The happy blond weather-girl with the gloss varnish suntan promised me the warmest day of the year so far and Grodon Brown said 'Sorry', .. it was going to be a very good day indeed. The large fleet of freshly prepared Triumph 'Press Bikes' was very impressive, ... but the second garage filled with the crashed examples was not so. The weather-girl had been way off the mark, it was pi**ing down and as I stood dripping gallons of unwanted rainwater onto the polished floors of the Hinckley factory, I felt like a total fraud, .... were they really going to let me ride out of here on a shiny new bike?
Well, ... they did, and after I promised not to crash it, I left the premises on a brand new Triumph Sprint ST before any further questions could be asked. The journey back home was truly forgettable but that had little to do with the Triumph and a lot to do with the weather and the fact that I still live in Essex. In the past, whenever I've taken delivery of a new bike, and when I say 'new bike', I really mean 'new to me', I wake up each morning excited at the prospect of riding it, no matter what the weather is doing. However, for some reason this Triumph was different. It lived where my Tiger is normally parked but unlike the Tiger, the Sprint ST didn't call out for me to come and ride it. It's a nice bike, it does everything that the Triumph engineers designed it to do; it's fast, it's stable, it handles reasonably well and the engine is magnificent, .... but it all just seemed so very very dull.
After a few days of ignoring it, the sun finally came out, the roads dried and I decided that it was time to go out and play. I picked out an old and familiar route and without too much in the way of expectations, I set out to see if I could fall in love with the shiny black Triumph. The ride began in familiar territory,.... it was alright, .... it was vaguely amusing, but it wasn't exactly thrilling. Then at some point close to the Essex-Suffolk border, ... everything changed. For no apparent reason, the Triumph ditched it's frumpy knickers and climbed into something altogether more appealing. It just suddenly sprang to life and before I knew why or what was happening, .... I was in bloody Norfolk. It was a fast ride, but it was also a lazy ride, you don't so much 'Ride' this bike, it's more that you 'Think' about what you want it to do and it just does it without you having to invest any physical effort. The Sprint ST is classified as a 'Sports Tourer' which I guess makes it something of a compromise, but while I can think of many bikes more suited to long distance touring, I can now think of very few bikes that would be faster or easier to ride from A to B on real British roads. The controls are light and for a 200 Kg bike, it hides it's weight well and on the smoother roads, it actually feels quite light and playful. The suspension is fully adjustable, but to a knob like me this just means that there are more things to screw up and the fact that it didn't enjoy the rougher road surfaces is probably due to my lack of engineering know-how rather than any flaw in the bikes design.
The Triumph is a sensible choice, it's not as radical as the Speed Triple of Dayton 675 but once you find it's sweet spot, it's an absolute joy to ride. The knickers that it changed into are not exactly Agent Provocateur and the Sprint ST will always feel more like a 'Wife' than a 'Mistress', but my smile has returned and I might even miss it when I to have to take it back to Hinckley next week.