I know a few Beemer riders are also ex-Triumph like I am so might be interested in a short test ride report. I previously owned the raged of 1050 Triumphs, (traded the Tiger on the K1300R), so was looking forward to the chance to try some of the other bikes in the range. I was booked in for a couple of rides on some Triumphs at City Coast in Wollongong yesterday. Even though the weather was crap I decided to go on the hope of some fine weather.
Left home @ 845am, and decided to make a freeway/Picton Rd commute as it was already raining a fair bit. Had my goretex jacket on but didn't bother with the wet weather pants, just put them in the jackets bum bag/pocket in case the weather got worse. The ride was uneventful, except for the 3 fairly heavy rain showers I rode through - about 3/4 of the ride 110km all up.
Roads were VERY wet, although the ride down Mt Ousley was fine, the biggest issue was worrying about some car or truck getting it wrong and causing me some grief. I must say these Pilot Road 2s are still the best tyres I've ever had. Rain heavy enough to have trouble running off the road surface and not one slip or loss of traction. Tyres were even harder than I like them as I'd had a puncture repair (plug) done on Friday (another story) and they were at the max of 42psi - not the best for wet weather traction.
Fuelled up in the 'gong and got to the shop, damp (hands, legs and some slight leakage in the 5yr old jacket), about 10am. As I'd hoped there was hardly anyone there due to the weather, and I was the only one at that point that had come by bike. Rides were currently off the menu due to the wet roads. Triumph would let the rides go ahead if the roads dried out.
I spoke to 3 guys that were already there - they'd come from Penrith (next suburb to me) and later to a guy who was interested in the Triumph Thunderbird who was from Lithgow. This last ended up talking $$ at the end of the day, so I hope it resulted in a sale for the guys, they went to a lot of effort for the day.
Anthony (GS1200 and Rockster rider) show up a little while later, so I followed him back to his place for a cuppa. We chatted about past, and possible future rides and I gave the shop a ring. Martin confirmed rides were on, but they were all out of order and playing catch up.. Ok, back to the shop.
The test ride route is a reasonable 35km, including up Mt Keira and down Mt Ousley. Unfortunately have lead and tail riders stops you playing too much. Route Map: http://goo.gl/maps/rXMi
Got to the shop, and I signed up for the Thunderbird. A 1600cc parallel twin cruiser. Wet weight about 340kg. VERY different from all my past rides. I know cruiser's rake/trail means the front wheel literally falls into corners at low speed but was wondering what it felt like at more highway speeds. Below's my 2c worth from riding 4 bikes around Mt Keira in the wet.
Thunderbird: First up was the Thunderbird, 1600cc parallel twin. What a beast, single headlight, instruments on the tank, racked back bars, low seat that you sit in and belt drive. Around 340kg all up. These beasts really have a car engine. redline @ 6500rpm, will pull hard from 1500rpm and run out of puff about 4500rpm. Still they have heaps of road presence, a lovely engine note, handle well for their size, and are at home on the open highway and freeway. The seating position is a wind sock - arms and legs very far forward, and straight upright back. That is tiring at speeds above 100km/h and means every bump goes through your back! Still the suspension was reasonably supple considering there was not a lot of travel and riding them as they're meant to be ridden they are comfortable. A 22ltr tank would see 350-400km on a highway cruise. Up Mt Keira Rd in the wet it was easy to stay with the other bikes. Counter steering still works, just the steering is initially a bit slow. The main problem was I didn't know where to put my weight on this thing. You can't use the outside peg, to help lean into the corner - it's just so far forward. The seat coddles you, so you don't really move your butt into the corner. In the end I just leant the upper half of the body into the corner. The long rake/trail of the cruiser bike geometry, make the steering feel very slow and cumbersome in tight stuff, but it's not meant to be ridden like a sports bike. The pull of the 1600cc was fantastic, acceleration from lights, with the burble of the 270degree parallel twin was aural awesomeness. 4000rpm sees around 80km/h in top and pulling from 1500rpm means about 30kph in top is doable. Engine braking was a lot less than the K1300 or the Tiger 800 and Daytona 675. The lump must have a flywheel to match the piston size. Braking was a fine, but the lever gave very little feedback. All in all was a great ride, but definitely not my cup of tea. Too much like hard work to do the roads we like to ride, and even maintaining a fast speed on the highway with the wind blast and wind sock position would be very tiring. The noise and presence make it a good city bike or commuter, though it's bit wide and low for lane splitting.
