Saturday morning found me heading out on the bus with a leather jacket and clutching my open helmet to head to Metropolis Motorcycles to pick up the Sprint. And so it was that I got off the train at Vauxhall and wandered over just as they were opening … which was just as well as it was filling up for “Crash a Triumph Day” aka Triumph Open Day with test rides aplenty.

After we’d done the paperwork and I’d laughed at the stupid warning label on the pannier liner bags (have I got to take a Triumph Technician everywhere with me?), I fired up GT with its 3.1 mile mileometer (or odometer as Triumph refer to it) reading and headed home via a petrol station to fill the tank right up. It was handy having the top box as well because I could put all my paperwork – in a neat Triumph pouch – and a Triumph T-shirt and mug in the cavernous boot.

To be fitted by a trained technician

To be fitted by a trained technician

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

So home, arriving with a little over 6 miles on the clock.

It was then that I noticed the scratches on the massive OEM silencer – the “Hoover” – which had been effectively hidden in the showroom and not showing up when I climbed onto the bike from the other side:

Scratched End Cap

Scratched End Cap

Scratched Silencer

Scratched Silencer

Now while I have told the dealer about them, it’s only important for when/if I sell the bike, because I’d already decided that I wouldn’t be happy with this profile:

Before...

Before…

… and I’d much prefer this one instead:

...and After

…and After

This has the added benefit – having removed the baffle – of releasing a lovely, deep growl from the triple engine without being too noisy, thanks to the catalytic converter in the headers/collector box (I only swapped out the silencer). Start to finish, it took me 10 minutes to fit this carbon fibre Remus Hexacone silencer. Lighter weight, smaller, shorter and better looking. And it makes the popping and banging on the overrun even better!

I then spent another 5 minutes taking off all the warning stickers from the tank before they get a chance to harden and take hold on the tank. Marvelous!

The next job was to fit the RAM mount for the satnav to the fork tops and then wire up a power lead to plug into the accessory socket. Sadly, this wasn’t actually putting out any power (and neither were the heated grips which share the same circuit) so that’s another job for the dealer to sort. I wired up another lead direct from the battery to the new powered satnav cradle from Amazon… which is also DOA! So the morning had taken a slight turn for the worse … which got much, much worse when I scraped the left pannier going into the garage due to my misjudging the width at the rear – the bike’s wider at the back than the front, even with the wide mirrors. Arse! Out with the T-Cut paste.

Finally, it was time to change into my black race leathers and matt black Arai for the full stealth effect. High viz? Schmy viz! Then off to Egham to drop off some apartment keys for Amy and then on to Epsom and the other GT for dinner.

Sunday morning and I was up and out of the house by 8.00am as I was heading down to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu to meet up with friends for breakfast and a natter. I chose the A3 as it was a nice mixture of roads and off I went, keeping the revs and throttle openings to a modest amount as I’m running the bike in. Playing with the trip computer showed that the GT was giving over 50mpg at 90mph – on closed roads, obv! – and even with all the town riding was averaging 46mpg with a range of a little over 200 miles.

Some slight tingling through the bars at around 90 as well, so I will need to keep it just under or just over on Eurothrashes.

After a lovely time with mates, I headed back to Epsom where the other GT had finished a difficult half-marathon – “demanding”, said the website – especially in the heatwave. I was pleased to have avoided it on doctor’s orders after my GP and Consultant had told me to rest my duff knee until it’s fixed.

On the way back up the M3, a crash had slowed traffic to a halt so I was able to see what it was like to filter with the additional width. It was OK: I just had to be a little more careful and filter with less extreme prejudice than usual.

Then in the evening it was back home through more heavy traffic up to Wandsworth and a weekend of around 250 miles.

Excellent!

…and these colours are really nice (especially the blue and silver one):

http://www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk/triumph-world/news/27800

Triumph has once again teamed up with custom paint shop 8 Ball to create a limited edition run of just 50 eye-catching Sprint GTs.

Triumph has created two distinctive looks based around the standard Sprint GT colours; the first a striking pacific blue and pewter silver with scarlet red pinstripe design and the second an attention-grabbing phantom black and pearlescent bullion gold.

The bold paint schemes run across the Sprint GT’s flowing faring, fuel tank and large capacity panniers.

Just 25 bikes have been produced in each colour option ready for this summer’s touring season.

The new machines are exclusively available via the UK Triumph dealer network, priced £8,649 OTR.

130702_sprint_gt_8ball_black 130702_sprint_gt_8ball_blue

Delayed

Well just like when I bought the RX-8, I didn’t take delivery of the Sprint GT as planned on Saturday because it wasn’t ready: the (confirmed) factory recall – a minor recall to replace a detent spring, neutral switch and a small washer – wasn’t sorted so I’m now picking it up next Saturday instead.

