Triumph Speed Triple
Triumph Speed Triple Review
Photos: Kenn Stamp. Rider: Carlos Barrera
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
Photos and Text Courtesy
Used with permission.
Motorcycle Reviews Directory
Moto-journalists are all alike; we think we know it
all when it comes to bikes. Take me picking up the 2009
Triumph Speed Triple that was used for this article.
Since I was swapping out the 2009 Triumph Bonneville SE
that I had just finished testing, Triumph Media Guru
Jim Callahan tried to give me some helpful advice. “Don't forget this isn't a Bonneville”, he said. “It's
got a LOT more power”, he added.
Good advice since I
just spent a month on a bike that, while completely
enjoyable to ride, wouldn't wheelie (at least in my
hands) without a 500 pound passenger jumping up and down
on the rear seat -- and maybe not even then.
So how did I respond to this gem of information? I
should have said “hey thanks for the reminder Jim. I'll
keep that in mind and take it easy the first few miles”. That would have been responsible.
What I did was laugh
and said yeah, yeah got it covered. No worries mate. Tally-ho. Jolly good and a bunch of other things that we
Yanks think all the British blokes say that sound so
cool. Sometimes I'm an idiot.
Luckily my moment of idiocy didn't result in any
physical damage to myself or the bike although parts of
my psyche are still warped and scarred.
My first taste of what the Speed Triple was about
happened at the first light I came to on A1A. Green
light. Roll on the throttle, roll on some more
throttle...and suddenly my will power and self control
were trampled, crushed and left for dead by a 130
horsepower freight train that will pull the front wheel
off the ground from about 1500 rpm to redline just on
The 77 lbs ft of torque and short 56.2
in wheelbase contribute to this lunacy as well. The
Speed Triple begs, cajoles and almost forces you into
the kinds of raw, wanton acts of pure hooligan silliness
that your adult, responsible brain just isn't designed
to cope with.
Two lights later I was having some big worries about
spending time with the Speed Triple; I was going to get
a huge ticket. I was going to lose my license. I was
going to go to jail and be in a cell with Bubba. I was
going to have to call my wife to bail me out and pick me
up. The last thought made me realize that maybe Bubba
wasn't such a bad option.
Nevertheless, I struggled (sometimes in vain) to be a
good law abiding citizen and eventually made it home
without any additional weight being taken out of my
wallet (not that there is much there to begin with).
This was my first real introduction to the Triumph Speed
Triple. Welcome to Hooliganism 101.
Back in the day (1994 to be exact) Triumph sprang on
unsuspecting riders an 885cc, 3 cylinder whirlwind with
enough attitude to make every scofflaw on both sides of
the pond drool with desire. This was something new; a
bike powered by a large displacement motor, with decent
suspension bits, and styling like nothing else on the
Sure, Ducati had released the Monster the year
before, but the Monster was light and feathery where the
Speed Triple was brash and in your face. Fast-forward to
2009 and you'll find the lightest most powerful Speed
Triple built to date. This is both a good and bad thing:
Good because it is lighter and has more power and bad
because it is lighter and has more power.
I hadn't spent a lot of time on a Speed Triple until
this test so I was really looking forward to seeing what
all the fuss has been about over the years, especially
as I think the Street Triple is a neat piece of kit and
possibly the best small displacement naked bike out
there. How would it's big brother stack-up against it?
First thing that smacked me upside the head was that
the Speed Triple is NOT just a bigger, more powerful
Street Triple. Well maybe it is but in gaining size,
weight, and most importantly power, it gains in some
places (expected) yet loses in others (not expected). One thing was clear; “sledgehammer” describes the Speed
Triple better than “scalpel”.
Like all the liter-class triples from Triumph the
Speed Triple is a real ripper; HP up top with a broad
torque spread across the board. While I loved this motor
in the Tiger I constantly felt like it was almost too
much, day to day, in the Speed Triple; short wheelbase
plus a strong, torquey motor can equal some harrowing
moments if not treated with respect.
Get carried away at
the wrong moment and someone is going to get hurt;
quickly. This is one of those times when more doesn't
equal better. Sure for sheer hooligan fun, the Speed
Triple has the bases covered but for daily “save your
license” type riding you constantly feel like you have
to reign the bike in; at least the rest of the bike is
up to the task of hanging with the motor..........
