It’s safe to say that naked bikes rule the street bike roost at the moment. Thanks to road-appropriate performance, relaxed ergonomics, and aggressive styling, the segment appeals to beginners and veterans alike. Of course, with more motorcyclists flocking to naked sportbikes, the traditional sportbike market no longer attracts the same audience.
To reverse those fortunes, motorcycle manufacturers are reverse-engineering the sportbike/naked bike dynamic. Historically, brands prioritized the development of supersport and superbike platforms before peeling back the fairings for their naked bike lineups. With nakeds coming into their own, that paradigm has flipped.
Triumph rolled out the latest-generation Speed Triple 1200 RS in 2021. To compete in the upper echelon of the Super Naked category, the new Speed Triple hit the scene with less weight and more power. Hinckley may have delivered its most potent naked bike to date, but with 178 ponies under the hood, the new platform had more to offer.
Enter the 2022 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR. Fitted with a throwback bubble fairing, a single round headlight, and a sporty tail section, the RR adds a gentleman’s touch to the high-performance super naked. The changes are more than cosmetic, though, with the slightly raised footpegs and clip-on handlebars delivering a proper sportbike riding position.
While the Speed Triple RR is easy on the eyes, we questioned whether it’s also easy on the wrists, back, and knees. Luckily, Triumph was gracious enough to put a 2022 Speed Triple 1200 RR in our charge for a few weeks. After traversing Los Angeles, California’s frantic freeways, challenging canyons, and traffic-ridden streets, the retro-clad Super Naked certainly revealed its true colors.
Head Down, Elbows Out
The elegant front fairing and sculpted carbon fiber body panels may turn heads, but the biggest difference for the rider is the RR’s committed stance. Mounted 5.3 inches lower and 2 inches further forward than the RS’s handlebars, the clip-ons produce a more aggressive position. Similarly, Triumph lifts the footpegs .6 inches and pushes them aft by 1 inch. However, the rider triangle never reaches the extremely cramped dimensions championed by race-bred supersports.
Due to the minor rise on the clip-ons and the sporty yet practical footpeg position, the Speed Triple 1200 RR’s ergos split the difference between superbikes and super nakeds. Knee bend is barely acute and reach to the bars isn’t a head-first affair. At speed, the rider can actually stretch out, with enough space to shift rearward in the saddle. The roomy cockpit certainly caters to different frames, but there’s also a Goldilocks zone of comfort.
With my lower half scooted forward, my knees frequently pressed against the aluminum twin-spar frame. Pushed too far back, my stretched arms struggled to maneuver the souped-up super naked. Only when placed in the center of the single seat, did my arms comfortably reach the clip-ons and my knees slot into the narrow tank cutouts.
Gallery: 2022 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
Maintaining that position in ideal conditions is a breeze, but when the pace slows, preserving that comfort becomes a trickier proposition. While hustling through the twisties, the rider can brace their knees against the tank, relieving pressure on their wrists while negotiating technical turns. In stop-and-go traffic, though, users rarely have the opportunity to settle into a proper position. Without that lower-half support, the rider’s wrists bear the brunt of the braking force.
For that reason, the RR doesn’t thrive in stoplight-to-stoplight bursts or commuting environments. The Speed Triple is most comfortable on the open highway, where braking is few and far between, but the trimmed front fairing doesn’t deflect all oncoming wind. Even in full tuck, I found myself peaking over the screen instead of looking through it.
With that said, the wind smoothly streams off the sleek bodywork. That consistent airflow rushes past the rider’s chest when propped up and doesn’t introduce helmet buffeting in tuck position. Only the most performance-minded riders will fret over the RR’s less than comprehensive weather protection, but the classically-styled Triumph appeals to a more refined crowd.
A Twinkle-Toed Triumph
For the latest-generation Speed Triple 1200 RS, Triumph focused on cutting weight and lowering the center of gravity for a balance, apex-hunting chassis. The firm carries over the same cast aluminum frame to the RR, but Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension ups the ante. The electronically adjustable system also upholds the platform’s balanced handling ethos with 4.7 inches of travel at both ends.
