The latest version of the Speed Triple
still remains one of the most distinctive looking bikes
on the road, and especially in the livery and colour of
the bike we had on test from Hinckley. The Speed Triple
is the street fighter of the Triumph range, with all the
looks and performance to match. While the 'old' 509 version
of the Speed Triple was no slug, this revamped version has
upped the game even further. This bike is a stunt riders
dream, but it's not just single minded, as during the two
weeks we had the pleasure of it's company we covered some
serious mileage on it during a 12hr road event around the
UK. That was enough to say to me that this is an excellent
all-round roadbike, and serious fun. Triumph claim that
the changes to the chassis, styling and engine have taken
the production street fighter concept to new levels, and
I've got to say I totally agree!
Speed Triple first appeared back in 1994
as a part of their modular approach to manufacturing,
and was in essence a nude Daytona - back then with
a steel spine frame. Nine years later the current
model is more of the same, sharing many of its parts
with the current Daytona 955 - including a re-tuned
version of the 955i engine and the Daytona's superb
aluminium tube frame.
The current model benefits
from a number of revisions including a revised chassis.
The changes made were directed at increasing the bikes agility
through quicker steering and lighter weight, as well as
styling changes looking for a leaner, meaner looking Speed
Triple. The new bike is also 2.5kg lighter than its predecessor,
with the revised engine running a new cylinder-head which
sports new valve sizes (1mm larger inlet, 1mm smaller exhaust)
and redesigned inlet and exhaust ports. The compression
ratio has also been bumped up to 12:1 from 11.2:1, and the
fuel injection mapping has been altered to improve the mid-range
torque. This now sees the Speed Triple claiming 120ps at
9100rpm, somewhat less than the Daytona's impressive 133.1ps
at the rear wheel, but having said that, the Speed Triple
has that seat-of-the-pants feeling that only a naked bike
can give you, and with the revisions it has become a superb
bike for all types of rider and roads.
Riding the bike is an absolutely pleasure
and is so easy that I wondered why I had never considered
this bike as a practical alternative before. When I collected
the silver hooligan bike from Hinckley I had a nice gentle
ride back some 80 miles through the Warwickshire and Oxfordshire
countryside on some of the best biking roads in the UK.
On these roads you can cruise in top (6th), rolling the
throttle on and off, the fuel injection responding cleanly
at these speeds and the fantastic torque of the motor grunting
the bike along with absolute ease.
After that shakedown ride it was time to get to grips with
the Triple on some of my favourite roads! Things got 'hotter'
the next day, in more ways than one as I got to test the
limits of power, handling and general rideability of the
wide bars on the Speed Triple make levering the
bike from side-to-side a joyous task, no doubt aided by
the new chassis dimensions. Wheelbase is reduced by 11mm
to 1429mm, as well as steeper rake and shorter trail figures
at 23.5 degrees and 84mm. The rear ride height has also
been increased. This combined with a dry weight of 189kg,
some 7kg lighter than the previous model, now makes the
Speed Triple hustle through the curves and with the best
of the superbikes.
There was a bit of a hint of front - end 'nervousness'
on some rough surfaces and a little tendency to weave a
bit on uneven roads under hard acceleration, but I suffered
no tank slappers or anything worse than a bit of a shimmy.
The Bridgestone 010 tyres on the test bike were some halfway
worn when I collected the bike so I put some of the road
manners down to this and the fact that we did do over 1500
miles during the time we had it on the same tyres, which
were indeed 'done for' by the time we returned it to Hinckley.
The Bridgestones do give great feedback and grip but personally
I would like to see something like Pirelli Diablos fitted
to the Triple, I just think that the bike deserves it as
you really can take liberties on the Triple. Any rider that
may get stressed about this slight flightiness on the roads
could just fit a steering dampener to cancel it all, but
to be honest I enjoyed the feeling, it never felt unsafe,
yet it was predictable and a seriously fun ride.
After some more miles on the Speed Triple
I concluded that it blatantly refused to become unglued
on any road I presented it, instead it just felt better
and better, providing exceptional levels of accuracy, feedback
and control. Flicking into corners and changing lines was
easily achieved from almost any corner position and degree
of attack with just a push of the wide bars. This encouraged
staying out wide and taking super late entries into corners
just to see what was around the other side, just accelerate
and fire out of the corner rasping that 3 cylinder motor
to the red line, its impressive!
to engine performance. There's no shortage of power
available for blasting out of corners or involuntary hoisting
of the front wheel exiting second or third gear corners,
or voluntary for that mater! Slip past traffic with no fuss
at all in any gear is just a part of riding this bike. If
you have over 3000 revs on the dial the fuel-injection system
and power delivery is just great. However, the same problem
that existed with the Daytona still afflicts the Speed Triple.
