Words: Mikko Nieminen, Editor of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine.
Triumph’s modern classic range seems to know no boundaries. When I last checked there were 12 models in the line-up, but that was a few hours ago so there may be more now…
The latest model emerging from the factory is the Speed Twin, a thoroughly modern bike with ride modes, traction control, ABS, torque-assist clutch, LED lights and almost minimalistic looks (those Triumph engineers really are wizards when it comes to hiding all the modern gubbins).
Whether you think this looks like a bike for trendy posers or real riders, one thing is clear: the Speed Twin is a looker, no question! The mudguards, detailing on side panels, throttle body covers, fuel cap and heel guards are all brushed aluminium. The seven-spoke aluminium wheels make the bike look light. Bar end mirrors add to the no frills looks, and they work surprisingly well. The bench seat looks the part too; stylish but still inviting.
The clocks have a traditional look with the speedo and tacho being analogue, with trips, fuel info, gear indicator and riding modes added as digital extras.
Developed from the Thruxton R, the Speed Twin frame has been equipped with an additional aluminium cradle and a modified subframe, giving the bike a more forward-leaning, aggressive look.
The 1200cc parallel-twin engine has also been lifted from the Thruxton R, then modified to reduce weight and inertia by adding a new magnesium cam cover, revised clutch assembly and new mass optimised engine covers.
The power figures remain the same as in the Thruxton R. The Speed Twin makes 96bhp, which is 76% more than the original Street Twin, and 49% more than the 2018 Street Twin.
As tends to be the case with Triumph’s modern classics, rather than power, the big star of the show is torque with 82.6lb-ft on tap. That’s 40% more than the latest Street Twin, and there’s plenty of pull across the rev range.
The seat is low (807mm) and the riding position slightly forward leaning, but the pegs are low and forward enough to help you fully relax (to be precise, the pegs are 38mm further forward and 4mm lower than those on the Thruxton).
Ride quality is great thanks to the excellent suspension. There may only be rear preload adjustment available, but the springs and damping setup were very impressive and I felt no need to make any changes.
The brakes are equally good. The front is where the big action takes place, and the four-piston Brembo calipers are more than able to shave off excess speed or to bring the bike to a hasty stop.
Given that this is bike is essentially the Street Twin’s beefed-up brother, it’s unsurprising that the bike has retained the same agility that the smaller version offers. Making tight turns and quick changes of direction are no problem at all.
Although the bike is agile, it still has an impressive level of stability built into the chassis (the wheelbase has been extended by 15mm to counteract the reduced inertia, which could have made the bike a bit flighty). Keeping a steady line through a corner was only disturbed by rider inputs.
The only thing I didn’t fully appreciate was the slight step in power delivery on initial opening of the throttle. Other than this, the engine was smooth and predictable.
This is a bike that looks like it would rather spend a day outside a trendy café in Shoreditch, but actually has the potential to keep up with pretty much any company.
Given that the whole package is so versatile, offering something for both new and experienced riders, slow and fast, you could see this bike becoming something of a success for Triumph. With the price tag of £10,500 it’s pretty competitively priced, and the quality that you get for the price is clear.
But more than anything, this is a bike full of fun-factor and the pure, undistilled joy of riding. It puts a smile on any face – if it doesn’t work for you, talk to your doctor.
Triumph Speed Twin (2019)
Price: From £10,500
Engine: 1200cc l/c, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Power: 96bhp (71.5 kW) @ 6750rpm
Torque: 82.6lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4950 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Frame: Tubular steel with aluminium cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminium
Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy 7-spoke, (F) 17 x 3.5in, (R) 17 x 5in
Tyres: Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3, (F) 120/70 ZR17: (R) 160/60 ZR17
Suspension: (F) 41mm cartridge forks, 120mm travel; (R) Twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120mm travel
Brakes: (F) Twin 305mm discs, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, ABS; (R) Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
Seat height: 807 mm
Wheelbase: 1430 mm
Dry weight: 196kg
Fuel capacity: 14.5 litres
Fuel consumption: 59mpg