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2012 Triumph Speed Triple R First Ride

Monday, January 30, 2012

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2012 Triumph Speed Triple R First Ride
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Watch us put the 2012 Speed Triple R through its paces in Jerez, Spain in the 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R First Ride Video.
I’m sure it’s part of a Sesame Street sing along – “R is for Race.” I’ve known this since I was a wee tike; I think we all have. The common train of thought behind the addition of an R to a motorcycle model’s moniker is that with that single letter comes a slew of parts to create a “race” version of its former soft-shelled and pudgy self. Always the R is more desirable to the hardcore moto-fiends, but usually with that all-important consonant and all it promises comes some trade-offs – a stiff ride, finicky engine performance and a significantly lighter wallet. But is it worth it? Absolutely, just about every time.

For Triumph Motorcycles the Speed Triple personifies the brand's return to glory. As Triumph Project Manager Simon Warburton put it simply, “The Speed Triple is Triumph.” The goal of the R is simple for the English manufacturer – to create the ultimate Speed Triple. Using top shelf components Triumph is seeking to further intensify the appeal of the brand and the Speed Triple.

The very first question most riders will ask is how much more horsepower pumps out of the Speed Triple R over the standard model. Zero, nada, not one measly pony. It’s odd for a R-designation to not come with an extra dollop of power, but in all honestly the 1050cc inline three-cylinder mill is already one of the best in its class. Down low the torque is meatier than
The feel and power from the Speed Triple Rs Brembo Monoblock calipers is unreal.
PVM forged wheels made specifically for the 2012 Speed Triple R reduce the rotational inertia by up to 25 .
Top-shelf components such as forged PVM wheels, Brembo Monoblocks and Ohlins suspension elevate the performance of the Speed Triple R.
anything this side of a Texas BBQ hoedown, and the revs pull strong all the way until the rev limiter kicks in with a machine gun ratta-tat-tat.

So where does the R come in here? Just about everywhere else. Triumph kicks off the Speed Triple with new gold springy bits at the front and rear. That’s right, Ohlins. Just saying the name of the Swedish suspension company makes you feel all warm inside doesn’t it? A NIX30 big piston cartridge front fork is sprung just slightly stiffer than the stock unit with a 9.5 N/mm spring versus a 9.0 N/mm. A TTX36 piggyback shock complements the golden goodness up front with a 100 N/mm spring rate over the stock 95 N/mm.

Not drawing the line at some very spendy suspension, Triumph upped the ante even further with a set of forged PVM wheels built exclusively for the Speed Triple R. These machined wheels are thinner everywhere it counts and drop 3.7 pounds from the reciprocating mass of the Triple R. That calculates to a 16% and 25% reduction of the front and rear wheel’s inertia respectively.

Attached to the beautiful black PVM front wheel are 320mm floating rotors from the standard Speed Triple, but R here means Brembo monoblocs replace the radial mounted standard units. Out back a Nissin twin-piston caliper squeezing a 255mm disc carries over from the non-R version. ABS is standard for the US model and can be switched off through the in-dash menu. Finishing off the round bits on the Speed Triple R are a set of Pirelli’s fantastic Supercorsa SP tires.

Triumph worked over the transmission, retooling 10 of the 12 gears, both shafts, the shift drum and fork rod in an effort to smooth out the shift action. Most of the gear tolerances have been tightened up, the friction on the shaft splines have been reduced, and the gear dogs have been increased from four to five for more solid engagement. Sixth gear has also been reduced to a 3.4% lower ratio. All of these gearbox changes will carry over into the standard model next year.

To my surprise the 2012 Speed Triple R handled the fast and flowing layout of Jerez with ease.
The 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R is rock solid when cranked over at speed.
The fast and flowing layout of the Jerez MotoGP track was an excellent proving ground for the 2012 Speed Triple R.
Autoclave formed carbon fiber parts replace the front tank cover, radiator shrouds and mudguard side pods. Built in the same factory as Lamborghini body parts, the CF parts are highly polished and bring the total weight loss of the speed Triple R to 4.4 pounds. Finishing off the cosmetic changes are a red subframe and red wheel stripes.

Triumph chose to showcase the Speed Triple R at Circuito de Jerez, a fast and flowing MotoGP track. I was surprised by the choice for a streetfighter introduction, but it’s not often a manufacturer would choose a track that doesn’t suit its machine. Choosing Jerez shows that Triumph is confident that the R is race ready; maybe it deserves a Double R designation?

