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First Ride: Triumph Speed Triple R

Published: 19 January 2016

Updated: 19 January 2016

Beneath the Speed Triple's squat new stance and glowering headlamps is a wholly revamped 1050cc engine, a full ride-by-wire system packing five rider modes, multi-level traction control and switchable ABS, and enough gorgeous high-quality details to belie its £11,500 price tag (or £10,200 if you opt for the Showa-shod S model).

The 1050 triple has always been regarded as a belter; a torque-stuffed peach of a motor with a big penchant for off-the-throttle wheelies, and for 2016 the whole package has become even stronger. Triumph engineers have totally reworked the prodigious powerplant, effecting 104 separate component changes from the cylinder head porting, cams and timing sprockets, to the piston shape, compression ratio, crank, fuel-injection system and ride-by-wire throttle. The result is a bike that not only pleases the tree-hugging Eurocrats by being more efficient, but which will also raise a smile on riders’ faces too.

The 2016 Triple makes a smidge more peak power (up from 133bhp to 138bhp) and a decent tickle-up in the torque department all the way through the rev range, with the mid-range especially boosted by around 5ftlb. Assisted by the high-tech fly-by-wire throttle system, the initial crack of the throttle rewards with instant, urgent response meaning that below 3500rpm the new Speed Triple feels much more aggressive than the previous model. Yet despite that sharper bottom end, the new Speed Triple has a beautiful air of sophistication and refinement in its power delivery allowing you to get swept along on the swell of mid-range. It's not in the same league as BMW's S1000R with its seemingly bottomless pits of torque, and you do need to drop it down a cog or two to keep the acceleration keen-as-English-mustard at higher speeds, but it's still more than enough for serious fun on the road.

Now blasting along the Costa Dorada’s super-smooth roads it feels as through Hinckley have pulled off crime-of-the-century. Somehow, they’ve made the 2016 Speed Triple feel very different without overtly changing that much; it’s the same rip-roaring brute, but now it’s wearing a silk Savile Row suit. Sat seemingly much further forward and more over the front end, the new Triple flicks through S-bends with a new-found agility, enough to make you think that Triumph have sneakily sharpened the steering geometry to make it more sporty. Yet the factory are resolute and maintain that the chassis remains completely unchanged and the dramatic difference in riding position and handling is down to nothing more than the front of the seat being 20mm narrower and the tank being lower (and two litres smaller). The narrow seat makes you naturally sit further forward, and the flatter tank gives the illusion that the bars are lower, which combined with the grip from the front Pirelli Supercorsa and firm-but-communicative feedback from the Ohlins NIX30 fork makes for one fantastic front end.

Even venturing out on to the tight, technical Calafat race track, the Speed Triple remains impressively agile; flopping from left knee to right knee with more ease than any 200kg-plus naked bike has any right to, and remaining extremely composed at all times. The Speed Triple's throttle-to-rear-tyre connection has always provided very confidence-insuring drive for blasting out of corners, but the 2016 bike gets the added safety net of multi-level traction control linked to each of the five riding modes (and can also be switched off). It's all easy to access on the move via the intuituve menu system and mode button on the left-hand switchgear. 

Now in its 21st year, the Speed Triple has really come of age. Amazing usability combines with excellent handling inside a package that's dripping with gorgeous details like the switchable daytime running lights, billet rear wheel spindle hub, high-spec dash and much more. It's got some of the finest build quality yet seen on a production motorcycle, a full complement of rider aids and a brilliantly characterful motor. It won't disappoint you.

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R (S) 

Price £11,500 (£10,200)
Engine 1050cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC 12v three-cylinder
Power 138bhp @ 9500rpm
Torque 82.65ftlb@ 7850rpm
Electronic assists Five rider modes, multi-level switchable traction control, multi-level switchable ABS.
Chassis Twin spar tubular aluminium
Wheels Cast aluminium alloy 120/70-17, 190/55-17
Brakes Twin 320mm floating discs, Brembo four-piston two-pad radial monobloc calipers front, single 255mm disc with two-piston sliding Nissin caliper rear.
Suspension Fully adjustable Ohlins NIX30 fork with TT36 rear shock (fully adjustable Showa fork with fully adjustable rear Showa shock)
Seat height 825mm
Dry weight 192kg
Fuel capacity/mpg 15.5 litres/52.2mpg (claimed)

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