1995 Triumph Sprint 900
Competent and bland
Other than one cylinder missing at idle, nothing until I totalled it. But the previous owner had the head gasket replaced after it leaked. And the rear shock had worn out and was replaced by a Hagon unit.
The bike came with Bagster tank bag and a Givi trunk when I went to pick it up. Together with the large-ish 1/3 fairing, the set-up made for a great sports tourer.
The engine pulled with vigour from 2000 RPM in top gear. Passing cars only required a gently twist of the throttle, and the bike would instantly jump ahead. Throttle response was excellent, although on very light or trailing throttle below 3000 RPM, it sounded a bit unhappy due to the slight misfire. Power seemed to stop building after 6000 RPM, and the 9500 RPM redline was a struggle to reach, even in the lower gears. Top speed was a paltry 190 kph, suggesting the shop that changed the head gasket probably didn't time the camshafts correctly. However, the unusually strong roll-on power during normal speeds up to 150 kph, was well worth the loss at higher RPM.
The seating position was just about perfect, nearly bolt upright with the legs not overly folded. Mirrors showed more road than armpit, and were always crystal clear. Early on, my right hand fell quickly asleep due to some very mild vibrations, but this tendency disappeared almost completely after getting used to it. It certainly felt like the engine smoothed out considerably between 3500 and 4500 RPM as the kilometres went by; probably a result of the little use it had seen during the previous year before I bought it.
Suspension worked admirably as well. In fact, most of the time it was like riding on a blanket, and it actually took quite some time before I even thought about how the suspenders performed. Too soft for really hard charging, but more pleasant for casual riding. The stock rear shock had been replaced by a Hagon unit when it went dead, and it was hard to fault on my ride, working better than the already very smooth fork.
The seat was good, but not excellent. Still, long days in the saddle were mostly unproblematic as long as one remembered to change seating position once in a while. The bike is beyond big; it’s huge! The feeling is much lighter than that of the similar Daytona model however, and getting it off the side stand takes only moderate effort. Changing direction is also reasonably light, especially when considering the substantial weight.
Up to around 100 kph, the fairing did a reasonable job of keeping air off without causing too much turbulence, but above that, helmet roar became quite unpleasant. At 140, it felt like your head was being constantly forced back by a very strong hand. Raising the shoulders up against the helmet reduced the wind roar, but caused your jacket to flutter and snap in the vortex, causing noise and discomfort. The riding position alone was cramped. Staying down on the tank was almost silent, but made bike control and seeing ahead difficult.
I were happy with how easily the bike cruised at 140 clicks in top gear up 8% inclines; it’s no rocket, but it’s plenty strong enough for our roads, where permissible speed is severely restricted.
The brakes were both good and bad. Little effort was needed, but the internal spring took so much effort to overcome, it was hard to tell when the brakes engaged. This again made them harder to modulate than wanted, although keeping the wheel on the verge of lockup under maximum braking was easy enough.
Although functionally incredibly good, it was a bike I simply couldn't love. The looks did nothing for me, it sounded like a Japanese UJM with a dead cylinder, and it was overall bland. I never turned to take another glance at it after a ride. It's the definition of an appliance.
I also rode way too fast way too often with it, since speed came so effortlessly. My ownership ended mid corner when meeting a Volvo coming my way in my lane, the result of the driver trying to pass a slower car around a blind bend. The head on collision ended the bike's life and smashed myself up badly enough to warrant a helicopter ride.
3 years later a bought another Triumph 900 triple. Or rather two; a 1993 Daytona and a 1995 Thunderbird. I used the TB frame, exhaust, tank, seat, rear fender and lights. The engine, wheels, suspension, instruments and brakes were off the Daytona. As an extra touch, I fitted a Guzzi LM I fairing. Unlike the Sprint, I loved to look at this bike, because it made me happy just watching it.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th October, 2012