Best Street Bike 2012: Triumph Speed Triple R

December 27, 2012
By Motorcycle USA Staff
The Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires on the 2012 Speed Triple R are nothing short of amazing.
Up-spec components and superior performance make the Triumph Speed Triple R our Best Street Bike of 2012.

It’s no secret that the Triumph Speed Triple is a perennial favorite in the MotoUSA offices. Tack that racey “R” on the end, and Triumph took an all-time favorite and made it even better – our selection for 2012 Street Bike of the year. 

Triumph makes a bold appeal to performance with its R-spec S3. Its rather pricey chassis upgrades jack up MSRP to a sour $15,999, but those extra dollars pay for a tasty Ohlins fork and shock, Brembo monoblocs up front and lighter PVM wheels. All three alterations make for race-track worthy performance on the street.

The Ohlins components deliver supple feel from the road, taut without being stiff… it’s difficult to describe the precision of the suspension without quick back-to-back changes with the suspension of a similar bike (which we did while testing alongside the new Tuono V4 at the Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs). Same goes for the Brembo monoblocs, with the modulation and lever feel exquisite during our testing time.

However, its the lighter PVM wheels that make the biggest difference, in our estimation. The reduced weight and subsequent reduction of rotating inertia promise lighter steering and handling. As our editor Justin Dawes first discovered at the Speed Triple R First Ride this is definitely the case with the lighter-feeling Triumph, a trait later heralded by the entire MotoUSA staff lucky enough to toss a leg over the sportier S3.

Then there’s the intangible element that makes this British street brawler such a potent foe in the streetfighter class – its Inline Triple. There’s no change to the R model’s engine, not one. It’s the same old familiar 1050 that’s been around for years now. And we are perfectly fine with that. We have long praised the inherent advantages of the three-cylinder mill – an ideal compromise of the grunty Twin and high-revving Four. The Triple delivers street-friendly performance, but presses its advantage by appealing to riders’ emotions. The three-cylinder mill sounds different and feels different. It’s playful and unique, particularly when compared to the Japanese Fours – which all deliver impressive enough performance, but are indistinguishable from one another. No wonder MV Agusta, Benelli, and potentially Yamaha, are mining the Triple platform for model lines.

The new Speed Triple R looks and acts the part of a high-performance street bike, warranting our inclusion as Best of 2012. Perhaps our biggest excitement with the up-spec S3 is that it makes us wonder what’s next from the folks at Hinkley. With such a potent track weapon in the form of its iconic streetfighter platform, it seems a pity that the Brits won’t soon have a fully-faired big Triple turning laps soon…