Unlike manually adjustable units, the Ohlins system automatically adapts the chassis to the environment. Users simply choose their desired ride mode and the semi-active suspenders do the rest. Sport mode activates Ohlins’ Normal parameters while Road and Rain modes favor the Comfort setting. We never tested the Track mode on the road, but the suspension's Dynamic setting unlocks the utmost performance for the circuit.
While the Road ride mode preps the suspension for pothole-riddled pavement and inconsistent conditions, the Ohlins system still retains its sporty characteristics. Throwing a leg over the RR, riders will immediately notice a relative lack of sag, making the spec sheet’s 32.6-inch stand-over height hold true. Despite that firm disposition, the system's Comfort setting sufficiently soaks up all but the worst asphalt irregularities. However, that dose of plushness never sacrifices the system’s handling capabilities.
Those looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the RR can toggle to Sport mode for genuine hooligan thrills. In the Normal configuration, the Smart EC 2.0 suspenders encourage a spirited ride. The Speed Triple RR never eggs on the user, remaining obedient in all appropriate environments, but it also rewards the rider for pushing the pace.
Paired with Brembo’s superbike-worthy Stylema calipers, the Ohlins suspension remains supportive under heavy braking while delivering fluid, accurate steering in tricky chicanes and swift sweepers. The adjustable Brembo MCS radial master cylinder aids those efforts, with a communicative feel at the lever, relaying everything from braking pressure to the front tire’s contact patch.
Luckily, the RR rolls on premium rubber as well, with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V3 tires providing both performance and practicality. Thanks to the bi-compound composition, the Pirellis are as grippy at lean as they are stable under hard braking. Aside from its slightly stiff ride, it’s difficult to fault the Speed Triple 1200 RR’s chassis. With the suspension, brakes, and tires working in concert, the ride is like a symphony, but the engine remains the driving force.
A Trusty Triple
Hinckley may have revised the Speed Triple’s chassis and cosmetics for the RR trim, but the all-new 1,160cc inline-triple still powers the up-spec model. Triumph debuted the potent powerplant in the 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS with an emphasis on lightweight construction. To meet the brief, Triumph engineers shaved 15 pounds off the outgoing unit by reducing valve train mass and adopting new lightweight components.
The mighty mill doesn’t just shed pounds, though, it packs on muscle in the form of 178 horsepower (at 10,750 rpm) and 92.3 lb-ft of torque (at 9,000 rpm). Those figures may seem like a handful on paper, but in the rider's right wrist, the RR’s power profile is positively progressive. Of course, thrills are just a throttle twist away, but the powerband is void of any surprising surges.
The torque peaks at 9,000 rpm, but it provides ample pull throughout the rev range. The trusty triple delivers horsepower in a linear fashion, but at 7,000 rpm, a discernible boost delivers on the Speed Triple name. Even the exhaust note provides a visceral experience, with the stainless-steel silencer bellowing in the lower register before singing towards the 11,150-rpm redline. The 1,160cc straight-three may be the only holdover from RS, but when you have an engine this good, adjustments are hard to justify.
Let’s face it, sportbikes aren’t the draw they once were. With aggressive ergos and overkill performance figures, one could argue that today’s supersports and superbikes have no business being on public roads. Rather than chasing the sportbike ghost, Triumph takes an alternate route by leveraging a familiar favorite. Stunning styling and trick componentry certainly help Hinckley’s cause, but the 2022 Speed Triple RR could mark a turning point in the street bike paradigm.
No, the RR isn’t a race-bred superbike. It’s not a stripped-down super naked either. Instead, Hinckley’s latest roadster resides somewhere between retro racer and super naked; between track weapon and canyon carver. The market may be looking to naked bikes to determine the future direction of sportbikes, but if the Speed Triple 1200 RR is the result, we welcome the change.