Fingers crossed for more great weather!

More bad news today from Metropolis Motorcycles: apparently there’s been a factory recall from Triumph which means they’re not allowed to register/tax my Sprint GT and they’re hoping the part will come in tomorrow.

I can’t find anything on the VOSA website so is this just a lame excuse?

Had a phone call this morning – as promised – from Metropolis letting me know there was some good news and some bad news…

The good news is that delivery of the Sprint GT is on for this Saturday! I just need to arrange my insurance now.

The bad news is that for some complicated reason, they haven’t been able to assign my vanity plate to the bike, so I’ll have to do that just as soon as the registration document arrives.

The other good news is that the weather for the weekend is looking good for some rides out with the other GT 🙂

And even more good news is that planning is underway for Eurotour 2014 and possibly something else this year…

Crate News!

I just rang the dealer to see if they have any news as to when the Sprint GT will be ready for me.

It turns out it arrived in from Triumph today! Still crated up and needs to be PDI’d but we’re more or less there: the vanity plate will need to go on as well, but we’re there or thereabouts.

And there’s a nub of an idea forming about running it in with a couple of big trips: one for the initial running-in period to the free service at 500 miles and then a longer trip to get to know the bike properly.

Now all I need to do is work out where to go: I’m thinking a couple of long weekend rides for the former and somewhere in Europe for the latter…

So after the test ride, it was back to the dealer to turk turkey on a deal.

I’d always like the “Aluminium Silver” model, but the “Phantom Black” on the demo ride looked good and of course my bike gear is all black as well…

Anyway, they had a brand new silver one in stock so the sales guy, Richard, took me to look at it. It wasn’t as nice as I’d remembered from the London Motorcycle Show but it still looked good.

Back down to talk figures and we started haggling over this bike:

  • New black or silver Triumph Sprint GT 1050 ABS with colour matched panniers
  • Powered top case and colour matched lid with sliding carriage kit
  • Top case back rest
  • Heated handlebar grips
  • Comfort gel seat
  • Machined alloy brake and clutch levers
  • Pannier inner bags

The price was finally one we could both agree to so I plumped for the black and shook on it. So Goth Trumpet is on order, deposit paid and it should be with me a in a couple of weeks. I completely forgot to order the tank pad as well, so I’ll sort that out tomorrow.

I popped back at a little later on Saturday with the retention certificate for the vanity plate, so 8000 RM will be on the road soon!

Oh and that silencer: I’ve ordered a Remus Hexacone carbonfibre silencer (with removal baffle…) that I’ll be fitting as soon as I get the Sprint home.

Test Ride

Well it was time for for the test ride to see if I liked the bike. So on Saturday I rode over to Metropolis Motorcycles at Vauxhall who had a black Sprint GT demo bike with 590 miles on the clock (now for sale!). The weather was perfect for a test ride: overcast and very windy with a hint of rain.

After filling in the test ride forms and copying of licences, etc, the bike was duly unlocked and pushed out of the showroom for me … when it refused to start as the battery was almost out of charge. Damn! It was shoved around to the back and into the workshop where it could be jump-started from another slave battery and so it was off at last. No luggage was fitted to the demo bike, which gave me mixed feelings in terms of a test ride.

Heading out into traffic, the riding position seemed very natural; slightly bent forward but feeling roomy. The triple sounds nice, even with the mahoosive silencer, so the bike felt good as I rode through Battersea and Wandsworth and then out onto the A3 where I could open it up.

Obviously at 128bhp at the crank, it’s way down on power compared with my ZRX1200R – which is putting out 163bhp at the rear wheel – but it was certainly brisk enough up to high cruising speeds. It was nice at those speeds to be able to look round and ride generally without straining my neck from the wind blast.

Then onto some single carriageway A-roads into Epsom to pick up “GT” for a pillion test. In view of the battery issue, I left it ticking over for a while until Fi was ready and then off we went … or we would have if it hadn’t stalled as I put it into gear. And it was dead! So GT had to help me bump start the GT which it did fairly easily once onto a slight incline. Phew!

Demo Side View

Demo Side View

Demo Front View

Demo Front View

That silencer would have to go!

Off over to Ryka’s at Box Hill to see what it was like two-up. And the answer was “great”. Lots of room for a pillion and two large grabrails to hang onto. Not much buffeting either, apparently. This particular model seemed to have a 6 speed gearbox with a few false neutrals included…

After a cuppa and a chat with Mark who’d popped over as he is also thinking of buying one, it was time to head back. Fortunately, there was no misbehaving with the battery this time!

