I’ve got to hand it to Triumph—the British company loves to do things differently. They offer us triple-cylinder sport bikes in unlikely displacement categories (1050 and 675), they have a longitudinally mounted three-cylinder cruiser and tourer with a displacement measured in cubic liters (2.3), rather than centimeters, and they do retro quite convincingly (the Bonneville, Thruxton and Scrambler). So, it should come as no surprise that its mid-size cruiser is powered by a vertical twin, rather than in the predictable V-twin configuration.The authentically air-cooled, carbureted 865cc motor has some retro credibility, but it also features double-overhead cams. The 270-degree firing interval wasn’t determined with performance in mind, but, rather, the sound and feel. Pumping out only 54 hp at 6,750 rpm, the Speedmaster certainly doesn’t have its accent on speed. Still, there’s good power down low, especially for a vertical twin, so the Speedmaster pulls away from stoplights smartly.The low-end power works well for both cruising, where you don’t want to be shifting or clutch slipping excessively, and for sportier riding, as the power out of corners doesn’t require precise ratio selection from the 5-speed gearbox. Clearance is good, so the Speedmaster doesn’t touch down excessively in corners, the ergonomic triangle of footpegs/dragbars/seat works better when making time than you might think. And, as you would expect, it allows you to cut a nice profile in-town, perfectly complementing the seamless, teardrop-style tank.
Choosing to go with a Triumph Speedmaster is more a function of buying into the bike’s unique style and heritage. But, rest assured, you’re not just getting a fashion statement. The Speedmaster is a rider’s cruiser—with good handling, proper suspension and sporty tires—not a posturing machine for someone who thinks of his cruiser as nothing more than something to park in front of his favorite hangout. RIDING STYLE
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