Not like the “100 pounds short of a full touring bike but with better handling and gobs of power” Sport-Touring bikes we think of here in the ol\' US of A, but the “slightly bigger and heavier yet still hugely entertaining and flickable” type of Sport Touring bikes they have across the pond.
The Sprint ST gets the incredible 1050cc 3-cylinder motor tuned to produce horsepower numbers smack dab between its two siblings the Tiger and the Speed Triple (Triumph claims 127hp at the crank @ 9250rpm). Unfortunately, the Sprint ST feels like it is held back by a too restrictive exhaust; which is weird because the exhaust doesn\'t sound restricted. Power is good up until about 7k at which point, though the needle keeps climbing and the bike goes faster, the motor feels a little sluggish. The bike still pulls but there is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in how the motor produces power up high in the revs. A little more air in and a little more air out should solve that problem nicely and give the bike an even sportier sound than it already has.
The Sprint ST comes with a 6 speed transmission and a cable operated clutch. The downside to the bike\'s transmission is that, although it is geared well for both around town and highway use, I found inadvertently neutral and false neutrals more times than I am comfortable with. Another rider also had the same problem so I know that it wasn\'t just me. In the bike\'s defense it was still new with under a thousand miles on it when I picked it up so maybe that issue will resolve itself as everything breaks in. I hadn\'t experienced missing shifts with the other Triumphs I\'ve ridden so that leads me to believe that the problem was either bike specific or was due to not being completely broken-in.
One major component of a bike labeled as a sport-touring bike is comfort and the Sprint ST either hits the bullseye or misses the target completely depending on your personal interpretation of both “sport-touring” and “comfort”. I found the riding position to be perfect for Sunday morning blasts, full day corner carving excursions, and I would even put 2-300 miles per day on it if needed. I would not put the same type of interstate mileage on the Sprint as I would an “American Style” Sport-Tourer but then again Triumph doesn\'t expect you to.
We Americans like our machinery big and powerful, while those quirky Brits prefer lean, maneuverable machinery. If you are a WWII aviation buff just think Thunderbolt vs. Spitfire. Thunderbolt (FJR1300, Concours 14, etc..) = big, fast, heavy, somewhat maneuverable, long range fighter; Spitfire (Sprint ST) = Small, lithe, very maneuverable, shorter range fighter. Pick your weapon depending upon your needs and personality and you won\'t be disappointed no matter which way you go.
Like its British ancestor the Spitfire, the Sprint ST is certainly a looker. Very Euro. Very compact. Very tidy. This bike attracted attention no matter where I went with it; bike nights, gas stations, grocery stores, and even at stop lights. This surprised me somewhat because, while the bike is certainly pretty, it isn\'t as “out-there” as some other Triumph offerings. It apparently appeals to a large variety of people though judging that I got just as many comments from sportbike riders as I did from those that rode cruisers.
Speaking of grocery stores and stopping at them; you won\'t be able to carry much if you do. Probably the two most often heard comments from other riders were....”are those the small bags?” and “do they make a bigger bag option?” Unfortunately, no and no were the only answers I could give. The bags will work fine for a quick weekends worth of clothes if you are a “wear everything twice except underwear and socks” kinda person but won\'t hold much more. Triumph does make an accessory trunk for the bike if you really need to tote around more stuff. The bags were also a slight challenge to take on and off when loaded; especially if you had the bike on the side stand and mounted the “up” bag before you did the “down” bag (Up and Down being relative to the lean of the bike on the side stand). This was due to the “ball and rod on a spring” set-up that Triumph uses to keep tension on the bags and to keep them from flopping around. Also the plastic frame that the bags mounted onto drew some criticism from onlookers as well although they do the job and weigh less than if they were made from steel.
If you are still reading this you either enjoy my writing immensely or you are actually interested in this bike; while I would love to believe it is the former reason I\'m guessing that it the latter one that has held your attention. Since that is probably the case let\'s talk about the one thing more than anything else that sets the Sprint ST apart from it\'s bigger sport-touring brethren; handling. The bigger Sport-Touring bikes might kick sand in the little Sprint\'s face when it comes to, well, sprinting but as soon as the road goes curvy the Sprint ST will leave the bigger bikes in the dust.
