02/07/2014

    Speed, style and sound

    The Hindu:

     The Triumph Speed Triple

    From burning tyre tracks in tarmac to cruising around on a weekend ride, the Triumph Speed Triple does it all with effortless assurance.

    Don’t let the bug-eyed headlights, similar to the ones on the Triumph Street Triple trick you into believing that the Speed Triple is similar to the other Triumph. Where the Street Triple had the friendly demeanour of a Labrador, the Speed Triple, is by contrast, a Rottweiler. It costs nearly Rs 3 lakh more than the Street, but it’s an all-round more powerful, more focused and more hardcore machine. Among other things, its job description requires it to keep pace with the CB1000Rs, Z1000s and FZ1s of the world. As you can imagine, this is a very serious motorcycle.

    It looks it too. Compact yet muscular, the Speed announces its potency the instant you set eyes on it. Sure, Triumph’s twin headlamp setup may not catch your fancy, but there’s little else to take away from what is a very well-turned-out motorcycle. In true naked bike fashion, extraneous bits of plastic are few and limited to the bikini fairing, belly pan and side panels only. With the engine in full view, you can tell how much of the bike’s mass is concentrated towards the centre. In fact, the Speed’s got a nicely aggressive, tipped-forward stance, the effect helped in no small matter by the large and neatly sculpted 17.5-litre fuel tank. What you also can’t miss is how the exposed tube-like sections of the Speed’s aluminium twin-spar frame add a certain industrial look to the design. But in our opinion, the Speed looks its best when viewed from the rear. That’s because of the combined visual drama of its slender tail, dual underseat exhausts and single-sided swingarm. Pity our test bike came with an ungainly sari guard. 

    Swing a leg over the Speed and you’ll find the seating position to be a touch on the aggressive side. You sit higher up than you would on a Street Triple, and also lean more into the handlebar. It’s not uncomfortable, but it can get tiring over long stints. For their part, the soft palm grips make a great point of contact for your hands while the good quality switchgear is logically placed too. Adjustable levers also make it easy and quick to make yourself at home here. Instrumentation on the Speed is a combination of an analogue tachometer and a digital screen for the speedo, fuel gauge, trip meters and service due indicator. What’s nice is that you can also program the gearshift indicator lights to your preference. However, there’s no gear indicator, which is actually not that big an irritant. That’s got to do with how The engine rarely feels out of its comfort zone. You could be in sixth gear and the Speed will still pull strongly and cleanly from as low as 50kph. The engine in question is a 1050cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, in-line triple. It makes 132.7bhp at 9400rpm and produces 11.3kgm at 7750rpm. The numbers for power and torque may not top this class of bike, but the truth is, you’d never be left wanting for power. In fact, such is the fury with which this Triumph takes off, you’d need a whole lot of guts to wring the throttle open fully in first, second or even third gear. There’s strong power right from 4000rpm onwards till you hit the rev limiter at 10,500rpm. That means you can make short work of just about any stretch of tarmac. It’ll race to 100kph and get you past 150kph well before you comprehend what’s happening. The Speed will go a whole lot faster still, but with no protection from the wind blast, you’d seldom want to. 

    Performance apart, the Speed also scores delights for its glorious soundtrack. Building speed has the 3-1-2 exhausts let out a progressively deeper, bass-rich note, while scaling back on the throttle has the bike crackle and pop in protest. This gives the Speed an endearing rawness you won’t find in any of its Japanese rivals. In my opinion, the sound has to be one of the reasons to buy this bike. 

    Eargasm apart, the Speed will also have you dance to its tunes around corners. It feels a lot lighter to steer than its 214kg kerb weight would have you believe. You can easily move about in the seat, direction changes are quick and there’s lots of grip offered by its Metzeler tyres. But to be really honest, you’d need a race track (and a lot of skill) to take the Speed to its dynamic limits. What you will notice and like in day-to-day riding, however, is how rich in feel the ABS-equipped brakes (320mm front discs and a 255mm rear disc) feel. Suspension is adjustable courtesy Showa telescopic front forks and a monoshock at the rear. While the ride is understandably firm, the Speed still soaks up the bumps well enough. That, along with how calm the engine feels at low speeds, makes this a bike you can happily use everyday. Just wish the Speed had a lighter clutch and smaller turning radius. 

    But on the whole, the Speed Triple comes across as a very accomplished motorcycle. It’s fast and involving, just like any good street naked motorcycle should be, yet it’s still quite different in character from its in-line four rivals. It sounds so too. Priced at Rs 10.3 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Speed also happens to be among the best-priced litre-class naked bikes on sale in India to date. With so much going in its favour, it’s hard not to recommend the Speed Triple. 

    This is a bike that will keep you excited for a long time to come. 

    Triumph Speed Triple: 

    • Price: Rs 10.3 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) 
    • L/W/H: 2100/795/1110mm 
    • Wheelbase: 1435mm 
    • Fuel tank capacity:17.5 litres 
    • Kerb weight: 214kg 
    • Engine layout: 3 cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke 
    • Displacement: 1050cc 
    • Power:132.7bhp at 9400rpm 
    • Torque:11.3kgm at 7750rpm 
    • Specific output: 126.4 bhp per litre 
    • Power to weight: 620bhp per tonne 
    • Transmission: 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up 
    • Front suspension: Telescopic forks 
    • Rear suspension: Monoshock, single-side alloy swingarm 
    • Front brake: 320mm discs (ABS) 
    • Rear brake: 255mm disc (ABS) 
    • Wheels: 17 inches 


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    Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride Review: Classic Cruiser Done Right?

