Sprint ST
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The Toronto Sun

also posted at CMG Online
September 1999
The following is reposted with permission of Scot Magnish and Canadian Motorcycle Guide Online. Copyright © -1999
Unauthorized reproduction or duplication prohibited


By Scot Magnish


There's two things you have to remember if you're going to test bikes for Motorcycle Rider, a new show for enthusiasts appearing on SportsNet across Canada.

The first rule is Don't Wreck the Bike.

"I've got a perfect track record: 62 bikes and no accidents," said show producer David Hatch as several other motorcycle journalists and I suited up for a day of shooting.

Which wasn't a problem, seeing as how I've got a similarly good record and was riding a `99 Triumph Sprint ST borrowed by another journalist to begin with.

The second rule of Motorcycle Rider is Don't Look Into the Camera - and it's here that my trouble began.

"Don't look at the camera, don't look at the camera," I muttered to myself as I did hour after hour of drive-bys on the Sprint, sneaking a peek almost every time.

If my performance was amateur during my television debut, however, the Triumph's was flawless.

The 955cc triple with a claimed 108 horses has what's got to be the most roll-on power in its class; awesome handling and incredible torque just about everywhere you want it.

The engine is derived from technology learned and developed on the supersports Daytona 955i but with subtle changes to the cylinder liners, pistons and cams.

A single-sided swing-arm mounted to a Showa rising rate monoshock in the rear and adjustable inverted telescopic forks up front are tied together by an aluminum perimeter beam frame.

Throw in a pair of low profile tires on aluminum mags and what could be the perfect footpegs-to-seat-to-handlebar ratio and you've got a ride that is comparable to, say, a Honda VFR Interceptor 800 - the very market Triumph intended to tackle with it's new sport tourer.

Comparable is the key word, though: They both may be aimed at the same buyer, but the motorcycles' personalities are as different as night and day.

Power delivery in the Honda feels civilized; the Triumph feels barely tame. The Interceptor purrs where the Triumph roars - except at idle, where the VFR ticks over like a Swiss clock.

Under 1,000 rpms, the ST rattles like there's nuts and bolts loose in the crank case.

"Is it supposed to sound like that?" Asked one onlooker after hearing the Sprint idle for a moment.

"Just don't look at the camera," I said in response. When it comes to television, I don't think I'm in Gemini territory - yet. Hatch's show might be, but I'm going to need some work.

By comparison, Triumph have a winner on their hands with the Sprint ST in the world of motorcycles. I wouldn't change a thing - except maybe the loose nuts and bolts in the crank case.

Triumph Sprint ST

MSL: $13,899 (CDN)

In Brief: A more visceral alternative to Honda's VFR in a classy European package. Hard bags are $1,000 more; available in red or black.

Performance ......AA

Handling .............AA

Ride ......................A

Brakes .................B

Finish ...................B

Scot Magnish is a Toronto-based reporter and motorcycle nut. His column, RiderSource, is a regular feature of The Sunday Sun's DriverSource section. You can reach Scot by e-mail at smagnish@sunpub.com or by mailing him at the Toronto Sun, 333 King St. E., Toronto, Ont. M5A 3X5.