2012 Triumph Speed Triple R | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

Photography by Joe Neric

Wrist: Ari Henning
MSRP (2012): $15,999
Miles: 6421
MPG: 42
Mods: Crash damage

It’s fair to say I’ve fallen in love with the Speed Triple R. It’s everything I want in a motorcycle: comfortable and full of character, powerful and beautiful, unique and compelling. I love riding this bike!

Those were the exact thoughts running through my mind as I was rear-ended. It happened while on my way home, on one of Southern California’s more notorious freeway interchanges. Two lanes become one, with another stream of traffic merging just beyond that point. It’s usually a mess. That night, a driver made an aggressive merge three cars up, causing a panic-braking chain reaction. I was maintaining a safe following distance to the car in front of me, saw the move as it was happening, and braked early. Unfortunately, the driver of the Nissan Pathfinder behind me wasn’t as alert. The next thing I knew, I was sliding down the road at about 25 mph.

As soon as I could get my feet under me, I sprinted to the median and made a quick assessment of my person. No injuries. No way. The impact had been violent. I figured adrenaline was masking the pain, but as I hauled the Triumph off the road and dealt with the offending driver and a CHP officer, all I noticed was a slight ache in my right elbow. Thank goodness I was wearing my Aerostich Roadcrafter, as its armor and durable Cordura fabric no doubt saved me from harm.

I escaped without injury, but the Triumph wasn’t so lucky. The Pathfinder’s bumper took the path of maximum destruction, ramming the Speed between the rear wheel and mufflers. The Triumph’s sturdy PVM forged rear wheel folded the Nissan’s radiator in half while the mufflers rode up on the truck’s hood, leaving two deep gouges. The wedging action of the initial impact broke the Triumph’s subframe and sheared the subframe mounts off the frame spars. Then the bike slid about 20 feet on its right side.

The R&G frame and bar-end sliders kept the tank off the pavement, and if I’d installed the engine covers as well (www.twistedthrottle.com; $111 per side) the clutch cover probably wouldn’t have been ground down. No matter. With the frame damage, the bike will no doubt be totaled by the insurance company.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have walked away from such an incident—like I dodged a bullet. It’s taken weeks to shake the fear of being smeared on my way to work. But on the upside, I’ve formed a habit of checking my mirrors any time my fingers reach for the brake lever. This was my first car-versus-bike accident, and it definitely taught me some important lessons.

This isn’t the end of the road for this long-termer. My affection for the Speed Triple R is sincere. I’ve spoken to Triumph’s representatives and they’ve graciously agreed to lend me another bike so the relationship can continue. I intend to transfer all salvageable aftermarket parts and continue enjoying this incredible bike.

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