Triumph Speed 400 First Ride Review: India’s Best 400cc Naked?

  • Jul 14, 2023
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Triumph’s most affordable retro roadster is creating waves for all the right reasons and is a bike that should definitely be on your radar. Here’s why

Original. Authentic. Beautiful. Every Triumph motorcycle has to embody these three characteristics. So when the British marque set out to create its own affordable entry-level roadster with Bajaj Auto, did these three characteristics transfer well into that motorcycle?

Well, you be the judge of that because you guys have literally broken the internet when it comes to the Triumph Speed 400, the British manufacturer’s most affordable motorcycle in the retro roadster space. And it's breaking the internet for all the good reasons. Firstly, because it is coming in at a supremely attractive price point of Rs 2.33 lakh and if you're one of the lucky first 10,000 customers, you can get an additional Rs 10,000 off. However, there’s a lot more goodness in the bike than just its attractive price point. And the rivals better be scared, except for two. Stick to the end to find out.

Speedy It Is

As the name suggests, the Speed 400 is a speedy motorcycle. Not quite a KTM 390 Duke-like speedy but it definitely is a quick motorcycle. With claimed 0-60kmph in 2.8s and 0-100 in 7s, it is certainly one of the, if not the, quickest retro roadster in the segment and will also give a certain 650cc roadster a good run for its money.

But it isn’t that the motor doesn’t like keeping things chill. It chugs along beautifully because you have a healthy spread of torque right from 2500-3000rpm, all the way to 9000-9500rpm, making it quite a thrilling motor. If you like things to be sporty this motor can effortlessly cruise at 110kmph with minimal vibes, and you can even sustain 120kmph, no fuss. 

Yes, it is a big-ish bore single-cylinder quick revving motor. So you will have certain vibrations, primarily felt at the bars and the pegs but they don't get anywhere near to being bothersome, like what we’ve experienced on the old TVS Apache 310 or the old KTM 390 Duke. 

When you come into the urban jungle, if you want to ride it slowly and effortlessly, the motor is certainly tractable enough to allow you to ride at speeds of 45-50kmph in sixth gear. Anything lower than that and you will have to downshift. So, in fourth gear you can keep it at 25-30kmph and you can ride it effortlessly. But if you want to ride in higher gears, you have to pick up the pace. 

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Even the gearbox is quite slick. A few test units were facing a bit of notchiness in the gear shifts. It is a Bajaj-built product and will have teething issues, so let's give them a benefit of the doubt and hopefully these small issues get sorted out by the time you get to experience this motorcycle. The clutch action on this bike is also pretty light and very very responsive so you can pop wheelies and control them nicely.

Claimed fuel efficiency figure for this bike is 29kmpl. Bajaj claims that this is achievable with a healthy balance of city and highway riding.

With this motor, I am quite eager to try it out in different formats especially when it comes to the Scrambler 400 X and perhaps even a cafe racer format (Thruxton 400 FTW!!!) in the future.

Sharp Bonneville

This brilliant motor would have counted for nothing if not backed up with good hardware. To their credit, the chassis on this motorcycle is sublime as it allows you to push it into the corners pretty hard. It stays stable all throughout. We rode it at the Bajaj test track where this bike felt sharp, agile and even out in the damp sections, it didn't get flustered as much. It is certainly living up to that Speed Twin legacy, the Speed Twin 1200 vibe that you get is present. 

The tyres aren’t Metzeler Sportec M9RRs, neither are they Pirelli Diablo Sports like we spotted earlier. For Indian conditions, Triumph is offering the Speed 400 with two rubber options: Apollo Alpha H1s as well as MRF Steel Brace. We had the former on test, with the inherent heaviness of the tyres making their presence felt when applying steering inputs. Thankfully, both of these are high-speed W-rated options, both of them are made for India and both of them are good enough to handle our varied road conditions.

The brakes lack a bit of poke. Given its retro intentions, the bite is adequate. However, this bike offers naked streetfighter-level performance, and considering that, a fiercer approach would have been appreciated, especially by those who would be riding it more aggressively. 

