The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR is a competent sports bike that’s accomplished on track but confidently focused on the road.
Triumph has formed the distinctive new Speed Triple 1200 RR on their 178bhp RS, which was launched at the start of 2021. The charismatic triple remains untouched, with no tweaks to the exhaust, its routing, or the airbox, which means it sounds like the 1200 RS – stunning.
In Triumph’s defense, the new ‘Retro’ Speed Triple 1200 RR was not designed to be a pure track animal. Within a few laps, I realized that the way to get the best out of the RR is to stop thinking about lap times and let it flow. That way you can’t help but appreciate the ride, which is arguably more satisfying than a full-on superbike as it’s so easy to ride fast and more forgiving.
You don’t have the be a former AMA Superbike star to get a toe slider touching, while the rider aids haven’t been designed to dig out fast laps times. As an alternative, they are positioned in the background, working overtime to give you a sense of security. You can feel them intervening but are not intrusive – it’s a simple balance.
OK, it’s not a superbike designed to win races, but it can certainly still cut in on track. The only drawback was the Brembo Stylema stoppers, which are more than sufficient, but not a 10 out of 10 as the spec suggests. They lacked feel and on track, this was only pushing for lap times.
On the road comfort mode on the suspension means just that: soft and comfortable, not sporty at all. In Road and Rain mode, the suspension automatically reverts to a comfort mode setting, which, yes, diminishes the steering slightly, but does produce a lovely, plush ride.
Sport mode, and the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR changes its character. The suspension stiffens, the chassis has more hold, and the steering is sharper and more accurate, which in turn adds confidence and allows you to hit the road a little harder. The fuelling is a little sharp at slow speed in the Sport mode, but that can be resolved by flicking into Road or Rain mode. Again, as with the semi-active suspension, there is a noticeable change between the modes.
The new riding position feels more organic than the 1200 RS; you’re more over the fuel tank and dialed into the chassis and feel encouraged to move your body position, lean into corners – knee slider searching for Spanish tarmac. From time to time it’s rewarding to have a blast, without the clutch, kick back a few gears and get the wheelie control working overtime, but for most of the road ride it is all about the torque.
As a road bike, I was struggling to find faults. Even after a few hours in the saddle I hadn’t even a hint of the back, bum and wrist ache some stretched-out café can inflict.
The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR is a competent sports bike that’s accomplished on track but confidently focused on the road. More torque than most road-legal superbikes and 178bhp, the RR shouldn’t be underestimated, but it’s not a race bike. Thankfully it is more than that. It’s an attractive, charismatic, desirable motorcycle – a well-judged update on the café racer.
Images: Gareth Hartford, Chippy Wood