At small throttle openings or from a trailing throttle there's
a little reluctance to pick up, which gets worse as the
engine gets hotter, like in traffic. This means you have
to hold the bike in a lower gear more often, instead of
rolling down to low speed and pulling away using that clean
and instantaneous delivery big engines should have. No there
is a download engine management programme available from
the dealer to combat this and I recommend it to anyone,
but it shouldn't have to be done on a new bike to sort out
a little problem that could so easily be rectified at the
factory. I do hear though that this is on the cards for
the new model (no change) in a month or two.
if any of this has made you look elsewhere
get your cheque book out again, because with the addition
of a Triumph high level race can and the latest engine
management download you get the best sounding bike
around and a resolved injection problem from the re
mapping. All of a sudden the bike is hugely improved
and will trickle away from traffic lights and pull
smoothly from just under 1500rpm, from there on its
smiles all the way to the red line! I just can't help
wondering why it wasn't like that in the first place.
The gearbox is a distinct improvement
on some previous Triumph 'boxes, although it still has a
relatively long throw to shift the gears. The box is positive
and shows no sign of false neutrals or jumping, the clutch
is smooth to operate and not heavy at all, although the
non-adjustable lever will trouble some riders with small
fitting an adjustable lever will fix that with ease.
The front brakes are typical Triumph,
possibly the best brakes on any production bike ever made.
How they do it is anyone's guess but I have been impressed
with every Triumph I have ever ridded in the braking department.
There is a super strong precise feel from the twin 320mm
discs and four-pot Triumph stamped Nissin calipers, which
easily coped with my demands and anything I could throw
The rear brake on my testbike was a little
lacking in any sort of feel and braking powers, but as I
never use it except for a little trailing into corners it
proved fine for that aspect of riding. Having had a look
and a ride on another one, mine proved the exception to
the rule, the other one was fine.
So the big question is, is it comfortable?
Well yes, it is actually. The wide bars and tiny instrument
cowl (which is an option) obviously knock those prolonged
supersonic stints on the head, but up to about 100mph its
really is fine, after that it depends just how determined
you are to hang on! Depending on the condition of your licence
this may not be a bad thing, but the position of the somewhat
rearset footpegs and the flattish bars is good, so you can
cruise away all day if you wish. The seat (which is the
same as the one on the current Daytona) is actually more
comfortable because you're sitting in it rather that perched
on it with your bits bashing the tank all the time! At cruising
speed you're nicely supported by the wind and the saddle,
so for 90 percent of everyday riding it makes far more sense
than the radical crouch of your average current sports bike.
In conclusion then the wide, high bars and decent legroom
means touring on the Speed Triple is not out of the question
The current styling shares many of the
same features of the Daytona 955i. The tank, tailpiece and
digital instruments are all the same. I wasn't that keen
on the new style clocks initially, but they grew on me.
The instruments are easy to read, and include the same features
- engine temp, odometer and clock. There are also two trip
meters. The Speed Triple also gave realistic mileage from
its 21lt tank. I got about 145 miles during pretty fast
rides before reserve came in, at a more sedate or legal
pace it gave around 175 before reserve, which is pretty
good by today's superbike standards.
is the Speed Triple a viable proposition? Yes,
absolutely is the answer. The Speed Triple impressed me
a lot with its riding characteristics, modern styling, and
capability as a long distance bike. It is capable of not
only performing a number of roles with ease, but it makes
them serious fun as well, that's the difference between
it and the other naked bikes on the market today.
It's a great all round package powered by one of the best
motors on the market. It handles well, it's comfortable,
well built and it's British! I could certainly live with
the Speed Triple as an everyday bike.
I get asked all the time what bike is my favourite, I say
"if it's got 2 wheels it's fun no matter what it
is. From a Chinese scooter to an Italian dreambike, they
are all bikes therefore they all represent freedom and will
give someone pleasure wherever they are". Sometimes
I come across something a bit out of the ordinary, The Triumph
is one of those bikes, it stands out from the crowd in it's
own special way. It's hugely enjoyable to ride and a true
Read external Triumph Speed Triple reviews on ciao.