    The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride impressions show several aspects of the latest Triumph that is set to launch in India in the coming months. We ride it in California to get a taste of what is to come. And what a place it was to test out the new Speedmaster. We rode a distance of a tad bit over 170 miles, which is about 275 kilometres, in San Diego which threw a mix of sceneries at us. We had long flowy corners, sharp turns, switchbacks, highway, inclines, declines, a little bit of the city and of course, riding along the vast stretches of road that take us along the coastline. Such diverse riding conditions are more than enough to test the mettle of any motorcycle, no matter what kind it is. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-3Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) Let’s begin with the design of the Speedmaster. Now, this one is a Bonneville which means it needs to look contemporary and yet fresh. In order to do that, at first glance it seems that Triumph has combined two of their existing Bonnevilles – the T120 or the T100 along with the Bobber Black to make the Speedmaster. It seems so because the Speedmaster does carry over several elements from both of them, especially the Bobber black and that’s evident in the stance of both these motorcycles as they are really similar. But then, there are several unique elements to the Speedmaster as well. This includes the likes of the new headlamps which are all LEDs and come with a unique DRL design. The tail lamps and the indicators are LEDs as well. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-5The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster sports all-LED headlights with Daytime Running Lights. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) Then, there are the spoked wheels which sport the dual 310mm discs with Brembo callipers. There’s a new handlebar and the footpegs are now forward set for more cruiser-like riding ergonomics. The best part? The Speedmaster comes with a twin seat, unlike the Bobber siblings and thankfully, the rear seat, as well as the chrome-finished grab rails, are removable. So, if you want, you can still have a single seater look and yet have the option to switch back to a double-seater – something that a lot of people wanted with the Bobber. The fuel tank has grown to a 12-litre capacity and the dual paint finish on it looks fantastic. And yes, those lines on the fuel tank are painted by hand. When you look closer, though, you will find some finely detailed elements in the Speedmaster – like, the retro-styled battery box, the carburettor styled throttle body, the drum brake inspired rear wheel hub and the finned exhaust clamps. So overall, the design looks familiar but still a bit different and with the neat and clean lines that the Speedmaster sports, it will age very well and look good even after years. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-6The finish and detailing on the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is fantastic. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) On the mechanical front, the star attraction is the engine of the Speedmaster. It has the liquid-cooled 1200cc parallel twin engine which is the same as the one you would find on the T120 and the Bobber. But the engine comes over in the exact same state of tune as the Bobber. This means, the Speedmaster generates 76 BHP at 6100 RPM and a respectable 106 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM, and it comes mated to a 6-speed transmission. There’s ABS, switchable traction control and also ride-by-wire on offer which makes way for dual riding modes – Road and Rain. What’s new is the addition of Cruise Control which is operated through a single touch button, which makes it easy to use and the system works wonders when you need it to. Also, just like the Bobber and the Bobber Black, the Speedmaster gets the hardtail look too but it has a KYB monoshock suspension hidden underneath the seat. The rear suspension is preload adjustable which means carrying a pillion or luggage is going to be a bit easier on this one. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-2Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has a hard tail look. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) When it comes to riding, the bike is actually a treat. No matter how you ride it, easy or hard, the bike feels confident and will commit to the line you take. And at this point, there’s a confession to make. The roads to the Palomar Mountain in Northern San Diego is filled with exciting turns and when it came to carving mountain roads, we just had to push the Speedmaster hard. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-1The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is an engaging motorcycle to ride. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) And when did, the bike was a pleasant affair. The feedback from the brakes is just right and the bite is great as well. The transmission was smooth and never did we miss a gear or had a false neutral. No matter what RPM you lug the engine at, the power band is wide and very usable. The fuelling is good too which gives it a smooth and progressive throttle response and overall, the Speedmaster is very friendly to ride. Yes, at a dry weight of 245.5 kilos, it is not the lightest bike around and yes, the stubby front tyre and the beach bars demand considerable rider input but that’s the fun part as the bike always feels engaging to ride. But, if you ride it too hard, you will end up scraping the footpegs way too easily and the wind bursts that follow are enough to tire you out. We would highly recommend the adjustable wind deflector which comes as an accessory with this bike. And while the instrument cluster shows almost everything you would need to know, it is not tilt-adjustable like it is in the Bobber and that’s something we missed. Triumph-Speedmaster-Review-4The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has an informative instrument clsuter. (Photo Courtesy: Kingdom Creative) In short, the bike requires takes some input from the rider but it is also a pleasantly rewarding experience. At least in California, how it performs in India – that we will have to find out once the bike is launched here and we do our road test. Well, to wrap up the whole Speedmaster experience, we rode it for quite a substantial time and distance in California and it one has left us mighty impressed. It does come across as a complete motorcycle in almost every way but what remains to be seen is the kind of price tag that it comes with because that will be essential to its success in India. If they get it right, this one might just be the best Bonneville to make its way to our country. 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