As the new Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR rolled into my driveway in Toronto, it was love at first sight. From the sturdy definition of its more-dressed-than-naked frame to the hand-stitched black leather seat and wasp tail, the Speed Triple 1200 RR is flat-out chic—a couture machine engineered with the power and tech to back it up its aggressive appearance. I eagerly suited up and tossed a leg over the bike to experience the performance firsthand.
Downtown Toronto traffic comes with a multitude of challenges. The area has a seemingly unplanned grid of one- and two-way streets, and it’s shared by a network of streetcars and bicycle lanes and criss-crossed with pedestrian crossings. But despite the chaos, navigating these buzzing urban thoroughfares on the nimble and sporty Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR was painless. At rider’s command, the bike offered instant and sustained power to zip around obstacles. And with Triumph’s Quickshifter, I maneuvered through traffic at variable speeds with ease.
An Apex Predator
When it comes to power and performance, Triumph delivers the goods with this bike. The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR is powered by a liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, 1160cc, inline three-cylinder motor that generates a responsive 177 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque. The motor has a low-inertia design that’s quite unlike its competitors: Whereas a bit of jolting is typical, the Speed Triple 1200 RR offers a smooth ride via its six-speed transmission and electronic throttle.
Those enhancements combine with the stainless steel three-into-one header system, underslung primary silencer, and a side-mounted secondary silencer to create the bike’s throaty-but-smooth sonic signature. It was a perfect soundtrack for my ride through Toronto’s concrete jungle.
The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR’s chassis consists of an aluminum twin-spar frame, a bolt-on subframe, and single-sided swingarm. It’s equipped with an Öhlins 43mm adjustable USD fork up front and a monoshock in the rear; both use the Öhlins S-EC 2.0 OBTi electronic compression and rebound damping system.
That high-tech suspension excelled in areas like Queen Street West, where potholes reign. Twin Brembo disc brakes up front and a single disc in the back provided ample stopping power. Better yet, the adjustable front braking system allows riders to tweak the feel of the lever to their preferences.
Genuine Sports Ergonomics and Handling
Rider ergonomics are no afterthought with the Speed Triple 1200 RR. I measure six feet tall and weigh 205 pounds, and I was pleasantly comfortable on the bike. It offers a more relaxed riding posture that creates a painless rider triangle ratio; it’s ideal for the streets and roads I’m after. When paused at stoplights or threading through stop-and-go traffic, heat radiation off the motor was nearly non-existent.
But when you want to get more aggressive, the bike is happy to accommodate you thanks to the clip-on handlebars and well-measured footpeg distance. My body wasn’t complaining after a day of dynamic riding.
The Speed Triple 1200 RR comes with high-performance Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V3 tires; combined with a lightweight cast aluminum chassis and an optimized center of gravity, it achieves a new benchmark in Speed Triple precision handling and agility. While I didn’t have the opportunity to test the bike on a track, grip and cornering traction around the city and on the highway were laudable.
After getting my fill of the downtown matrix, I merged onto the Don Valley Parkway, Toronto’s municipal expressway, and rode along Lake Ontario’s freshwater shoreline. The Speed Triple 1200 RR was dynamic and sprightly—and stupid fast. On one traffic-free stretch of highway, I may or may not have realized the bike’s top speed of 165 mph.
At high speeds on straightaways, and with my weight pushed behind the fairing, the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR ate up miles with impressive steadiness. That said, the front fairing screen creates a very tiny protected area. This is where my size is probably a disadvantage—I nearly had to pin my chin to the fuel tank to keep from getting buffeted by the wind.
Designed for Less Effort, More Fun
Performance-enhancing technologies are a prerequisite for such a powerful beast, and the Speed Triple 1200 RR provides the perfect showcase for rider-aid tech. The Optimized Cornering ABS and Cornering Traction Control are state of the art, and they function across all riding conditions. In addition, Front Wheel Lift Management operates via the traction control to help maintain front wheel contact with the earth. These systems have become more intuitive thanks to input from the Inertial Measurement Unit, which provides critical data when the bike is leaning through a corner.
A five-inch color TFT display handles all instrumentation and ride electronics. The Speed Triple 1200 RR’s five Riding Modes are included with three pre-programmed for Road, Sport, and Rain. A fourth mode is rider programmable, and the fifth is exclusively for riding on a track.
Amid all the gadgetry, some of the simplest concepts, like neutral position and standing balance, shouldn’t be taken for granted. I’ve found myself fighting with some motorcycles over these simple tasks, but the Speed Triple 1200 RR presented no issues. While no featherweight, the bike is light enough—with a full tank (3.4 U.S. gallons), the Speed Triple 1200 RR weighs in at 438 pounds and can deliver 37.3 mpg.
The Perfect Equation
The competition to create the perfect motorcycle is fierce. Designers, engineers, and mechanics all work in alignment to push forward the boundaries of motorcycle dynamics and presentation. If there’s a secret algorithm for the perfect ratio of beauty, sophistication, attitude, and performance, Triumph has uncovered it with the Speed Triple 1200 RR.
After my ride, I have to give kudos to Triumph for creating one of the most aesthetically beautiful production motorcycles to debut in the last decade. Set amidst many production bikes in its price range, the Speed Triple 1200 RR truly stands in a class of its own.
[From $20,950; triumphmotorcycles.com]
Celebrating 60 Years of James Bond
Want to get a really special bike? Consider a limited-edition Speed Triple 1200 RR. To commemorate 60 years of James Bond and the partnership between two iconic British brands (Triumph and 007), Triumph is releasing a limited run of 60 motorcycles, dubbed the Speed Triple 1200 RR Bond Edition. The bike comes in a custom color scheme of Granite and Storm Grey with carbon fiber and hand-painted gold accents. Each motorcycle is individually numbered and includes a hand-signed (by Triumph’s CEO Nick Bloor) certificate of authenticity. Prices start at $24,995.