Triumph Sprint GT
A Little Bit Of Sport, A Lot Of Touring

by Molly Gilbert 

Five years ago, Triumph introduced the Triumph 1050 ST (Sport Touring). Having found that to be one of their most popular sellers, they have now introduced this lovely specimen – the 1050 GT (Grand Tourer). With slightly less of a sports-stance than the ST, the GT comes with one of the most comfortable riding positions I have had the pleasure to test.

Triumph believes in catering to their customers’ needs, and have found there is more of a need for a longer-distance machine in their customer base, and so created an upgraded version of their Sport Tourer with a touch more emphasis on the touring vs. sport. Having also reviewed their Sprint ST (which I also fell in love with), I will say the Sprint GT has not lost any of the ST in its soul – there a just a few upgrades that make it more long distance-friendly, such as the expanded panniers, redesigned faring and standard ABS brakes. Oh, then there is that 200-mile fuel range.

Man, I like it. I mean I really like this bike. Comfortable and well-fitted from the start, this beauty has hard bags that easily transfer from machine to hotel. This made me realize that I would only need to add bar risers, then I would have no hesitation riding this baby from here to Alaska. This is what this bike can do to you. One minute you are taking a small jaunt to a local friend’s house, the next you are plotting your two-wheeled adventure to North or South America.

I am 5’9”, yet (shocker) I usually find that most motorcycles are designed by men for men, so that no matter how long my legs may be, my arms will never be a long as the average male’s. Therefore, I usually need to do a little sum’in’ sum’in’ with the handlebar height. Otherwise, this thing was a *dream* machine for me. The street to seat height was perfect; I never once felt the seat was too high. The seating position was just fantastic for me. I didn’t feel too cramped up or rolled into a ball. Instead I felt supremely comfortable and (therefore) very confidant while on this machine. At 590-lbs with a full tank of fuel, I never once felt overwhelmed by it’s size or weight (unless, of course, trying to turnaround on a slippery, slanted driveway, but enough about that sore subject…) – but mass is all relative.

Back in 2009, I road-tested Triumph’s heaviest bike for MMM, the 2010 Triumph III Roadster. This behemoth has the distinction of being the “world’s largest capacity motorcycle” at a whopping 807 lbs with a 2,294 cc engine. Well, I guess it’s all relative, in’nit? (see MMM # 109). So when I stopped by a friend’s house and she said, “Wow, it looks so big!” I guess I really hadn’t looked at it in that way. The Sprint GT feels very similar to a Honda VFR, just fully loaded and a tad bit stretched out on the wheelbase. Perfect!

Initially, its tall first gear threw me off. I was wondering at first if what I was feeling was a bit of sluggishness? But then I realized it was all in what you are used to riding. This simply had a taller gear than my FZ1000, so eventually I found myself mostly in first and second when tooling about locally. In fact, come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever even shifted into sixth gear out on the highways. That tells me this bike has some pull, and it certainly wasn’t pushed anywhere near its limit by me.

I so enjoyed comparing with my boyfriend on his ZRX 1200 our shifting intervals when taking off from stops, as while he was in second gear about to shift into third, I was still in first! While doing 60mph in second gear, the motor spins at a leisurely 6,000 rpms, quite a ways away from any redline. In fact, the bike felt so comfortable there that it was hard to remember to upshift into third.

For rider comfort, this bike goes the distance. There is a small switch on the left side of the fairing that controls the different heat settings for the heated grips! That was a very nice surprise. Apparently, Triumph doesn’t put out many new bikes without this feature, which I loved learning. On the right side of the fairing just below the right grip there is a handy little tool box which holds the standard Triumph tool set while leaving plenty of room for a wallet, extra pair of gloves and some house keys. And did I mention I loved the hard bags? Apparently there is an option for an additional top bag that can fit two full-face helmets that has a whole bunch of crazy plug-in options for all those cell phones, laptops and portable whatnots you might want to carry as you are heading out to Portland or Boston to visit your buddies. Comes in handy for all the heated gear you might want to be plugging in, as this ride just drastically lengthened your riding season.

