If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 11 July 2011

New Arrival

Today, at 12:00 mid-day, gender uncertain, a bouncing baby bike, 207 kg, mother and baby doing fine, father ecstatic.

I had a short but useless test ride last week (heavy traffic, narrow roads, more supermoto territory), so today I got the chance to confirm that I had made the right choice - or not. When I picked it up, it was sunny and warm, and I had a long afternoon ride planned, but within ten minutes I started getting rain spots on my visor, so I headed for home and got it under cover. This wan't a bad idea, as it let me check out various things that had been nagging at me (where the bike fits in the timeline of engine improvements, what had been modified and how, oil and water level checks, and so on). And then, miraculously, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. So off I went - a circular route I often use when I need a ride but have no reason to do so, about 50 miles round the coast and back down a main road with a nice mix of twisty and gun-barrel straight.

First impressions are very good. There's as much power as I am ever likely to need, and it seems to cruise in the 70-90 area effortlessly, which is roughly my benchmark. No idea about top speed yet, but the rate at which it reached the ton and was still pulling urgently suggests it won't be anything I will use very often. Handling was very secure. Even only 100 yards after leaving the dealership, I was trickling it in traffic feet-up at less than walking pace, and at higher speeds it just seemed to go where I pointed it. I didn't see much mileage in exploring the limits of the tyres on a first outing, but I had no problems in laying it over for tight corners, and it was rock steady.

The sound-track is a curious one. Going through the rev range, there is the addictive howl that other owners have mentioned, but there is a bit too much wind noise to hear it well. The bike has a Triumph-branded 'not for road use' carbon-fibre can, and it seems fairly subdued (I had TORs on the Bonnie, and they were noticeably louder than standard). At idle, there is a lovely burble from the back end, while the sound coming from under the tank reminds me of a washing-machine full of ball-bearings. I believe this is normal: at least I hope it is.

It's got a flip-up aftermarket screen, which I am in two minds about. For wind protection it seems excellent, with no buffeting at any speed up to 90+, but curiously there is a lot of wind noise at the same time. The dealer says he has a standard screen coming in, so maybe I will try that to see if it is any quieter. I can't say I like the look of the present screen very much (too upright and scooterish), but it seems to work very well.

Both headlights come on for both main and dipped beam, so I believe it has had the usual modification made. (The standard lighting is notoriously crap. Twin headlights, one for main and one for dip, durr, and it's only a matter of adding two relays to existing connections to make both lights work in both modes. Why they left the factory like this, I have no idea.) It would have been No. 1 job to sort this out if it hadn't, as I ride at night frequently. It still has its original tool-kit, and the contents are shiny and untouched. For a 9-year-old bike, this is amazing.

The only issue so far is the riding position. The last few bikes (Bonneville, Honda ST1300, GT1000, Bandit and the daily driver Yamaha) have been fairly upright, and the leaning-forward riding position will take some getting used to. My wrists were getting a bit sore and my hands tingly after an hour in the saddle. But I am sure that is just a matter of practice and adaptation.

When I picked it up from the dealer and rode away, I was all tippy-toes and nervous. It's always the same with a new (to you) bike - different weight and balance, different power characteristics, different clutch, brake and throttle sensitivity - and it usually takes me a few miles to feel I am in control of the bike rather than the other way round. Today's ride was therefore fairly conservative; everything done gently and overtaking only on the obvious opportunities. Nevertheless, we covered some ground at speeds that were not too shabby, and after 50 miles and an hour in the captain's chair, I feel I could ride it anywhere.

And that engine - all the magazines say it's a peach, and they are right.

More tedious hagiography later, no doubt, and a comparison with the Bonnie, which already feels like history. You could say I was pleased.


  1. Seems you made the right choice then. Now's the time to get Mrs GFGN's approval. It looks sooooo comfortable for a pillion. Oh, and its got a racky-thingy for her shopping bags. You're so thoughtful.

    "Twin headlights, one for main and one for dip......Why they left the factory like this, I have no idea." To save a quid of production costs.

  2. It looks very good, in a red 'n' shiny sort of way.

    I used to find that a week or so of daily rides would convince me one way or t'other about wisdom of choice.

