Rob Harris

Richard Seck
6th Dec. 2001

The name alone will sell the ST to many.

Since there's a new Sprint ST for 2002 (which is basically the same chassis as the current model but with the new 955i die cast motor and its additional 10 hp), let's take one last look at the 2001 bike. Okay, so we haven't tested the new one, but its the same, init? Except for the new motor of course ...

The ST is Triumph's answer to the under-one-litre class of sport tourer, going up against the Honda VFR800, Ducati's ST2/4 and, in a pinch, Suzuki's GSX 750 Katana.

It utilises Triumph's trademark in-line triple motor, housed in a beam type aluminum frame, with the sexy single-sided swingarm, large moulded fairing and distinct Triumph teardrop lights.

Looks wise, it's doing most things right, attracting lustful glances from the masses and the usual, "Oh, it's a Triumph, I used to have one of them when that Grand Duke fellow got himself killed, sparking the first World War ..." types.

Unlike the oh-so-boring first generation triple motors that found their way into the original Triumph line-up (soon to only be available in the Thunderbird format only), the current 2001 triple is a gem. Combining the low down torque of a twin with the upper end howl of a four, it might not be able to claim the highest torque or horsepower figures of either, but it gets the best of both worlds in everyday flexibility.


It has a hungry, go-for-it throttle, laying down the power in a linear flow all the way up to the rev limiter at 10,500 rpm (although power starts to drop after the 9,500 rpm red line).

The ST felt a bit vague in the twisties.

Granted, it's not as wild a rush as a sport four, but it's real world power, enabling the rider to slap it down into sport mode, or ease it up a gear and cruise in a civilised manner all day long. Low end torque means that it'll pull in top from as low as 2,500 rpm, yet 6th gear is enough of an overdrive to ensure relaxed, vibe free, cruising. Actually, although there is a modicum of vibration generated, but it's of a low enough frequency to be unobtrusive - yet also act as a useful guide to what the motor's doing.

In short, it's an ideal motor for a sport-touring motorcycle.

The fuel injection is glitch free and requires no fast idle to get things started. It does require the clutch to be pulled in (even in neutral) and don't even think of touching the throttle, or it won't fire in a month (or two) of Sundays. Oddly, when turning on the ignition initially, there's also a loud "aaahhhhh"emitted for a few seconds, as the fuel injection system primes itself.

"Abuse me, hmmhh .. yes, yes, yes!"

In typical Triumph Canada style, our ST came fitted with the "not for road use" aftermarket end can which rounds of the engine's oomph with a not overly loud, but very tasty growl. Thus begging the question of why such an obviously complimentary accessory would be deemed too loud to be "for road use" in the first place.

From all that I've heard about the ST, the gearbox is great. However, this particular one was definitely a stiff bastard - even though there were plenty of Km's on the clock. To be fair, it would change, sans any false neutrals, but it wasn't a no-brainer flick of the toes, requiring a thoughtful push to get where it was meant to go.

Also, probably more thanks to the fairing design, there's a lot of heat coming off the motor and directly to the rider. Although it was quite welcome in early Fall weather, on a hot, melon-burning summers day, I can see this being a most unwelcome by-product of combustion. Parking up after a spirited ride would leave the ST's fan whirring for a good couple of minutes before eventually shutting off again.

Oh, and on the topic of the fairing (styled well as it may be), it does come back an awful long way, making it one of the few occasions that I can think of when it would be a real benefit to being bowlegged in order to get both feet down at a stop (now's a good time to cut out calcium in your diet maybe).

"Does my arse look fat?"

Once you've adopted the riding position, it's a pretty comfortable posture. Wrists don't take your whole body weight, and the spine isn't crushed over road ruts. However, the seat's a tad hard and I found that my unfeasibly lanky legs were cramped thanks to the high pegs. Also, the bars are at a bit of a weird angle which caused immediate discomfort, but soon after I didn't notice them again ... strange. Oh, and although the screen looks reasonably protective off the bike, when you get on, it appears to have shrunken somehow. However, it does keep the majority of the blast from your bod, and although your head gets full flow, it's linear and quite bearable up to 140 Km/h (just don't forget the ear plugs).

