Triumph Sprint GT
Never mind for a moment that gratifying three-cylinder wail it leaves behind at 7000 rpm. We’ll be getting to those excellent hard saddlebags, the comfy riding position and genial road manners a little later in the program. Right now, the sexiest part of a new Sprint GT is its $13,200 sticker price. You can’t touch a comparable sport-tourer in anyone else’s showroom for that kind of coin. On the flip side, it requires acquiescing to a little honest input from the sensible side of your brain. Are you willing to live without amenities like shaft drive, heated grips and electronically adjustable anything to save something between $2400 and $7800?
California’s Pacific Coast Highway is breath- takingly beautiful, relentlessly unforgiving
Recast for 2011 to reflect a cleaner, more workmanlike, sport-touring image, the Sprint sits a little lower than its more expensive traveling companions, feeling pleasantly narrow with 5.3 gallons of super unleaded between your knees. Its predecessor’s underseat muffler was lost in the translation from ST to GT in favor of a less adventurous one under the right saddlebag. That opened up more room for a passenger as well as some storage space under the one-piece seat. Speaking of storage, the Triumph’s bags offer more useable space than the others. Taking them off is easy, even under bad lights in a hotel parking garage, and they go back on just as easily in the morning. Critical eyes will notice the cheap-looking adjustable control levers and ignition switch. The mirrors and turn signals obviously didn’t come out of a Honda parts bin, nor did the straight-blade preload adjusters on the forks, which scream Suzuki Katana. Toggling through trip-computer data means poking around the center of the dash and trying to remember which one of those three button does what. A bar-mounted button would be better, but you’re lucky to have a trip computer at this price.
The preload-adjustable Showa fork and four-pot Nissin calipers work better on the bean cou
The Sprint looks harmless outside a seemingly nontoxic Central California burger joint. Do you care? Give the chain a quick check, then explain to the curious that Triumph still makes motorcycles, and they don’t leak oil like Uncle Woody’s ’59 Bonneville. Yes, we did come all the way up from Los Angeles. No, we’ve never met Paris Hilton, and we have heard Santa Cruz is full of hippies, now that you mention it. What’s a hippie?
Wind on a handful of throttle on the way out of town and Triumph’s ubiquitous 1050cc triple comes up to freeway speeds easily despite its long gearing, leaving a hint of that gratifying wail hanging in the air to mark its passing. Our Sprint’s transmission felt sticky through the first three gears right out of the crate, but shifting improved once all the cogs got better acquainted. The smallest engine of the bunch feels relatively weak right off the bottom. It works a little harder to keep up at times. Convincing acceleration lives above 5000 rpm. Make that 7000 if you’re really in a rush. Throttle back to a steady 75 mph in sixth and the Britbike feels calm, with just enough mechanical presence to let you know what you’re riding. The cockpit gets a bit breezy if you’re taller than 6-foot-nothing, and long legs inevitably tire of being bent between the low seat and high pegs. Assuming your inseam measurement is something less than 35 inches, racy ergonomics feel natural enough after 100 miles to encourage 100 more.
The Triumph feels sportier than the average sport-tourer. Inveterate sportbike junkies will feel right at home whistling through a few hundred corners at speeds that don’t illicit expensive roadside interludes with local law enforcement. Steering is reasonably light and reassuringly neutral, but lazier than Honda’s VFR through the twistiest bits. No hard parts grind on the pavement. All is well. But when proceedings escalate beyond 8.5 on the Motorcyclist Adjusted Aggression Scale, the Sprint’s reasonably priced suspension and brakes are well beyond their comfort zone. The GT’s relatively simple Showa fork and shock are firmer than their counterparts on the old Sprint ST, but both wilt quickly at this pace, letting Captain Sensible wallow and pitch enough to make most of us uncomfortable. While the Triumph’s engine is ready and willing to hammer along at 9000 rpm all day long, its brakes aren’t.
More accommodating than its predecessor, the new Sprint GT makes more room for rider and p
Triumph seems to like grouping things in threes: tachometer; speedometer; trip-computer LC
The 1050cc triple sends power to the rear wheel via chain instead of shaft. An eccentric a
Back it down around 5000 rpm or so and the Triumph can coax 200-plus miles out of a tankful chasing S.R. 25 up the San Andreas Fault toward Paicines, Tres Pinos and Hollister. It gives you time to think about things. Like how nice a pair of heated grips might feel right now. Judging by that pasture, maybe one 1000-lb. cow really does drop 20,000 lbs. of cow pies every year. Or whether one BMW K1300S in the garage beats owning a Sprint GT and a Honda CRF450X for the same money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, but if scaling sport-touring back to the essentials is sounding pretty good right now, this Triumph is all you need.