Triumph TT600 launch
May 18-19, 2000 Triumph has gone and thoroughly stuck its head into the hornets nest by releasing the TT600 about four years after it first came up with the idea. This time it is making no apologies for taking on the Japanese manufacturers at their own game in what is probably the most hotly contested class – supersport 600s.
A quick scan of the specs panel and a walk around the bike reveal no great surprises. The package hangs off an alloy frame with a four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected powerplant, six-speed transmission and so on.
The performance claims fall somewhere in the middle of the pack, with 170 kilos dry weight and 110 horses being claimed.
BEGGING A QUESTION
Why take on this class when Triumph was getting along quite nicely with its 900cc-plus chaps? According to export manager Ross Clifford, the 600 class is a monster slice of the world market and simply couldn’t be ignored if the firm was serious about developing as a manufacturer.
That development is key to the plot. Producing a modest 25,000 bikes per annum at the moment, Triumph is on a mission to become a manufacturer that offers a full range of machinery.
Its reasoning is that a dealer will find it difficult to dedicate resources to the brand until there is a complete line-up on offer. To that end, the UK company says it will be launching two major new models per year for the forseeable future.
Which begs a question: what’s next? Well, there’s been plenty of talk of a big-bore Bonneville over recent months.
First impression of the TT is that it’s among the taller bikes in this class, with a comparatively upright seating position and overall presentation that is reminiscent of the CBR600. Medium-height to tall people will love it, as the ride position is roomy enough to cater for longer limbs. Shorter folk may struggle – we suggest you check it out for size.
Firing up is the standard Triumph practice of pulling the clutch and thumbing the starter – with no throttle. The powerplant has got a note that is its own and is reluctant to wake up under 4000rpm. That last trait can catch you out until you get used to the idea of keeping the engine on the boil.
From 5000 to around 12,500 (redline is 14,000) there’s a good, steady, supply of power. Entirely predictable off the throttle, and enabling to the rider to get on the power early on the way out of a turn.
The only exception is a ‘step’ in action from zero to a touch of throttle that seems to be typical of current fuel injection systems. For some reason the transition doesn’t seem to be as smooth as with a conventional carb set-up.
The transmission is easily Triumph’s best so far, with a light and positive action. If you get clumsy with the shift it will, if anything, refuse to shift rather than leave you in a false neutral. Good stuff.
Suspension (by Kayaba) is very well sorted stock settings for the road, with adjustment at both ends for preload, rebound and compression.
The TT proved surprisingly comfortable on some fairly snotty roads, and stable at speed. Clifford reckons much of this is down to the factory’s efforts to minimise unsprung weight while providing better than average suspension. No argument so far.
Braking up front is compliments of the four-pot stoppers off the T955, working smaller and lighter discs for very good results. Up back there’s a single-pot disc set-up.
Instrumentation is what is now becoming the standard analogue tacho and digital speedo/warning lamp/odometer cluster. While we’re not fond of digital speedos, Clifford suggested we might as well get used to them as they represent a very significant weight saving for a machine of this type.
There is a range of accessories available off the rack, including pipes, paddock stand, pillion grab handle (which should be standard), pillion seat cowl, luggage rack plus a range of soft luggage designed specifically for the bike.
Over at Phillip Island, the bikes were first tried on road settings, and then with the recommended track set-up that involved bumping up rebound and compression at both ends. On road settings, the bikes started getting wobbly and emotional under the extra stress after a few laps. However the upped damping rates settled this down.
From there it would be a matter of sorting the overall set-up for personal tastes. We noted that the TT600s being used by the Australian Superbike School were running with the fork legs pulled up through the clamps by around 10mm for a little extra front end grip.
Bridgestone 010 rubber in an updated compound is stock fitment and seems to work well enough both on the road and track.
We also got a chance to play with the factory competition carbon muffler. This is a straight swap for the stocker, with a new tuning map downloaded to the bike from the factory diagnostic tool – all up a 20 minute job. Triumph says the more open pipe adds a couple of horses.
The TT feels good on the track and road, providing more comfort than we’ve come to expect from this class. Without comparing it side-by-side with the likes of CBR, ZX, GSX-R and R6, we can say it’s well and truly in the ballpark.
Which is an impressive effort for a first-time stab at the class.
Launch price is $13,990 and it should do very nicely.
Bore x stroke: 68 x 41.3mm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
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