The windshield is a great design with an exaggerated wave-like pattern that bubbles up high in the mid-section, giving extra height to the windshield without having to be manually adjusted up or down. This provided fantastic wind protection and an overall comfortable ride. I never felt the need to plug in a heated vest as the fairing protection along with the heated grips simply left me in heaven. A three-dial computer display transmits data through an analog speedo and tach with a digital unit to monitor fuel consumption, trip time, average speed, clock and range-to-empty.

A 43mm Showa fork is carried over from the ST, but with updated internals. In the rear is a completely new shock which uses a hand-twist, remote preload adjustment. Finally, the exhaust muffler is quite distinct in that it has a triangular shape to it, a design new to Triumph. It exits low, under the right saddlebag where the swingarm would be if it weren’t single-sided and has a wonderful, distinct tone to it – definitely not a “factory sounding” pipe.

As usual, it’s the little stuff that threw me off and I spent some serious investigation time looking into the feature that allows the bike’s steering column to be locked, with the key removed, yet parking lights can be left on. No matter how hard I tried, I could not find any emergency flashers, which leads me to believe this feature is meant to be their equivalent. They provide a steady light in both the front and back of the bike while it is parked. This provided a great deal of concern for me when picking up the bike from a colleague, as it was parked this way in front of his house – with the parking lights on. My first thought was, “Oh god, here we go. Another adventure in bike jump-starting for Molly”, but it ended up starting like a dream. I’m not sure how long one could leave the bike parked as such and count on this result, but I was happy to find it still fully-charged and ready to roar.

I did a fair amount of night riding with this bike, and the halogen lights provided a fantastic, clear path for me. The fairing incorporates the familiar but updated three-light illumination setup. Reflector headlights replace the ST’s projector-style units. There are halogen bulbs on either side of the “bubble rise” windshield, then, when you flick the high beam on, a third bulb comes on in the center section, lighting up even the thickest of forests. I loved that the turn signals are positioned high up on the mirrors, so that oncoming traffic sees your turn signals directly in their path of vision. Similarly the brake light and rear turn signals are bright enough for others to (finally) take notice from behind as well. The older I get, you see, the more I want to live. Funny thing about life…

Priced at $13,199, the Sprint GT became available in US dealerships this fall as an early-release 2011 model. This machine comes in two colors: Pacific Blue and Aluminum Silver, with a 12-valve, liquid-cooled, 1050 cc three-cylinder engine and ABS brakes standard. Go out and get yourself one, then leave with a stack of postcards packed in your saddlebags, as you won’t be seeing your local pals for a while. You and the bike will be where this machine belongs: somewhere far, far away, heading into the sunset. Time to ride.

by Gus Breiland

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at the 2011 Triumph Sprint GT is British Stealth. It is smooth, symmetric and sleek. It is a lovely piece of engineering. The Sprint GT is also British Quirky. It is a triple. In the land of V-Twins and inline fours, the triple continues to be the grey duck in the field of ducks. The 1,050cc motor has been tweaked a bit for the Grand Touring moniker but for the most part, the Sprint GT is an elongated ST.

Sometimes bigger isn’t better. With the roughly 4-inch longer bike comes a heavy steering flop at the front end. The rake and trail are tweaked a bit from the ST but it didn’t help. The added length is from the elongated swing arm and I am thinking the engineers at Triumph felt the need to settle the bike on the road to make it more stable.

I have found that vehicle engineers who produce consumer cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc fail to recognize that their purpose-built consumer vehicles will be used for things other than their intended purpose. In this case the Triumph Sprint GT is a good road bike intended for long trips down our paved road systems. Hampered by the heavy steering is your easy jaunt to work or a quick spin to get milk. The heavy front end makes cornering out of your alley or making a left turn something that needs to be thought about, not something that just occurs when your brain says “left”. Balance is just as much a need in a GT model as it is in an S model.

