MCN Fleet: Life with the Speed Triple RR leaves Neevesy scratching his head

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With the promise of superbike performance and a not-so-extreme riding position, the Speed Triple 1200 RR should have my name written all over it, but it doesn’t.  

Trying to get to know you

I’ve ridden it at its launch, on MCN tests and lived with this one for the past five months and over 7000 miles, including a week-long, 3000-mile trip to the Pyrenees and a trackday at Oulton. It isn’t a bad bike, but we’ve never gelled.  

It’s a shame because I like just about every other Triumph I’ve ridden and the RR is lovely in the flesh and really neatly done. I love the paint finishes (although the two-tone tank stripe is higher on one side), carbon fibre, colour dash and designer brakes and semi-active suspension. It’s been reliable, too, aside from a quickly sorted glitch with the riding modes and despite the miles still looks showroom fresh when I clean it.

There are a few tiny niggles, though. It sits too upright on its stand on uneven ground, the mirrors aren’t great, you need a socket and not a key to remove the rear seat, the dash takes its time to scroll through its functions and the turn-by-turn sat nav often has a mind of its own. The £205 accessory heated grips don’t get very hot, either.

Checking it out for size

Where’s the drama?

It easily hangs with superbikes on track, which I like, but down at road revs where you spend most of the time, the triple lacks the excitement you’d expect. There’s no shortage of grunt, but it doesn’t leap out of your hands like a 1200 should and there’s little induction or exhaust roar unless you’re flat-stick. The gearbox action is stiff unless you work the engine hard and it’s tricky to find neutral. Electronics work fine, though. Traction and wheelie control work smoothly, the up/down shifter works well, and riding modes are useful.

Steady in the tight stuff

Ride quality is on the firm side of plush in Road mode (but far softer than the rock-hard Speed Triple RS) and the Öhlins stiffens-up in the sportier modes for extra composure at speed, giving you an RR for all occasions. You may have seen the YouTube video where an RR laps the Nurburgring in 7:23, which proves it likes corners, but the steering is slow to the point it sometimes seems like the tyres are flat. Its lazy geometry suits long, fast sweepers, but the lack of steering crispness everywhere else makes the front end feel disconnected. That vagueness is exaggerated on cold tarmac before the front tyre gets up to temperature.   

Comfort or discomfort, that is the question

Short trips only

Aside from the BMW R nineT Racer and some very extreme sportsbikes, the RR is one of the most uncomfortable bikes I’ve ever ridden. Quick blasts or trackdays are fine and the legroom is generous, but the hard seat and clip-ons placed down by your knees slowly torture my bum and wrists after an hour, which spoils just about every ride. Cruise control makes motorways schleps bearable, but some of the cross-country rides on my Spain trip were purgatory. For pillions, the hard rear seat and stiff suspension jar over big bumps.

What next?

It was always the plan to swap long termers halfway through the year. By the time you read this I’ll be on the new Tiger 1200 and hopefully going from Triumph’s most uncomfortable bike to their most comfortable. I’m disappointed the RR wasn’t what I hoped it would be, but different size and shape riders might find it more comfortable. Taller bars would improve things massively, as would a comfier seat, sharper steering and more soul from the engine. Sad as I am to say it, it’s the first long termer I won’t miss.

Taking luggage

Triumph’s 10-litre Givi tank bag (£179) and 10-litre tail pack (£144) are well made, durable and have waterproof inner bags, but they’re very small. They don’t come with fitting instructions but bolting the quick-release ring to the petrol cap for the tank bag is easy. The tail pack undertray wedges itself under the rear seat strap and fastens with a strap that loops under the seat… I think. The tail pack often shakes the rear seat screw loose (I’ve almost lost it a couple of times), which is why a latch would be better. I always carry tools to keep it tight.

Watch Neevesy’s video round-up here:

Update Three: Neevesy rediscovers the joys of touring Europe by bike

Date: 20 July2022

Mr Neeves enjoys the scenery

After everything that’s happened over the few years, I savoured my recent week’s ride to the Pyrenees more than ever. It was good to be back.

During the 2490-mile trip old roads were ridden again, like the manic run from Marvejols to Meyrueis near Millau and a whole day’s worth of corners on the N-260 from Andorra to Jaca. The TT-like run back into France and on to Pau, hurtling past the rock faces is worth the journey alone.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR in front of a castle

But it was the small things I enjoyed the most – the ones I’d forgotten about: the fresh feel of a cold tank of fuel between your legs on a sweltering day and leaving the channel tunnel train in Calais with endless possibilities ahead. I love the way the scenery becomes more imposing as you reach the south of France and how the light becomes ever golden and the air warmer.

I’ve missed laying a map out on the table over breakfast and the games I play to myself to pass the time on big motorway schelps, like guessing the trip mileage after a fuel stop and the thrill of riding with my brother and mates again. How cool it is we still look the same in our helmets and riding kit after all these years, despite getting older underneath? French villages are still as deserted as they always were and…when did GB stickers suddenly change to UK?

Paper map for planning road routes

My Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR takes it all in its stride. The engine lacks a bit of ‘wow’ low down, but it’s always smooth and fast. It’s at its happiest gliding through long sweepers at full lean, though. I’ve replaced the standard Pirelli Super Corsa SPs with slightly more road-focussed Diablo Rosso IV Corsas. They’re super-grippy and now, over 3000 miles later, still show little sign of wear.

Electronics improve the ride. The colour dash is visual treat (although its sat nav isn’t perfect) and the ability to change the stiffness of the suspension at the press of a button, instantly gives you a bike for any occasion.

Cruise control saves your wrists from the torture dished out by the low bars on motorways, but they’re punished everywhere else. The seat gets painful after an hour, too, although with the fuel light coming on around 120 miles (way before the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, BMW S1000RR and Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak I travelled with), a respite is never far away.

