggesting San Francisco, but settled for Stoke. Greens lent me a courtesy bike
and did the work the same afternoon. A new rear tyre was fitted to replace the
original which was oil covered on the offside. If it had been at my own cost
Id have persevered with the old tyre and ridden carefully round right
handers for the first hundred miles. As it was, with the bike regularly ridden
over to the sidewalls, I was glad of the fresh Bridgestone. An additional side
benefit of the recall work was a sump-full of new synthetic oil; not to be
ignored at twenty-odd quid!
Chain adjustment is a doddle, needing only a single clamp nut loosening before
the special C-spanner is gently tapped round to the correct setting and the
clamp nut re-tightened. How frequently depends on riding and weather conditions
but I do it about every 300-500 miles.
The hazard flashers are only operable when either the ignition or parking
lights are on. Id prefer to use them with the steering lock on but no
parking lights (which only flatten the battery quicker and are redundant when
four flashers are working). Incidentally, it sounds wimpish, but a gear
indicator would be handy on the Sprint. With todays smooth high revving
engines and fifth and sixth being very close ratios (the difference between
them is only about 500rpm) its difficult to tell from the rev
counter/speedo which of the top two gears are in use at legal speeds. In any
case, five slightly wider ratio gears would be perfect for this engine. Whilst
in niggle mode, the instruments are fine but it would be good to have warning
lights which dim at night, like many car displays do once the headlights are
on. Fuel and temperature gauges with no units of measurement and a full-scale
deflection of only 75 degrees, seem like a bit of a lost opportunity.
There have been only three small faults in service besides the recall. A rear
indicator bulb failed at 3,750 miles and the battery flattened enough after
three weeks that the engine turned over a little sluggishly and wouldnt
start. I thought I had spare bulbs but Triumph use a new smaller, lighter type.
The battery was topped up from a charger and the engine duly started. Three
weeks doesnt seem long, however, for a new bike with only a digital clock
draining the battery.
||The 6,000-mile front tyre is looking dodgy for a slippery winter and the
rear (fitted at 1,200 miles) will be replaced about the same time in another
600-700 miles. Incidentally, a £200 set of tyres every 6,000 miles is the
equivalent to 3.3p/mile or about £1.50 extra per gallon. Gulp!
The overall verdict so far? 8 out of 10. The Sprints keeps me ahead of
practically every crotch rocket on real-world twisties but is just as good for
an all-day distance ride to see a client. Truly a superb all-rounder. I wonder
how it goes on track days? Watch this space. PC
Paul Steinbacher - 17,000 miles Warminster Pennsylvania
We were considering a few different mounts, but a ride on the Sprint won us
over. The riding position was slightly sporting, but with the addition of
GenMar risers makes it nearly correct for me. The handling is outstanding for
all I ask of the bike - commuting, weekend sport riding and touring, especially
since a change to Dunlop 207's which give a much more secure feeling than the
OE tyres.. I'm on the third set of tyres, having used a set of Michelin MX90s
as the second set. The suspension is a bit softer than I'd like, front and
rear, but not a bad compromise I suppose.
I've averaged about 48 mpg(US) with the bike since new. Strange as it may seem
I get better mileage when riding harder. I just replaced the chain, but think
that was due to having it tightened too much at one service and not noticing
for about 200 miles. The rear brake pads were replaced at 6,000 miles and both
ends will need renewing soon. The cost of servicing seems rather high ($450 US
for a 12,000 mile service) driven as much by the $50 Triumph oil as anything
else. The heated grips have quit working twice, only to mysteriously start
working again after I start probing around under the fairing. The right-hand
pannier started to leak slightly at the seam on the inner half of the bag. When
I inquired about this, I was told to seal it with black silicone. Despite these
niggles, one of the things I really liked about the Sprint was the range of
factory accessories. I plan on keeping it for the foreseeable future, as I
don't think there's a better do-it-all mount available.
Lisa and Richard White - 12,000/9,500 miles Houston, Texas
On March 6th, I bought my red Sprint ST, and in May my husband Richard bought
his. We love them both. On two extended trips (1,700 and 4,200 miles) they
performed well, with the stock seat causing no major discomfort, and the
three-bag luggage means you can take anything. We did become a bit tender once
we got over 400 miles a day, but the STs allowed us to be comfortably on the
road for two weeks. The torque and acceleration are a blast on twisty roads! As
for gas consumption, both bikes generally get 45-50mpg - one tank dropped into
the 30's, but several have gotten close to sixty.
There have been some problems, though nothing I would consider major. My bike,
being an early one,
|was subject to recalls for the sump bolt and centre stand - it
also experienced fried wiring in the ignition harness, because of bad routing.
All these problems were addressed by Triumph on later bikes, and Richard's ST
had none of them. We did have to replace the batteries on both bikes between
5,500 and 6,000 miles, which was more frustrating than anything else. Also, if
you get aggressive the lower fairing has a tendency to touch the road before
the pegs. Richard's did this when we were riding two-up one day.
Overall, we reckon that the Sprint is such a good all-rounder that we have no
need to add a sports bike or a tourer to our stable. It fits our riding style
perfectly and makes everything else seem too uncomfortable or too stodgy to be
fun! - Lisa