Handling wise ... well it's hard to really know. Although it felt solid under mild leans, more hero-like cornering gave a rather uncertain feedback with a tendency to drop in too eagerly. Nothing bad, just not that "it's all okay Mr. Harris, abuse me some more" feel that you want in those situations. But that might not be the STs fault. The rear tire (BT57 Bridgestone Battleaxes) was worn flatter than a New York office tower down the middle, which no doubt contributed to the vague feedback mid-corner.

The front wasn't worn flat but it was definitely reluctant to grip, especially when attempting a lurid stoppie - the height of which was limited by traction rather than braking.

After sliding for 2 miles, Editor 'arris finally brings up the rear.

That brings me nicely to the brakes. The four piston calipers on twin discs up front proved very linear, solid and with good rider feedback. Although the rear had a tendency to lock up under heavier use, I think we can put that down to the tires.

Likewise, I found the suspension to be suitably accommodating, although some owners have complained about the soggy front end. Granted, it's not hard, and you do notice it when you're in sport mode (which could be a factor in the vague feedback), but I think it would be unfair to condemn it on that alone. If you're finding it too soft, too often, then you've probably got the wrong bike for your riding style.

Once you've toured with hard bags, it's hard to go back to fiddley and insecure alternatives. The Triumph units are held on by three lockable brackets per bag and have a reasonable amount of carrying capacity. They're attractively finished in the same paint as the bike, but therein lies the problem.

But just try getting a bike in and out through a back yard gate everyday, with two bulbous bags where you can't see them. Rest assured they'll touch against something sooner or later. I managed to put a very obvious scar down one side during such a manoeuvre, which matched the one on the other side (courtesy of Mark Richardson - Toronto Star Wheels section) who had the bike before me. Whereas a company like BMW use a dimpled finish within the plastic of the bag (which hides small mishaps well), Triumph's high gloss paint shows each and every close encounter. However, if you're the anal type with large gateways you'll probably not experience any problems.

It's just so higgle-dee-piggle-dee.

Overall, the Sprint is a very capable bike, but as with some other Triumphs I've ridden, it has a bit of an air of something that needs one more makeover to finish the job.

A prime example of this is the console area. It has all the requisite gauges and do-dads, but it looks like it was made with the same tools they use to make those multi-directional air vents above your head in an aeroplane. Each gauge is set at a different angle. I even tried to adjust them back to centre, but alas they proved to be mono-directional after all.

There's also small nuances as well. Like the handy pull out lever to enable easier lofting onto the centrestand (which is nice to see by the way). It gets in the way of your heel when you have the balls of your feet on the pegs, coming into a corner at speed. In the end I just left it out while riding.

But I fear that I'm being overly negative. Maybe it's because the ST is soooo close to being an ideal sports tourer that the smaller faults seem so damning. It's unfortunate that we were trying to test it with shagged out tires as well, and maybe a good servicing would have eliminated a few of the other nuances. Alas, we can only test what we got, but even so, at $13,999.00 it's significantly cheaper than the Ducati, comparable with the VFR (pre 2002 makeover) and, well, not much is cheaper than the Katana. Just don't skimp on the rubber.

hhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwuuuuuuuuuuuoooooooooooeeeeeerrrrrraaaaa! Editor 'arris gets busted doing 150 in a 50 zone. Back to court in January!

Some additional detailed shots ...



Triumph Sprint ST




955 cc

Engine type

Inline dohc triple, liquid-cooled


Fuel Injection

Final drive

Six speed, Chain drive

Tires, front

120/70 ZR17

Tires, rear

180/55 ZR17

Brakes, front

Dual 320 mm discs with four piston calipers

Brakes, rear

Single 255 mm disc with two piston caliper

Seat height

725 mm (28.5")


1,580 mm (62.2")

Dry weight

215 Kg (473lbs) (claimed)

Canadian colours

Tornado Red, Sapphire Blue, British Racing Green