Triumph Speedmaster Benelli TRK 502
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.