The TridentApril / May 1999 Edition 13
Published by Jack Lilley LTD
email : Steve Lilley
| Article posted in its entirety with
permission of Steve Lilley - Copyright Jack Lilley, LTD
Reproduction of this article without permission of JL, LTD strictly prohibited
Geoff Haig takes a 955 for a serious Sprint in the search for a Blade runner to set the world on fire.
The new Sprint is a ground-breaking bike for Triumph. The bike is pitched into the sports tourer category, a competitive area dominated by the Honda VFR 800. This segment of the market enjoys a healthy constant stream of sales and Triumph want a bite, so this makes it a very important bike for the young Hinckley company. The Sprint ST has to stand up, fight and beat the benchmark VFR. It appears to have done this - press reports and test ride feedback have been glowing. Which is all very encouraging for Triumph, as both journalists and the buying public are a discerning bunch.
The term 'sports tourer' is really a placid term for bikes which will run to 160mph and hit 60 in under four seconds. The Sprint uses the tried and tested 955 series engine in 110 bhp guise. The bike makes high levels of torque right across the rev range making for easy relaxed riding with serious reserves of overtaking power. The fuel injection system has been jigged to get the most possible mileage out of every gallon. An important feature on a bike aimed at long distance hauls, in comfort, carrying luggage and big smiles.
The frame on the new bike is the time Triumph have built a conventional alloy beam frame. A simpler and cheaper alternative to the Daytona's sinuously curvy frame. Conventional forks support the 17 inch front wheel, which is braked by large diameter twin discs and four pot calipers. The rear end is lifted from the Daytona, a single-sided swingarm with a 17 inch wheel, sport sized tyre and a rising rate suspension system. The dashboard for the want of a better term contains all the usual warning lights, a tacho, speedo, digital trip and mileometer, clock and fuel gauge.
The controls all fall easily to hand, and although the clutch may be a bit of a stretch for someone with small hands, the adjustable front brake lever doesn't suffer from the same problem. Panniers and top box are available as an option, and the high level three into one exhaust is engineered to drop down a few inches on a different bracket to allow full sized panniers to be used. This means that you can get yourself and your kit down to the French Alps, leave the panniers at the campsite and go and scratch until you don't itch no more. The riding position tips you forward in a racer "lite" position, not full race but hinting at it. Comfortable pegs which are not so high as to get your knees aching or low enough to plough tarmac.
The familiar mechanical triple sounds reassuring and potent as you start it. The gearbox and transmission are the tried and tested Triumph formula, and snick easily and precisely into first. My first experience of the bike was in a heavy rain, a good test if there ever was one. The roads had been soaked for a couple of hours so the surface was predictable. The bike did everything I wanted without fuss or complaint. A steady power curve gave me great confidence and allied with excellent progressive brakes made progress assured and fast. In better conditions the bike is happy in whatever environment you put it in. The low down drive of the triple makes stop, start and filtering easy in London traffic.
Wide folding mirrors give a good view of the road behind, and when you're on the bike everything, sooner or later, will be behind. Out in the country the Sprint's high-speed manners are impeccable. The fairly low screen protects your body from the worst of the wind making for comfortable fast runs over long distances. The handling and feedback form the bike are more sports than tour. Wide Bridgestones let the Sprint roll around them giving huge amounts of grip and confidence regardless of the conditions - oil, diesel and animal droppings apart. At lower touring speeds the engine will happily pull the higher gears allowing you to concentrate on the smells, sounds and road as the countryside slips past.
If you're in the market for a bike in this sector get out and test ride the ST, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It is one of the most important bikes in the market this year.