I thought I would write up a real world opinion of my ownership of my Speed Triple 1200 RS. It’s not exactly a long term review – I’ve only owned it about nine months and 1200 miles. I’m a fair weather biker and don’t ride through the winter.
Let’s start with the practical stuff – comfort.
Much has been written and said about the 1200RS’ overly stiff suspension, and I sort of agree and sort of don’t. The Ohlins is clearly top quality kit and fully adjustable, and if you’re prepared to put in some time and effort you can dial out much of the harshness. I’ve softened mine up to a point beyond Triumph’s recommended “comfort” setting, and while still a bit firm, I find it now works perfectly well on the road and it’s only the worst roads that now create a problem for me. I could soften it a bit further, but I’m no suspension expert and don’t want to compromise the bikes handling. I think where Triumph has got it wrong is that I think my setting should be a mid-point one rather than virtually fully soft. This is a naked road bike, not a track focussed sports bike! Come on Triumph, people who want their bike to be primarily track focussed buy sports bikes, not super-nakeds! The first time I rode my new bike after delivery, it actually knocked me clean out of the seat over one bump, but it doesn’t do that any more now I’ve spent some time tuning the suspension.
So, now I’ve got the suspension set up to my liking, what about the rest of the comfort? Well, pretty damn good actually. The riding position is a little lent-forward but certainly not what I would describe as ‘wristy’ and certainly not uncomfortable. The seat is actually really nice, padded and comfortable. I think I could spend several hours sat on it without suffering numb-bum syndrome. Leg room is fine (I’m 6ft with 32” legs), the foot peg position is comfortable. I can’t quite flat-foot it, but I can get the balls of both feet on the ground without a problem. My only slight concern about potential long term (many hours in the saddle) comfort is that you do get a very slight high speed (70mph+) vibration through the hand grips. It doesn’t overly bother me, but I’ve not done a trip long enough to see whether it might result in numb fingers after several hours. You also notice it in the bar end mirrors where the view can get fuzzy at 70+. Talking of bar end mirrors – at first I thought they were more style over function, but actually they’re not. They work very well and give an excellent view of what’s going on behind you.
It’s a naked bike, so wind blast is a given. I have the optional fly screen and visor fitted to mine – which I think really tidies up the front end look of the bike. I’ve not ridden one without the fly screen fitted, so I can’t comment on how much actual difference it makes to wind blast, but overall I don’t have a major issue with it. Up to 60mph it’s virtually non-existent. 60 to 80 it builds but is still not really a problem – I could sit quite comfortably at mid to high 70’s and not be bothered by it. It’s only above 80 that it becomes very noticeable, but this isn’t a bad thing in my view as it encourages you to keep your speeds sensible!!
Moving on to quality, fit & finish and instrumentation.
I’m very impressed with the overall quality of the whole thing. Everything looks and feels premium with nothing looking really cheap. The quality of the paint finish is also excellent and the matt silver paint job has really grown on me – it looks quite stealthy, which I like. The switch gear all works fine (and is all back-lit), my only minor gripe is the indicator switch lacks a distinct ‘click’ when you use it so you’re never entirely sure whether you engaged it unless you glance at the dash to check. I really like the TFT screen, the main screen has everything you need presented in a nice, clear, stylish manner. Navigating the menus via the joystick is easy once you’re familiar with it. The screen also has built-in sat nav via the My Triumph app on your phone. It’s not a full on map, but uses direction arrows and distances and works quite well.
