Triumph Speedmaster: Beautiful brit
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The Triumph Speedmaster name has always been one that hasn’t quite sat right with me. It’s not that it’s a terrible name, far from it, but rather that it would more logically belong to a sportier machine than the bike you see before you.
Well, that’s to my mind anyway, and when it comes to gripes, a name is something you can quickly forget, especially when you jump on the 2018 iteration of Triumph’s Bonneville-based, foot-forward cruiser.
Like previous bikes this century that bear the Speedmaster name, the 2018 model has its roots in the popular Bonneville line. The liquid-cooled, high-torque 1200cc parallel twin that debuted with the 2015 Bonneville has received a minor tickle, which has resulted in more power for the Speedmaster.
But that is where the similarities with the standard bearer of the Triumph range diverge, and we start to cosy up to the recent Triumph Bobber for much of the engineering inspiration for the Speedmaster.
In debuting the Bonneville Bobber in 2017, Triumph showcased the first bike in its range to move to a monoshock, eschewing the twin shock absorber set-up that has long been a feature of its modern classic line.
With the design brief being that the bike should evoke memories of the old hardtail motorcycles of the company’s past, this gave the engineering team a challenge in the form of where to put the rear shock.
The solution was clever; Triumph has placed the monoshock off the swingarm and mounted it directly below the rider’s seat in a way that keeps it hidden, yet perfectly functional.
The result is a bike that looks like a hardtail but isn’t going to destroy your coccyx upon an encounter with a pothole.
Unlike the Bobber, the Speedmaster comes with a subframe, which allows for pillion and luggage accommodation at the rear.
It’s a massive benefit when you think about it, as the lack of storage and pillion accommodation really hinders the Bobber when you take it out on longer rides... unless you enjoy riding alone with a full backpack.
Further stepping away from the Bonneville Bobber, Triumph kept with Speedmaster tradition and fitted the 2018 bike with forward-set footpegs, which, while cool, aren’t as comfortable as those of the Bobber.
Maybe I’m just a bit traditional, but a bike as outwardly British as the Speedmaster shouldn’t have American-style ergonomics.
Thankfully, Triumph already worked out that there will be people out there, like me, who like the added usability of the Speedmaster, but aren’t huge fans of forward set pegs.
As such — and as part of the clever design of the bike — Triumph has included the ability to swap the foot controls for those of the Bobber, which brings them to that traditional British bike position of being centred on the length of the frame.
Not only that, Triumph has a series of what it calls Inspiration Kits to help owners customise their Speedmasters — even into a Bobber should they feel the urge.
I could go on and on about the drop dead gorgeous looks of the new Speedmaster — heck, check out that cranberry red paint — but like all bikes it is all about the ride at the end of the day.
With a nice low seat height of just 705mm, the Speedmaster is an easy bike to approach. And while it may tip the scales at 245.5kg, it holds this down low making for a bike that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve gone to a weights session at the gym when the time comes to park up for the day.
Since the last Speedmaster we saw here ran Triumph’s old air-cooled 900cc parallel twin, it’s no surprise that the new water-cooled 1200cc heart has more go, but when you look at the spec sheet, that all-important torque figure comes in at 106Nm at 4000rpm. That’s a full 42 per cent more than the 2015 model.
All that extra torque shows out on the road. Twisting the grip on the “beach ’bars” as Triumph NZ describes them, and the Speedmaster feels like it deserves its name.
Surging forward on a wave of torque, it’s not arm-destroying but rather elegant instead, perfectly matching the outward looks of the bike.
Keeping an eye on your speed is simple thanks to the big speedo cluster above the bars, which sadly unlike the version found on the Bobber is not adjustable for angle. No matter, it clearly shows you everything you need to know on its simplified face.
There are few things to gripe about when it comes to the Speedmaster. It does everything it should do as per its design brief, and it does it well.
If it doesn’t quite hit the mark, owners are offered the ability to change it to their needs — as per cruiser customisation custom — with a plethora of genuine Triumph accessories.
While the Bonneville is a resounding king of the modern classic class, when it comes to putting the class into ‘Modern Classic’ — there is nothing like the new Speedmaster.
2018 Triumph Speedmaster 1200
Price: $22,490 + ORC
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1200cc ‘High-Torque’ parallel twin
Pros: Drop dead gorgeous, great engine, can take pillion passengers
Cons: American ergonomics, thick handlebars not for everyone