The most limiting factor of the Sprint ST and its handling are the OEM Bridgestone tires. I never really pushed the bike as hard as possible mostly due to having no real confidence in the tires after a few early pushes and slides taught me the value of restraint. Item number one on the to-do list of a new Sprint ST owner should be to put on stickier tires. Other than that issue the bike handled extremely well with the setting right from the factory. While that setting would be a little soft for a track day, it was almost spot on for the usual mix of potholes, cracks, and spirited cornering that the Sprint ST will see on a daily or weekly basis. Side to side transitions happen quickly and the bike holds a line steadily with only the most ham-fisted efforts from the rider getting the bike out of shape.
Another major benefit that the Sprint ST has over its bigger relatives is in the stopping department. The front brakes offer decent feedback and feel (actually quite good for the class of bike that it is) and are capable of bringing the bike to stop with no drama. This Sprint ST had the optional ABS installed and while I\'m a huge fan of ABS I wasn\'t impressed by the current system from Triumph. I never had any issues with the system activating before it was supposed to but when it did activate it cycled slowly and with big pulses at the front brake lever. Other ABS systems I have sampled have cycled the brakes quickly and with fast pulses to the lever; almost like brake chatter but a little more obtrusive. The Triumph system was more of a “slide and release” action with the front tire actually skidding for a few feet before the brakes would release and reapply. The rear brake was no better with the ABS activated but I did find that it took more effort to get the rear brake to the lock-up point than on most bikes.
The undertail exhaust, while looking very nice nice with its three exhaust ports out the back, does dump a fair amount of heat onto the rider\'s right thigh. This is due to the routing of the pipe itself and is also noticeable on the Daytona 675 we are currently testing. It never got hot enough to be bothersome, but it is noticeable and therefore worth mentioning.
Fuel injection is almost a non-issue (at least for me) and hardly worth mentioning as it seemed spot on matter where the throttle was positioned. I\'ll admit to not having the most sensitive “fuel injection meter” installed in my brain but it seems to me that Triumph has their FI systems dialed in pretty well. I did have a problem with the throttle having too much play in it when I first picked-up the bike (more than could be fixed with the cable adjuster) but a quick run to Shelly Rossmeyer\'s Motorcycles of Daytona (hereafter called SRMD) got that taken care of in short order. Now I\'m not one to give "shout-outs" (like the kids say) to a dealership but not only was the service department as a whole very efficient but their Triumph tech, Brandon Gindlesperger (sorry if I mispelled that Brandon), was absolutely one of the best techs that I\'ve had the pleasure of dealing with. not only did he fix the issue exactly right he also was great to talk to. If you are in the area and need service on your Triumph (or Ducati or Buell) you should definitely stop by and speak to the service guys at SRMD.....hey good dealerships are hard to find!
Last but not least let\'s talk about the instrument cluster. Triumph carries the “Triple” theme from the headlights, to the motor, to the exhaust, and back up to the instrument cluster; a nice design flow if you are paying attention. On the right hand side you have the clock, odometer/trip-meters, fuel, and temp. In the middle you have the tach and various warning lights. On the left you have another dial with a lot of little numbers on it.....and I do mean little. The digits on the speedometer are really tiny and until you learn the layout and can judge speed just by the needle placement you\'re going to feel lost. Hey Triumph, how about some bigger numbers on the speedometer for those of us that are over 30? I mean we are kind of your target demographic for this bike, right?
In thinking about this bike there are a few things to understand;
1) It\'s not a sport-touring bike in the “American” fashion.
2) It\'s not meant for long distance, 2-up, freeway hauling.
3) It is meant for those solo weekend getaways.
4) It is a great twisty road bike especially if you either; a) don\'t want to lean over on a sportbike, or b) have to ride a little ways to get to the curvy bits of road.
5) It is probably light enough to actually be able to wear more aggressive sportbike rubber for those who really place more importance on cornering than mileage.
I personally would call this bike a “Gentlemans Sportbike” rather than a “Sport-Touring Bike” as to me that is exactly what it is; a sportbike for those unwilling (or unable) to contort themselves into a pretzel shape just to have a sporting good time.
So the Triumph will do everything it\'s built to do and will do it well.......just don\'t plan on any really long freeway runs and for God\'s sake don\'t try to cut aluminum cans with it, OK?