2019 Triumph Speed Twin Review: The Latest Retro Contender
The all-new 2019 Triumph Speed Twin promises the best of both worlds— the practicality and civility of the legendary Bonneville T120, with all the snarl and sport of the café-style Thruxton.Those job descriptions are at each end of the spectrum, so we packed our bags and headed off to Mallorca, the most significant plot of land in the Balearic Islands chain off the coast of Spain to see if opposites still attract. Luckily, they do.1. In a word, the 1200cc liquid-cooled, eight-valve High Power parallel-twin engine is stellar. We can thank the Thruxton tune for the peaks—96 horsepower produced at 6750 rpm and 83 ft/lbs of torque at less than 5000 rpm. In the real world, it’s the closest you’ll be to the perfect amount of power for the street. This p-twin is lively, wild-eyed and ready to pounce with the first hearty crack of the whip. Yet, it keeps a demure posture when amongst the commoners around town. Producing most of its torque right out of the gate, the Speed Twin has more of an edge to it than the T120, without losing any of its renowned tractability.
2. The motor received more than a few updates, with performance and weight savings in mind. A constant theme you’ll see with the Speed Twin is trimming the fat, and the powerplant wasn’t spared the knife. To save outright weight, Triumph engineers used a magnesium cam cover, lightened engine covers, and a revised clutch to boast a 5.5-pound cut from the Thruxton’s weight.3. Except for its Thruxton tune, exhaust, and alternator, this is nearly the same spec engine found in the Scrambler 1200To improve performance, the Speed Twin motor uses the same lightweight crankshaft, mass-optimized counterbalancer shafts, and revised clutch assembly as the big Scrambler, giving it a satisfying, smooth, devilishly fun, free-revving character.4. On the 2019 Triumph Speed twin, ride-by-wire throttle allows for three riding modes. The three modes dictate your throttle map, as well as your ABS and traction control intervention. Offering full power, Rain mode was used in a few wet, moss-covered stretches of road, which had me appreciating the soft initial throttle response and more cautious preset on the electronics, none of which activated prematurely. The Road mode has a more typical roadster throttle response, while Sport mode is slightly more aggressive. Both the Road and Sport modes create fueling that is a hair abrupt initially, on or off at lower rpm, though it is smooth sailing everywhere else.5. You can click through the six-speed gearbox with ease. There’s a lot of room for exploration in the gearing, allowing one to take up residence in the torque curve and keep shifting to a minimum. When you do need hit the gear selector, it is done confidently and smoothly. Not only that, but the cable-actuated torque-assist clutch is incredibly light, and features a slipper function for an added layer of safety.6. New upswept megaphone exhaust spits out of a soundtrack that will never grow old. The 270-degree crank in the 1200cc motor and the dark, barking 2-into-2 exhaust sounds remarkably good, while still managing to pass emissions standards globally. Triumph has continued to flex its fit-and-finish prowess by tucking the catalytic converter in the frame, hiding the usual eyesore away nicely.7. Sporty, yet comfortable ergonomics are what you get when you cross the T120 and Thruxton. That’s what the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin is—a T120 up top and Thruxton below. The wide, sweptback handlebars create an upright riding position that is engaging, without putting weight on your wrists. The rearsets have been moved forward 1.5 inches and down a hair, in comparison with the Thruxton. This alleviates some the joys pains of a café racer riding position. The new bench seat has a friendly sub-32-inch height, so my 32-inch inseam didn’t have any issues. With the aggressive rearset position, I did get some knee bend, but didn’t become uncomfortable.8. The Speed Twin is lighter than the T120 and Thruxton models. The new kid on the block is already looking to be at fighting weight, as its 22 pounds lighter than the Thruxton, 15 pounds less than the Thruxton R and, most impressively, the Speed Twin carries 60 fewer pounds than the T120. Sadly, Triumph is reporting dry numbers, so we can only estimate the running weight—probably around 475 pounds. Triumph has achieved most of the weight savings by using cast aluminum wheels, aluminum cradles in the frame—just like the Scrambler 1200.9. The Triumph engineers weren’t lying—this motorcycle is ready for the canyons. Featuring a bespoke frame, the Speed Twin’s geometry has been marginally revised, with its 22.8-degree rake and 56.3-inch wheelbase are both just a touch more relaxed than the Thruxton. The result is a composed motorcycle that is also agile and willing to hustle around the curves without any hesitation. At lower speeds, the Speed Twin is happy to plod around and, once more, remains incredibly easy to ride. Its center of gravity is low, making it amendable in a variety of settings.10. New KYB suspension hides most of the rough stuff and helps put the ‘Speed’ in Speed Twin. Interestingly, the non-adjustable 41mm KYB fork shares the same spring rates and cartridge damping as the Thruxton, though the fork oil level has been raised. That reduces the air gap, which slows the damping. In the rear, the spring and damping characteristics have been lifted, too, with the spring preload backed off slightly. That’s the science of it; in practice, you’re met with compliant, balanced suspension that’s good for nearly anything—slow, fast, or twisty. The only thing that gives the suspenders pause is when the asphalt gets truly rough.11. The Speed Twin can stop in a hurry, and always-on ABS is standard. Up front, we’re blessed with axial Brembo four-piston, four-pad calipers that work in conjunction with 305mm floating calipers. Feel at the adjustable radial Brembo lever is impressive, with the power to spare. The rear brake uses a Nissin two-piston caliper with a 220mm disc, and has good power. However, the angle the foot pedal to the rearset made it challenging to precisely modulate the rear brake.12. Those 17-inch cast wheels don’t just look great—they also improve handling. Triumph engineers wanted to reduce inertia from the wheels and did that by reducing the overall weight by 6.4 pounds in the front wheel and disc assemblies. In the rear, engineers managed to shave off 3.7 pounds. Together, this creates a more flickable motorcycle.13. Pirelli Rosso III tire’s get the job done. The 120/70 and 160/60 sizing are typical, so you’ll have plenty of options once they wear out, if these don’t suit you. The Rosso III’s performed well in the dry and gave good feedback. In the wet and cold, be a little more cautious.14. Triumph does it again in the styling department. We see plenty of bikes come through Ultimate Motorcycling, and when it comes to pleasing our eye, Triumph always gets it right. The twin clocks are wonderfully detailed, boasting a gear indicator, fuel gauge, and other helpful functions, while also building on the whole look, as does the classic round headlight. Smaller details, such as the Monza cap and bar-end mirrors are great additions, too. As always, the 3.8-gallon fuel tank and hand-painted coach lining look nothing short of amazing.15. Triumph has a serious contender on their hands with the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin. The retro standard market has been turned up to 11 as of late, with several extremely enticing options that have garnered our collective praise, although only a few offer performance, style, value and substance at this level. With its thrilling 1200cc engine, fantastic handling and attitude oozing looks, the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin has plenty to offer at an MSRP of $12,100.Photography by Gareth Harford and Chippy WoodRIDING STYLE
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!