…....Except for the transmission. I can't for the
life of me figure out why but every liter class triple
I've tested has the same issue; a slightly notchy
transmission when up-shifting below 5k RPM.
Above 5k RPM and the bike shifted fine, if a bit industrial. Below 5k and you'd better make sure that you were
firm on the shifter or else you'd grind gears like no
tomorrow. I actually make this sound much worse than it
is only because the transmissions on the 675cc bikes are
so good that it spoils you. However, the transmission is
the weak link in an otherwise great drivetrain.
Bikes like the Speed Triple aren't just about how far
or how easily you can wheelie, they are also about
handling. While some manufacturers are going with a 190
series rear tire, Triumph is holding onto a 180/55/17
rear on the Speed Triple.
Mate that with the 120/70/17
front tire and finding a good tire that fits your
personal riding style is a non-issue. The tires that
were fitted to the press bike that I had were a set of Mezteler Sportecs that I found to be decent although
they were more like sport-touring tires than out right
sport tires in the way they behaved. Good grip but not a
lot of feedback.
An integral part of the handling quotient is the
suspension, which Triumph addresses by putting 43mm USD
forks on the front and a monoshock on the rear.
fooling around with different settings I got the
suspension set where I was happy although when Carlos
got on for the photo shoot he thought the bike rode a
little rough and choppy. He normally rides a bike that
has a little bit longer wheelbase than the Speed Triple
so that explained the choppy part and I take full
responsibility for the rough part.
See, I tend to get a
bike set-up to handle the worst of the bumps, both
mid-corner and on the straights, then throw on my gear
and go ride. With all the usual adjustments for preload,
compression damping, and rebound, plus dual-rate
springs, one could easily tune away on the suspension
until perfection was reached; I just don't have that
kind of patience.
One place where no adjustments are needed (which is
good as there are none available) are the brakes.
Triumph found that putting radial-mounted calipers on a
bike without a radial master cylinder (like some
manufacturers do) didn't gain much over traditionally
mounted calipers with a standard offset master cylinder.
So the Speed Triple gets both; radial calipers and
radial master cylinder. And it shows.
Stopping the Speed
Triple was a joy if only because the brakes were so
good. Literally one of the few true “two-finger” brake
set-ups on the market today; not only powerful enough
but also easy to modulate with only two fingers. Stoppies, were I inclined to do them, could be
accomplished with little drama (except for me screaming
like a little girl inside my helmet).
Triumph uses what I've come to call their standard
sport dash on the Speed Triple; with some minor
variations this same basic dash layout is found on the
Speed Triple, Street Triple, Daytona 675, and the Tiger
1050. Triumph uses it amongst all those models because
it is a good, concise layout. All the important numbers
are where you'd expect them to be and quite legible at
The one downside of the layout on the Speed
Triple is the same downside as on the Street Triple; the
buttons that need to be pushed to reset the trip meters
are hard to get to requiring two fingers and a
contortionists flexibility to reset the trip meter after
getting gas (or any other time).
The Speed Triple has never looked like anything else
on the road and the latest iteration of the bike follows
suit. I just know that in 50 years when we are all
sitting in floatchairs at the nursing home, our
grandchildren are going to come visit us (see you tell
this is all a fantasy just by that statement) on bikes
that float above the ground yet look exactly like the
current Speed Triple.
Between the Blazing Orange paint,
the styling and the full 3-2-1 Arrow exhaust that
Triumph put on this press bike there was no such thing
as “sneaking around”. Everywhere I went the Speed Triple
drew attention like a naked supermodel walking down the
street. Unless you like attention, the Speed Triple
(especially in Blazing Orange with the Arrow exhaust) is
not for you.
The one question I got asked more than any other was;
“Would you rather have (as in buy) a Street Triple or a
Speed Triple?”. Unfortunately the answer isn't that cut
Making a comparison between the two bikes,
while inevitable, isn't really fair. It is sort of like
asking which handgun is better, a .22 Beretta or a .50
Desert Eagle. They don't compare.
