PH2 ridden: 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R

The Speed Triple has been a mainstay of Triumph's range since it launched in 1994. To many, including Triumph itself, this iconic naked bike signifies everything that 'Hinckley'Triumph is about. With its distinctive 'bug eye' look (ok, the first generation had a single headlight and the new style lights are less bug, more Dame Edna) the Triple is an icon of the factory's success and remains its most prolific model ever with over 50,000 units sold in its 18-year life. For 2012 Triumph has done what so many Triple owners have been dreaming of for years - it has made a high spec 'R' version...

Dame Edna comparisons perhaps not flattering
Dame Edna comparisons perhaps not flattering
What's new?
In the grand tradition of R models, essentially the Speed Triple R is a stock Speed Triple with some flash components added and the frame and 1,050cc triple motor unaltered. The standard model's forks and shock have been replaced with a beautiful set of Ohlins NIX30 fully adjustable forks and a TTX36 shock, complete with the obligatory eye candy yellow spring and gold fork tubes. The Brembo monoblock calipers have been upgraded, the subframe painted red to signify its sporting potential and there is a smattering of carbon fibre. However the most significant addition isn't instantly apparent. The PVM wheels not only have a different spoke pattern to the standard ones, they are also made from forged aluminium rather than cast, saving 0.7kg from the front wheel and 1kg from the rear. Why do you want that? It's all about inertia.

Lightweight wheels transform agility
Lightweight wheels transform agility
What goes around...
Believe it or not, bikes don't want to fall over, well not when they are moving. When you roll a coin across a table it doesn't instantly flop on its side, the coin's inertia keeps it upright until the point the inertia is suitably weak that it falls over. On a bike this is all very well and good in a straight line, but to get a bike to turn you need to disrupt the inertia to allow it to corner. The more inertia the harder it is to get a bike into a corner. By using lightweight forged wheels, Triumph claims to have reduced the inertia of the front wheel by 16 per cent and the rear by 25 per cent. Does it work?

Bend over
The current 1050 Speed Triple is a hugely appealing bike. On the road it is one of the most enjoyable naked bikes to ride while on the track it is certainly more than capable. The R is all this and much more. Triumph launched the R at Jerez circuit in Spain, a track that has a lot of history of close racing thanks to its flowing nature. Riding the R the modifications have an impressive effect on the Speed Triple's sporting potential.

Ohlins fork worth more than just bragging rights
Ohlins fork worth more than just bragging rights
When you fit Ohlins suspension you instantly gain a huge amount of feel and precision in the handling. I've used the analogy before, but it responds so smoothly and with such quality of damping that it softens out any imperfection in the surface and allows the tyres to exploit the maximum amount of grip available. It's like someone has taken a crackly telephone line that was transmitting the message from the tyres to your brain and suddenly made it super crisp and clear. But when you add the lightweight wheels into the equation it all goes to another level entirely.

By reducing the weight of the wheels, and with it their inertia, it feels like Triumph has chopped about 15kg off the weight of the Speed Triple. It hasn't, it is only 2kg lighter than before, but it feels considerably more. The R gains a whole new level of agility and drops onto its side with such eagerness that in many ways the R is nearing the limits of what the Speed Triple's handling can take. It isn't long until the footpegs start to drag such is the confidence the bike gives you, which is when you start to consider backing off. Beyond the limits of the peg solid things have the potential of touching down, which is when it can all get a bit messy.

Grinding the pegs is easy to do on the R
Grinding the pegs is easy to do on the R
However despite this increased agility the Speed Triple R retains the user-friendly nature of the stock bike. The new Brembo calipers, while certainly stronger in their power, aren't overkill and come with a decent amount of feel as well as power. And just in case you are inclined to get a bit too excited, the Speed Triple R comes with optional ABS to save your nice carbon panels...

Despite considerably increasing the Speed Triple's sporting potential, the R is anything but a hard-edged race bike like the 675R. There is a bit of a false belief that Ohlins suspension belongs on a race bike, a myth the R dispels. Ohlins suspension isn't track suspension, it's just bloody good suspension that delivers accurate damping. Set it up firm and it is great on track, back it off and you have a comfortable road ride. This is the great thing about the Speed Triple R. It has the same wonderful easy going triple nature that makes the stock bike so good on the road, with an added extra dimension of sporting ability should you require. At £11,299 (£11,899 with ABS) the R is £2,500 more than the £8,799 stock Speed Triple. However, when you look at the cost of the individual components that the R has over the stocker it does look a bargain. I guestimated that Öhlins suspension, new calipers, carbon bits and lightweight wheels would set you back somewhere in the region of £4,000 when bought individually. That's not a bad saving.

Has the R been worth the wait? As a fan of the Speed Triple, when I first saw the specs of the R I was genuinely excited to ride it, I'm now glad to report it lived up to my every expectation. What a cracking bike.

1,050cc, 3-cyl
Power (hp): 133@9,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 82 @7,750rpm
Top Speed: 150mph (est)
Weight: 212kg (wet)
MPG: 40mpg (est)
Price: £11,299 (£11,899 with ABS)


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Comments (34) Join the discussion on the forum

  • obscene 25 Jan 2012


    That is all.

  • Digga 25 Jan 2012

    Love it but never ridden a bike and daren't start now.

    A 'Triumphy' version of the Morghan 3-wheeler though...

  • Steve Evil 25 Jan 2012

    Does anyone want to start up a whip-round for Timmy so he can eat something other than beans on toast?

  • TimmyWimmyWoo 25 Jan 2012

    Piehole – shut it.

    If anything that's given me the urge to spend any money I get this year on trackdays.

    Can someone buy me some tyres?

    ETA: Doesn't it sound nice?

  • J B L 25 Jan 2012

    Best naked bike on the market at the moment for me.

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