Repairing the Triple

2007 Speed Triple

2007 Triumph Speed Triple

If you own a Triple or you’re thinking about owning one, you may find the following hints very helpful. Triumph’s inline three-cylinder engine is legendary, and rightfully so! But anything that turns this superior engine into a motorcycle is legendary only for its many failures. The German in me keeps shaking her head at the inferior quality of most Triumph parts and while one may argue that Triumph is using cheap parts to keep the cost of the bike down, I can only point to my Japanese bike: lower cost, much higher reliability!

Copper Anti-Seize Lubricant

Copper Anti-Seize Lubricant

There are a few items you will want to buy along with a Triumph – 1) a decent digital multimeter that reads DC-Volts, AC-Volt, Ohms (Ω), and Amperes, 2) a variety set of motorcycle wires and connectors, and 3) an extra set of fuses because chances are that you’ll blow one here and there while working on the bike.

Dielectric Grease

Dielectric Grease

And while you’re at the auto parts store, buy some Loctite (to eliminate the vibrational loosening of screws and other mechanical fasteners), some Copper Anti-Seize Lubricant (to prevent seizing and corrosion on your spark plugs), and some Dielectric Grease (to keep the water away from your spark plugs). Every bike is different and I can only speak for the one I have had the pleasure of repairing but after searching the web I came to realize that many Triumph owners suffer from the same problems.

Triple wiring diagram

Triple wiring diagram

The battery on the Triple has been acting up from the very start – but we’ll get to that later. The electrical system has had many issues, the brake light and the turn signals went on strike for no apparent reason and it took a while to find the source of the problem (which entailed cutting open most of the wiring harness): There was a short in the wires leading from the starter to the turn signals and brake light … (You may find this Triumph wiring diagram and the key to the wiring diagram very helpful.)

Torn wires - fixed with blue crimp connectors

Torn wires - fixed with blue crimp connectors

Not long after that, the bike suddenly died in mid-ride and no longer showed any sign of life. The usual suspect -the battery- turned out to be in working order (multimeter!). Walking around the bike while mentally preparing to take the whole damn thing apart, we noticed that a bunch of wires leading from the ignition into the bike were torn. Apparently, Triumph is trying to save money (pennies … really) by keeping the wires as short as possible. With every left turn, the tight wiring harness kept rubbing against the steering head until the majority of the wires finally ripped – at the same time! Once the problem was identified, it took less than 15 minutes to fix it using crimp connectors – that way, we could add about 1/2 inch to the length of the wires which gave it just enough slack to no longer rub on the steering head during left turns (see photo).

Triple cylinder head

Triple cylinder head, flooded plug removed

Another problem of the Triple was water flooding the spark plugs. If your engine turns over but has trouble starting up, water in the spark plug wells is probably the culprit. It most likely comes from riding in the rain, but it’s very common among most Triumph bikes so there may be different causes for this particular problem. There doesn’t seem to be a cure for it, but Dielectric Grease seems to keep the water from running into the wells if applied generously to the rubber sleeves.

Like most bikes, the Triumph certainly appreciates a new air filter. The OEM filter is expensive and pretty much worthless – K&N is the way to go: lower costs and a life time warranty are hard to beat!

Broken R/R and stator

Broken R/R and stator

Another problem that many Triumph owners run into is the battery charging system. We were replacing the battery every 10 to 12 months until one day, the bike wouldn’t start after a three mile trip to the gas station – in spite of the fully charged, brand new battery that we had just installed. A quick multimeter check showed that the battery was loosing charge while the engine was running. If you ever run into a similar problem, here’s a great fault finding flow chart, courtesy of Electro Sport Industries.

Burned Triple stator

Burned Triple stator

Guided by wishful thinking, we checked every connection from the battery to the fusebox to the regulator/rectifier (R/R) to the stator, hoping for a broken wire or a bad fuse box. Eventually we had to look the truth in the eye: broken R/R and subsequently fried stator. Only a multimeter can tell you if the R/R is fried – it has no servicable parts and must be replaced if broken. As for the stator, a quick look tells you everything you need to know: if one or more coils look black and burned, it’s time for a replacement.

Yamaha Stator

Yamaha stator with nice and shiny coils

We were determined not to buy the OEM stator – first of all, because it’s of low quality (you can tell by the way the coils are wound) and also because they are totally overprized. You can get double the quality for half the price. We decided to go with an aftermarket stator sold by RegulatorRectifier.com.