If ease of handling,
light weight, and flickability are the things that make
you drool then the Street Triple might be the bike. However, if power, power, and downright brutally fun
power are the things that get you all excited then the
Speed Triple is right up your alley.
Just remember that absolute power corrupts absolutely
so don't call me to bail you out. Oh and tell Bubba I
Note: For those that like to know the MPG figures I
found that the Speed Triple averaged 35 MPG while in my
care, control, and custody. Not a great number by any
stretch but one that is understandable considering the
pipe and the fact that you almost literally cannot ride
this bike in a sane, restrained manner.
For more information visit
Triumph Motorcycles website and also read the
Speed Triple Comic Strip on 2WF.com!
Publication Date: January 2010
Triumph Speed Triple - Specifications
DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder.
||Bore/Stroke: 79 x
Multipoint sequential electronic fuel
||Final Drive: X-ring
||Front Suspension: 43mm
USD forks with dual rate springs and
adjustable preload, rebound and compression
Monoshock with adjustable preload,
compression and rebound damping.
||Front Brakes: Twin
320mm floating discs, 4 piston radial
||Rear Brakes: Single
220mm disc, 2 piston caliper.
fabricated aluminum alloy perimeter.
Single-sided, aluminum alloy with eccentric
||Front Wheel: Alloy
5-spoke, 17 x 3.5 in.
||Rear Wheel: Alloy
5-spoke, 17 x 5.5 in.
||Front Tire: 120/70 ZR
||Rear Tire: 180/55 ZR
||Length: 83.3 in
||Seat Height: 32.1in
||Wet Weight: 416lbs
||Fuel Tank Capacity:
||Maximum Power: 130 bhp
at 9,250 rpm
||Maximum Torque: 77
ft.lbf at 7,550 rpm
crankshaft to DIN 70020)
||Jet Black, Fusion
White, Blazing Orange, Matte Black
Note: For informational use only. All material and
photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2011. All
rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld®
page. NOTE: Product specifications, features and details may
change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read
Terms and Conditions!
►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "J.W." (March 2012): "I got a
2010 Speed Triple, matte black with stock pipes up high
against the tail. Bought it used last summer; I believe
the previous owner didn't like that it is always
straining at the leash and kept it less than a year. I,
however, have a great time on it.
Granted, it does push you to cut time off drives (this
past weekend I took it on a start-of-season ride up the
interstate in Colorado. A drive that usually takes an
hour fifteen to an hour and a half, on the Speed Triple
was an hour flat).
I started riding a year ago on a 1986 Suzuki GS650GL
that I bought for under $800 and fixed up for a road
trip around the Midwest. By the end of the summer I knew
motorcycles were going to be a long-term activity and
threw myself in with a 2010 Speed Triple.
Now I can listen to it happily growl down the highway at
85mph for hours on end, and if another sport bike
catches my eye I can catch up to them with the lightest
turn of the throttle. I couldn't be happier."
From "G.A.M' (1/10): "Great review!
I appreciate very much the author's efforts to make it
clear that this motorcycle will stand up and howl (and
presumably bust your butt) if not treated with utmost
respect. I am not that much interested in a bike
that will run on one wheel for more than a mile, but
it's clear that the Speed Triple is a great and unique
I am a sucker for that which is different and unique,
and better. Do you remember the '80's Audi with
the 5 cylinder engine? Do you also remember the
commercial with the German engineers all sitting around
discussing the unique design? One engineer said
"Hans just smiled" when they suggested a five cylinder
engine. Hans, he has that dry German sense of
irony. That commercial ran about two weeks,
shorter only than the "If Teddy Kennedy drove a VW, he'd
be president today" commercial (better Snopes that one).
In my humble opinion, V4's and triples are the most
interesting motorcycle engines presently in production.
Nothing against some of the nicely balanced twins
presently in production, but V4's and triples seem to
embody some of the best engine performance
characteristics currently available.
More on point, I have been enamored of Triumph
Triples since my riding buddy in college rode a Triumph
Trident. I was always intrigued at the triple
format. I was riding my Honda 750 Super Sport at
the time. I once tried to ride his "Trumpet" down
the street, but being on my fourth Honda with the
shifter on the left and brake on the right, I looked
like a drunken cripple trying to drive his '72 right
hand shifting Trident down the road. I was braking
when I wanted to shift, trying to shift by hitting the
brake, and so I walked the bike back to Tom and assured
him I had done no real damage, to anything but my pride.