Also, as a GT bike, the stock tank of 5.3-gallons should be increased to 7-gallons, give or take. The tank is the same capacity as the ST, which makes you wonder why have two bikes with the same parts, but one is 4-inches longer and about 60 pounds heavier. Looking at the 2011 line up on the Triumph website, the ST is gone. So the early model release of the 2011 GT, which comes with ABS standard, is slightly more expensive with an MSRP of $13,199 versus the ST with optional ABS at an MSRP at $12,799. But the ST is no more for 2011.

My grouching aside, once you get on the road and settle in, the bike is a delight. At 6’-1” and 280-pounds, I fit comfortably in the cockpit and I have legroom. The 32.1” seat height is acceptable with a bit of difficulty swinging my old feeble leg over the seat without hitting the saddlebag. Not a big deal if this were my bike, but we are on a loaner and I wanted to keep scuff marks to a minimum. The passenger pegs live tight to the riders. If you are big of foot, you may find your heel hitting the peg at times. This would also put your passenger foot right at your heel as well.

The power delivery is excellent and smooth. The 1050cc triple purrs along and the throttle response is light and easy. The return spring seems a bit weak and it’s easy to give the bike a bit too much throttle if you aren’t careful. This will settle after you get used to it. There is a 6-speed gearbox attached to the motor offering a nice range of power. The gearbox seems a bit clunky, not “German positive engagement with a heavy boot” clunky but not as smooth and effortless as it could be.

Sport touring bikes swing from a sport bike with bags to a large comfortable bike that may have some limitations in the corners. The GT is closer to the sport bike with bags. The seating position is forward a bit and getting out of the saddle to raise your butt at pot holes and other bumps can be tough on the knees. This also puts weight on your wrists more so than a standard / neutral seating position. The bags are roomy and functional. They will be useful picking up some take-out on the way home from a long day at work. As well as allowing your two-up partner to pack lightly for the weekend. Both bags mercifully accept a full-size helmet. Evidently, Triumph took Paul B’s grumblings to heart (see MMM #115).

Why can both bags accept a helmet? Because the engineers put a low-slung exhaust on the bike so the bag did not have to be adjusted as some manufacturers choose to do. The can isn’t gigantic like what we have seen with new emissions standards on many other bikes. It does sadden me that the engineers yet again put the exhaust right in front of the single-sided swing arm. What is the point of exposing that wheel when you are just going to cover it up again?

The gauges are a three-dial set up. From left to right are speedo, tach and then a general screen of fuel, clock and trip. There is no finger button on the bars to index through the variable readouts that is more of an annoyance than anything. I think a toggle is important to keep your hands on the bars. We have ridden a few bikes with this added feature and it helps. The headlight is average; it could be better. Thankfully it isn’t worthless like the Italians, but the headlight is no Japanese rising sun.

While hunting for appropriate places for photos of the bike, I rode on freeway, local streets and even a little hard-pack gravel. At speed, the bike floats across surfaces and is extremely stable. The bike has passing power in traffic and the throttle is easy on your wrist, allowing you to maintain your speed with little effort. The bubble windscreen quietly diverts wind over your helmet but just above the visor. Weather protection was quite good. I picked the bike up from a fellow reviewer on a rainy evening. When I arrived home, my boots were wet but my torso, mid-section and upper legs were still reasonably dry.

I unfortunately didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked on this bike to stretch her long legs. Winter was coming, time was short and as always, life and work got in the way of the fun and frivolity. The Sprint GT is an excellent bike for its form, fit and function. Blasting from point A to get to B so you can start enjoying your holiday is a task that this bike is well-suited for. This bike can and will take you there.

Thank you to Motoprimo for the use of this lovely machine. Motoprimo can be found at www.motoprimo.com or on planet earth at 16640 Kenrick Avenue in Lakeville.

MMM

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