Eagle-eyed MCN reader Mike Morgan snatched this shot of the new Triumph Sprint ST undergoing testing on the M6 motorway last week.
The picture confirms rumours that Triumph will launch a new version of the sports tourer later this year, though MCN understands it will be a 1050cc, not a 1200.
Morgan, 28, from Dunfermline in Scotland was travelling to work in his car on the southbound carriageway when he spotted the bike. He owns a 2007 Triumph Sprint ST1050 and quickly realised it was a heavily updated version of his bike.
He told MCN: “I’m normally pretty good at identifying bikes but when I first saw this I thought it was a Kawasaki GTR1400 because of the shape of the exhaust silencer and the size of the panniers.
“As soon as I drew up next to it I realised from the fairing shape that it was a new version of the Sprint ST. I got to play cat and mouse with the bike for 10 minutes before he realised I was trying to take a picture.”
The Sprint has remained largely unchanged since it was launched in late 2004 and the biggest differences with the new bike look to be the removal of space-robbing underseat exhausts in favour of a substantial triangular-shaped end can.
This frees up space at the back of the bike and cures one of the biggest problems with the current Sprint ST – too much heat getting through to the riders’ crotch area.
Morgan said: “The exhaust is one of the biggest drawbacks on my bike so it was good to see them gone. The panniers are massive compared to mine, as a result of that too and that will really add to the appeal of the bike as a touring option. Underneath the subframe there is a matt black plastic panel that blanks off where the old underseat exhaust ran.
“It also looks like the subframe and pillion seat are a lot lower which means the pillion won’t be as exposed to windblast.”
Despite the Sprint ST getting a major overhaul for 2010 Mike said the bike is still clearly identifiable as a Sprint ST. The familiar front lights remain almost unchanged although they are thinner in profile.
Despite rumours that the ST’s engine would be bored out to 1200cc motor, the Triumph test bike is registered as a 1050cc. It’s also chain driven, despite persistent rumours that the new bike would be changing to shaft drive.
Triumph refused to comment on the bike.