Master of most things
Triumph sums up its Sprint ST pretty neatly: "So you no longer want to go ballistic on a sports bike. But just because you want to tour a bit you don't want a camel either." Yep, that about covers it...
Sports tourers have sold fairly solidly in this country, with good reason. They match the way a lot of us ride, assuming you don't have the money to throw at three or four different bikes to suit different purposes. And, let's face it, any decent journey will include stretches where you just want to cruise along, plus the odd sports road that demands a bit of a fang.
You can argue that adventure tourers are even better for this continent, but I must confess I have a real soft spot for a well set-up road bike that has true sporting prowess - which is where the Sprint ST comes in.
Now in its second generation, the ST series was initially launched here with conventional brakes. It was a bike we liked a lot for its versatility and now we've managed to sample the latest version, which has anti-lock braking on board.
ABS is one of things you hope you never use, but it's a welcome safety blanket for then things go wrong, so long as it doesn't interfere with day-today riding.
At the heart of the ST is a version of Triumph's signature in-line triple cylinder layout - a fairly conventional four-valve, four-stroke, unit that's liquid-cooled and is fuel-injected. It's mated to a six-speed box, wet clutch and chain final drive.
There are no surprises in the chassis. Conventional forks hold up the front end, with preload adjustment only, while the rear runs a single side monoshock that gives the back end a distinctive appearance. The company tried to revert to double-side rear swingarms on its Daytona some years ago -- on the basis it was lighter - but the customers said they didn't care, as they loved the look of the heavier mono arm. So that's what the Sprint scores. Adjustment at this end is preload and rebound damping.
The frame is based on a twin-spare alloy main piece.
In the saddle
Starting the bike is a simple matter of pulling in the clutch and hitting the button with no throttle. The injection runs a fast-idle circuit until the engine is warm, and from there is entirely predictable.
Throttle response is faultless and the engine in this tune (123 horses claimed) has loads of bottom end and a super-broad midrange. It is, without doubt, the highlight of this motorcycle. There's sufficient top end on tap, but it's really the mid-range flexibility that makes it so much fun the ride through a set of corners. Also, it happens to be a cinch to cruise on if you're feeling lazy.
Fuel consumption is around the 16km/lt mark, depending on how it's riddeb.
Transmission action is accurate with about average lever effort, while the clutch is light and has a broad enough take-up band. In all, the driveline is largely 'invisible' to those on board.
Steering is user-friendly and about medium speed, while the suspension is set for medium to long travel and mild rates. It is not as disciplined over bumps as something like a Daytona, but is a more comfortable ride.
You can be confident that it won't be embarrassed on a sports road, but don't expect the razor-sharp handling you might from a full-on sports machine like the Daytona 675.
Braking is good, with plenty of feel. We tried out the ABS and found it was as gentle as you could expect under crash-stop conditions, allowing the thing to pull up straight with no surprises. There's a test lamp on the dash for the ABS system, which goes out once the brakes have been tried.
Rider and pillion accommodation is adequate for two people, with the co-pilot being offered halfway sensible footpeg location and a large grabrail. You can add hard luggage at additional cost.
The fairing has a lockable pocket in the right side, while the screen offers useful coverage that spills just below the helmet.
Staring back at the rider is a three-pod dash with analogue speedo and tacho for those of us who like 'real' dials. The third carries digital indicators such as clock and tripmeters, plus warning lights.
There's nothing not to like on this bike. The styling carries the triple-cylinder theme through the whole machine, while the overall finish is good. It's super-easy to ride for a litre-plus motorcycle and will happily tour or play -race. To our way of thinking, it offers a lot of action for the $16,990 (plus ORC) price.
|Specifications - Triumph Sprint ST 2006 - ABS|
|Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder|
|Bore/Stroke: 79 x 71.4mm|
|Compression Ratio: 12.0:1|
|Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection|
|Ignition: Digital - inductive type - via electronic engine managment system|
|Primary Drive: Gear|
|Final Drive: X Ring chain|
|Clutch: Wet, multi-plate|
|Frame: Aluminium beam perimeter|
|Swingarm: Single-sided, aluminium alloy with eccentric chain adjuster|
|Front Wheel: Alloy 5 -spoke, 17 x 3.5in|
|Rear Wheel: Alloy 5 - spoke, 17 x 5.5in|
|Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR 17|
|Rear Tyre: 180/55 ZR 17|
|Front Suspension: 43mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs and adjustable preload|
|Rear Suspension: Monoshock with adjustable preload and rebound damping|
|Front Brakes: Twin 320mm floating discs, 4 piston caliper|
|Rear Brakes: Single 255mm disc, 2 piston caliper|
|Length: 2114mm (83.2in)|
|Width (Handlebars): 750 mm (29.5in)|
|Height: 1145 mm (45.1in)|
|Seat Height: 805mm (31.7in)|
|Wheelbase: 1457mm (57.4in)|
|Rake/Trail: 24 degree/90mm|
|Weight (Dry): 213kg (469lbs)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 litres (5.2 gal US)|
|Performance (Measured at crankshaft to DIN 70020)+|
|Maximum Power: 125PS (123 bhp) at 9,100 rpm|
|Maximum Torque: 105Nm (77ft.lbf) at 7,500 rpm|
|Colours: Aluminium Silver, Caspian Blue, Sunset Red|