2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster Review | More Speed and Going Retro (Video)
First introduced in 2002, the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has been one of the cruiser variants in the Bonneville lineup—designed to satiate those who want a cruiser with a bit of sporting flair. Save for an update to fuel injection in 2008, the Speedmaster remained untouched, until now.1. The all-new, 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is a completely different motorcycle from the old Speedmaster. The previous Speedmaster was built on the old 850cc air-cooled platform, and you’ll immediately notice that it is gets more of a retro styling treatment in its new incarnation, along with a more relaxed attitude.
2. The new Speedmaster is based on the Bonneville Bobber and Bobber Black platforms. The Bonneville Bobber has become one of Triumph’s top selling machines, and for good reason. The motorcycle works as good as it looks. Running full steam ahead with that momentum, Triumph has used the Bobber and Bobber Black as the basis for the Speedmaster. The revamped Speedmaster shares its hardtail-influenced chassis, the 1200HT powerplant, and Bobber Black braking components. The Speedmaster accommodates a passenger, as well as offering luggage options. Along with the ergonomic changes, the Speedmaster boasts its own Bonneville vibe.3. Forward controls and beach-cruiser bars offer an upright and neutral riding position for the Bonneville Speedmaster. Wide, back swept handlebars remind you that this new Speedmaster is going to do things on its own terms, while still allowing great control over your steed. In conjunction with the forward controls, it’s a downright relaxed riding position and, yet, you’re still able to keep weight driven through the footpegs. Couple those features with the 28-inch seat height and you have a motorcycle that works well for riders of a wide range of sizes.4. Triumph hit an almost perfect balance with the 1200cc High Torque vertical twin engine. It’s versatile and well suited for just about anything. Spitting out a joyful 77 horses at 6100 rpm and 78 ft/lbs of torque at 4000 rpm, the Speedmaster’s heart is pleasant and tractable in the streets. Still, it is more than happy to be wrung out in country. Less experienced riders will be taken care of by the virtually flat torque curve, allowing them to build their confidence. Experienced pilots will explore every avenue of performance.5. Modern electronic throttle facilitates two riding modes—Road and Rain. In keeping with the times, all new Triumph motorcycles use ride-by-wire throttles. Save for just a hair of twitchiness at unusually low rpm, the system is almost flawlessly smooth. Both riding modes offer full power of the 1200cc powerplant, but adjust the way the power is delivered; Rain mode is far more subdued.6. There’s a light clutch pull, plus a six-speed transmission on the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. Between the effortless shifting and the nearly single-finger clutch pull, this British cruiser doesn’t take after many of its heavy-handed American counterparts. The friction zone is towards the end of the clutch stroke, but it’s easy to manipulate. Nearly any rider will find it accommodating.7. The Speedmaster’s slash-cut mufflers look stellar and belt out a fine tune. Triumph has made great strides in this department within the last few years; the Euro 4 compliant 2-into-2 exhaust system has a classic look. Gearheads will be pleased to hear the Speedmaster’s throaty growl; I’d be hard pressed to move towards an aftermarket solution for exhaust in the name of tone. The Speedmaster’s exhaust does all of that while keeping things at a reasonable volume, just so your neighbors don’t become too envious.8. The chassis keeps everything in line, while also upping the ante in terms of looks. It’s the perfect example of form and function working harmoniously and, in this case, beauty doesn’t mean pain. The cage-style swingarm that serves as an aesthetic choice to mimic the hardtail look also allows for modern suspension solutions. With its 59-inch wheelbase, the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is expertly poised at high and low speeds, delivering great amounts of feedback with little negative energy being transferred to the rider.9. If you want a cruiser that can handle, look no further than the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. That’s a bold claim, I’ll admit, but the Speedmaster’s handling capabilities are exemplary. Whether you’re battling the freeways against texting drivers or out in rural areas exploring some fine backroads, this machine is virtually effortless to ride. The tire sizes are the same as the Bobber Black, but the Speedmaster has the front end tucked in a half-degree for a touch more agility, though the significantly different ergonomics have their own impact.10. A subtle suggestion in either direction will have the Speedmaster leaning in predictably, so much so that you’ll become quite acquainted with the peg feelers. It’s best to remember that yes, this thing can do a bit of scootin’ but it’s a cruiser, so take it back a few notches. Should you need to get your speed fix in, trail braking will help you keep pace and without grinding metal.11. Triumph gave the Bonneville Speedmaster its own suspension setup. The Bobber and Bobber Black don’t have to carry passengers, so when the Speedmaster was tossed up onto the drawing board, Triumph engineers knew that the suspension characteristics would have to be altered.12. A 41mm KYB fork and monoshock handle suspension duties and is cruiser suspension done right. The 41mm KYB forks are the same diameter as the standard Bobber, rather than the beefy 47mm units on the Bobber Black. Still, they use cartridge style damping that soaks up just about any impurity in the road. Also, the forks have a new dual-rate spring, as well a top-out spring to not only offer a brilliant ride, but also deal with the extra weight. In the rear, a KYB shock with spring-preload adjustment takes care of suspension duties. The Speedmaster’s suspension is balanced incredibly well. It deals with heavy braking situations, sporty riding, and the casual urban crawl in equally commendable fashion.13. Huge Avon Cobra tires keep you planted to the tarmac. Many of the comfort characteristics of the Speedmaster are due in part to the plump 130/90 and 150/80 tires on 16-inch, wire-spoke wheels. Even thought it’s a fat-tire bike, like the Bobber Black, the Speedmaster’s handling capabilities aren’t hindered at all.14. Traction control is standard. Switchable traction control is a standard feature. It was completely unobtrusive in normal riding. However, when I came upon some particularly dirty sections in blind corners, I was glad to have it keeping an eye on things.15. Dual 310mm rotors with two Brembo dual-piston calipers, as well as a single 255mm rear rotor—all from the Bobber Black—get the job done. With a progressive feel at the lever and foot control, both brakes offer great modulation. In either case, the initial bite is amicable, making the braking characteristics extremely friendly. If you want more, you pull more—it’s that simple. For my own tastes, I’d bump up to a high-performance brake pad, just to up the initial bite a bit.16. ABS is standard and cannot be disabled. I hear you, average American motorcyclist, “They’re takin’ away muh rights to say I had to lay ’er down.” I understand, but there is no reason to disable ABS on a bike like this. Our collective insurance rates thank you for your understanding.17. An old-school headlight loaded with the latest tech. The nacelle headlight is equipped with a bright, LED headlight. It looks the part, but keeps up with market demands for effective illumination.18. If you truly want to make your Speedmaster yours, you can—with countless factory options. Let’s face it, the Bonneville platform is ripe for customization and the ’18 Speedmaster hasn’t fallen by the way side. With single seat options, windscreen options, and luggage, you’ll be able to tailor your bike to your lifestyle with ease.19. When it comes to fit and finish, it’s hard to argue that Triumph isn’t leading the charge. We got our hands on the Fusion White and Phantom Black version. The two-tone color option is, without a doubt, one of the best factory finishes on the market in this price range—hand-painted pinstriping adorns the 3.2-gallon fuel tank. Should you be curious enough to investigate, you’ll find the detailer’s signature on the bottom of each one. Beyond that, the attention to detail in the Speedmaster sees virtually no end. Every brass bit on the engine, perfectly matched bolt, and mated seam, elevates this bike into a coveted region of motorcycling.20. The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster just raised the bar as to what a cruiser can be. This review has several brash statements, but this motorcycle lives up to it. The agile handling, brilliant engine, stunning details, and pure functionality make this cruiser one of the most compelling choices on the market.Photography by Kingdom CreativeRiding Style
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