If you watch some of the YouTube videos or read some of the MC forums, it seems that a number of people have had numerous issues with their 1200RS’s – mainly electronic glitches. My bike hasn’t suffered any of these problems, it has been in for two warranty recalls, the first to replace the exhaust valve cover (which could fly off) plus re-torque the engine bolts (oil could seep from the gasket) and the second to replace the rear brake rotor bolts which could work loose. None of these issues manifested themselves on my particular bike. Mechanically, my bike has been spot on with no problems whatsoever. My only minor issues have been with the keyless operation and the bluetooth connectivity. With the key, I found that if I keep it in my zipped up leather jacket pocket, then the bike won’t always recognise it, but if I keep it my (biker) jeans pocket, then it’s not a problem. It’s similar with the bluetooth; if I put the phone in my leather jacket then the bluetooth connection will always drop out, but if I put the phone in my jeans pocket then it’s a lot more reliable – though still not 100%. Annoyingly, if the bluetooth connection does drop, it won’t ever reconnect until you stop the bike and turn the ignition off and on! I only use the bluetooth for running the Triumph sat nav app.
Now on to this bikes forte – performance & handling.
One word – WOW!
The engine is epic, so powerful yet enough torque to still pull hard and fast from virtually any speed in any gear. In reality you can’t really use anything approaching it’s full performance potential on the road. If you short shift (say 8k rpm) up the gears you will reach three figure speeds before you’ve had chance to glance at the digital speedo! You could ask what’s the point of having a 180hp motorcycle then? Well, what I love about it is the effortless acceleration – I know that no matter how fast I want to to accelerate, the bike will just deliver it with loads to spare. It certainly makes overtaking slower traffic easy, you can just pick them off one or two at a time in the blink of an eye. I Would miss it if I didn’t have it! The engine also sounds wonderful – not so much the exhaust (which is fairly quiet) but the induction growl which is addictive. Fortunately, the brakes are every bit as impressive as the performance – they can really haul this thing down from big speeds in next to no time.
The gearbox works fine – fast shifts up and down and the clutch is fairly light and the bite point easy to judge. The gear change lever is a bit ‘spongy’ and doesn’t seem to have a distinct click as it engages the next gear, but it works quite efficiently with no missed gears or false neutrals. The Quickshifter works really well if you’re pressing on at moderate to high rpm, with a nice auto-blip on a down shift. But at lower speed it’s a bit variable, sometimes absolutely fine, but at other times it will refuse to change up unless you use the clutch. I don’t view it as a major problem, as I just use the clutch at low speeds which works absolutely fine with smooth slick changes.
At under 200kg fully fuelled, the bike feels nice and light. You notice this when both riding it and wheeling it around in the garage. On the move, the bike feels very flickable and will change direction with minimal input from the rider. It’s one of those bikes that just seems to go where you look without you having to consciously make any effort. It will certainly hold a line through a bend at far greater speeds than I will ever be comfortable with! I think the Metzler Racetec RR tyres certainly contribute to this - in the dry at least! I’m yet to get caught in the rain with them, so can’t comment on their wet-weather performance, but given they are little more than a slick tyre with a few grooves, it can’t be good. I will certainly be changing them to something more every-day sensible when the time comes to change them, or I would certainly look to change them prior to embarking on a long tour.
Despite this bikes monumental performance potential, it’s not intimidating to ride. It’s not physically a particular big or heavy bike and it’s just as happy to travel at low to moderate speeds as ballistic ones. Just be aware of what’s going to happen if you really crank open the throttle – the scenery will become very blurry, very quickly.
My previous bike was a sports tourer. A Yamaha FZ1 Fazer which with its very effective half-fairing was great for distance work and that was my main concern when choosing a super-naked – would it be suitable for longer distance riding as well as short blasts? I’m yet to find out, but I think the answer will be yes. It’s comfortable enough and the wind blast (sub-80) doesn’t overly bother me, and luggage options for the 1200RS now seem to be finally appearing.
I chose a super-naked because none of the genuine sports tourers appealed to me, and I don’t get on with sports bikes (too uncomfortable). Most super-naked’s are really, really ugly I think, but the Triumph is a very good looking machine – I love how it looks. The other super-naked I really like the look of is the Ducati Streetfighter V4 – but that’s at a whole different price point!
Overall, I’m very happy with my choice – It’s brilliant to ride, very fast, great looking, good quality and comfortable enough. And, I’m averaging 47mpg - what’s not to like?
Hopefully we’ll have many happy years together