The Triumph Speed Twin’s purity of form announces its intention from every angle. It has the classic lines of a vintage bike, but doesn’t simper expectantly at the curb in wait of your affirmation. It’s a real performer without being a performance bike. It feels effortlessly cool, but mostly because it’s effortless to ride.
Perched atop its flat bench seat, the rider feels immediately in charge—feet tucked just slightly back, torso bent in anticipation of sailing into the wind. It’s the right posture if you have an itchy throttle hand.
Turn the key. Wait for the sweep of the analog tach and speedo needles and the mechanical hiss of the fuel pump priming. Thumb the starter. The Speed Twin comes to life with a pleasing rumble through its twin silencers. It’s not brash or angry sounding; it just sounds “tuned.”
If the Bonneville T120 is The Rolling Stones playing “Route 66” in shirts and ties, the Speed Twin is the Stones playing “Gimme Shelter” in black leather jackets and beat-up denim.
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Don’t get me wrong, the Speed Twin is not an aggressive machine. It just begs to be flogged because it’s incredibly easy to ride—an attribute which defines modern Triumphs as much as porous gaskets and fickle Lucas electrics defined the Meriden Triumphs that we all can’t help but love (at least from a distance).
For those of us who’ve never been victimized by faulty electrics and stranded in a rainstorm, riding old Triumphs is easy to romanticize.
Fortunately, the Speed Twin’s classic form and genuine goodness are able to infatuate with none of the frustrating romantic entanglements of an actual vintage (but recently restored!) machine.
The Speed Twin produces less than 100 hp, but it’s accessible throughout the rev range, so you can use all those ponies all the time. It’s not like some supersport machine where you only get to experience its best when you’re spinning it up to 12,000 rpm and doing triple digits. You’re paying for horsepower. You may as well be able to use every one, right?
Pitching it into corners, the Speed Twin is composed and agile. There’s nothing fancy about the suspension, but at average-rider speeds and on decent pavement, it’s plush and controlled. Same deal with the brakes and electronics. Everything is thoughtfully paired down. And everything does what it’s supposed to do without any fuss so you can get on with the business of riding.
The Speed Twin is a bike to stand back and admire in the moonlit glow of a midnight garage. It’s a bike for spontaneous spins when golden rays heat the pavement and seem to part time as though the heavens predicted your itch to ride. There are times for faster bikes and fancier bikes, but there’s no wrong time for a bike that just wants to make you feel good.
And feeling is what this bike is all about—the slick, precise gearbox; the light clutch; the mellow vibes of the parallel-twin engine; the slender tank between the knees. It’s all in the service of a good ride.
For the sweetness of spending a day in the wind, the Speed Twin doles out the perfect portion of performance, purity, and simplicity.
|PRICE||$12,100 (black); $12,600 (colors)|
|ENGINE||1,200cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC parallel twin|
|CLAIMED HORSEPOWER||96 hp @ 6,750 rpm|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||83 lb.-ft. @ 4,950 rpm|
|FRAME||Tubular steel w/ aluminum cradle|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||41mm KYB cartridge fork; 4.7-in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Twin KYB shocks adjustable for preload; 4.7-in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, 305mm twin discs w/ ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||Nissin 2-piston caliper, 220mm disc w/ ABS|
|SEAT HEIGHT||31.8 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||3.8 gal.|
|CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT||432 lb.|