Today, at 12:00 mid-day, gender uncertain, a bouncing baby bike, 207 kg, mother and baby doing fine, father ecstatic.
I had a short but useless test ride last week (heavy traffic, narrow roads, more supermoto territory), so today I got the chance to confirm that I had made the right choice - or not. When I picked it up, it was sunny and warm, and I had a long afternoon ride planned, but within ten minutes I started getting rain spots on my visor, so I headed for home and got it under cover. This wan't a bad idea, as it let me check out various things that had been nagging at me (where the bike fits in the timeline of engine improvements, what had been modified and how, oil and water level checks, and so on). And then, miraculously, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. So off I went - a circular route I often use when I need a ride but have no reason to do so, about 50 miles round the coast and back down a main road with a nice mix of twisty and gun-barrel straight.
First impressions are very good. There's as much power as I am ever likely to need, and it seems to cruise in the 70-90 area effortlessly, which is roughly my benchmark. No idea about top speed yet, but the rate at which it reached the ton and was still pulling urgently suggests it won't be anything I will use very often. Handling was very secure. Even only 100 yards after leaving the dealership, I was trickling it in traffic feet-up at less than walking pace, and at higher speeds it just seemed to go where I pointed it. I didn't see much mileage in exploring the limits of the tyres on a first outing, but I had no problems in laying it over for tight corners, and it was rock steady.
The sound-track is a curious one. Going through the rev range, there is the addictive howl that other owners have mentioned, but there is a bit too much wind noise to hear it well. The bike has a Triumph-branded 'not for road use' carbon-fibre can, and it seems fairly subdued (I had TORs on the Bonnie, and they were noticeably louder than standard). At idle, there is a lovely burble from the back end, while the sound coming from under the tank reminds me of a washing-machine full of ball-bearings. I believe this is normal: at least I hope it is.
It's got a flip-up aftermarket screen, which I am in two minds about. For wind protection it seems excellent, with no buffeting at any speed up to 90+, but curiously there is a lot of wind noise at the same time. The dealer says he has a standard screen coming in, so maybe I will try that to see if it is any quieter. I can't say I like the look of the present screen very much (too upright and scooterish), but it seems to work very well.
Both headlights come on for both main and dipped beam, so I believe it has had the usual modification made. (The standard lighting is notoriously crap. Twin headlights, one for main and one for dip, durr, and it's only a matter of adding two relays to existing connections to make both lights work in both modes. Why they left the factory like this, I have no idea.) It would have been No. 1 job to sort this out if it hadn't, as I ride at night frequently. It still has its original tool-kit, and the contents are shiny and untouched. For a 9-year-old bike, this is amazing.
The only issue so far is the riding position. The last few bikes (Bonneville, Honda ST1300, GT1000, Bandit and the daily driver Yamaha) have been fairly upright, and the leaning-forward riding position will take some getting used to. My wrists were getting a bit sore and my hands tingly after an hour in the saddle. But I am sure that is just a matter of practice and adaptation.
When I picked it up from the dealer and rode away, I was all tippy-toes and nervous. It's always the same with a new (to you) bike - different weight and balance, different power characteristics, different clutch, brake and throttle sensitivity - and it usually takes me a few miles to feel I am in control of the bike rather than the other way round. Today's ride was therefore fairly conservative; everything done gently and overtaking only on the obvious opportunities. Nevertheless, we covered some ground at speeds that were not too shabby, and after 50 miles and an hour in the captain's chair, I feel I could ride it anywhere.
And that engine - all the magazines say it's a peach, and they are right.
More tedious hagiography later, no doubt, and a comparison with the Bonnie, which already feels like history. You could say I was pleased.