Back in 1994, Triumph released the new streetfighter-style motorcycle called the Speed Triple. Back in the days, it was popular to use whatever you could find in the factory parts bin to create new models; just take a look at the case of the brilliant Ducati Monster. Originally powered by the Triumph Triple modular 885cc engine, it was built as a tribute to the Speed Twin, the legendary Triumph from 1938. Fast forward to 2012, and a couple of revisions later, we found ourselves riding the latest iteration of the original idea. And “some idea” it was – big engine, naked configuration, exposed internals and frame, twin headlights and a single-sided swingarm. Could you really ask for more?
Before we continue on with the test ride, I have to add a crucial information – the ride height of the test rider – and here’s why. Reading popular international motorcycling magazines, we feel that most of the time, bikes are tested by either Isle of Man TT champions or the World Super Bike runner-ups. That’s all fine and well, but somehow we just feel you can’t really relate to that. So our test was conducted by a medium-skilled rider – one who drags his knees down but needs another 20cm or so, and who can only do awesome wheelies on a Sony Playstation 3.
Let’s get the numbers out first – the 2012 Speed Triple has a 1,435mm wheelbase, 22.8 degrees of rake and a short-ish 90mm of trail. The curb weight is 214kg, propelled by a tweaked 1050cc engine producing 133hp and 111Nm of torque. Translated into the real world of medium riders, it feels light (almost nimble), easy to manoeuvre, easy to ride and only at times does it feel scary fast, but that’s usually your fault. The engine is a joy to operate, with nice power delivery from as low as 2500rpm. You don’t need to use all the six available gears, as the Speed Triple will happily potter around town using nothing but the third gear.
And if we’re being true, there are not many places in Dubai where you can cruise at those speeds. As soon as you leave the populated areas behind, you’re left with arrow-straight highway and speeds above triple digits. The clutch is one of the best we’ve had a chance to test, extremely easy off the line and will never catch you unprepared. Fuel management is top notch as well, as there are no splutters or jerking, even if you ride it at a lowly 1500rpm.
On the highway, the bike feels secure and planted at all times, with enough power at any given rpm to get you safely out of trouble. The ergonomics, having been polished for so many years, result in a natural body posture and a pleasantly wide handlebar grip. The Brembo radial caliper brakes and 320mm rotors are progressive and never bite-y, and aided by the ABS, they only boost your confidence. The dash is a minimalistic composition of an analogue tach and a digital trip computer, very easy to read.
Ride above the UAE speed limit (not implying that we did!) and you’re left with the problem of all naked bikes, wind buffeting. An optional mini bikini fairing, which our bike had, softens the problem by creating a “soft spot” that reduces noise and wind pressure, though it never takes it out completely.
As most of us buy motorcycles in a moment of passion – usually described as moments of stupidity by our better halves – we have to say that the Speed Triple is a good-looker. The bug-eyed headlights have been redesigned, taking the original charm away a little, but they look good nonetheless and somehow seem to remind me even more of a praying mantis than before. The Diablo Red paint, mixed with golden fully-adjustable 43mm front forks and blacked-out wheels and engine parts, create quite a picture. The dual under-seat exhausts look somewhat bulky, but still complement the overall looks. The engine creates a sound that is best described as our friend Ricardo would say “ like a Spitfire in low flight” . The vibrations of the three-cylinder engine are agreeable, creating only a bit of a rough ride somewhere half throttle. Pinning it down and lighting all of the adjustable rpm shift lights smoothens everything out, blurring reality into that scared-to-die and close-to-heaven moment.
Having had the luck of riding it back-to-back with some of its competitors on the market like the Ducati Streetfighter and KTM Super Duke, the Speed Triple delivers a no-fuss approach to performance and impresses with its ease of use. It looks the part and will continue doing so for many years to come, we’re sure. And for the price of AED 52,900, it’s quite a bargain as well. We would buy one in an instant.
Ease of use
Dash setup buttons
Duseja Motorcycles (official Triumph dealer for UAE)