Throwing a leg over the Speed Triple R’s 32.5-inch high seat reveals a familiar seating position. If you didn’t see the tops of the Ohlins NIX30 forks or black handlebars embellished with an R you would not be able to tell the difference between this souped up model and the everyman’s version. The layout is roomy and comfortable with wide bars and sensibly placed footpegs. Tossing it side-to-side while sitting still on Jerez’s pitlane gives little evidence to the four-and-a-half-pound weight loss.

Once rolling however that loss becomes immediately apparent. Dipping into the first two right hand corners the Speed Triple R feels light and flickable, much more so than the non-R model. Turn-in effort at speed is surprisingly quick, and changing direction is a snap. This is where the lighter PVM wheels and their lower inertia shine. The R feels 15 to 20 pounds lighter when flying through the corners. It is truly amazing the difference a set of wheels can make.

The Triumph press team set our test machine’s Ohlins hardware between the Sport and Track suspension settings found in the Speed Triple R’s manual. At the front the level of feel from the NIX30 fork was phenomenal, almost telepathic. Out back the
The 2012 Speed Triple R is right at home on the track but will still be a great street mount.
Although the 2012 Speed Triple R is refined for the track and street with premium part it is still a hooligan at heart.
The R-spec treatment gives the 2012 Speed Triple R a host of premium parts for a truly exciting naked bike.
The forged PVM wheels make the Speed Triple R feel like it is 15 pounds lighter than it really is. Ohlins suspension and Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires make it stick to the track like glue.
TTX36 was planted and stable no matter how sloppy I got with my body position or throttle application. The Ohlins combo was so dialed that not one journalist asked for a change, not even a click. That's right, this is almost unheard of, especially for me. My plus 200-pound weight tends to tax a rear shock, inducing wallowing and bucking when pushed hard when leaned over. Not even a whimper from the golden goodies. The only complaint I had, and I'm really nit-picking here, was a bit of a front end wiggle when getting out of the gas after accelerating hard down the shorter chutes. I feel this had more to do with the wide bars and my body input than a suspension issue. It was just a reminder that you were hauling ass on a streetfighter.

Accelerating down the front straight after a second-gear left hander exposed my only other complaint about the Speed Triple R. Under heavy load with the throttle to the stop, shifting was difficult and almost down right stubborn especially between second and third. In order to not miss a shift, I had to chop the throttle more than would be expected while stabbing the clutch. Once I had the routine figured out, it was more an annoyance than a huge problem. Nowhere else on the track did I have any trouble with the gearbox, and I will say that it is improved over the standard Speed Triple.

At the end of the straights the Brembo Monoblocs hauled the Speed Triple R down to speed with the power and efficiency you would expect. The power was mighty but not grabby. Feel from the lever was exceptional and communicated with the front end like other brakes can't. I found myself braking later and leaning over further before completely releasing pressure on the binders than I have ever had previously on the track.

Another reason for my new found bravado in the brakes and in the corners would have to be the Pirelli Supercorsa SP skins that come standard on the Speed Triple R. The level of grip and consistency of feel from the SPs is almost unbelievable; they really do feel like track-only race rubber.

The combination of the forged PVM wheels, rock solid Ohlins suspension, Brembo calipers and Supercorsa SP rubber definitely elevate this Triumph to R status. However, all the negatives that usually come along with that R are not present in the Speed Triple R. Raising the track prowess of this motorcycle really hasn’t changed the everyday comfort and usability that make the Speed Triple such a wonderful bike to live with day in and day out. At $15,999 your wallet will be four large lighter than if you went with the base model, but is it worth it? Of course it is; it has an R on it doesn't it?
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Triumph Speed Triple Technical Specs
We headed to Jerez  Spain to test the 2012 Speed Triple R on a proper MotoGP track.
2012 Triumph Speed Triple R
Engine: DOHC Inline-Triple
Displacement: 1050cc
Bore x Stroke: 79 x 71.4mm
Fuel System: Multipoint Sequential Fuel-Injection
Drive: Chain
Transmission: 6-Speed
Frame: Aluminum Beam Twin-Spar
Rake/Trail: 22.8-degrees/90.9mm
Swingarm: Single-Sided Aluminum w/Eccentric Adjuster
Front Suspension: 43mm Ohlins NIX30 Fork w/Adjustable Rebound, Compression Damping
Rear Suspension: Single Ohlins TTX36 w/Adjustable Rebound & Compression Damping
Front Tire: 120/70-ZR-17 Pirelli Supercorsa SP
Rear Tire: 190/55-ZR-17 Pirelli Supercorsa SP 
Front Brakes: Dual 320mm Discs w/Radial-mount Brembo Monoblock Calipers
Rear Brakes: Single 225mm Disc w/Nissin 2-piston Caliper
Wheelbase: 56.5 in.
Seat Height: 32.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gallons
Curb Weight (Claimed): 466.4 lbs.
Colors: Crystal White, Phantom Black
MSRP: $15,999

