Ride Test: Jim Scaysbrook • Photos: Sue Scaysbrook and Triumph.
At a glance the new 2021 Triumph Speed Twin seems very much like the previous model, but a deeper look (and a ride) confirms otherwise.
Both peak power and mid range power have increased, by 3PS and 5% respectively. The engine spins freer thanks to a lighter crankshaft and a rare earth alternator, and higher compression, revised cam profile and a port job add to the increased response and appetite for revs. The ride-by-wire throttle system, coupled with the latest EFI system, gives excellent, smooth take up across the range. With the ever-more stringent Euro 5 specifications for emissions, this often results in a strangled sound from the silencers, but the Speed Twin is anything but strangled. With a 270º layout for the crank throws, it emits a wonderful crackling exhaust note which is very pleasant without being offensive (or illegal). It’s quite an achievement, given the extra tricks that were necessary inside the three catalytic converters; one in the balance pipe between the headers, the others in the mufflers.
There are lots of little changes that add up to the package as a whole, but it’s the engine that is the star feature. What a motor. There’s so much mid range torque you’ll hardly ever find yourself in the wrong gear, and the gearbox itself is positive with an incredibly light action on the clutch lever. There are three riding modes – Rain, Road and Sport – and I did most of my stint in the Road mode which seemed smoother. These modes also adjust the traction control and throttle maps.
The chassis has come in for the same degree of refinement, with higher spec Marzocchi suspension, the latest radially-mounted Brembo stoppers, and lighter cast alloy 12-spoke wheels shod with almost-slick Metzler Racetec RR tyres. The handling is crisp and precise, just crying out for twisties, which fortunately are in abundance around our testing area in the NSW Hawkesbury region. In fact, the steering geometry is in the sports bike arena; the quicker you go, the sharper it feels. The brakes really are phenomenal – a few years ago this sort of stopping power was only found on the top-spec superbikes. The discs themselves are 15mm larger in diameter, up to 320mm, while the Brembo M50 calipers are just about as good as it gets. In fact the whole front end, forks, brakes, tyre, is Superbike standard. Even though twin rear shocks may seem a throwback, there’s nothing wrong with the rear suspension which is perfectly matched to the front.
The standard of finish is also quite exceptional, and I love the red colour of the test bike – such a welcome change from the matte black with which most manufacturers seem currently enamoured. The twin instruments have a nice retro look about them and suit the character of the bike, and they do contain a stack of information, but I found the readouts very difficult to discern, especially in sunlight. You can flick through all the info via a scroll button on the handlebar, but reading the result is challenging. While the seat is anything but plush, it is adequate. This is the sort of bike that is built for corners rather than for long periods on the motorway, and the fairly low seat height will be popular. In fact the overall relationship between seat, handlebars and footrests is pretty good, with a slight forward bias, as befits an urban scratcher like this.
The Bonneville range has been a real winner for Triumph, and the Speed Twin the most popular single model within that range, at least in the UK. It’s a motorcycle oozing with character, and of course, there’s a range of more than 50 genuine accessories that make it more individual. These include quilted seats in black or brown, tank bag, heated grips, multi-functional LED indicators, and bits of bling to suit personal preferences. Bring on the back roads!
2021 Triumph Speed Twin – Specifications
Engine: Liquid cooled, 8 valve SOHC 270º crank parallel twin
Bore x stroke: 97.6mm x 80mm
Max power: 98.6 bhp (100PS) at 7,250 rpm
Max torque: 112Nm at 4,250 rpm
Fuel system: Multipoint sequential EFI
Exhaust: Brushed Stainless steel with twin silencers
Final drive: O-ring Chain
Clutch: Wet, multiplate, torque-assist
Gearbox: 6 speed
Frame: Tubular steel, fabricated aluminium swinging arm
Front suspension: 43mm USD Marzocchi forks 120mm travel
Rear suspension: Twin RSUs with preload adjustment, 120mm travel.
Front brakes: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers ABS
Rear brakes: Single 220mm disc Nissin 2-piston floating caliper ABS
Instrument: Multifunction with colour TFT screen
Tyres Front: Metzeler Racetec RR 120/70 ZR17
Tyres Rear: Metzeler Racetec RR 160/60 ZR17
Seat height: 809mm
Tank capacity: 14.5 litres
Wet weight: 216kg
Colours: Red Hopper, Matte Storm Grey with yellow accents, Jet Black.
Test bike: Triumph Australia
Price: Rideaway from $20,690 (Jet Black). Other colours $300 extra.