This re-designed and improved Yamaha stator fit the Triple perfectly, it was a walk in the park to install it. When we removed the crank case cover, half the gasket stuck  to the crank case, the other half to the cover, so we had to scrape it off. It’s actually really easy to make your own gasket, if you have the patience (check out this YouTube video) but we decided to go with a liquid gasket maker which came in a 3.5 ounce tube. Once you have everything in place, you just apply it generously on both sides and screw the cover back on the crank case. The gray paste will dry pretty quickly and seal the cover very nicely (the crank case is full of motor oil so you want to make sure that everything is sealed well).

Brand new R/R

Brand new R/R

Because the broken stator fried the regulator/rectifier (R/R), we had to replace it as well. A rectifier is a set of electronic components that turn AC into DC, which you need to charge a battery for instance. A regulator is a resistor that only allows a pre-specified amount of voltage to go to the battery. The excess voltage is sent to ground so as not to over-charge the battery. There are no serviceable parts in an R/R so when it’s broken, you’ll have to replace it. We ordered an aftermarket Triumph Speed Triple 1050 Heavy Duty MOSFET Regulator Rectifier with an impressive 50 amp capacity. This 50 amp R/R is able to handle much more current than the OEM Triumph part. It came with plug and play connections to plug right into the wiring harness. Because it’s a little smaller than the OEM part, we had to drill and extra whole in the plastic bracket underneath the seat, but other than that, the installation was as easy as it gets.

One thing we noticed while in the process of hunting down this problem in the first place is that the fuses were lightly charred and the plastic casings seemed a little melted. And sure enough, it didn’t take long after we had installed the new stator and R/R for a couple of the fuses to blow. They’re cheap so you might want to replace them along with the other parts.

If you ever run into problems with your Triumph that are not described here, check out Triumphrat.net – a very comprehensive forum on anything Triumph.

 

Post to Twitter

14 Responses to Repairing the Triple

  1. Colin Brown says:

    Nice blog :)
    I own a from new 955i Daytona 2004. The only issue I have had was from last august (2012) was the wiring failing between the reg/ec and fuse box..needing new harness for that area along with new fusebox and reg gec….not bad for a 9 yr old bike.

    As for batteries, you will note a lot of bikes of many makes have issues about longevity. This is due to the way batteries are manufactured and there relative size (ie small) that they do not retain charge for a long (weeks) time if stood not being used.
    I put mine on trickle charge for 24 hrs every weekend…esp in winter. and so far had a battery last 5 years…..after going through 3 or 4 previously, and the one I use now is Motobatt, a big yellow box :) which has a higher cranking ampage.

    The bike has been sat in garage since september, and this week I finally had chance to start it and check it over for spring (I work away all week). Started first time with same fuel in tank from september :)

    having a bike from new has it advantages in that you know how it has been treated, 2nd/3rd hand you have no real idea….like all bikes maintennce is the key.

    JKeep up the good work :)

    • admin says:

      Thanks. :)
      Glad to hear you haven’t run into any issues with your Daytona.
      We used to have two batteries for the Speed Triple – one in the bike and one on the trickle charger – alternating every week.
      I guess I am unfair to the Triple by holding it to my Honda’s standards… the Hornet’s battery is almost 7 years old, never been near a trickle charger, never winterized – and unlike the Triple, the Hornet lives outside, year-round. Never had an electrical issue with the Hornet, not once. :)

  2. Ian says:

    Reading your comprehensive tale of woe and how you have overcome (so far) every issue your Triumph has thrown at you has given me the confidence to buy a 2009 1050 myself.
    Thank you for being so thorough and detailed. I have saved this blog to my favourites……..just in case!
    Cheers.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the thumbs up – if you ever run into issues with your Triumph, feel free to reach out (admin[at]freeranging.net). Happy to help with trouble-shooting and finding a solution.

  3. Thank you for sharing this information about repairing the Triumph speed triple. I would like to add some more information. Not in Triumph speed triple but in any motorcycle the main problem burns copper or dead wiring. I have Honda Shadow Spirit 750 C2 and sometime I face the same problem. And given Triple wiring diagram is little bit complex, but useful.

