All posts for the month June, 2013

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:

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.

Here I go again: another bike, another blog.

A test ride has been arranged for Saturday, 22 June 2013 for me to try a Sprint GT for size following on from my Pyrenees trip a week ago when I decided to bite the bullet and blow some cash on a sports tourer for serious mileage.