    Anyway, looking at it makes me wonder about going out to buy a car stereo, again :)

  3. Congrats, She's a real beauty Richard. There's nothing like liter bike power, it's intoxicating. Helps when passing on the interstate as well. It's the main reason I went back to an 1100, the power is there when you need it.

  4. Joe - Anna loved the Pan Euro as it was so pillion-friendly. I'm pretty sure this one would be almost as good, but I doubt if her health would let her swing a leg over at this stage. Too much has happened in the couple of years since she last rode. Maybe I'll try, though.

    Xen - you go and have a look for that stereo. You knwo you want to. Hide it on the credit card.

    Gymi - thanks. You're right about the power. I thought I wouldn't miss it, but I did.

  5. Well done on your purcase, I can ssure you the triple sound becomes very very addictive.......some where between 4000 and 6000 revs you will love it.

    Great post ans looking forward to her travels.

  6. A burble from the back end always used to spell horror in me as my ex used to thrust a nappy at me and say "your turn".

    Attempts at humour aside, if it were me I would be raising the bars a little to compensate for the fact that I would be riding mostly at legal speeds and could not rely on the wind pressure to releive arm ache!

  7. That's an absolute beaut.
    One suggestion re riding position - move the pegs. If you can straighten out your body a little it makes a big difference.
    Of course, we adv riders just stad up for a bit... ;-)

  8. By the way - can I claim some credit for this purchase after the GSA video?

  9. @Raftnn - that sound is indeed addictive. It's a gravelly kind of burp below 2000 and sounds (to be frank) rough, but I kinda like that. Then 4-6000 and up, wahey!

    @Nikos - I have discovered that the bike does indeed have bar raisers. It only took 2 days and 200 miles to notice! (My excuse - I didn't know what it should look like until I checked the handbook and couldn't find the fork adjusters that they claimed were there.) I'm used to the riding position now, and I am even considering dumping the raisers.

    @OscarIndia - I don't think I will need to move the pegs, although I will bear it in mind. A lot of it is what you are used to, I think. I haven't had a lean-forward bike for a while, and the muscles need to be re-educated, lower back especially. If I grip the tank with my knees and take the weight on my back, the wrists have no weight at all. And yes, you can claim about 70% of the credit for the change. Your video reminded me of how much a decent amount of power does for your riding satisfaction, and made me think that perhaps ~60 bhp was perhaps not the keeper I thought it was. Things started to move in my head from that moment, and then other things started the avalanche. When Anna complains I will blame you.

  10. Meant to offer congrats earlier, but the week seems to have shot past.

    Having just spent the best part of 3000 miles trolling around Europe in company of one of those very bikes, albeit a green one, I've come to rate it highly. That one also had a high flip screen (and the twin-headlight mod, sensibly enough) - I agree about the aesthetics, but the guy riding it was very much in favour of the practicality. Riding position was stock, and seemed perfectly comfortable for him over some big days - he'd adjusted to it well after a much more upright Freewind and an ER-6.

    Reckon by now you probably have a pretty good idea of whether you want to adjust the ergonomics or not, but I think Triumph got them largely right straight out of the box. And the engine...yeah!

    Hope you'll be enjoying many happy miles with the Big Red One!

  11. I've now had a week of tooling about and commuting, and I am pretty happy with the 'ergos'. I have now realised that the bike does in fact have bar risers and I am thinking of getting rid of them and seeing how I get on. I have adapted completely to the new riding position, which is good.

    The screen is an oddity. It's awesomely good at deflecting the wind, to the extent that I can almost ride visor-up at 80. There's no wind battering at all - but the noise is unbearable. It's louder than anything I have had, and much louder than a naked bike. So much so that I cannot even hear the exhaust note over 60, which is a damn shame in my book. So the screen's gotta go. I'd trade a bit of buffeting for a bit of peace and quiet. Now looking into a standard screen, which I hear is fairly good.

    And the engine ... yeah!

  12. Still have my 54 plate 955i RS Sprint (Dark green) and although when first purchased I thought it was to big for me returning to bikes I love it and the noise it makes. My only gripe is the slight vibrations through the bars which after a couple of hours can become hand numbing.I too have a huge Triumph rack which at some point I want to add a Givi rack to.


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