Rock & Roll
Riding for 49 Years
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- Jan 5, 2006
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Triumph’s Speed Triple is perhaps the brand’s biggest image builder, the machine that most brought the modern Triumph back to enthusiasts’ attention. Arguably the first streetfighter when it was introduced in 1992, it went on to become the rockingest, meanest one that money could buy later in that decade and in the first years of the 21st century. Those days, however, are over. In a world where KTM 1290 Super Dukes and BMW S1000Rs thunder and howl, the 1,050cc Speed Triple had given up its claim to quickest and baddest rights some time ago, which makes the very thorough overhaul of the Speed Triple for 2016 very interesting: Rather than go for a complete redesign that would enter the Speed back into the streetfighter power wars, Triumph did something more subtle: It focused on making the Speed more beautiful and making it a better machine in almost every way so that its rider interacts with it.
“The entire machine simply looks more refined, a little more Daniel-Craig-menacing-in-a-bespoke-suit rather than Jason-Stratham-brutal-in-a-T-shirt.First, the restyling: The main emphasis was to make the Speed Triple look longer, lower, and give it an organic, aggressive appearance. Low, ovalized twin headlights with LED light guides remind of the early twin round headlight models while sitting low on the fork. The instrument cluster and windscreen have been pushed down, as has the fly screen that covers them, while the tank has been reshaped so that the fuel filler is now the tallest point on the entire bike. Mirrors are now a very sporty bar-end configuration, and the radiator is smaller, more efficient, and neater looking. The seat is more than 3/4 of an inch narrower where it meets the tank, and the entire machine simply looks more refined, a little more Daniel-Craig-menacing-in-a-bespoke-suit rather than Jason-Stratham-brutal-in-a-T-shirt.
The engine remains 1,050cc, but almost everything else about it has changed—Triumph claims 104 new parts. Even the gears driving the balancer shaft have been re-profiled for quieter operation. The biggest changes though are in the power-producing side. A new cylinder head and pistons create new combustion chambers that work with a thorough retuning to enhance midrange power without sacrificing top-end performance. In the extremely important midrange between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm, Triumph claims the new engine is 5 to 7 pound-feet torquier than its predecessor. Feeding that head are new electronically controlled throttle bodies controlled by a ride-by-wire throttle. This allows different throttle maps to be offered along with full-authority traction control. There are five selectable rider modes, from Rain to Race, and the traction control is rider configurable. The new power comes with an improved slipper-assist clutch, one that slips on back-torque while further tightening on driving torque. This allows clutch springing to be lightened, reducing clutch effort in a way that almost always makes a motorcycle feel subjectively lighter. The retuning of the Speed Triple benefits its performance and rideability and carries it through 2016 noise and emission regulations—while also substantially improving fuel economy, according to Triumph. The company cites a 17-percent improvement, which should be sufficient to be noticeable in real-world riding range. Similarly complying with mandatory EU requirements, the new Speed Triples also come with standard ABS, which is user switchable.
As before, the Speed Triple also comes in an “R” variant. For 2016, the “R” gets relatively high-specification Öhlins suspension. (With Öhlins, there is always something better. Want $30,000 MotoGP forks? No problem. Öhlins will sell those to you along with a $150,000-a-year service contract to keep them adjusted properly.) At the front, that means the Öhlins Road-and-Track fork with the racing-derived NIX 30 damping car-tridges that place rebound and compression in separate fork legs, and all adjustments, including preload, at the top of the fork. At the rear, it’s the Öhlins TTX RSU shock, essentially identical to the one used on a million racebikes, with a hydraulic spring-preload adjuster. Completing the “R” package are the usual carbon-fiber bits, including the front mudguard. So the Speed Triple for 2016 is a calculated gamble on Triumph’s part. The company has elected to leave winning the streetfighter power wars to others and has concentrated instead on appealing to the eyes and other senses of motorcyclists, betting that a better-looking, better-feeling, and better-performing motorcycle with improved rider enhancement features (traction control, ABS) is enough. It will be left to testing to find out how strongly that argument resonates in the
By Cycle World