Test Ride Review: Triumph Bonneville Speed Twin

Test Ride Review: Triumph Bonneville Speed Twin

Seventy two years after the Brits left us to ourselves, British bike maker Triumph seems to be eschewing the English path and choosing to walk on a very Indian trail. At least where family planning is concerned with respect to its range of neo-retro bikes. For the Bonneville platform, engine and frame, has now spawned not one or two but eight different motorcycles including the recent Scrambler 1200 and now this, the Speed Twin. The newest member of the Bonnie family is based on the sporty as hell and somewhat bratty Thruxton but seeks to embed it with the sensibilities of the calmer and more mature T120. Big question is, will this formula succeed? Time to find out.

Is the Triumph Speed Twin a faster Street Twin?

The badge suggests a faster Street Twin but the Speed Twin is a hell of a lot more than just that. Although based on the same aluminium cradle, the Speed Twin gets a new rear subframe to incorporate a revised geometry. The bike’s 22.8-degree rake is much sharper than the Street Twin’s 25.1 degrees, suggesting far livelier dynamics than all the other Bonnies. The Thruxton’s rake is sharper by 0.1 degree. The Speed Twin however has a longer wheelbase of 1430mm compared to the Thruxton’s 1415mm, requiring a longer chain run. A fair indication of higher straight line stability and mid-corner stability on the Speed Twin. The other thing that’s different from the Thruxton is the Speed Twin’s 48:52 front to rear weight distribution.

“The cluster comes with analogue speedo and tacho while digital read outs allow you to toggle between riding modes, clock, trip meters and gear indicator”

Speaking of weight, the whole package has also been sent to the gym for some serious weight loss. So, it is lighter by 10kg over the standard Thruxton. Mainly, thanks to new engine components, lighter wheels, alloy tubes and compact battery. This makes the Speed Twin one of the lightest modern classics, weighing in at an impressively low 196kg sans fluids. All of this together gives the Speed Twin an air of confidence which reflects in the way it looks.

In fact, good looks come inherently to all Triumphs and the Speed Twin is no different. With minimal panels and impressive eye for detail, the latest Bonnie is a deliciously good-looking motorcycle. The DRL integrated round headlamp coupled with a classic twin pod cluster lends it a sense of timeless-ness. The neat and compact 14.5-litre fuel tank is wrapped with handmade stripes along with that Monza fuel cap is stunning. Throttle body covers are again a Triumph delicacy and go well with the retro theme. The overall silhouette of the Speed Twin is minimalistic yet very impactful. Even the cluster comes with analogue speedo and tacho while digital read outs allow you to toggle between riding modes, clock, trip meters and gear indicator. My only grouse was the oddly welded swingarm that seemed likes a hurried job as well as the tacky dual springs.

Ride and handling of the Triumph Speed Twin

After ogling at the motorcycle for minutes, it was finally time to explore the wet and beautiful roads of Mallorca. The low 807mm flat seat is quilted in a typically retro manner and tapers towards the tank for easy anchoring. The tall-ish handlebar is wide enough and comes with bar-end mirrors which look classy. Fortunately, it isn’t a back-breaker like the Thruxton thanks to the pegs being moved forward by a good 38mm and being lowered by 4mm at the same time.

“The engine in all its glory is simply brilliant and raring to go when in Sport even pulling the front wheel towards the sky, even with traction control on”

I crank the engine on and the authentic Brit soundtrack starts playing. The traditional parallel twin-acoustic soundtrack is definitely a highlight of the package and you wouldn’t really require to upgrade to a new exhaust, although Vince & Hines already has one ready. Powered by the liquid-cooled, 1.2-litre engine seen on the Thruxton in the exactly same ‘High Power’ state of the Speed Twin makes 96bhp and 112Nm. The figures are better than the Ducati Scrambler 1100 but fall short of the class topper, BMW RnineT. However, it’s not about numbers but the creamy torque delivery when it comes to this Bonnie, like its siblings. Straight away into Road mode,  with mid-spec engine mapping, it feels quick. Tractability is definitely one of the USPs of the engine with most of the torque being developed at a measly 2200rpm, going all the way to 6750rpm smoothly. Barely any downshifts are required whether you’re overtaking or slowing down for pedestrians. The conditions were wet with even moss being spotted on the road, so it was natural to use the Rain mode as well. It wasn’t disappointing although the Speed Twin felt like being leashed at all times. The party piece and also the pooper is the Sport mode. The engine in all its glory is simply brilliant and raring to go when in Sport even pulling the front wheel towards the sky, even with traction control on. The downside here is the fuelling at low revs though with snatchy outputs which is very unlike Triumph. But we love a playful and chirpy kid, don’t we?

The piece de resistance is the ride and handling though. The ride quality is a work of genius. In Mallorca we hardly found any potholes or even speed bumps but the Triumph Speed Twin is definitely not on the firmer side of life. The suspension travel of Kayabas at both ends is identical at 120mm which means, it rarely bottoms out, unlike the Speedmaster or Bobber. I would wager a pack of my choicest whey proteins that the Speed Twin’s suspension setup is going to acquit itself admirably over our much worse roads. What is incredible though is that this isn’t at the cost of handling. In fact, quite the opposite. Modern classics aren’t really expected to be agile or sporty when it comes to handling, but the Speed Twin excels in this department. Whether it’s about changing directions or sticking to its line in corners, the Twin does it all with a surefootedness that is endearing.

While the 4-pot Brembos aren’t kitted out with radial callipers, they are enough to get the job done. The front end does get divey under hard braking but that’s only when you’re pushing it. We took the bike to speeds that would be deemed illegal on our roads but t remained rock solid, even with water flowing over the road. The Pirelli Rosso IIIs are almost perfect for the Speed Twin and perform well under wet and dry conditions.

Win with the Triumph Speed Twin

A win-win then? Definitely. The Speed Twin is one gem of a machine in the modern classic segment. The bike feels compact and wraps around you despite its large dimensions. It’s childlike playfulness coupled with the engine’s mature performance equates to one solid package that can’t really be criticised. Triumph India is contemplating a March 2019 launch and the price is expected to be between Rs 12-13.5 lakh, which would put it bang in between the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport and BMW RnineT.  It’s still not perfect though. That is only until it comes in the British Green shade. The ‘R’ variant maybe then.

 Technical specifications of the Triumph Speed Twin

Price (estimated) Rs 12-13.5 lakh
Engine type Liquid cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Max power 96bhp @ 6,750rpm
Max torque 112Nm @ 4,950rpm
Transmission 6-speed
W x H 760×1110 mm
Wheelbase 1430mm
Ground clearance NA
Saddle height 807mm
Fuel tank capacity 14.5 litre
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