2011 Triumph Sprint GT Review

2011 Triumph Sprint GT
2011 Triumph Sprint GT

The Triumph Sprint ST has been replaced by–or, rather, evolved into–the Sprint GT.  But looking at the specs in the Motorcycle.Com review, I’m not sure it’s an evolution to something better.  It may be, but the tale of the tape in comparison to the previous model doesn’t excite me.

First, the wheelbase has been lengthened significantly, from 57.3″ to 60.5″, which seems to threaten to reduce maneuverability (about which, more below).  But, I guess they had to lengthen the wheelbase, in order to stuff in the extra 60lbs of weight, with the GT model now coming in at a hefty 591lbs, fueled up and ready to ride.

In return for that 10% increase in weight the engine output has been slightly increased, from 123HP to 128HP, while torque jumps slightly to 79.7 ft-lbs–about 4 ft-pounds more than last year’s ST model.

The maneuverability reduction from the longer wheelbase seems to be offset by a narrower tires and more aggressive chassis geometry.  Power-to-weight ratio is much lower on the GT than the previous model, but it apparently still retains fine cornering and handling, despite the extra weight. And, of course, for the “touring” side of the sport-touring equation, the extra heft and longer wheelbase make for a steadier highway ride.

The looks have been updated a bit, although, to my eye, it looks very much like an FJR1300 with BMW saddlebags attached. In other words, the updated design is still about three or four years behind the times.

It also still has a chain drive, and whether you prefer that to a shaft is always a personal call.  Me, I want a shaft in a tourer.  It’s 2010.  Am I supposed to spend my Saturdays lubing a chain like some kind of animal?  Having said that, I’d trade my shaft-driven FJR for a chain-driven Ducati Multistrada without blinking an eye. (Actually, I’m begging for someone to let me make that deal.) But the Multistrada is not, first and foremost, a tourer.  It’s very much in the sport category, so the chain is appropriate.  At 600 pounds, however, the Sprint is definitely out of the sporting and into the touring category.

Still, for $13,199, you get a lot of bike for your money, so the drawbacks of the GT are not, at that price, by any means deal-breakers.

Harley stays in Wisconsin

I guess the tough talk about scouting for new production locations worked.

Unions at Harley-Davidson Wisconsin factories have agreed to seven-year labor agreements that will keep the company’s production operations in The Motor Company’s home state. The new labor contracts, which call for a reduced workforce, will take effect in in April 2012.

The unions’ workforce will be trimmed by 325 full-time jobs, with those positions now being filled only on an as-needed basis.

In the stead of lost full-time union positions, H-D will source a part-time workforce as needed. In its press release announcing the new labor agreement Harley-Davidson described the new part-time status: “The production system includes the addition of a “casual” workforce component – unionized employees who work as required, depending on seasonal needs and to provide coverage for vacations and other absences.”

I’m sure the workers aren’t particularly happy about the new contract, but I suspect they’d have been less happy if Harley had decided to move production to some other state–probably one with right-to-work laws.

Buell’s Plans

I’ve communicated with the people at Erik Buell Racing to see if they could give up any more information about the 1190RS street bike, their schecule for producing it and making it available, etc.  Their response is essentially as follows:

Currently there is no information available from us on the 1190RS, other than that it is in development. What surprises us is how many people are already publishing specifications, business plans and limitations, and more. Even though the information they have is incorrect. Not sure what to do about that other than to let time take its course and as the facts are released then people will know them. There is much information that simply cannot be released yet.

In other words…nothing.

As far as the speculation goes about EBR’s “specifications, business plans and limitations, and more”, well, all you can really say is that this sort of thing inevitable happens when you’re unwilling–or unable–to provide any solid information.  Under the press of deadlines, reporters will often publish something that they hear from someone who they trust, who has been reliable in the past with inside info…and it’s still wrong.

About all you can do is ignore it, and release information as you’re able.

Yesterday I got an official press release from EBR that specifically mentioned the 1190RS again, saying once more that it is “under development”. Other than that, it looks like we’ll have to wait until February for hard and fast–and reliable–news about Buell’s plans.

There is this, however:

Erik Buell Racing 1190RS
Erik Buell Racing 1190RS

Click for the hi-res version.  I’m hoping that won’t be the production exhaust.