Published on May 13th, 2019 | by Boris0
2019 TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN REVIEW – THE PROGRESSION OF EMPIRE
IMAGES BY MARK DADSWELL
To my mind, a motorcycle has to be lovely to look at before I would consider showering the salesman with dollars. It doesn’t matter to me what others think about my purchase. Just so long as I think it’s beautiful.
That’s the key. That is the deal-maker.
Motorcycle manufacturers get this.
Well, most of them.
Some of them will never get this and will rely instead on high-tech gadgetry, performance, and impressive spec sheets to sell their wares – presumably to soulless robots who buy bikes to commute on, or because they are…shudder…economical.
I don’t breathe that air.
And from what I have seen, I’m sure the blokes cobbling together Triumphs under the benevolent lash of John Bloor, don’t breathe it either.
Look at this Speed Twin. It’s just gorgeous.
Objectively and subjectively. Its lines are right. Its stance is righteous. And it cleverly occupies that rare aesthetic with one foot in the classic past and one foot in the sophisticated present.
If it went like a battered lawnmower, I’d still think it beautiful.
But of course it doesn’t go like that.
It steps out rather lively, actually. Two days of squiring it around some of Victoria’s Not-So-High country at the recent press launch put the proof to that.
This is a bike that is lighter (196kg dry) and more powerful than the vaunted Thruxton. It has a lighter crankshaft and a higher compression ratio, but uses the same High Output tune as the Thruxton. Which means the numbers are 97 horses and 112Nm (at 4950rpm – or 100Nm at 2000rpm) – with a torque curve flatter than a runway, and a power delivery that will nudge you into diabetes with its sweetness.
It attains this weight advantage over the Thruxton via an engine that is 2.5kg lighter, and boasts magnesium cam covers, a revised clutch assembly, and lighter wheels.
It is an enticing package to ride, and with its drop-dead good-looks, there could well be clouds of sweetly-scented girls’ undergarments greeting the owner on his travels.
But should you want to impress the ladies with your derring-do riding capers, you will find the Speed Twin somewhat staider in its response than the Thruxton.
Don’t worry. The chicks won’t know.
It has a 15mm longer wheelbase and a less cruel steering angle. This makes it more stable on the road, though less lively in the bends. But given its shod with serious Pirelli Rosso Corsa Threes, it’s not going to bring shame upon your ancestors. That will be your doing entirely.
The forks are 41mm with 120mm of travel and the rear KYB units are adjustable for preload. I would be up-speccing the rear units to the readily available Öhlins aftermarket items, because when you decide to wring its neck (and it wants you to…it really does), the suspension doesn’t always deal with our rubbish roads as well as it might. Or maybe my spine doesn’t bounce as well as it once did.
It is not assisted in this regard by the very sexy, slim-line seat. There is a touch of cruelty in those skinny seats.
Look, if you’re just riding like a Christian, as so many prospective owners will, then you’ll be delighted. Decide you want to explore the outer reaches of the Motor Traffic Act, and you’ll certainly find the limits of the suspension and the seat.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It teaches you manners, I guess.
And I’d never change the seat. Just like I’d never demand a supermodel pack on some beef so her hip-bones would stop bruising me. It’s also quite a low seat height (807mm), so that will delight the more squat-legged among us.
Triumph has not relented in its pursuit of quality finishes. It wants its bikes to look and feel like proper fancy, high-class units, and to a large degree, it’s quite successful in this regard. The Speed Twin has a plethora of classy touches – brushed aluminium guard, LED daytime running light, lovely gauges, a USB charging socket, great Brembo brakes, the best bar-end mirrors in the world, and a snazzy fuel cap you can play with like a Zippo lighter.
The Speed twin also has three engine modes, and if you keep it in Sport, you’ll be happier than you might be in Road or Rain. There is a difference, but the nature of the engine means you won’t be screeching in terror in Sport. It just delivers the oomph with a little more eagerness. Road is fine, but if’n you’re gonna worship Satan, Sport is the go.
The torque-assisted clutch is sweet, and the gearbox changes with delicious precision (Triumph really must be congratulated on its slick gearboxes of late), which all goes to the Speed Twins ineffable rideability.
I guess what that means is it’s a very easy bike to ride and just as easy a bike to ride with a little salt in your belly.
Thrills without the terror, I guess.
But most importantly, it satisfies – emotionally and on a crucially visceral level, which is all ultimately down to its looks.
And they are simply divine. It’s very much a drink-beer-and-stare-at-it bike.
Its whole aggro, forward-canted stance, its fat pipes, its bushed alloy, its toxically masculine colour options (jet black, grey on silver, or red on grey), and it’s classically correct lines, all combine to offer a truly desirable motorcycle – and there can never be enough of those.
HOW MUCH? $18,000 PLUS ORC
Engine1200 cc, Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Bore and Stroke 97.6 x 80 mm
Compression Ratio 11.0 : 1
Maximum Power 97 PS / 96 BHP (71.5 kW) @ 6,750 rpm
Maximum Torque 112 Nm @ 4,950 rpm
Exhaust Brushed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin silencers
Clutch Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Frame Tubular steel with aluminium cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, aluminium
Front Wheel Cast aluminium alloy 7-spoke 17 x 3.5in
Rear Wheel Cast aluminium alloy 7-spoke 17 x 5in
Front Tyre 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre 160/60 ZR17
Front Suspension 41mm cartridge forks, 120mm travel
Rear Suspension Twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel
Front Brake Twin 305mm discs, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, ABS
Rear Brake Single 220mm disc, Nissin twin-piston floating caliper, ABS
Width 760 mm
Seat Height 807 mm
Wheelbase 1430 mm
Rake 22.8 º
Trail 93.5 mm
Dry Weight 196 Kg
Fuel Capacity 14.5 L
Fuel Consumption 4.8 l/100km