2007 Triumph Sprint ST Bike Test

July 23, 2007
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

2007 Triumph Sprint ST - Wallpaper
The 2007 Triumph Sprint ST looks good, but to test out the Triple-powered British beauty we logged over a thousand miles on some of our favorite routes.

Shooting through a corner past a 200-foot tall Coastal Redwood, the candy apple red Triumph Sprint ST picked up easy as I aimed it at the next twist of asphalt and dipped into yet another apex on California’s Redwood Highway,  US-199.

“Come on Red, show me what you got,” I muttered under my helmet as the gigantic trees blurred in the periphery.

Alright, so naming and talking to inanimate objects is one of the first signs of dementia, but call us crazy because our borrowed Sprint ST was just the kind of machine you can carry on a conversation with. In fact, we chatted with the British beauty for well over a thousand miles this summer.

The 2007 Trumpet ST was evaluated over two long-distance rides by our ever-inquisitive minds. The first was a 953-mile journey by our resident sport-touring expert and regular photographic contributor, Tom Lavine, who headed south from our Medford, Oregon HQ for the AMA Superbike races at Infineon Raceway. The second was a 404-mile coastal trek by yours truly, which took us from our headquarters to the Pacific Coast via the aforementioned 199 and back. Those two journeys, along with a couple random rides thrown in for good measure, gave us ample time to evaluate the Trumpet’s performance abilities.

It’s common sense, when evaluating any motorcycle, to start with the engine. This logic makes double sense for the Triumph, as the Inline-Triple powerplant has come to define the modern designs created by this historic European marque. The liquid-cooled 1050cc mill on the Sprint is the same platform supporting its 1050 siblings, the Speed Triple and Tiger, sharing the same 79mm bore and 71.4mm stroke.

The Tornado Red Triumph just pops with color on our coastal journey. Photographer Tom Lavine noted again and again in his notes how good looking he thought this bike is. - 2007 Triumph Sprint ST
On the outside the Sprint ST looks good, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and the 1050cc Inline-Triple is what gives the Triumph some character and spunk.

Claimed horsepower on the three 1050s show that the Sprint (125 hp, 77 lb-ft) has been tuned somewhere in the middle ground between the high-octane Speed Triple streetfighter (131 hp, 77 lb-ft) and the less prodigious but versatile Tiger adventure-tourer (114 hp, 74 lb-ft). When we rolled the ST onto our rear-wheel dyno it topped out at 118.4 hp at 9400 rpm, with torque numbers peaking at 72.1 lb-ft at 7800 rpm. Power production on the Sprint is a nice blend of brute horsepower and usable torque. The flat torque curve right there from bottom to top, while horsepower comes on strong and steady with the upper revs really cranking it out.

The translation onto the street is a spunky motor, which delivers plenty of practical muscle in every situation. Downshifting into a curve and the torquey low end chugs along, even if you should have dropped it down another gear or two. The linear horsepower makes passing obstacles, like a double-trailer semi, a simple matter of twist and go.

Our only complaint with the Triple powerplant on the Sprint is the throttle response, which wasn’t altogether smooth.

“We were riding through the twisties and I decided to wick it up a little,” explained Lavine on his biggest knock about the Triumph. “That very moment when you start to accelerate is far from seamless, it actually was abrupt. Believe me I tried as hard as I could to be as smooth at possible and although it wasn’t bad, it sure wasn’t perfect either.”

Power production on the Sprint is a nice blend of brute horsepower and usable torque. The flat torque curve means powert is always right there when you need it  from bottom to top  while horsepower comes on strong and steady with the upper revs really cranking it out. 2007 Triumph Sprint ST
The dyno chart reveals the character of the Triple powerplant motoring the Sprint, steady torque throughout the powerband and rising horsepower that tops out at 118 ponies at 9400 rpm.

Calling the Sprint’s throttle abrupt may be a skosh harsh, but it could be smoother. The Sprint’s choppy sensation continues on deceleration as well, but we couldn’t get too upset at that fact, as one of the most lovable traits about the ST occurs when the throttle is let off and you can hear the burbling backbeat of the Triple.

Overall the Triple’s positive traits, of which the exhaust tone is a vital aspect, won us over. There is just so much character and vitality coming out of the Trumpet engine that it brings a smile behind the helmet.

“I really liked this engine and its exhaust note,” said Lavine. “This bike can flat get with it!”

