From burning tyre tracks in tarmac to cruising around on a weekend ride, the Triumph Speed Triple does it all with effortless assurance

Don’t let the bug-eyed headlights, similar to the ones on the Triumph Street Triple trick you into believing that the Speed Triple is similar to the other Triumph. Where the Street Triple had the friendly demeanour of a Labrador, the Speed Triple, is by contrast, a Rottweiler. It costs nearly Rs 3 lakh more than the Street, but it’s an all-round more powerful, more focused and more hardcore machine. Among other things, its job description requires it to keep pace with the CB1000Rs, Z1000s and FZ1s of the world. As you can imagine, this is a very serious motorcycle.

It looks it too. Compact yet muscular, the Speed announces its potency the instant you set eyes on it. Sure, Triumph’s twin headlamp setup may not catch your fancy, but there’s little else to take away from what is a very well-turned-out motorcycle. In true naked bike fashion, extraneous bits of plastic are few and limited to the bikini fairing, belly pan and side panels only. With the engine in full view, you can tell how much of the bike’s mass is concentrated towards the centre. In fact, the Speed’s got a nicely aggressive, tipped-forward stance, the effect helped in no small matter by the large and neatly sculpted 17.5-litre fuel tank. What you also can’t miss is how the exposed tube-like sections of the Speed’s aluminium twin-spar frame add a certain industrial look to the design. But in our opinion, the Speed looks its best when viewed from the rear. That’s because of the combined visual drama of its slender tail, dual underseat exhausts and single-sided swingarm. Pity our test bike came with an ungainly sari guard.

Swing a leg over the Speed and you’ll find the seating position to be a touch on the aggressive side. You sit higher up than you would on a Street Triple, and also lean more into the handlebar. It’s not uncomfortable, but it can get tiring over long stints. For their part, the soft palm grips make a great point of contact for your hands while the good quality switchgear is logically placed too. Adjustable levers also make it easy and quick to make yourself at home here. Instrumentation on the Speed is a combination of an analogue tachometer and a digital screen for the speedo, fuel gauge, trip meters and service due indicator. What’s nice is that you can also program the gearshift indicator lights to your preference. However, there’s no gear indicator, which is actually not that big an irritant. That’s got to do with how The engine rarely feels out of its comfort zone. You could be in sixth gear and the Speed will still pull strongly and cleanly from as low as 50kph. The engine in question is a 1050cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, in-line triple. It makes 132.7bhp at 9400rpm and produces 11.3kgm at 7750rpm. The numbers for power and torque may not top this class of bike, but the truth is, you’d never be left wanting for power. In fact, such is the fury with which this Triumph takes off, you’d need a whole lot of guts to wring the throttle open fully in first, second or even third gear. There’s strong power right from 4000rpm onwards till you hit the rev limiter at 10,500rpm. That means you can make short work of just about any stretch of tarmac. It’ll race to 100kph and get you past 150kph well before you comprehend what’s happening. The Speed will go a whole lot faster still, but with no protection from the wind blast, you’d seldom want to.

Performance apart, the Speed also scores delights for its glorious soundtrack. Building speed has the 3-1-2 exhausts let out a progressively deeper, bass-rich note, while scaling back on the throttle has the bike crackle and pop in protest. This gives the Speed an endearing rawness you won’t find in any of its Japanese rivals. In my opinion, the sound has to be one of the reasons to buy this bike.

Eargasm apart, the Speed will also have you dance to its tunes around corners. It feels a lot lighter to steer than its 214kg kerb weight would have you believe. You can easily move about in the seat, direction changes are quick and there’s lots of grip offered by its Metzeler tyres. But to be really honest, you’d need a race track (and a lot of skill) to take the Speed to its dynamic limits. What you will notice and like in day-to-day riding, however, is how rich in feel the ABS-equipped brakes (320mm front discs and a 255mm rear disc) feel. Suspension is adjustable courtesy Showa telescopic front forks and a monoshock at the rear. While the ride is understandably firm, the Speed still soaks up the bumps well enough. That, along with how calm the engine feels at low speeds, makes this a bike you can happily use everyday. Just wish the Speed had a lighter clutch and smaller turning radius.

But on the whole, the Speed Triple comes across as a very accomplished motorcycle. It’s fast and involving, just like any good street naked motorcycle should be, yet it’s still quite different in character from its in-line four rivals. It sounds so too. Priced at Rs 10.3 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Speed also happens to be among the best-priced litre-class naked bikes on sale in India to date. With so much going in its favour, it’s hard not to recommend the Speed Triple.

This is a bike that will keep you excited for a long time to come.

Triumph Speed Triple

Price: Rs 10.3 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

L/W/H: 2100/795/1110mm

Wheelbase: 1435mm

Fuel tank capacity:17.5 litres

Kerb weight: 214kg

Engine layout: 3 cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke

Displacement: 1050cc

Power:132.7bhp at 9400rpm

Torque:11.3kgm at 7750rpm

Specific output: 126.4 bhp per litre

Power to weight: 620bhp per tonne

Transmission: 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up

Front suspension: Telescopic forks

Rear suspension: Monoshock, single-side alloy swingarm

Front brake: 320mm discs (ABS)

Rear brake: 255mm disc (ABS)

Wheels: 17 inches