Triumph Sprint ST 955i
As should only be done when considering a British bike I’ve test ridden and then popped off to the “local” for a couple of pints with the mates. Or at least went off and had a drink with some friends in a more Canadian version of the venacular.
The Sprint immediately appealed to me with it’s classic lines that go against the trend of hard angular plastics found on many modern bikes. That and it was red. I’ve always had a soft spot for read bikes, especially the speeding ticket red variety.
The Sprints diesel like idle was in complete contradiction to being one of the fastest colors available; but I’ve been fooled by at idle performance before. The K1200RS for example sounded like a shaking bag of gravel at idle, but could really hike up it’s skirt when it came down to moving. I tugged the throttle…
“BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH” Not just any version of the sound, deep base and throaty despite the stock pipes. This for me was the signature of the Sprint ST, a classic style hiding hooligan upbringings. Once actually in motion I took the time to revel in the engine and it’s sound.
No anemic whir of the ST1300’s V4 the triple was like no engine I’ve met before. Torque, great gobs of the stuff and pull too, the ’01 Sprint is 110hp and I have no reason to disbelieve. This bike hussles and the engine note is pure joy. I admit to using every excuse possible to open the engine up under a hard pull of the heavy throttle just to hear the engine utter its baritone notes. That car didn’t hear me, “BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”! I wonder if it can wheely on throttle alone, “BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”. Oh look a bird, “BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”. Any excuse would do, and all of them left me grinning like an idiot. This then would be serious giggle factor. A bike that evokes a purely passionate response on style and engine alone, but has a lot more to offer.
The ergos on the Sprint ST were comfy, maybe a bit more relaxed than the VFR. The bags are well integrated into the bikes stylish flowing and soft lines. The handling was spot on, confident and almost predictive of my needs in the bends. Oh, you want to corner, great fine, by the way what do you take in your tea. And the engine, did I mention it pulls…
There are lots of “liter” bikes out there, and I am sure this will tow any three of them! And it will sound great doing it.
The over all package has relatively good fit and finish. No major issues, but a few distinct idiosyncrasies. The shifting was heavy, not clunky or difficult just heavy, as is the throttle. It’s almost as it Triumph has decided to overcompensate for a trouble past by overbuilding the bike. This is fine by me, the bike felt solid, planted and nigh bullet proof. Until I braked.
I have had bikes with nose dive before, the Bandit 600 and an ST1100. This put their demonstrations of downward mobility to shame. So, a brilliant bike except for the front forks, those would need to be sorted. This is good as I’m sure it drives (or dives) an entire aftermarket industry. Oh and then there are the gauges.
The readouts are clear and easy to read, it’s just that my demo displayed some eccentricities. The fuel guage failed to regester the tanks level for a good 3 minutes. It may have needed time to think things through. Neutral was hard to find, and the neutral light itself seemed periodically uncertain. And the order of the gauges was inverse of what my North American mind has come to expect, my eye naturally fell to the centrally displayed tach rather than the speedo to the left. Odd considering this engine gives good feedback and it happy to pull and rev quite a ways up the dial. Speed may not be the same concern as it was on the Blackbird, but one would do well to be aware of it.
Second to the engine my favorite bit of the bit was the “Pass” light which throws on both high and low beams – a great idea laid low by teaming masses of Canadian drivers who don’t know what this means. Instead I used it to optically stand out to drivers pulling out, and if you’re going to use the pass button you may as well “BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”.
This bike is my passionate choice; it has quirks, faults and character. What it doesn’t have is good dealer support in Canada, if you have a breakdown in the interior of BC the chances of finding a triumph dealer are well… none. This is my biggest deterrent from the bike and shall remain so, at least until I get to feel the engine pull again “BWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”.