But ever since then, I have had a yearning for a
triple. I didn't even know at that time that a
triple is perhaps the perfect compromise between the
torque of a twin (without the vibration inherent in
vertical twins), and the engine speed and high RPM power
of a 4 cylinder engine. After thirty years off
from motorcycling, I came within a hair's breadth of
buying a Triumph Sprint (riding position nixed that one
at age 55) or a used Thunderbird (couldn't agree on a
price). I think the
Thunderbird Sport (discontinued) would have been
about perfect, but couldn't find one. I ended up
with a Honda V4, and I love the V4.
But in my heart of hearts, I would really like to try
a triple next. The Street/Speed Triples seem the
best of what is presently available as a new bike.
Or maybe the Tiger. So many great bikes, so little
time. Thanks again for a great and insightful
From "R.C." (1/10): "Another great
review. Thanks, webBikeWorld!
And a BIG thanks to Triumph for building the Speed
Triple and bringing it to us here in the States.
It is truly in a class by itself on so many levels.
I have always been a big fan of Japanese bikes and
have owned over 40 of them. I have pretty much run
the gamut from mid-1960s models to the mid 00s. My
current bike, an '06 Honda 650cc dual sport, is starting
to bore me (they all do after a while, it is my biggest
weakness with bikes) and I am thinking of getting
another big street bike.
As usual, I headed on down to my local Japanese Big 4
"Mega-dealer" to see the 2010 line-up. It has been
a while and I wasn't sure what was being offered.
HOLY SMOKE!!! I must have missed it! When
did the Power Rangers and the Boozefighters take over
motorcycle design in Asia? I swear, unless some
drastic changes happen in Japan, I'll never own another
Big 4 bike. They just do not seem to get it any
more. I didn't see 1 street bike of any kind that
inspired me. As a matter of fact, the vast
majority were absolutely disgusting; either WAAAY
over-styled and racy (almost 'space-aged'), or big, fat,
heavy, low, and s l o w. The Universal Japanese
Motorcycle - un-revolutionary but stunning, practical
but fun, simple but functional, and comfortable but
respectable - currently does not exist except in Europe!
I have always drooled over the Speed Triple and
several other Triumphs, but I couldn't quite justify
deserting on my Japanese roots. Thanks to reviews
like this one, and Triumph's wonderful dedication to
'the fine art of motorcycles', I am now entirely
convinced that a beautiful, British racing green,
Triumph Speed Triple will be the 1st European bike to
reside in my garage. And it won't be the last if
Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha can't pull out of
this styling 'black hole' that is currently dragging
Could Triumph be engineering the beginning of the end
for Big 4 dominance? In my eyes, the answer is a
From "C.J." (1/10): "The Triumph
Triples are nice bikes but I don't like the high
placement of the stock exhaust pipes. In my
opinion both bikes look much better with the low
mounted, Arrow exhaust. Lower mounting keeps heat
away from the rider and passenger and provides more
options for soft luggage.
I wish Triumph would change the design of the stock
exhaust system to be mounted like the Arrow pipe in your
review. I would be more inclined to purchase one
if that were the case. Great website. Keep
up the good work!"
From "K.M." (1/10): "I just finished
reading the Speed Triple Review. Great review!
I'm a HUGE fan of nakeds (Street Triple owner here!).
Triumph triples are simply amazing engines VERY well
suited for street use. They pull like an ox down
low yet still have enough zing on top to satisfy most
speed junkies. They also seem just as happy
putting around as they are winding it out.
The Speed Triple and it's sibling Street Triple seem
to have wrapped up that agility, power, and fun
character in a seemingly perfect package. I've
found, as you have, that the Speed is more scary
serious, while the Street is more outlandishly fun.
Yet BOTH have each quality in them.
I wish more U.S. riders would let go of their "race
replica" clip-on bikes and give these (and similar
nakeds) a try. They are SO much more fun on the
street! And after all...isn't THAT what riding is all