Spied! Triumph Speed Twin Prototype

Triumph combines the Bonneville and Speed Triple.

Triumph prototype Speed Twin spy shot
Triumph’s new Speed Twin, caught testing in prototype phase. The bike will combine a mostly Thruxton chassis with a modern fork and a streetfighter attitude in line with the Speed and Street Triple.Photo: BMH Images

If any company is on a roll these days, it's Triumph Motorcycles. The British firm revamped its iconic Speed Triple platform for 2016, while simultaneously (and boldly) rebuilding the Bonneville model line without tarnishing its massive popularity. Based on these photos that came across our desk at Motorcyclist today, it looks like Triumph is planning to create a crossbreed of the two models, and perhaps revive the famous, WWII-era "Speed Twin" name. Our sources in Europe say that this prototype has been registered for road use for about a year now, and the trademark for the Speed Twin name will likely be granted sometime next week.

Bikes caught in testing like this can be tricky to judge, because it’s not always obvious what the company is aiming for or what parts it intends to keep. But in this case it seems pretty clear that Triumph is planning a mashup of its own streetfighters and modern classics. The round headlights paired next to each other are an obvious link to the original Speed Triple of the 1990s, and the tall, flat handlebar with bar-end mirrors is reminiscent of the entire Speed line. Massive aluminum blocks as risers for the wide handlebar suggest that Triumph is still playing with riding positions and aerodynamics. Other work is clearly being done on the front end, too, with a new combination of fork and triple clamps to tune chassis geometry. The headlights are mounted to the fork—instead of the frame, like a Speed/Street Triple—which is surely part of Triumph’s testing regimen as well.

Speed Twin prototype
From the side and rear it’s obvious that the Speed Twin prototype uses a lot of Thruxton parts. Note the wheel, shocks, and exhaust. We expect Triumph to announce the Speed Twin soon, as a late 2017 or early 2018 model.Photo: BMH Images

The cast front wheel being used in this test is a dead giveaway that many of the parts are from the modern Speed and/or Street Triple—not to mention the upside-down fork and beefy, radial-mount brake calipers. What’s not clear is just how retro this Speed’s style will be. Our sources say that Triumph might aim this at the growing trend of 1980s-styled streetfighters, meaning cast wheels and a host of other details that would land this bike’s aesthetic squarely between the modern triples and the classic Bonnevilles.

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From the fuel tank back, it's mostly 2016 modern classic (Thruxton) pieces. The engine will likely be in a Thruxton state of tune, with lots of torque on tap to match the bad-boy attitude of the Speed name. Remote-reservoir shocks from the Thruxton R (click here to see Zack Courts' video commute on the Thruxton R) are doing the suspending out back, and the spoke rear wheel looks to be straight from the Thruxton bin, too. We expect the front of the eventual Speed Twin (which should pop its head out sometime in 2017) to look a lot like this from the front. Shapes of parts that could very well change include the seat, mufflers, and fuel tank.