While the fueling isn’t super smooth, the ST’s clutch and 6-speed transmission are. The transmission/clutch package is almost without comment, which is not to say it is bland, just refined and effortless. The adjustable clutch lever didn’t require an iron grip and the wet, multi-plate clutch is fitted with an anti-backlash gear.

The “without comment” statement above could also be affixed to the Sprint’s suspension. The two suspenders, a 43mm front fork and single rear shock, said everything by what we didn’t feel. There weren’t any shakes in the road that caused us alarm, no sketchy moments with the front end, no garbled feedback, no instances where the units were overwhelmed, and they didn’t feel stiff either. The two Showa units delivered just the kind of performance you’d seek from a sport-touring machine.

2007 Triumph Sprint ST
When the twists and turns begin, the Triumph reveals that it has truly mastered the sport aspect of its ST moniker with its easy handling.

The Sprint’s Nissin stoppers get the job done without any drama. Lever feel is nice and progressive with the Sprint coming to a halt without any trouble. If you want the 130-to-0 mph, stoppie-inducing super stompers, throw some bags on your superbike. For your sport-touring Sprint, the dual 320mm rotor/four-piston caliper front and single 255mm rotor/two-piston caliper configurations get the job done.

Our test model also came equipped with Triumph’s $800 optional ABS. Unlike BMW’s linked ABS system, the Triumph design works independently on the front and rear binders. Under hard application the ABS senses wheel lock-up and releases braking for a fraction of a second. Triumph claims the system can make 100 calculations per second, and we’ll take their word for it since my brain can’t even make the calculations to rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time. Although we were fortunate to never encounter an adrenaline-jolting ABS moment during our testing time, the system does deliver a safer braking package to the rider, which we appreciate.

Once the road starts throwing some curves, the Sprint shines with its sporty handling. The Sprint’s “ST” moniker designates it a “sport-tourer” after all, and a rider will have no trouble engaging the sportiest of roads aboard the Triumph. Handling is quick and, there’s that word again, effortless. Our testers never tired from shifting around a bulky, top-heavy tourer, as the Sprint ST feels like it carries much of its 554-lb tank-full weight down low (523 lbs tank empty).

Red poses next to one of the giant Coastal Redwoods that litter US-199 - the Redwood Highway.
The Triumph Sprint ST sure looks small next to this Coastal Redwood and on the road, the Trumpet doesn’t feel bulky or lethargic in transitions, seeming to carry its 554 tank-full weight close to the ground.

On top of its light feel, the Sprint’s sporty nature is aided by a 57.4-inch wheelbase and 24-degree rake. Compared side-by-side, the Sprint’s geometry reads closer to a superbike than larger sport-tourers like the Yamaha FJR1300 or BMW K1200GT.

“I realize this bike is classified as a sport-touring bike, but I do feel it’s leaning heavily toward the sport end of the spectrum,” said Lavine. “This bike is for the guy who has ridden sportbikes most of his life and wants something with a little more comfort and luggage.”

The riding position has a slight forward pitch. It was decent but didn’t feel quite right on my 400-mile excursion. Either my lower back or wrists ended up aching after a couple hundred miles, depending on which one I wanted to take the brunt of the pressure from the sport-inclined position. The 2007 Sprint is touted in Triumph’s literature as having had the bars raised and moved back to “give a more relaxed riding position”, but I could have used another inch or so in height. The seat was comfy but not as tush-friendly as some we have sampled.

While the Sprint excels at the sport designation in its ST intentions, the touring aspects are not as impressive. This is not to say the Triumph does anything horrible, it just didn’t blow us away. There were a number of features missing from our ST which would make it a more comfortable touring platform, like heated handgrips and an adjustable windshield. The good thing is the Sprint is supported by numerous accessories and aftermarket options to personalize the bike, so thawing your frozen mitts isn’t a problem with the $200 Heated Grip Kit available in Triumph’s accessory catalog.

The Sprint s riding position is upright with a slight pitch forward. This takes a toll on the rider s wrists during long highway stints. - 2007 Triumph Sprint ST
The Triumph’s riding position is pretty comfortable, but the slight pitch forward puts some pressure on the wrists and can get uncomfortable after a couple hundred consecutive miles in the saddle.

