Used Test: 1998 Triumph Sprint ST

If you want a real-world alternative to Honda's venerable VFR, then look no further. Think VFR with character and soul and you're not far off the Sprint ST

Posted: 14 September 2010
by Chris Moss

Click to read: Triumph Sprint ST owners reviewsTriumph Sprint ST specs and to see the Triumph Sprint ST image gallery.

You don't have to be a Union Jack waving patriot to be a fan of Triumph's Sprint ST - it's good enough to be rated without the need for any of that jingoistic bias.

Launched in 1998, the ST was designed to steal sales from the then class leader, Honda's VFR 800. It's never quite managed that - but then again, neither has any other sports-tourer - though it's still won the hearts of plenty. And rightly so.

The Sprint ST is a classy European alternative to the relatively dull and soulless Honda. And though its styling is a bit on the flat cap and slippers side, underneath all the Victor Meldrew clothing, is a very up to date and impressive performer. It's actually a very sorted, underrated bit of kit.

Centrepiece of all the excellence is its muscular three-cylinder motor. Pilfered from the 955i Daytona sportsbike, and detuned to make it even more useable, it's an absolute gem. Peak power and torque figures are impressive enough in their own right at 118bhp and 74lbs/ft respectively. But it's the way the stomp is delivered that's the secret behind the powerplant's real-world character.

Lovely, seamless and very easy to use surge is immediately on offer at the end of the throttle cables. It doesn't matter wherever the tacho needle's pointing, and wherever your left boot has left the gearlever, instant response is always guaranteed. Even in top gear the grunt always gives prompt acceleration, and is strong enough to give decent drive even if the motor's only revving as low as 2000rpm. And thanks to the highly refined fuel-injection set-up, the drive is always glitch-free.

Being lazy has never been so easy, though there are a couple incentives to get a bit more aggressive with the twistgrip. First off is the noise it generates. When the Sprint is spun up, it emits one of the most gorgeous howls in the world of motorcycling. It's so evocative is worth popping a tape recorder in your pocket to capture the magnificence in all its glory. Secondly, is the pace it produces. Make no mistake, though this Triumph is marketed at the more sensible middle-aged set with jelly-mould looks to match, it does have a pretty impressive turn of speed when it's caned. Give it a damned good thrashing and you'll trigger the Gatsos at 160mph.

Continue the used review of the Triumph Sprint ST

Evolution of the Triumph Sprint ST model

1998: Launched as a competitor to Honda's well-respected VFR800. Features a single-sided swingarm, Triumph's first alloy beam frame, and powered by detuned version of the engine used in the 955i superbike.



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