No Comfort Compromises

Despite having sporty intentions, the ride on the Speed 400 isn't firm or jarring, rather it's quite plush. We spent nearly half a day riding this motorcycle over a variety of terrain and we've gone over bumps, undulations, potholes, especially the new ones that have erupted in this monsoon season, and going over them this bike does a fantastic job of soaking those up. It didn't throw quite a fuss getting to our shoot location, where pseudo-ADVs would show displeasure. So, the suspension tuning is done perfectly to suit our Indian roads, irrespective of the way you ride the bike.

Even the ergos suit every sort of rider. It gets 790mm seat height with a spacious rider section, wide bars, and neutral set foot pegs; all in all, this Speed 400 gives me a lot of Speed Twin 1200 vibes. The inferences here are very evident. If you want to ride this bike comfortably in a chilled manner in the city or out on the highway, you can do that very nicely.  If you want to go sport riding, good attack posture is essential for hustling through bends. 

If you are worried whether or not these bar-end mirrors, besides looking beautiful, are actually useful, let us assure you that they are. Because the mirrors are nice, wide and round, eliminating any worries about blind spots. 

A denser seat foam for better back support would’ve helped in keeping your spirits high during long stints. Currently, it does get a little taxing if you ride it for over an hour and a half. Plus, you should definitely consider getting the lovely rubberised tank grips that are part of the accessories catalogue as they will provide you with a better sense of control and connection with the motorcycle.

Relatively Simple But Premium

Since the initial unveiling of the bike’s photos, I have not had much affinity towards its console. I like semi-digital consoles but the issue on the Speed is that the analog portion is a speedo and the tacho is barely readable once you're on the move. It could have been tackled in two ways. A. Swap it around and use the digital inset better. Or B. Show the tacho as a digital numeric readout, like you have on the bigger Bonnies, like the Speed Twin 900 and the Bonneville T120 and what not.

If you're wondering why Triumph doesn’t offer turn-by-turn navigation or smartphone connectivity or music controls or the lot of so-called ‘smart’ features, the brand is of the belief that the best navigation system is there right on your phone. Since you're buying this bike at an attractive price, you can invest in a good mobile mount plus helmet communication set and enjoy the navigation on your phone.

Instead of smartphone features, Triumph is offering better safety features. Traction control works neatly in an unintrusive manner. You can switch the aid off but it is not the easiest thing to do. You have to toggle the ‘i’ button until the TTC mode is displayed, then press the same button for precisely five seconds and only then will it get deactivated. Thankfully, it remembers to stay off or on, even if you turn the ignition key off.

Plus, keeping up with the times, the bike gets a neat USB C port to charge your devices on the go. The port is neatly placed without you having to worry about the cable breaking apart.

Lastly, the Speed 400’s level of attention to detail and exquisite finish levels are pretty much unlike any other motorcycle in the sub-3 lakh rupees space. You would have to spend nearly double or triple of that to find similar levels of fit, finish and detailing.

On The Mark But In Your Garage?

The Triumph-Bajaj association is off to a great start and the Speed 400 has made a stellar impact. It's leaving quite a lasting impression, one that I am not ready to part with just as yet. If you’re wondering when to get this bike, well remember that the KTM 390 Duke was attractively priced at the start in 2013 and 2017 also, and the prices since then have just gotten higher and higher and higher. Even the next-gen Duke is going to be quite seriously priced. So, if your heart is set out to buy the Speed, there’s no good time as now because you might just be able to get it at Rs 2.23 lakh; and even after the first 10,000 bikes are gone, it's going to cost Rs 2.33 lakh. And who knows how high these prices will go in the future. 

However, if you're wondering whether or not you should get it, ask yourself these two questions: are you a Royal Enfield Classic 350 enthusiast or are you a KTM 390 Duke enthusiast? If the answer to either of these two questions is yes, then you won't like this bike quite as much. But if you are considering a sub-400cc motorcycle, retro or street focused, and the answer to those two questions are no, then this bike should definitely be on your radar and I'm sure that this will find its space in your garage.

Triumph Speed 400 Video Review

Triumph Speed 400
Triumph Speed 400
Rs. 2.34 Lakh
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