Thunderbird Storm: Just before the Picton Rd turn off from Mt Keira Rd we stopped to regroup. Here the Thunderbird Storm rider and I stopped to swap bikes. This version has twin headlights, and the big bore kit taking it to 1700cc. The suspension felt firmer in a good way so handling was improved, but I really didn't notice the extra power, I suspect it wasn't quite so asmatic and might have a little more top end, but harder to tell fro sure going down Mt Ousley. I did compare notes with the other guy and we both agreed there was little difference overall. All the benefits of the standard Thunderbird, plus improved suspension, and I do like the dual headlights. I'm not sure how much more this version is, but even if the power increase is minimal the other changes were definite improvements. Both these bikes are big things to park, with long turning circles. Nearly made a 3 point turn of back it into a spot in the shops driveway!
Tiger 800: I rode the standard 800, with the 17" wheels not the XC with the 19/17. This bike is the quintessential allrounder. This bike is tall comfy (great seat), light, flickable, torquey and has softish suspension so is great on our rougher roads. It would make a perfect commuter with its tall seat for visibility, wide bars and light feel for lane splitting, and would be damn competent in the twisties. Where I felt I actively had to ride the Thunderbird, even at slow speed up Mt Keira, this bike felt like it rode itself, I kept catching the bikes ahead without trying. It's only downfall to me, is the suspension, at least the front, is unadjustable, so I think would end up being too soft in the twisties. Would be good on dirt roads, but not off road. Seat, like the earlier Tiger 1050, is one of the most comfortable OEM seats out there. This is a bike you can commute on, take up the Putty and Denman, then on to Hill End if desire. It's a genuine 800-1000km per day machine. Alas it's only downfall, it does not have quite the torque or power of a true litre bike, so unless riding with other 800 class machines, you'd gradually drop behind. Within in it's design spec, and as a competitor to BMWs F800 series, it's a damn good bike. For the amount of twisty along the Oxley or the Gt Alpine Rd, it would be struggling. Dargo high plains, would be a breeze on the road going version, and I suspect a lot of fun on the XC.
Daytona 675: Firstly what a weapon. It is even smaller than Decky's S1000RR. I was amazed how much torque the bike put out low in the rev range. For a bike with a 14000rpm redline, it would drive off smoothly from 4000 in any gear. Obviously 4000 in 6th was more 4WD acceleration, but 2nd and 3rd felt beautifully progressive. The bike was so light, and precise. Even not being able to do much speed through the bends on Mt Keira Rd, you could feel it wanted to go faster to hold a tight line. Acceleration from traffic lights was amazing, just hold the gears to 8-10000rpm and the 2.3 ltr Rocket Three that had burst ahead from the lights, was reeled in quite quickly. Not bad for a 1700cc difference. Alas, I think I've proven sports bikes aren't for me. The first time my neck played up all day, was after the first 10min on the Daytona. Peg position is high as you'd expect from a sports bike, but not uncomfortable. The seat (compared to everything else I rode that day) is a board. Still you can move around a bit on it and it's not uncomfortable once the bikes in it's element i.e. twisty road. Any length of freeway would be er... testing I suspect. The steering is light, precise and it would be a fun bike to do twisties on. Wind protection from the screen is reasonable but really helped by the head down lean forward seating position. Obviously this is a small bike and one you sit on (perched?) not in. Brakes gave good feedback and weren't grabby - so basically you use them and don't give them a second thought.
All up I did 3 shop rides of the 35km loop, and decided to go that way up to Picton Rd on the K1300 on the way home. Shame it was so wet as I don't think I've done Mt Keira Rd 4 times in a day before. There was a fair bit of moss on the Mt Keira Rd and lots of cracks from subsidence, also a few tar snakes. Modern tyres are fantastic though not one slip on any of the bikes. The K1300 lost traction twice the whole day. Both times under light acceleration across the stupid 40km/h school zone markers. These cover damn near the whole lane so you can't avoid them
and even hitting them straight on if the camber is steep and you're under acceleration can cause loss of traction. I can't blame the tyres for not coping with this in the wet. Still these markings are bloody annoying and down right dangerous in some circumstances.
Got back, a little wetter, and feeling like the start of yet another cold this year.... Had a shower to warm up and took some night time cold tablets and zonked out for about 4hrs.