2012 Triumph Speed Triple R | Doin' Time

Photography by Ari Henning

Wrist: Ari Henning
MSRP (2012): $15,999
Miles: 4821
MPG: 38
Mods: Michelin Pilot Power 3 tires, Öhlins shock spring

After nearly 5000 miles, the Triumph’s stock Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires were torched. They put up a good fight considering the Speed’s prodigious power, 480-pound heft, and my propensity for WOT. Although handling degraded as the rear tire squared off and the front tire turned triangular, the Supercorsas had consistent traction right up until I wore through the rear’s tread cap and into the carcass rubber.

I replaced the Pirellis with Michelin’s new Pilot Power 3s (www.michelinmotorcycle.com; $185.95 front/$291.95 rear), which supplant the Power Pures and slot in above the legendary Pilot Power 2CT sport tires. Michelin says these new buns are both stickier and more durable than the 2CTs, and are intended for aggressive riding in the wet and dry—perfect for the Speed Triple and its role as a weekday commuter and weekend hooligan bike.

While I had the Triumph in the shop for the tire change, I took the opportunity to address a few minor issues that have been bothering me. First was the spring on the R’s Öhlins TTX shock. Even with all the preload taken off the stock 14.3 kg/mm spring, rider sag was only 24mm—about what you’d want on a pro-level roadracer! To soften things up, I swapped the spring out for a 12.2 kg/mm coil (www.ohlinsusa.com; $95). Removing the shock required removing the seat, tail bodywork, and muffler. That may sound like a lot of work, but it only took about 20 minutes. We don’t have a suitable spring compressor in the MC shop, so I took the shock down to South Bay Triumph (www.southbaytriumph.com) in Lomita, CA, and had service tech James Laub make the swap. Sag is now set at an acceptable 35mm, and there’s plenty of room for adjustment.

A few hundred miles back, the front brakes started giving me some trouble. They weren’t giving their all at first pull; I had to pump them once to get a firm feel from the lever. I suspected the problem was due to either air in the lines or a warped or glazed rotor pushing the pads back in the caliper. I decided to start with the simple stuff first and deglazed the rotors with a red 3M Scotch-Brite pad and bingo! Problem solved. So what happened? Will Elliot at EBC Brakes shed some light on the subject of glazing. “It usually occurs when the brake pads overheat during extreme use,” he says. “Once hot, they can leave a film on the rotors that can build up and cause the problems you’ve described.” I haven’t taken the Speed to the track yet so I’m not sure why my rotors glazed, but I’m glad the solution was so quick and easy.

Fresh out of the shop, the Speed Triple feels better than ever, literally. The softer shock spring means the rear suspension moves through more of its stroke over bumps, making for a more compliant ride and finally allowing me to best utilize the TTX shock’s damping adjusters. And the improved handling and traction from the new rubber and restored braking feel and consistency have me falling in love with the Triumph all over again. I have an 800-mile round-trip ride to Rich Oliver’s Mystery School coming up, and I’m nearly as excited about the ride there and back as I am about riding a Yamaha TTR125 around Rich’s dirt tracks.

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