We headed up Box Hill itself to Headley which was a great choice because of the hairpins (reminiscent of my recent Pyrenees Eurothrash): we had wondered if it would be unwieldy in very tight bends with its relatively long wheelbase, but it was absolutely fine.

Once I’d dropped Fi off I headed back out for a circuitous route back to London so I could crank it up properly joining the A3 and it hustled along really well and really easily. I did find that it actually dropped into a false neutral from 4th a couple of times which would have been a worry if I’d read of similar experiences from other owners.

My overall impression was of a grown-up, sensible machine rather than my hooligan ZRX.

So then. Back to Metropolis…

The “Sports Tourer” tag was one that was applied to bikes that manufacturers made that didn’t quite cut it as a sportsbike but weren’t woolly and fully dressed tourers either. In other words, they were a compromise.

So bikes like Honda’s Blackbird and Kawasaki’s ZZR filled that role, as did Triumph with their original Sprint.

The problem was they were a bit … well … “meh”. They didn’t scratch as well as sportsbikes or munch mileage as well as tourers. And this apathy towards them, wasn’t helped by dull paintjobs, something the Blackbird was struck with as was the Sprint with the awful green livery.

Then along came Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and their journey around the world in 2004 – was it really that long ago? – on the BMW R1150GS Adventure which had until then been ploughing its own furrow. And sales of those BMWs soared as a result (KTM must have been kicking themselves at turning them down).

This led to the whole Adventure Sports market taking off, such that that now seems to be the focus for innovation with the Triumph Tiger and Ducati Multistrada being cases in point. Even Kawasaki have something similar with the Kawasaki Versys 1000 Grand Tourer.  These are premium motorcycles, sold at premium prices: know your market and exploit it. The Tiger’s around £11,000 upwards and the Versys £10,000. The Multistrada starts at an eye-watering £15,000, heading on to £17,000+ for the better models.

So what of the Sports Tourer genre? Well there’s the Kawasaki Z1000SX Tourer at £10,000, though with the panniers fitted, you can’t fit a top case. Really? Foot shooting rules that bike out. The Honda VFR1200 at £12,500 with no hard luggage. The basic Suzuki GSX1250FA without luggage is a more sensible £7,800 (it adds £350 or so for side cases).

And then there’s the Sprint GT at £8,500 with luggage, down £1,000 from its launch price.

A mate has just got back from his Eastern European tour on his Fireblade and suggested I should definitely buy a Multistrada like the one another guy was riding. SuperBike TV reckoned you should also test ride one as it’s so good. Well it bloody well should be: it’s £17,000+ or the same price as two Sprint GTs! For that money, I’m better off buying the Sprint and having 8 years of European tours on it.

Well Triumph have gone and confused things for me.

Having negotiated a good price for a Sprint GT with gel seat, heated grips and different levers, I was going to talk turkey about how much to add the top case and a back rest and see what they could do.

In the meantime, Triumph have announced the GT Special Edition:
http://www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk/triumph-world/news/sprint-gt-se

We have given our popular Sprint GT a special edition makeover in time for the 2013 summer touring season!

Our popular mid-range tourer sees a host of new features including heated grips, touring screen, gel seat and top box/back rest pad, all fitted as standard.

The new special edition model has a cavernous hard luggage carrying capacity of 117 litres, while the upgraded gel seat and touring screen add to all-day comfort, allowing the rider to take full advantage of the 200 plus miles range from a single tank.

Powering the new SE model is the 130PS version of our charismatic 1050cc, triple engine, which produces 108Nm of torque, providing effortless overtaking. The new Sprint’s rear shock absorber is easily tuned to suit solo or pillion riding using the hand adjuster located just behind the rider’s leg. The four piston caliper brakes ensure solid and reliable control, with ABS as standard.

Other new touches to the Sprint GT SE include stylish Triumph badges on the panniers, a sleek side panel duct finisher and an SE badge on the top yoke to finish off the distinctive look. Two new colour schemes – an eye-catching Cranberry Red or a classic Champagne – complete the picture.

Available at just £8,999 OTR. Contact your local dealer to arrange a test ride.

130607_Sprint_GT_Champagne 130607_Sprint_GT_Cranberry

So yes, that’s the price I was looking at but with the levers. The touring screen could be worthwhile though the standard one looks nicer. Pity about the colours: the champagne is an old man’s colour I think and the red is … red. Never been keen on red cars or bikes.

But today I went into Lings Triumph at Watton to see their Cranberry Red one and take a look at how easy it is to remove and refit luggage. And I was pleasantly surprised by the red. Maybe it was as it was inside that the red looked quite classy?

Now I like the silver, but… And next week I’m test riding a black one. Decisions, decisions.