Triumph Speed Triple
Triumph’s Speed Triple wasn’t the first naked bike, but it’s certainly the ultimate expression. Fittingly, the British invented the concept, inexpensively returning their crashed sportbikes to the road by stripping off their roadrashed fairings and bolting on tubular handlebars. They called these creations “streetfighters,” but the Italians christened them “naked bikes” and the name stuck.
Three years in the making, this fifth-generation Speed Triple boasts revised styling and an all-new chassis for improved handling. Those who loved the look of the original will mourn the passing of its twin, round, “bug-eye” headlamps, replaced by more modern pentagonal units. And some of those fans might consider the new radiator cowlings a tad too refined for the original hooligan bike. But there’s still a familial resemblance (note the single-sided swingarm and high-level exhaust), and there’s no mistaking the 1050cc triple’s soul-stirring exhaust note.
Ever since the seminal 1969 CB750, Honda has been working on an encore. The Nighthawk 750 was too small. The CB1000 was too big. The 919 slotted in right between, but failed to connect with a style-conscious public. At long last, with the made-in-Italy CB1000R, Honda has gotten it just right.