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Tri­umph Speed­mas­ter Benelli TRK 502

Old Bike Australasia - - NEWS - Road Im­pres­sions Bob Rosen­thal Pho­tos Jim Scays­brook

Now, this bike is built for a very spe­cific mar­ket, not quite hip­sters, more the laid-back sub­ur­ban­ite cruiser. Both these bikes are built on the same plat­form, why not, it works. Same ba­sic frame, sus­pen­sion and en­gine. There the sim­i­lar­i­ties stop. This is a bit like what Du­cati did with its Mon­ster and BMW did with the Rnine T. Same run­ning gear, dif­fer­ent Tup­per­ware. Firstly, it uses the lat­est in­car­na­tion of the ver­ti­cal twin Bon­neville en­gine, suit­ably set up for this role. It’s a lusty 1200cc par­al­lel twin with off­set crank pins to give a 270-de­gree fir­ing or­der with liq­uid cool­ing. So, it sounds and feels like a vee twin. Noth­ing new there, lots of man­u­fac­tur­ers have done this. This fir­ing or­der im­bues a lovely “feel” to power de­liv­ery. Why do you think Du­catis do so well in WSK rac­ing and KTM does so well at Pikes Peak? It’s all about feel and de­liv­ery. As a plus, the ex­haust note sounds fan­tas­tic. Tri­umph has done a won­der­ful job here. This en­gine is tuned for great mid-band torque which makes it a nat­u­ral at ur­ban traf­fic work. See a gap, plug it. The six-speed gear­box helps with good wide ra­tio se­lec­tion and a smooth shift feel. It is very high geared, like so many bikes these days, to get through noise tests. No mat­ter, the flat torque curve makes a mock­ery of the gear­ing and is ul­tra­us­able from 2500 RPM to well over its peak at 4000 RPM. Tri­umph quotes 106Nm at 4000. Oh, the clutch has a light linear feel. It’s a slip­per, back torque lim­ited unit that also has for­ward “tight­en­ing” so it gets away with very light springs. The more torque you put into it, the tighter it clamps the plates. Horse­power is a quoted 54kW (76BHP) at a low 6100RPM. Just what you want for ur­ban work. Even on our free­ways, over­tak­ing was a sim­ple mat­ter of just open­ing the throt­tle. Just don’t use sixth un­der 80 KPH be­cause of that tall over­drive. Brakes are 310mm dual disc Brembo fronts and a 255mm sin­gle pis­ton Nissin cal­liper rear. ABS as­sisted of course. Need­less to say, they work as ex­pected with­out any vices. Now to the sus­pen­sion. Front is KYB 41mm car­tridge fork with 90mm travel and no ad­just­ments. Rear is a KYB Monoshock with a ris­ing rate link­age and only spring pre-load ad­just­ment. Travel is only 73.3mm though. Both felt a lit­tle on the stiff side to me but keep the in­tended use in mind. Thank good­ness the seat is well padded and shaped. With steer­ing di­men­sions of 29.3 de­grees rake and 91.4 mm trail I thought it might be a lit­tle edgy on the road, but the 1510mm wheel­base set­tled things down and the Speed­mas­ter felt se­cure and planted. Tri­umph’s abil­ity to keep the seat height to a low 705mm and all the heavy bits nice and low helps here too.

The ac­tual seat­ing po­si­tion is the typ­i­cal cruiser style, sit up­right, feet for­ward and a big wide han­dle­bar. The han­dle­bar bend was a bit awk­ward at first, but it grew on me. Tri­umph has sen­si­bly used con­ven­tional footrests, not floor boards. These seem to help a bit with weight trans­fer. Get used to wear­ing out your heels though. Things scrape a bit early. Not much ground clear­ance. Re­mem­ber the bike’s in­tended use?

In­stru­men­ta­tion is sim­ple. A clas­sic head­light na­celle with a sin­gle speedo in it. The speedo has a small LCD in it to show a num­ber of func­tions. Cruise con­trol, fuel con­sump­tion, dis­tance to empty, RPM and so on. These are se­lectable via a but­ton on the left-hand switch block. Hav­ing drive by wire there is also a mode se­lec­tion of road or rain. The en­gine still makes the same power in rain, it just slows down the throt­tle open­ing rate. The cruise con­trol is a one but­ton, on or off af­fair with­out the abil­ity to tog­gle up or down. Sim­ple and ef­fec­tive, it worked very well. I look at these things as li­cence savers. So, how does the Speed­mas­ter feel out on the road? It feels lighter than its 245.5 dry weight would im­ply. Ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity is very good and you don’t have to man­han­dle it to change di­rec­tion. The front brake is a twofin­ger af­fair with plenty of feel, and if you over-do it the ABS will help. For those of us of more av­er­age stature, you can put both feet down eas­ily at traf­fic lights. Wow, no more one cheek sneak. And just cruis­ing along the bike feels un­bustable and planted. Hey, these mod­ern Trump­ies are pretty good!

The en­gine is a beauty; stacks of torque and im­pres­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion.

For­ward mounted footrests, not foot boards. Sin­gle in­stru­ment with a host of func­tions at your fin­ger­tips.

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