First Ride

Triumph Triple time on Triumph's Moto2 machine

Riding Triumph’s Moto2 765 triple development racer

Details
Manufacturer:
Triumph
Category:
Modern Classics
Price:
£ 12200
Overall
Not rated

PICS: GARETH HARFORD

SO HERE we are – only a few miles from the A5, at Silverstone’s Stowe circuit, for a bit of a rideout on the bike itself. There’s a cloud over the Northants circuit as I arrive – both literally and metaphorically. Less than 24 hours earlier, the British MotoGP round here was cancelled because of an unfit, waterlogged track, and the place is looking a little bit bedraggled, the wind plucking at the closed-up programme stalls and trade stands waiting forlornly to be dismantled.

There was a hint at one point that the race would be held over till the Monday, but the powers that be obviously knew I was coming up for a hoon on the Moto2 bike, and made the sensible decision to let that happen instead. Well done the Dorna massive!

Stowe is a mini-track inside the main circuit, and is just over a mile long. Essentially a wobbly triangle with some esses and chicanes bolted on, it’s a far cry from the main circuit, but is probably a better option for a ride like this. There are a load of people getting a ride today, from Damon Hill and Charley Boorman to Alex de Angelis and Simon Crafar, plus various British and international journos, so we’re only getting ten minutes each.

The bike’s parked up, waiting for the riders, so I take a quick peek round it. The basics are simple enough: one of the firm’s Daytona 675s has had its motor swapped out for the Moto2 lump, then there’s been a modest race revamp applied. So there’s K-Tech suspension, OZ wheels, Dunlop slicks – but the brake calipers are stolid-looking Nissin roadbike parts, and even the dash looks just like the one off a Daytona road bike. A small orange ABS light flickering away frantically as it realises the shenanigans that have gone on here (there’s no ABS or traction control, as a worried-looking tech tells me as I jump aboard).

The Arrow pipe looks properly proper – and sounds the business too – but frame, swingarm, tank all seem straight off a 675. No bad thing of course – the Daytona was a cracking bike and won nearly every 600 group test I’ve done since it appeared.

And so it all feels pretty familiar as I jump on for my allotted ten minute stint. As ever with a gig like this, I’m a wee bit nervous. There’s only one bike, and there are some very big lads waiting for a ride after me, so if I did crash and survive unscathed, it’d only be until they got their hands on me. On the other hand, think of the Youtube hits were I to cartwheel the thing into Towcester town centre live on tape…

Steady away then, regardless. The motor sounds really sweet, and has much more grunt low down than you might expect from a tuned race motor. I’m not really here to assess the chassis too much of course, but it’s fair to say the thing steers like nothing I’ve ridden in a long time. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the last thing I rode like this – Dani Pedrosa’s old RS250FW 250GP bike, fittingly enough. I tip into the long horseshoe Damon’s turn, and nearly fall off the thing, it’s on its ear so fast. A reminder that I’ve maybe been riding too many adventure and naked bikes of late – even the litre bikes we rode last month feel like supertankers compared with this beastie.

The Dunlop slicks and Oz wheels are responsible for much of that of course, and it’s a reminder of just how big an effect stuff like that has on the feel of a bike.

Out of the turn and down the straight, and the engine instantly makes itself felt. There’s dollops of grunt – but not the nasty ones of a big twin, or something like Yamaha’s R1. It’s a more refined power delivery – and unique too. Where a tweaked 600 four like the CBR600RR would be all wailing revs and gnat’s-cock midrange, this is a beefy motor. Just like the 675 did on the road, it offers a great balance between a thumping twin or big bang four, and a screaming four.

The race-shift quickshifter batters the gears in a treat, but not for long before we’re onto the brakes for the entry to Stewart bend and the Surtees Esses, and I get another shock – the calipers might be vanilla-looking Nissin units but someone’s snuck some tasty pads in them it seems. Together with the light weight of the bike, and the obsessive bleeding and primping of a proper race tech, they give stupendous power, slamming the hot front slick down into the deck (and stopping me much earlier than I’d planned of course, gah). Back on the gas a bit, and have another go at the bend…

The motor is strong through here, and unlike on the stock Street Triple I rode round on earlier, you don’t need to drop right down the gears. Wobble round the 180° Graham’s bend, and then hammer down onto the pit straight, to give all the pit-wall gawpers a clap of Triple thunder. Then into Hamilton curve and do it all over again.

As the session goes on, I’m more and more impressed. Partly with what they’ve done with the chassis of course – despite its road base and supersport-spec components, it’s a dream to ride round here. The brakes set me off into a fit of giggles every time I hauled them on at the end of the straights, albeit nervous giggles when the back wheel started to lift up off the deck and wave about like a white flag of surrender. The slicks gave more grip than I’ll ever need on the dry asphalt, and you felt like you could lean forever and not fall off. If this was your trackday bike, you’d never be away from your local circuit.

But the engine is definitely a peach too. Okay, the Moto2 guys will get on and ride whatever they’re given to within an inch of its life, regardless. And stuff like reliability and ease of setup is probably more important than anything else. But it really is something else – super strong, yet controllable, friendly enough for an old duffer like me, but with the feel of a motor that has massive potential.

Ten minutes isn’t long enough to really work out this bike of course – but I’m knackered by then anyway. Stowe is small, but needs a fair bit of effort. And those brakes plus that engine take a lot out of you every lap. I come into the pits, glad to be in one piece, and grateful for a ride on this immensely sorted wee test mule. There’s one last little sign of the road/race mix of the bike as I stop though – my road rider brain hits the back brake, normally a vestigial affair on a racebike. But the stock Daytona Brembo caliper locks up the lightweight Oz rim, and the Dunlop slick squeals like the proverbial stuck pig, eeek…

A great day out for me then. But the obvious question is, will Triumph make one of these for punters to buy? A 765-engined Daytona sportsbike for the road? You have to say they’d be mad not to, on the face of it at least. Sportsbike sales might be down, but this would be such a simple job to make, they’d not need to sell too many to get back the investment. They have the engines, and the chassis all ready to go it seems, and if it’s even half as good as the Moto2 bike, it’ll be more than good enough to rock the supersports world. With Kawasaki bringing out a new ZX-636R, and Yamaha’s latest R6 still only a year old, it could mark a further renaissance in the fortunes of the near-litre sportsbike class – and be the replacement for a new GSX-R750 which we’d all love to see (and keeps not appearing).

Even if they don't bother, expect a load more crashed 765 Street Triples to be married up with old 675 Daytonas to make homebrew Moto2 reps (Tony Scott at T3 Racing can help here we bet...)

But the signs are positive for an official bike. Tight-lipped Triumph PR folk indicate that there’s the real possibility of a road version – if there’s enough interest from the market. So, if you fancy one of these beasties as your next sportsbike, or even as a posh Moto2 rep trackday tool, get thee down to your local Triumph dealer and bend their ear! Getting onto Twitter and Facebook to encourage the factory wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

You could even spend your next holiday Monday whinging at them about it – after all, what else will you be doing?

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