2014 Triumph Speed Triple: Review

We take the Triumph Speed Triple for a spin. It's got the power to make you grin from ear to ear and the growl of the in-line three-cylinder motor is highly addictive




“So which is your favourite Triumph?” asked a friend and fellow motorcycle rider casually at a Triumph launch event. That’s a question with no easy answer. The adventure bikes – the Tiger 800 XC and the Explorer catch my fancy and I immediately fantasize about riding through dirt and gravel roads, crossing mountain passes, state lines and international borders before I’m brought back to reality with, “Well, what do you think?”


The Bonneville and the T100 pull the “classic bike lover” strings at my heart. The big cruisers – the Storm and the Rocket look menacingly, flexing their steel and chrome muscles. The Daytonas sit calmly on one side, coiled and ready to spring to triple digits speeds at moments’ notice. On the other side, two wide-eyed beauties look on – their expressions a mixture of quiet confidence and bulging muscle. The bigger of the triples catch my attention. Sculpted tank, exposed sections of the twin-tube, twin spar frame, belly pan and dual underseat exhausts strike a strong muscular pose.



The bug-like headlamps may require some getting used to, but overall the Speed Triple is difficult to ignore and the more you look at it, it begins to grow on you. I begin to wonder what it would be like to ride it. And as if with some supernatural intervention, someone from Triumph started up the Speed Triple. The sound, oh, the sound! The Speed Triple is definitely the sweetest sounding amongst the Triumphs. And I still had no definite answer to my friend’s question. Truth is, I’d like to have at least three different Triumphs in my garage.



Barely a week after this conversation, I get an opportunity to do a test ride of the Speed Triple. It’s early morning on a weekday when I pick up the bike. Up close, the Speed Triple looks and feels aggressive and muscular, as a naked street ought to be.


I swing a leg over the bike and immediately notice the aggressive forward leaning stance, flat wide handle bar, rear set footpegs and the matte finish blue paint on the muscular tank. 


The instrument pod is an analog and digital combo, with programmable gear change lights, service interval reminder, lap timer, trip computer and fuel gauge. The rear wheel is fully exposed on the right by the single-sided aluminium swingarm.



The only thing, which is a bit of a letdown, is the addition of a large and rather conspicuous sari guard on the left. Well, imagine taking a sari-clad lady out for a spin in a litre-class bike!



2014 Triumph Speed Triple 1050


I turn the key, pull in the clutch and thumb the starter. The motor starts easy and settles into a slightly high idle. I take the bike out to the main road and give it some throttle. Even a low revs, the three-cylinder motor has a characteristic growl which can easily become music to any motorcyclist’s ears. And upwards in the revs, at higher speeds, the sound becomes truly addictive.


I take my time getting used to the acceleration, shifting quickly through the short-paced gears and am immediately impressed with the bike within the city and within respectable speeds of between 60-70kmph.



The engine is strong at any rev range and at low revs it is quite a practical motorbike to ride in city traffic and on a daily basis. I downshift and accelerate out to 100kmph and don’t even feel the speed. Slowing down is without drama, Brembo’s four-piston calipers doing an impressive job of shaving off speed. The gears are precise and smooth and neutral can be located very easily.


After a few kilometres, I get to know the motorcycle better and accelerate cleanly through the gears. In top gear, the bike can cruise the city streets at 60kmph and you can hit speeds of over 250kmph on a track. Here however, is the real world and I get to a speedo indicated 134kmph before I run out of road. 100kmph in sixth gear feels sedate and the Speed Triple definitely has all the criteria to cover distances if one is so inclined to have it take on touring duties. The riding posture though, could be a tad uncomfortable for long rides. 




The motorcycle derives its power from a liquid-cooled 1050cc, 12-valve, DOHC, in-line three cylinder engine with a maximum power of 135PS at 9400rpm and 111Nm of torque at 7750rpm. On paper, the Speed Triple is not as impressive as the most powerful bikes in its segment.


But where it excels is how it delivers its power. After 3,000rpm, there’s a surge of raw power and the engine has enough juice to pull wheelies up until the fourth cog. I keep the front down however, and consciously go easy on the throttle as soon as the bike starts to feel like it’s going to fly.


Complementing the Speed Triple’s acceleration is the intoxicating sound. On lower revs the three cylinder motor gurgles and growls and as soon as the throttle is opened up, the dual exhausts let out a deep roar. The snappy acceleration together with the deep sound is reason enough for me to fall in love with this motorcycle.


2014 Triumph Speed Triple test ride


And there are more boxes to be ticked off. Handling is spot on. Around corners, the Speed Triple feels planted and sure-footed despite its 200 plus kg weight. Direction changes are confidence inspiring and the Metzeler tyres offer sufficient grip and the ABS-equipped brakes provide superb braking power.


At Rs 10.4 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Speed Triple is one of the least expensive litre-class motorbikes. This is one naked street that I’d definitely want to have, for its crackling performance as well as practical daily usability. But first, that sari-guard needs to go.


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