TRI­UMPH SPEEDMASTER

Fol­low­ing the Bobber’s suc­cess Tri­umph gear up to do sim­i­lar busi­ness with their new Speedmaster…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Chippy Wood Pho­tog­ra­phy Tri­umph

Classic styling, pil­lion-friendly, qual­ity Bobber ride. Re­port from Cal­i­for­nia.

THE FIRST TRI­UMPH Speedmaster was launched in 2003, though you’d be for­given for miss­ing it – the fee­ble Bon­nie off­shoot lacked both speed and mas­tery. It did im­prove over the years but was never Tri­umph’s finest. The new one is, thank­fully, con­sid­er­ably bet­ter. The con­cept is the same as be­fore – take the Bon­neville en­gine and turn it into a cruiser that, hope­fully, Amer­i­cans will love. The ad­van­tage Tri­umph have this time is that not only is the 1200cc par­al­lel twin a fab­u­lous de­vice, but there’s the hugely suc­cess­ful Bobber to base the rest of the bike on – all ma­jor chas­sis di­men­sions are the same. So the new Speedmaster has 25 per cent more power than the old one (76bhp v 60) and 42 per cent more torque (78 lb.ft v 53). This is enough to out­gun ri­vals such as the In­dian Scout and 1202cc Har­ley Road­ster. At the launch in Cal­i­for­nia, Tri­umph talk a lot about the new bike be­ing a new Bri­tish classic, and judg­ing by the qual­ity there’s a good chance it will be. From the tank badge to the brushed al­loy foot­pegs and cases, it’s dif­fi­cult to find com­po­nents that have been built down to a price – it’s a lot eas­ier with a Har­ley. Of course, that’s not al­to­gether sur­pris­ing given the base model Speedmaster costs £11,650 (red is £125 more and the white and black an ex­tra £300). The rid­ing po­si­tion is supremely re­laxed, once you get used to it. Hold­ing the fat grips ei­ther end of the el­e­gantly swept back bars (Tri­umph call them Beach Bars), and set­tling into the low comfy seat feels in­stinc­tively right, and the seat height of just 705mm means plonk­ing both feet on the ground is easy for any­one over five foot. If you’re used to a nor­mal rid­ing po­si­tion the next bit takes prac­tice: when you pull away, your feet need to move up and for­ward to the front-mounted pegs and con­trols, but you soon get used to the wind whistling up your trouser legs. The clutch uses the same torque-re­duc­tion sys­tem as all the Bon­nevilles and is beau­ti­fully light, then there’s the gen­tlest of gear­box clunks and you’re away. The Speedmaster’s two pis­tons twirl the 270-de­gree crank, which chugs pleas­ingly through the ex­haust while barely send­ing any vi­bra­tions through to the rider. It’s creamy smooth and with as much go as you’ll ever want from a cruiser – from 0-50mph I’ll bet this thing is as fast as any sports­bike thanks to its long wheel­base and ac­ces­si­ble torque. Once you’re up to speed sim­ply press the cruise con­trol but­ton (a stan­dard fit­ment) and you’re the king of the road, thrum­ming along High­way 101 at 70mph and 3000rpm, hang­ing onto those Beach Bars. Into the twisties high above San Diego I leave the Speedmaster in third and scrape the pegs out of end­less cor­ners, rid­ing the torque, grin­ning from ear to ear. And when the oc­ca­sional tighter bend hoves into view, there’s the com­bi­na­tion of twin

‘Amer­i­can riders will stick with Har­ley… they’re miss­ing out’

front discs, Brembo two-pis­ton calipers and ABS to calm things down. The Nissin rear brake is strong too so you find your­self press­ing on, safe in the knowl­edge that the brakes are eas­ily ca­pa­ble of bring­ing all 245kg of Speedmaster to a stop. There’s also trac­tion con­trol (which can be switched off should you feel the need), but with dry roads I don’t get the chance to test it. The twisties do high­light the only gripe with the bike – it’s a lit­tle snatchy on the throt­tle in the first two gears at low revs, which is an­noy­ing at first. You do get used to it, and it’s less ob­vi­ous in rain mode (the other mode is ‘road’) which still gives you full power so you could stick in that if it both­ers you. As you’d ex­pect, the ride qual­ity is ex­cel­lent. The 41mm car­tridge forks – dif­fer­ent units to the Bobber’s be­cause of the Speedmaster’s pil­lion and lug­gage po­ten­tial – are cou­pled with the hid­den rear shock to give a plush and con­trolled ride. Even the fat 130-sec­tion front tyre doesn’t seem to com­pro­mise han­dling, though it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how it copes with the UK’S shonky road sur­faces. But here on Cal­i­for­nia’s finest tar­mac, the only thing that slows you down is the ground clear­ance on those for­ward-mounted pegs – it’s so easy to atom­ise the hero blobs that you have to adopt a faintly ridicu­lous Jorge Lorenzo rid­ing style if you want to keep up with non-cruis­ers. With Bobber sales tak­ing Tri­umph by sur­prise last year, this lat­est spec­i­men could eas­ily do the same. It looks stun­ning and nat­u­rally you can ac­ces­sorize it to your wal­let’s con­tent – Tri­umph al­ready have 130 dif­fer­ent bolt-on parts to tempt you. As ever, most Amer­i­can riders will stick with a Har­ley, but they’re miss­ing out. This Brit is very, very good.

MT 09 SP: it’s got gold bits

A new Bri­tish classic… ac­cord­ing to Tri­umph

050mph: as fast as any sports­bike

Turn your stan­dard Speedmaster into the ‘High­way’ cruiser or ‘Marv­er­ick’ bad­boy with two o­cial kits, or choose from 130 bolt-on ac­ces­sories

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