Speed Triple perfect for ‘hoonigans’
Remember the “Original Hooligan”? The first Triumph Speed Triple released back in 1994 is the hooligan I’m talking about.
It was an instant favourite with stunt performers and basically, mad people who would ride … just like a hooligan!
Rolling through 24 years since that first Speed Triple release the things worth noting were the move to twin round headlights in 1997, which lasted until 2011 and really caused a stir among the Speedy purists when Triumph changed to the new styled headlights.
I can remember people saying, “Oh, they won’t sell another Speed Triple unless it’s got round headlights”… and the huffing and puffing went on. But, you know what, the Speed Triple has only got better with each year that’s passed and the new 2018 model is one that I class as being the best of them all.
It looks awesome, has more power, more features and handles better — it’s a big bore naked that fits the “hooligan” moniker to a tee.
For the launch of the new Speed Triple, I headed to sunny Queensland for a road ride the first day, then a freezing cold start for our track day at Morgan Park Raceway on the second.
Previously, Triumph has sold two versions of the Speed Triple — the S and the R.
This is now only going to be one bike — the RS, which as you can gather is the top of the range Speed Triple. Triumph has seen a trend towards buyers wanting the best of the best and the RS has all of that and more.
The triple cylinder engine has seen 105 new parts for this year. In a nutshell, it revs harder and spins up faster than ever before and this is something I always thought of with the previous model: you hit the rev limiter way too early. To make the engine rev faster the crank has been lightened. New aluminium Nikasil cylinder liners are fitted, heavier valve springs are also in for the higher lift camshafts and bigger fuel injectors flow more fuel for a bigger bang. Compression has been raised from 12.25:1 to
12.9:1. As you can imagine all of these improvements help the triple produce more power and more torque than before. Claimed to be
7 per cent more overall peak power with the specs being 110kW and
4 per cent more torque at 117Nm. If ever there was a hooligan tag for a motorcycle, the increase in power, torque and the punchy characteristics of this triple cylinder mean the Speed Triple has it.
Mated to the engine is an improved gearbox. Gone is the slight notchiness of the old model and a precise feeling as you snick into each gear is now what you get.
If you’ve ever seen inside a motorcycle gearbox you will have seen a bit of metal looking like a ninja star: this is called a Detent Wheel and this little piece of metal contributes to how well a gearbox will change gears — an improved shape and more ninja is the major improvement that makes gear changing a lot better now.
An assist and slipper clutch also contributes to how the Speed Triple reacts to the way you ride. All of the bikes on the launch had been fitted with the accessory bidirectional quickshifter ($553.65) and this is a must in my mind.
In total, three kilos have been shed by the new Speed Triple.
Doesn’t really sound like a lot but reducing weight means a faster accelerating machine and also one that handles better.
The RS version comes standard with Ohlins suspension. It’s totally adjustable front and rear, but I found on the road I was rather happy with the standard settings whereas some of the lighter riders preferred some compression taken out of the shock. For the track I had loads more compression wound into the shock, along with a couple of clicks of rebound; on the front I ended up with only half a turn of preload. Any more and I found it would push the front.
There are other premium features on the new Speedy. Arrow exhausts, TFT dash, carbon fibre pieces throughout and a keyless fob ignition. We all found this was a bit of a pain for track riding, especially those without an internal pocket in their leathers. However, it is rather convenient for road riding and this was no doubt Triumph’s intention for its introduction.
The full colour TFT dash is just like the new Tiger’s and is jampacked with info and settings to be adjusted.
On the road, all of the new electronics such as cornering ABS, traction control, the five rider modes (Rain, Road, Sport, Track and Rider) and cruise control work seamlessly.
On the track I did try Track mode in my first session but found it too restrictive for my riding style.
The bike came alive once I turned it to Rider mode with traction and ABS turned off and the throttle map in Road. Don’t take this as something you should do unless you are quite skilled as the traction control does work well, as does the ABS, especially the cornering ABS where you can mess it all up and still get around a corner.
It is technology that requires big kahunas to activate on purpose as it doesn’t feel natural to try and lock the front brake while cranking over into a corner, but the time you do need it you probably won’t even know it has saved your butt from ending up on the road.
I preferred Road throttle map for both road riding and on the track. I could come off a corner smoother and faster than in Sport which I felt was a little harder to ride superfast.
Braking is mega powerful with Brembo M4.34 radial Monobloc calipers. There’s also an adjustable ratio master cylinder and 19, 20 and 21mm are what you can choose from. The 19mm means a softer lever and more feel, 21mm obviously means a harder lever and less feel. I preferred 21mm as I could get harder on the front brakes whereas with 19 or 20mm the lever would come back too far towards the handlebar.
Ergonomics have also been looked at. A new “comfort” seat is fitted which has 3D net inserts, medical grade foam and, for the visual aspect, nice red stitching.
Seat to peg height is sporty but pretty good for all day riding and the handlebar has you with just weighted wrists.
Accessories are extensive and will suit all tastes. The bikes we rode during the launch had the bidirectional quickshifter, rubber Triumph tank pad, frame protector kit and CNC machined fork protectors. Sounds like Triumph doesn’t trust us or something?
Fit and finish as you look around the Speed Triple is probably the best I’ve seen on any Triumph before it. It really does have the
class to go with the hooliganism and the crowds of people who poured their googly eyes over the handful of bikes we rode during the launch says it all.
Everyone was impressed and the old thumbs up was given numerous times.
So, get to your local Triumph dealer and give one a whirl.
Make sure you’ve washed your hands so your thumbs up is nice and shiny.
Triumph has seen a trend towards buyers wanting the best of the best and the RS has all of that and more.
If ever there was a hooligan tag for a motorcycle, the increase in power, torque and the punchy characteristics of this triple cylinder mean the Speed Triple has it. Picture: Marque Motoring