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devillock   February 7, 2012 07:10 AM
@AM, I've ridden neither but based on reviews I'd have to agree that for the price, the TuonoV4 is the way to go. Unless you wanted the Speed Triple. As for eating it for lunch, well the better rider will be doing that, no matter the bike he's on. I have a 2009 Speed Triple and have given quite a few spankings to guys on R1's, Fireblades, etc...
Drunkula   February 6, 2012 05:43 AM
I'm drooling over this thing. Sadly I could not make it sing the way it would be meant to so I'd have to pop for the base-model (assuming I was in the market).
Carbon   February 2, 2012 05:27 PM
I guess those folks over at Triumph just don't know what they are talking about do they. To think they would put over $8,000 of bits on a motorcycle and raise the price by $4k. All this on a bike that was never designed as a track bike (it wasn't). Hooligan bike, yes...track bike, no. Triumph has only been making bikes since 1902. They turned a great bike into a meaner, nastier, and downright more competent motorcycle. Good on them. The next time you are cranking along on your 'R' at 70 mph, and that 105,000lb semi swerves into your lane, you'll thank the heavens for forged PVM wheels. Throw a set of ridiculously light wheels on your existing bike and you will never go back. Talk about a bike that is quicker to respond; great for those freeway speed emergency lane changes (and apexing turn 2 at Laguna). And that is just the wheels. Top shelf Ohlins forks and shock, Brembo Monoblocks, and Supercorsa's each lay down there own real world benefits.
leward18   January 31, 2012 09:48 PM
Right on neo1piv014 & guambra2001.
neo1piv014   January 31, 2012 06:58 AM
@Carbon - I think what he meant is that while you get much more performance for your buck out of suspension components and Brembos, most people aren't going to be maxing out what you're getting on the stock bike. As such, you'll probably appreciate the deeper sound of an aftermarket exhaust, the extra comfort that an aftermarket seat gets you, etc. If I was getting a Speed Triple to be a track bike, or even just a weekend joyride, I'd spring for the R just to get that extra performance, but for the day to day riding that I do, I'd rather dump that four grand into a Corbin, exhaust, and paying it off quicker.
Carbon   January 30, 2012 10:08 PM
@Superlight. I couldn't agree more. Exhausts are cool and all but for the most part do nothing more then make you "sound" faster. And a killer set of binders and suspension aren't just for the track. I can think of SO many scenarios on the street where a properly sorted chassis can truly be a life saver. In this case, are the chassis bits worth the coin? If you can afford it...heck yeah. In all of the bikes owned, and miles ridden, I'm a true believer in top notch components. Is the "standard" Speed Triple good enough? Of course. The modern sportbike is more the capable, to say the least. But the first area I throw money at is the chassis. Then I look at engine components. Like the saying goes: "Power is nothing without control".
AM   January 30, 2012 04:16 PM
Sure it's a better motorcycle but the Tuono V4R will have the same price and WILL eat this bike for lunch and dessert.
Superlight   January 30, 2012 03:19 PM
guambra, to each his/her own, but don't minimize the impact better suspension, lighter wheels and better brakes have on a sporting motorcycle. It will most likely feel like a whole other bike, and in a good way. The heck with motor mods - give me a better chassis!

guambra2001   January 30, 2012 12:49 PM
I don't agree with the price increase, think about it the majority of the owners of this motorcycle will never see a track day, so why would you spend an extra 4 grand on components that really you're not going to use. I can see the ABS, but I believe they offer that option on the standard model, but aside from that nothing else sticks out. The brakes are already fantastic, and the suspension is already more than enough for what most owners will ever need. So I would spend that extra money on paying the debt down or getting some extra goodies I.e exhaust, better seat, etc. just my 2 cents