There is no doubt about the fact that modern classic motorcycles are going to be in vogue for the foreseeable future. Take Triumph Motorcycles for instance! The British company's fastest selling motorcycle is the Bonneville Bobber, which is a beautiful take on modern classic bikes. But knowing Triumph, it is not the kind of manufacturer to rest on its laurels. It in fact, did one better, by unveiling the Triumph Speedmaster, which could be called as a more practical version of the drop dead gorgeous Bobber. And this review talks all about new Speedmaster at length. It comes to you from the gorgeous locales of sunny Southern California, which is absolute biker heaven for two-wheeler enthusiasts of all kinds. Here's our California Cruisin' experience!
How does the Speedmaster look?
Handsome! You might be fooled into thinking that the Speedmaster is just a variant of the Bobber with a pillion seat. And you couldn't be more wrong! Sure, the engine, design and the cycle parts are more or less similar, but the Speedmaster has a distinct personality of its own. Allow us to explain. The Speedmaster gets a rear mudguard along with chrome grab rails and a pillion seat of course, which gives it that signature laid back attitude and the much needed practicality as well. Also, the fuel tank is now different and bigger on the Speedmaster (12 litres) than from the Bobber (9.1 litres).
Also different are the handlebars and the footpegs. The 'beach' style handlebars have palm grips which angle in towards the rider instead of being parallel to the rider's shoulders, which gives it a cool, retro look. The footpegs are forward-set which allows for a laid-back, relaxed seating position. Like all other modern classic Triumph motorcycles, this one too has the 'devil may care' attitude, which makes it so endearing to the looker and the rider as well. Going along with it is the immaculate attention to detail and high levels of fit and finish which Triumph motorcycles are known for.
What features does it get? Any customisation options?
Quite a few of them! Standard features on the Speedmaster include anti-lock brakes (ABS), switchable traction control, Ride-by-wire, two riding modes (Road and Rain), all-LED lighting, cruise control and a trip computer as well. So, in a way, the Speedmaster is a tad more loaded than the Bonneville Bobber. And yes, the Speedmaster will get over 130 custom parts and bits such as the Vance and Hines exhaust along with a tonne of other options. Triumph will be offering two Speedmaster Inspiration Kits which are the 'Highway' and the 'Maverick'. Both these kits will offer various custom bits such as a windscreen, leather panniers, flatter handlebars, grab-rail removal kits and so on.
How about the engine, suspension and the brakes?
The engine on the Speedmaster is the same as on the Bonneville Bobber, which is a 1,200 cc high torque parallel-twin liquid-cooled unit which makes max power of 76 bhp at 6,100 rpm and peak torque of 106 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox and comes with a torque-assisted clutch, which makes clutch action lighter and easier on the fingers. The bike gets 41 mm Kayaba forks upfront and a Kayaba monoshock at the rear, neatly tucked below the seat, so as to give a hard-tail look to the bike. The Speedmaster gets 310 mm twin discs upfront with 2-piston Brembo callipers while at the rear, it gets a single 255 mm disc with a Nissin calliper.
How about the performance and handling?
It is a capable motorcycle without a doubt! The engine is a torque powerhouse; a huge chunk of the torque is available from as low as 1,800-2,000 rpm, which makes city riding and overtaking a breeze. The bike can happily cruise at triple digit speed all day long as we experienced on Californian highways. Our test ride route had quite a few roads with lots of switchbacks, wherein we could experience the sheer surge of torque while climbing up and overtaking at the same time. The bike loves to be revved but its best lies in relaxed cruising, say between 110-130 kmph.
The Speedmaster handles well and there is good grip from the 16-inch Avon Cobra tyres. But, it is let down by low clearance. Most journalists managed to grind their footpegs completely on the twisties. The bike is eager to change directions quickly, but once you hear the noise of the footpegs fighting against the tarmac, you could get slightly unnerved, only because it happens way too often. A little more clearance would have been welcome. The brakes offer solid bite and are progressive as I experienced when an innocent raccoon decided to cross the road bang in the middle of a beautiful sweeping corner. The ride quality is slightly stiff as we found out while taking the bike over manhole covers and a small section of broken tarmac. But nothing that will jar you and mar your riding experience.
Overall, we love how the bike performs and how it handles. We really wish that the pegs were placed a tad higher.
Much more practical and equally good-looking, the Speedmaster is bound to attract the target customers of the Bonnie Bobber. The fit and finish is top-notch and the motorcycle is a head-turner for sure. We really like the torquey engine too and the long list of features. It is the kind of bike which tugs at your heartstrings. The Speedmaster looks like a decent addition to Triumph's modern classic portfolio and we are happy to report that the company has done a good job of on the motorcycle.
We hear that the bike will be launched in India towards the end of March or beginning of April 2018. Knowing Triumph, we could bet that the pricing will be aggressive. Our expectation is that the bike will be priced around ₹ 10.5 lakh and for that kind of money you sure do get a lovely looking cruiser motorcycle with oodles of charm and attitude with solid capability.
Photographs: Kingdom Creative