Motorcycles parked at the roadside

After nearly 44 hours in the saddle during our trip my body was glad to see the back of the Triumph for a while. It’s a tiring bike to ride for any length of time, which is a shame because it’s a lovely, well-built machine with few other faults (apart from the rubbish mirrors).

It doesn’t matter, though, because being able to travel on a motorcycle, no matter what the shape, is a gift.

Update Two: Who needs a superbike, anyway?

Date: 20 June 2022

Oulton Park is one of my favourite circuits. A frenzied strip of tarmac threading through undulating Cheshire woodland, it’s every inch the mini-Nurburgring. It’s probably why I like it so much… on a small bike, anyway. Riding a superbike around here can be so tricky you’ll sometimes forget to take in the majesty of the track.

My Triumph Speed Triple RR is different. It performs like a superbike, so you’ll have no trouble mixing it with the fast group crowd, but it’s not an out-and-out race rep. That gives you permission not to try and break the lap record every time, but just enjoy the ride instead.

It takes seconds to transform the Triumph from mild-mannered road bike to unlikely circuit weapon here on a No Limits trackday at Oulton. Changing to race mode firms-up the Öhlins electronic suspension nicely (it can be fine-tuned in semi-active or fixed modes, too) and it’s a doddle to turn the ABS and traction control down for max fun. Standard Pirelli Super Corsa SPs tyres are as near as damn it as sticky as race rubber, too (cold track pressures: 30.5psi front, 26psi rear).

Stickered up and ready to go

There’s never a problem with ground clearance and the RR’s low-set clip-ons that are such a pain in the wrists on the five-hour round trip to the track, now make sense hurtling through Island Bend in fourth gear with your eyes on stalks. Brembos come alive as the speeds rise, as does the gearbox, which can feel stiff at normal speeds.

As on the road the Triumph’s steering is slightly lazy and takes some muscle to change direction, but on the flip side it’s very stable – exactly what you want leant over with your front wheel in the air over Oulton’s scary high-speed crests.

And then there’s the engine. It’s easy to be desensitised by 200bhp-plus power figures bandied around nowadays, but its 178bhp is a lot. Superstock and club racers would have been happy with that kind of oomph not so long ago. The sheer amount of power the triple delivers on track is actually a surprise. You rarely stray into the upper rpms where all the good stuff is on the road It’s usually so docile, so it’s nice to be reminded of its superbike credentials, even if it doesn’t really look like one.

Neevesy doing the do at Oulton Park

That said the acceleration it delivers isn’t so brutal you’re hanging on by your fingertips, which is what makes the RR so easy to ride fast here. It never beats you up, or leave you feeling you could’ve ridden better, like with most superbikes. It never misses a chance to flatter, which is why it’s such a perfect match for Oulton.

It would be nice to think the Speed Triple RR could start a trend of manufacturers creating interesting-looking high-performance bikes that aren’t difficult to ride identikit race reps. Imagine a Hailwood-style Ducati with big brakes, fancy suspension and 170bhp, a Lawson-inspired Kawasaki, or a sit-up and beg Spencer rep? I’d right at the front of the queue.

Update One: The Devil’s in the Detail of the Triumph Speed Triple RR

Date: 11 May 2022

Road testing might be all about delivering hard-nosed facts and opinions, but owning a bike is, of course. more emotive. My Triumph Speed Triple RR is a case in point. I rode it at its launch at Ascari and around the MCN250 and it has its faults – mostly its wooden brake feel and how hard it is on the wrists, but a whole new character has emerged now I’m living with it.

Despite its superbike performance it’s a lovely bike to just ride slowly and that’s what separates it from a race rep. It’s deliciously refined, from its electronic Öhlins to its new engine and has so much grunt you barely need to change gear once you’re in top. It’s always ready to pounce, though – it’s a 178bhp, 1200cc triple, after all. 

It’s very well thought out, too with lots of nice touches, like the shroud above the top yoke to hide the electronic suspension leads – a long way removed from the messy switchgear wiring on the recent limited-edition Daytona 765.

Riding shot of the Triumph Speed Triple RR

There’s lots of tasty carbon fibre, the paint finishes are deep, and the backlit switchgear looks classy in the dead of the night. Keyless ignition, fuel cap and steering lock lets you to leave the fob in your pocket from the moment you leave the house and cruise control takes up the slack when the low clip-ons torture my right wrist soon into any ride.

Triumph have poured lots of love into the dash, too. It’s slow to switch between functions, but everything you’d ever want is there and beautifully laid out, from fuel facts to controlling music through the My Triumph app.

It’s this kind of detailing that provides the warm, fuzzy glow of ownership – as it should for nearly 18 grand. A few things have slipped through the net, though. The side stand sits the bike too upright, and the optional heated grips (£205) are disappointingly weak, even at full pelt. It could do with a taller screen and the rear seat cover is bolted down and not released with a key.

Minor quibbles aside, the RR is nicely restrained, and I like the idea of having a superbike you don’t feel the need to go ballistic on all the time. I’ve gelled with it already, although I’m sure I’ll wish it was more comfortable when I ride it down to the Pyrenees next month. It won’t bother me when I take it on a No Limits trackday at Oulton Park soon, though.

This year will also be first time I’ll be giving an MCN longtermer back earlier than the rest of the fleet. Late summer I’ll be swapping the RR for the new Tiger 1200, to see if that’s just as special when you scratch away at the surface.


It’s been tricky to pigeonhole the Triumph so far, so it’ll be interesting to see what it can do with quality time in the saddle. Is it just a fancy retro, can it do distance, or hold its own in a fast group trackday? I’m looking forward to finding out.