British bike firm Triumph is set to take an incredible leap forward, when it signs a deal to build the control engine for the Moto2 championship from 2018. The Hinckley firm will take over from Honda and its CBR600RR engine, with an all-new 750cc triple engine – about to be launched next week in the new Street Triple naked roadbike.
News of the deal started doing the rounds at last year’s British MotoGP round. But factory bosses were keen to keep the story quiet until the deal was signed and sealed.
Up till now, Moto2 was looking into a bit of an abyss in terms of engine development. The four-cylinder 600cc supersports class has been in freefall in terms of road bike sales for years, so much so that the CBR600RR can’t even be sold in Europe any more, after Honda didn’t update it for Euro4 emissions regs. Kawasaki’s in the same boat with its 599cc ZX-6R, and Suzuki’s GSX-R600 has also fallen into a bit of a black hole. Yamaha, however, is launching a new R6 this year, and looks to be set to pretty much take over the Supersport class from now on.
But the Moto2 deal is an incredible success story for Triumph – and a real shock. The firm’s Daytona 675 supersports bike was rumoured to be finished as a road model, as the company moved its focus to retro-styled ‘modern classic’ and adventure styled bikes. The firm which brought us the wacky Bobber just a couple of months back didn’t seem like the sort of outfit to be building a 750cc, 160bhp screamer to take on the race tracks of the world, under the next generation of MotoGP ‘aliens’.
On the other hand – it’s not an enormous number of engines, so a smaller firm like Triumph might well be more agile and better suited to the project than a behemoth like Honda. And Triumph itself will bask in the reflected glory of being associated with such a high-profile, high-tech project.
We’ve been tracking this story since last year, and more info is coming to us all the time. Check back to Bikesport News for more as it happens…