As far as the windscreen is concerned, it offers decent wind protection, but a taller rider is still going to feel a fair amount of breeze. The ’07 Sprint had its screen raised to improve protection but, like the handlebars, we would’ve liked it to stretch just a little further. The $139 Flip Up Screen available as an accessory might be a solution.

Touring luggage often feels awkward and causes a lot of head scratching while getting accustomed to a new system on a new bike. The hard saddlebags which come standard on the 2007 Sprint were no exception. Once we realized the big area surrounded by the pop-up handle was the button to open the bag, we were able to unlock and remove the bags without any hassle. The bags themselves are functional and large enough to support some weekend trips, but extended tours would benefit from the accessory top case ($345) or tank bag ($140).

The fit and finish on the Sprint is good, but not perfect. We’d have said it was better if we hadn’t had to disassemble much of the bodywork to get a reading on our dyno. In our effort to find the right wire we removed much of the side fairing and noticed that some of the parts, although they looked great, seemed a bit chintzy, like the wobbling chrome accent fin on the side panel. Also, some of the switch-gear was pretty vanilla, like the standard turn signal button. Self-cancelling signals would be nice, but hey, we’re tough, so we can live with the status quo.

On the plus side, Lavine noted one of the ST’s nicer subtleties in the rim-mounted valve stems, which make pressure changes a one-handed affair. We also enjoyed the mirrors, which provided ample views out back. The mirror arms also housed the front turn signals, whose prominence make the bike more visible on the road, something we can’t get enough of.

When the road starts to get twisty  the Triumph Sprint ST delivers what all great bikes should; a smile underneath the rider s helmet. 2007 Triumph Sprint ST
When the sun settles into the horizon this trio of head lamps really light things up by throwing a wide path of light ahead. On high-beam, the center bulb illuminates much farther ahead but does not quite provide the side-to-side coverage of the low beams.

As far as the cockpit goes, instrumentation is neat and readable, with analog speedo and tach teamed next to an LCD display. The information displayed on the right-side screen was both informative and fun, with the real-time mpg figure a favorite of Lavine’s in particular.

“I was most interested in the instantaneous fuel consumption,” mused Tom. “Just a slight rotation of the throttle resulted in the mileage going down, right now. If the bike were in sixth gear, coasting downhill, the fuel consumption would drop to 99.9.”

A novelty at first, we’d gladly trade half of the amusing-but-less-vital info, even instantaneous fuel consumption, for a gear position indicator. Speaking of fuel consumption, during Lavine’s 953-mile trek the Sprint averaged 49.2 mpg, while our shorter, curvier coastal route saw 40.5 mpg figures.

But enough with the stats and numbers! Let us get subjective for a minute and delve into the Sprint’s looks. Of course, fashion is subject to taste, but both Lavine and I kept going gaga over our Tornado Red ST. Throughout testing we’d prop the red machine next to a scenic backdrop and it would just pop with color. Maybe we’re nuts, but on more than one occasion I heard Tom exclaim my exact thoughts when he’d say, “Damn that’s a good looking bike!”

People like pictures of lighthouses and motorcycles  so...
With an asking price of $11,699 for the ABS version, the Triumph Sprint ST presents a competitive and affordable option in the sport-touring market.

There are conscious styling cues, we assume, to incorporate the triple motif on the Sprint, including the trio of headlights up front and three-pipe exhaust. The single-sided swingarm is both trick-looking and clean and the bodywork just looks damn good. The color and lines make the Sprint almost irresistible.

Beyond the performance evaluations and raw data, there’s something about a bike that you can’t quite describe. We like to call this intangible element the Grin Factor, and the Sprint gave us plenty to smile about. It’s a question of character, and with its sweet-sounding motor and agreeable nature the Sprint has that extra something.

As for its place in the sport-touring market, would the Sprint hold up in a head-to-head comparo? Well, it’s got some great contenders to battle with, but its $10,899 ($11,699 with ABS) MSRP fares well against the ABS-equipped FJR at $13,799. Performance-wise we imagine the Sprint would do just fine (hmm, speaking of which, we haven’t done a sport-touring comparo for a while now…). That’s where the Triumph’s bubbling personality comes into play. The rambunctious Sprint is a machine we envision someone buying and riding many thousands of miles on touring adventures and weekend play rides.

Come to think of it, it’s just the type of machine that has enough character and personality that you’d want to name it. And maybe, just maybe, when no one was looking, start talking to it.

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