  4. Stephen Waters says:

    Hi, nice blog.
    I have owned many motorcycles in my time on this planet, at the moment I have a 955 RS which I bought new in 2004, a restored Z1B 900-to original , a Dr350 trail bike.So I love my bikes. Of them all, the most neglected bike I have ever had is the triumph.Its clean as,oil change every 3000, but indicators falling off aside, still has the same chain,plugs,airfilter,grips,fork oil, whatever.Today I will go and get battery number 4.Total mileage is 44,000 klms.The most expensive bike I owned is the Z900, restoring that was very involved and very expensive, but looks fantastic. I think triumphs are a bargain for the price, and if your having wiring problems, get a new harness or get one made. The engines are super strong.I also bought a BMW boxer once,crankshaft,differential and wiring were all U/S, so to me there much the same. Hondas have given me grief,and Harley Davidson has been fantastic, and a Ducati has handled like a pig from new. Rose coloured glasses get bugs on them the same as any other.

  5. Kay says:

    Hi there,

    Stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago. I am a fellow District resident and getting ready to buy a 2010 Street Triple R. Thanks so much for posting the good and not so good issues you’ve had to deal with!

    Any other advice about the bikes? thanks

    -Kay. A

  6. matt says:

    Well, figured out the reason my bike wasn’t starting or even getting any power was dirty leads and a dead-ish battery. Only problem is when I put the new battery in the polarities were opposite of the original battery so I mistakenly (foolishly) put it in backwards. Got a spark. Now she’s back to being dead in the water. All the fuses check out ok and the battery is still fully charged….going to dive into it and see what else may have busted because of this. Any ideas?

  7. matt says:

    2009 Triple. Wheeling it out of the garage one morning and began cranking to start….she killed out of the blue and now as I turn the key I get no response whatsoever. I’m going to investigate all the wiring in the general steering head area as the battery checks out. As much as I enjoy the triple, I have had more issues starting/electrically with it in the few months of ownership than I have EVER (by ever I mean never) had on a single of my Japanese motorcycles in a span of 4 years. We’ll see where this goes. Nice write up btw.

    • admin says:

      I hear you, Matt. My Honda starts every time, the Triumph – not so much.
      With the Triple, more often than not, starting problems come from bad battery connections. Cleaning the connectors with a wire brush will take care of that. If it’s not the battery or the connectors, it could be pretty much anything in the electrical system. I usually move on to the fuse box, then I check continuity on all major wires.
      I hope you were able to locate the troublemaker without too much frustration.

  8. EVO says:

    I have a ’07 that has been a great bike, great performance and styling. That is if you exclude the electrical, it’s currently suffering from the same problem of a strained wire harness. Which is giving me an intermittent no start. Some basic investigation, with a multimeter leads me to believe it is the wire from the starter switch. Also the bike needs a new battery every 15 months. I guess I’ll check out the R/R and the stator.
    I’m beginning to think that faulty wiring is a British design feature, it gives the bike character just like a MG or Jaguar (circa 1965). I didn’t buy a MG because of it’s reputation for “character”. I also worked with a Britt who loved to over restrain wire harnesses, I’m not sure if its compulsion or just being cheap.
    Next bike… BMW or back to Japan.
    Regards

  9. Eric says:

    Hello,
    I have a Speed Triple John Bloor special edition since 3 years now.
    In 3 years, it’s now the third time that I have the electrical problem you describe as ‘Torn wires’.
    I have tried the ‘crimp connectors’ solution but after six months the connectors were ‘loose’.
    The triumph dealer fixed two times the wire by soldering it. But after one year the wire brokes again just before the soldering.
    The dealer told me that I was the only one to have that problem.
    Yeah of course … but I’am the only fool who is riding a triumph everyday of the year(except when there is snow).
    Also I had to replace the battery every year.
    And the left turn signal .. I have to kick it time to time to get it work.
    I’m thinking about buying a japanese bike …
    Regards.

  10. Ron McCranie says:

    Thanks for the information and the Speed Triple wiring diagram. I washed my bike this weekend and after that the indicators stopped working. Checked the fuse, checked for current at the fuse location then I decided to go online. The tail light works fine so it appears to be a problem between the Direction Indicator Unit (#53) and the Direction Indicator Switch (#51).
    Again, thanks for the information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>