Thursday, February 7, 2013

Test Ride: 2009 Triumph Sprint ST

I have always had a soft spot for Triumphs after hearing the triple on my friend's Speed Triple. And when Clinton Cycle in Camp Springs, MD offered the opportunity to test ride some Triumph motorcycles, I jumped at the chance. While the event offered a rather limited selection of bikes to ride, I did find the opportunity to ride a Triumph Sprint ST with Triumph's phenomenal triple motor.

Firing up the motor, the bike makes the most beautiful sound, even with the stock exhaust system. Picking the bike off the side stand, it feels heavier than my Ninja 650 daily rider, but is not off-putting and with a seat height that is completely manageable for my 31" inseam, the bike felt only slightly top-heavy, especially given the more sport oriented ergos.

Rolling out of the parking lot, the weight of the bike practically disappears. In fact, despite being a slightly heavy sport-tourer, at speed, it feels just as agile as a sport bike and is totally light and flickable, yet stable in even the most difficult corners. Pulling away from a stop, the sound of the triple through the Sprint's exhaust is downright intoxicating. Every roll-off the throttle triggers a cacophony of clicks and pops as the motor slows to an idle. Speaking of the 1050 motor, it is buttery smooth, with loads of torque down low. Every opportunity to rev it up when pulling away from a stop, I roll on the throttle just to enjoy the fantastic mid-range and strong pull from anywhere on the tach.

The one surprise for me was just how stiff the suspension was. While I understand that in order to get the bike to handle well, it needs to be set up pretty stiffly, for a  bike that is expected to eat up the miles, bumps seemed to transfer through the frame to the rider with a rather jarring motion, certainly much more jarring that a number of other sport-tourers that are on the market. Combined with the more forward-leaning riding position and the smallish fuel tank, I had some reservations about really using this bike for distance sport touring.

But honestly, the wonderful 1050 triple is enough to make me overlook the stiff suspension and the other minor shortcomings. This bike has such a strong motor and rides so well on smooth roads that I cannot help but fully recommend this bike for someone who loves to carve the canyons, needs to commute, rides three (possibly even all four) seasons, but can only afford to keep one bike. It really is a wonderful ride and I have added this bike to my short list of potential purchases in the near future. I do want to try the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 to get a comparison because that bike seems like it is the perfect competitor to this one.

Thanks to Clinton Cycles for hosting the event.

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