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2012 Triumph Speed Triple R Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

Everyone knows that you don't mess with success; you only build on it. That's exactly what Triumph did with the new 2012 Speed Triple R, much to the delight of sporty naked bike enthusiasts.

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R

Following in the footsteps of the Street Triple R and Daytona 675R, the Speed Triple R largely benefits from the British manufacturer's racing expertise. Just like its siblings, this model has a sleek yet sinister look courtesy of numerous carbon fibre pieces that emphasize its main components.

Paint options include metallic Phantom Black and Crystal White, as showcased by the magnificent tester we caught on camera at the Daytona International Speedway during Bike Week.

Familiar engine
After receiving upgrades to the airbox, radiator and exhaust system last year, the 1,050cc triple-cylinder engine is unchanged for 2012. It still produces 133 hp at 9,400 rpm and 82 lb-ft of torque at 7,750 rpm. The 6-speed transmission, also revised in 2011 for smoother shifting, seems to like the abuse as well.

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R engine
The 1,050cc triple-cylinder engine is unchanged for 2012. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Sharp chassis
The twin-spar aluminum frame gets Öhlins NIX30 upside-down forks up front and a Öhlins TTX36 twin-tube monoshock in the back. In the braking department, the radial front callipers are supplied by Brembo and mated to 320mm discs, while the sliding rear calliper from Nissin bites a single 255mm disc. Overall, the brakes are powerful and easy to modulate.

The 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R rides on super-sticky Pirelli SuperCorsa SP tires. This premium rubber is wrapped around PVM alloy wheels that reduce unsprung weight by more than 1.7 kg.

Other highlights include switchable ABS, a red-painted subframe, and new R-branded tapered black alloy bars.

Friendly ergonomics
Like all standard sport bikes from Triumph, the Speed Triple R offers a friendly riding position that makes daily commutes, night rides and long weekends all the more enjoyable. In the city, however, this machine suffers from a large turning radius and lack of convenient features.

On the other hand, similar to the base Triple, it delivers genuine excitement and auditory thrills thanks to a grunty yet flexible powerplant that screams like Porsche's naturally aspirated flat-six engine. It's pure bliss every time you exit a sweeping corner that leads to a long straightaway.

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R right side view
Like all standard sport bikes from Triumph, the Speed Triple R offers a friendly riding position that makes daily commutes. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Extremely sporty
The Speed Triple R's chassis dynamics contrast heavily with those of the regular model, while its engine pulls relentlessly until it reaches the rev limiter (which kicks in too soon, by the way, so be careful). Sharp, stable handling invites you to push the limits, even if it means scraping the ground with your knees in corners. Remember, though, you're still on public roads. The Speed Triple R can only be fully appreciated on the track, which I have planned for this summer.

On a tight, twisty ribbon of rural pavement, this Triumph sprints, brakes and changes directions at a frenetic pace. It definitely feels stiffer and livelier than the other Speed Triple. The front tire allows great steering accuracy, even under a heavy load. If need be, you can use the engine's torque to adjust your trajectory. One thing's for sure: this mill is always ready to deliver at any point in the rev range. Moreover, the suspension and tires inspire confidence in corners and provide plenty of feedback.

Bottom line
The 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R proves as easy to ride as the standard model yet displays more athleticism than the average competitor. Much like the Ducati Streetfighter S and Aprilia Tuono V4 R, it provides intense thrills that were once exclusive to superbikes. You can show up at work on Monday morning with a big fat smile knowing that you'll get another opportunity to savour this baby at the end of the day.

Fun and easy to ride
Race-inspired chassis
Distinctive styling
Engine performance across the rev range

Lack of convenient features
Large turning radius

Key Competitors