Road Test

Triumph Speed Triple RS track review

We took the Triumph Speed Triple RS to Donington Park to test out the 150bhp machine on the awesome GP circuit

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 13600
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

AFTER trying out the 2019 Triumph Speed Triple RS last year, one of the only criticisms I had of the naked was a slightly harsh ride on the UK’s below-par roads. For a bike that has seen relatively little in the way of updates in the last few years, only finding one major issue is actually not bad going.

Although the complaint I had did get me thinking, what if that firm and slightly jarring ride on the road translates to a capable and solid platform for riding on track?

To test this theory out, we got hold of a brand new Speed Triple RS, booked ourselves onto a track day at Donington and set out to answer our last burning question.

At £13,600 for the RS edition of the Speed Triple, the machine is one of the best value litre nakeds on the market. Admittedly, the triple is down on power compared to some of its competitors, although with a torque curve that’s as linear as a tent’s guy-rope, the slight deficit is easily masked. Producing 150ps (148bhp) and 117Nm (86lb-ft) the Speed Triple engine is a bruiser of a unit, seeming to hurtle you out of corners with a kind of breath-taking efficiency you don’t get from other configurations.

Out on the track the closely spaced gears and short, stocky geometry means the Triumph seems to shrink Donington’s long straights, easily keeping up with, and going quicker than, a few older 1,000cc sports bikes.

If there was one thing hampering progress coming out of the track’s slower corners it was the combination of brand new bike and gearbox and the quickshifter no being willing to shift up when the bike was near the rev limiter. A few times coming out of the final corner, drifting out to the outside of the circuit I’d hook my foot under the lever and attempt to hook the bike into third. The quickshifter would engage although the next gear wouldn’t, meaning the bike would coast along in a false neutral until I’d had a second bite at the cherry.

The bike I was riding was brand new, and was only just out of the breaking in phase, another couple of hundred miles on its bores and it may not be so much of an issue.

One of the main reasons for stumping up £2,000 premium for the RS is because of the suspension system. The bike features a premium set of Öhlins NIX full adjustable forks and a TTX shock, again, fully adjustable. For extra dollop of cash on top, which will work out to be about £20 a month extra on a PCP, the higher-spec RS’ kit is well worth the outlay. Despite my dislike of the harsh ride, the Speed Triple RS is one of the best handling nakeds on the road.

One interesting thing that I found out when I rode the bike last year was how I was able to just jump on it and ride fast, there was no need to acclimatize to the bike, it just does what you want it to. And it was the same story on the hallowed tarmac of Donington’s GP circuit. Out of the box, the Pirelli Super Corsa SP hoops feel sublime and a no doubt part of the reason why the Triumph feels so good at speed. But there is also something about the bike’s chassis set up that just makes you feel instantly at home.

It’s like it constantly chats to you as you ride, nudging you every now and again and passing you a nugget of information regarding what is going on beneath you. A prime example of this chatter would be while riding Craner Curves, you get constant messages as ride, through the seat, through the bars and through the pegs. All the time the bike is telling you what’s going on allowing you to better judge whether or not you’re able to take a chunk out of you laptime or not!

After five on-track sessions under my belt, and a load of red flags (not my fault I might add!), I head off down the A444 back to Coventry. Back on the slippery, potholed, and poorly maintained road, the Speed Triple RS is still, in my mind, one of the best nakeds on the market. Sure, there are other bikes out there with more power, pedigree, and road manners, but none of them have an engine that can hold a candle to the Triumph. If you’ve not had a go on a Speed Triple, now might be the best time, rumor has it the 1050 engine is heading to the scrapheap with an 1160 likely to fill its place.

Pictures courtesy of Axel Dowle photographic | axeldowlephotographic.co.uk

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