Despite being given the green light in 2007, Triumph’s limited R&D resources mean it has taken until now for the bike that Speed Triple fans have been eagerly awaiting to appear. Don’t worry, your patience has been rewarded.
Following the long established tradition of ‘R’ models, the Speed Triple R gains the usual modifications. The standard model’s Showa suspension is replaced by a set of Öhlins NIX30 forks and a TTX36 shock while the Brembo Monobloc calipers are updated, the subframe painted red and there is a smattering of carbon-fibre. As with the 675R, the Speed Triple’s engine remains largely unaltered, however performance is improved thanks to the addition of lightweight PVM wheels. As well as a different spoke design, they are made by forging the aluminium alloy rather than casting it, a process that saves 700g from the front wheel and 1kg from the rear. According to Triumph this reduces their inertia by 16 percent and 25 percent respectively.
To highlight the sporting potential of the ‘R’, Triumph chose to launch it at the fabulous MotoGP circuit of Jerez in Spain, the perfect place to highlight the quality of the new Speed Triple R’s upgrades.
The addition of the Öhlins adds a huge amount of feel and precision into the suspension, delivering a ride that is plush and controlled without the slightly vague feeling that OE suspension can deliver when pushed hard. However it is the addition of the PVM wheels that makes the most significant difference.
I would never describe the updated 2011 Speed Triple as lazy handling, but the combination of the lightweight wheels and Öhlins suspension takes the ‘R’ to another level entirely. By reducing the weight of the wheels, and with it their inertia, it feels like Triumph has chopped about 15kg off the weight of the Speed Triple. It hasn’t, it is only 2kg lighter than before, but it feels considerably more. This is helped further by the glue-like qualities of the Pirelli Super Corsa tyres.
But, and this is a big but, despite this sporting ability, Triumph hasn’t taken out any of the Speed Triple’s user friendliness. The updated Brembo brakes, while stronger in their power, aren’t overkill and come with a decent amount of feel as well as bite, and the wonderfully flexible and grunty triple motor remains at the heart of the bike, which is the one slight issue I have with the ‘R’.
The motor is fabulous, but despite Triumph swapping 10 of the 12 gears, both shafts, the selector drum and selector shafts, the gearbox still isn’t brilliant. It’s certainly more precise than before, but there are still occasional refusals to go into gear.
I love the Speed Triple’s relaxed attitude and ability to misbehave when required. The ‘R’ has all this but adds an extra dimension of control and performance. It isn’t a hardcore, track-only version, but one that has been given some superb quality components that only serve to heighten the pleasure of riding it.