Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR road and track review


For the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR review we headed to the town of Ronda in Spain and the stunning Ascari Circuit

OFFICIALLY revealed in September this year, the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR looked to elevate one of the brands best selling and most iconic models.

Not just that, the new RR variant of the naked Speed Triple 1200 RS went some way to answering the call of many fans, who for years now have lusted after a Speed Triple derived sports bike. It might not be the fully-faired machine some had longed for, but as we found out on the launch in Spain, on the road and track, the new machine is more than worthy of the sports bike tagline.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR price, colours, and availability

The new Speed Triple RR comes in two colours, Red Hopper (as ridden) and Crystal White Storm Grey. The bike is priced at £17,950 with the Red Hopper costing £250 more than the white bike. Triumph is expecting bikes to land in dealers in mid-February.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR engine

Unchanged from the naked RS, the Speed Triple RR’s engine gains all the updates as already covered in the Donington track review from earlier this year. That means 180ps (177 bhp) and 92lb-ft of torque. The new 1200 boasts reduced inertia over the previous 1050. It spins faster and harder, with a softer low-end delivery that seems to make more sense in the sportier RR.

It also gets the new stacked gearbox design, which is lighter than the previous model and claimed to offer more precise shifting. I wasn’t a massive fan of the RS’ gearbox and remember it feeling a bit vague. The RR’s though felt improved, and with the internals being the same, I’d have to point to the revised linkage (needed due to a new peg position) as the answer. It wasn’t perfect though, with a few false neutrals although only on the track.

On the road and track though, the engine package as a whole should be applauded. It’s powerful without being intimidating, easy to ride thanks to generous mid-range, and still enables the Speed Triple to be one seriously quick bike with a very special soundtrack.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR suspension, brakes, and handling

The big news with the Speed Triple 1200 RR is the introduction of top-class Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 electronically adjustable semi-active suspension. There is a reason it's regarded as the best kit in the world, and that is basically because it is. Whatever you’re doing on the bike, be it bimbling to the shops or hammering along a road or track, it has your back. Think of it like a tiny suspension expert clambering around the bike and adjusting the suspension settings a couple of hundred times a second.

Compared to the naked RS the new bike feels totally composed. Gone is the stiffness of the naked, and in its place is a magic carpet to whisk you over bumps and potholes that usually have you gritting your teeth in nervous anticipation. Out on the track, the system constantly monitors the bike, measuring lean angle, throttle and brake input, speed and acceleration. From this, the bike can work out what you’re doing and, more importantly, what it needs to do to improve performance or comfort.

The system is super easy to use, with zero knowledge of suspension setup required to maximise performance. You simply tell the bike where you want to support (braking, cornering, acceleration) and the Öhlins kit will dial in the required amount of talent on your behalf.

The braking system for the bike is the same Brembo Stylema kit carried over from the RS, along with span and ratio adjustable MCS levers and a trick cornering ABS system overseeing the whole lot. The brakes on the RR felt slightly less sharp than the naked, with the Öhlins hardware helping to keep the good ship Triumph nice and stable on the anchors.

Out on the track, the Triumph isn’t as dynamic as a 1,000cc sports bike like a Fireblade of Panigale, but it doesn’t hurt the experience of riding it in any way. If anything, the calmer demeanour of the bike actually allows you more time to think about what you’re doing.

Braking and mid-corner stability are particularly impressive, with the RR gobbling up the Ascari circuit with poise and balance. It almost handles like it looks, a properly classy gentleman racer.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR equipment

With its TFT dash, nose-to-tail LED lighting, electronic suspension and up and down shifter and blipper, the new Triumph has got to be one of the most advanced café racers in mass production. Add to that factory fitted Bluetooth connectivity, riding modes galore, cruise control, and all the riding modes you’ll ever need and there’s not much missing from the bike’s sizable repertoire.

An upgrade for the new top-spec RR is the inclusion of the latest generation Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SP V3 hoops. They need an honourable mention here as the press launch in Ronda (a town at 2,425 ft above sea level) was extremely cold. Turning up to the track in the morning to see frost covering it was a nerve-wracking moment. Thankfully the tyres held up well, with just some cold tears appearing after a few track sessions. Other than that, the grip was good enough for knee down antics straight out of the pits.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR comfort

On paper, the new Speed Triple RR looks like a much less easy to live with proposition than its naked sibling. On the road and track though, that simply isn’t the case. The bars are set 135mm lower and 50mm further forward than the RS. While the pegs are 15mm higher, 26mm further back and 5mm wider than the naked.

Yes, it’s sportier than the RS but compare it to the current crop of race bikes for the road and you'll find it massively more comfortable. The new fuel tank is great for anchoring yourself to, and even after a couple of hours of normal road riding my wrists, backside and legs all felt ready for a couple more hours of riding.

What we liked about the new Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR

  • Instantly quick and easy to ride
  • The riding position is perfect
  • Pirelli Diablo SP hoops were superb given the cold weather

What we didn’t like about the new Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR

  • Glare from the non-adjustable dash was an issue
  • The mirrors are only really good for looking at your elbows!
  • Gearbox could do with some finessing

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR verdict

At around £2,500 more than the stock Speed Triple RS, the new RR is a step up in price but a leap forward in spec thanks to the additional hardware from Öhlins. It makes a real difference to the bike, right in the area that matters to riders. Add to that styling that stands out in a class that is dominated by sports bikes converted into nakeds, and the unique delivery that can only come from a Triumph triple and you have a genuine recipe for road and track success.

The £250 premium you’ll pay for the Red Hopper version (as ridden) is a bit of a bummer, although you aren’t going to kick the Crystal White version out of bed for breaking wind!

If you’ve ridden the naked Speed Triple either in new or old forms, don’t fear, the DNA of Hinckley’s most iconic naked is still very much there. It’s just wrapped up and a more stunning body, with new riding dynamics that’ll have you reaching for the keys more often than ever.

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Pitures - Chippy Wood Pix & Gareth Harford

Video - Kingdom Creative