“Is that the Batcycle?” asked Bonnie, looking out the café window at Barnes and Noble to the location usually occupied by my Vespa. I’m on my Sunday morning ride and all smiles. Bonnie and her husband exchanged words, differentiating Adam West’s Batcycle from 1966 from the one Christian Bale rides in the latest motion picture. I could sort of see echoes of West’s futuristic motorcycle in the Triumph Sprint GT1050.
Rewind: three days.
I hate this motorcycle. I’ve barely left the parking lot at Kissell Motorsports when both hips twisted into painful knots, just from working to get my feet onto the pegs. I’m not used to the riding position of a sport bike, and maneuvering my body into position seems to trigger one cramp after another.
In front of Kissell’s, I pulled to the curb, 50 feet from the traffic light. I stretched, feet down, trying to act cool because I imagined everyone inside watching, wondering what ritual I was engaged in. The light changed and I raced across the road into a neighborhood, out of sight of motorcycle professionals, hips already cramped again. I stopped the bike, put down the kickstand, and struggled to get off the machine.
Pacing for a few minutes, I think I need to return the Triumph and get the pretty yellow BMW GS1200 I had my eye on. Conservative, comfortable, plush, with an upright riding position. No need to push the envelope. Then I’m telling myself it’s too early to quit and climb back on the Sprint. I can’t imagine any excuse that would disguise the fact that I’m a wimp and can’t handle this sport-touring offering from Triumph. I only have to stop three more times in the nine miles home to reset the muscles in my hips.
The next morning was cold enough to wear my Olympia winter riding suit. The bulk and insulation made it even harder to get my feet up on the pegs.
If it seems I’ve reduced this motorcycle to a riding position, you aren’t far from the truth. I’m 6’2” and my reach to the handlebars seemed extreme. I was leaning so far forward I had to crank my neck back just to see the road. For the first time, I really noticed the helmet on my head. My wrists ached from all the extra pressure. Traveling west on Route 45, I was cold, sore, aching and grumbling. I begin fantasizing about my Vespa.
A stop at Pennsylvania Furnace to survey the landscape allowed me to forget about the motorcycle. I’m certain the lone tree in the field has been photographed ten thousand times if it’s been photographed once. After a few stretches I feel limber and climb back on the Sprint.
To be fair, the Triumph does some things really well. The small windscreen and fairing do a good job keeping the sub-freezing air from making life miserable. And riding through turns and curves is a pleasure.
Moving out of Spruce Creek, about a half hour later, I notice I’m no longer having trouble with my hips and have adapted to the riding position. At speed, through winding roads, my body merges with the machine.
On the scooter and other motorcycles, I’m just sitting. On the Sprint, with my entire body so close to the machine, I become part of it.
Ice along the road reminds me of potential hazards this time of year. It’s the little stuff that gets you.
The Sprint has plenty of power. It’s fast, smooth, and ready to respond. After 30 miles on Interstate 99 I stop to make this picture and realize this bike performs as well on freeways as it does on winding state roads.
I think I’m starting to like this motorcycle. Or at least have a lot of respect for what it can deliver.
Ever the explorer, I take the Sprint off-road to arrive at this lovely view. Too much weight and too little strength. Maneuvering the motorcycle on uneven ground is a challenge. It’s not designed for excursions off the beaten track, at least for me.
I understand the attraction to this kind of machine. The riding position merges body with bike, and we move over the road like a gliding bird – smooth, fluid, responsive. Add an ample supply of torque and horsepower, and it’s easy to see why some riders flock in this direction.
In the end, I know this isn’t the bike for me. My desire to sit up, look at the world, and take pictures is seriously hampered with the Triumph Sprint. The size and weight make stops and starts, U-turns, and other maneuvers on the sides of roads a challenge. But for a rider looking to travel fast and chew up miles the Sprint could be ideal.
On my last night on the Triumph, we rode in a light rain. My body had adapted to the riding position, and I wished there were time for a few more trips.