Triumph Speed Triple 955 (1999-2004): Review & Buying Guide


Price: £1700-£3000 | Power: 110-118bhp | Weight: 196kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Hinckley Triumph’s original modular production plan was both hit and miss. Brilliant in that it allowed the fledgling company to produce a range of different bikes from one basic design, but flawed because not all of those models worked. One that did right from the off, however, was the Speed Triple, a naked street machine with a hint of café racer that won hearts on its looks alone. Add the fact that it was fun to ride, and Triumph had a hit on its hands.

The second generation Speed Triple, the T509, also took its cues from the firm’s Daytona superbike, this time the T595, but with an aggressive styling twist more akin to a streetfighter than café racer thanks to huge twin headlamps and high ’bars. First generation T509s didn’t align with the 595 in terms of engine spec, however, running a smaller 885cc unit rather than the full 955cc. Triumph rectified this for 1999, introducing the Speed Triple 955.

The genius of the Speed Triple is its ability to deliver 90 per cent of the Daytona’s thrills and performance without the superbike’s inbuilt discomfort. Higher ’bars and a redistribution of performance from top end to midrange transform the naked bike into a far superior road bike than its fully-faired stablemate. And as a result the Speed Triple has proved hugely popular for Triumph over several decades.

Solidly built, cleverly engineered, and with more than a hint of European exotica to its overall package, the Speed Triple continues to shine now only a year or two away from true modern classic status. Here’s why you need this British triple on your radar and ultimately in your garage…


Pros & Cons

  • Meaty triple engine – loads of real world stomp
  • Striking European styling with a hint of the exotic
  • Destined to be a modern classic
  • Starter clutch issues that can be expensive to rectify
  • Temperamental electrics
  • Can have a thirst for oil


Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Price

Triumph launched the first T509 Speed Triple in early 1997. Essentially a naked T595 Daytona, but featuring a less powerful 885cc variant of the firm’s inline triple engine, it was eventually given a Daytona spec 955 engine for 1999 (the model listed below). The 955 Speed Triple was overhauled for 2002 with an uprated engine (again from the existing Daytona) plus a restyled seat unit and exhaust. Popular extras on used STs include aftermarket cans/exhausts, reflashed ECUs, and uprated suspension – all worthy mods if fitted correctly.

1999 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1200-£1450; Tidy £1700-£2000; Mint £2300-£2500

Evolution of the T509 Speed Triple, launched in 1997. Previous 885cc engine replaced with 955 motor from Daytona superbike. First bikes appeared in Aug 1998. 110bhp, 196kg.Colours: green or black

2000 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1250-£1550; Tidy £1800-£2100; Mint £2400-£2600

New colours and graphics. Colours: pink or black

2001 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1300-£1700; Tidy £1850-£2150; Mint £2500-£2700

Fresh colours and graphics. Colours: green or black

2002 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1450-£1800; Tidy £2000-£2300; Mint £2550-£2800

Updated engine from the 2001 Daytona 955i. Increased power, up to 118bhp. New seat unit and revised exhaust system. Colours: black or blue

2003 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1500-£1950; Tidy £2200-£2400; Mint £2600-£2850

New colours and graphics. Colours: red or green

2004 Triumph Speed Triple: Rough £1600-£2000; Tidy £2450-£2600; Mint £2750-£3000

Last of the 955 Speed Triples before the 1050 model introduced in 2005. Colour and graphics changes only. SE (Special Edition) model also sold, with black frame, wheels and paint. Colours: blue or black



Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Engine and Performance

When Triumph gifted the Speed Triple a full 955cc Daytona engine for 1999, in place of the previous 885cc unit, the upgrade wasn’t simply a straight swap. The top end surge of the Daytona’s 125bhp motor would have been wasted on a naked street bike, so Triumph retuned the unit, revising the fuel mapping and cam timing, to instead provide a greater spread of midrange grunt.

Peak power was reduced to a more manageable 110bhp (still up on the old 885cc model’s 98bhp). Other internal changes to the Hinckley triple included the use of steel cylinder liners in place of the Daytona’s ceramically coated items, given that outright horsepower wasn’t the objective, and a resized radiator.

The biggest update in the model’s five year run came in 2001, when the Speed Triple inherited the Daytona’s second generation motor. Power was again slightly reduced from the superbike’s output but, at 118bhp, was several horses up on the previous model as well as being given a further lift in midrange torque.

Whichever you choose – 110bhp or 118bhp spec – the Speed Triple engine is fabulous to use. Being a triple it combines the grunt, instant overtaking romp, and addictive character of a meaty V-twin, with the top end rush and rev-hungry pull of an inline four. And on top of that, it makes a noise – nay, spine-tingling bark – that you’ll never, ever tire of hearing. Only the gearbox, which can be a tad notchy and requires a firm prod to avoid false neutrals, is of concern. But even then, it’s only really an issue if used on track.



Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Handling & Suspension

Think T595/955i Daytona minus the fairing. The Speed Triple uses the same gorgeous aluminium trellis perimeter frame and cast single-sided swingarm as the Daytona, so the underlying handling package is strong. Braking and suspension is also Daytona spec: Triumph branded 4-pot calipers, 320mm floating discs, plus chunky 45mm Showa telescopic forks up front, and a Showa monoshock at the rear – both fully adjustable. The three-spoke Brembo wheels are identical to the 955i, too.

Windblast can be an issue on naked street bikes, especially those packing a punch, but the Speed Triple’s substantial clocks and oft-fitted optional fly screen keep the worst of the wind at bay. Indeed, the Speed Triple is a superior road bike to the Daytona on account of its relaxed, upright riding position, so you get all the stomp of the 955i without the discomfort – a serious win-win.

Handling is predictable and planted rather than razor sharp, which translates into excellent road manners. Steering response, corner turn-in and high speed stability can be improved by replacing the standard 190 section rear boot with a 180. While the engine received updates during the 955cc Speed Triple’s run, the chassis remained pretty much unchanged – the final year SE model’s all-black frame being the only notable modification.



Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) What to look for

Starter clutch: The bane of Hinckley triples. Often made worse by owners trying to turn the engine over on a less than fit battery. The lack of starting amps causes the sprag clutch to kick back and break. Repair is an engine out job, so isn’t cheap if done by a dealer. Ask any seller, a) if they use a trickle charger to keep the battery tip-top, and b) if the sprag clutch has been replaced. Anything showing 40K-plus that hasn’t had a new sprag may well need one in the near future.

Oil level: Triumph’s inline triple does use oil. Nothing to worry about as long as you keep a keen eye on the level and top up accordingly, and you wait for the motor to warm through before cracking on. Heavy oil consumption can see several litres disappear in under 2000 miles – not good, because this could lead to big end and top end failure if not topped up.

Head gaskets: Inspect the engine closely. Weeping head gaskets are an all too common issue. On an engine that already has a thirst for oil, ignoring a weeping gasket could lead to an unwanted and expensive outcome.

Camchains: Can be noisy, especially at idle as the chain lashes again its tunnel. Failure of the tensioner is usually to blame. Some owners report having to change both chain and tensioner within 40,000 miles, so if it’s an issue don’t leave it to get worse.

Gearbox: Not as slick as the Japanese opposition. Can be clunky, especially into first and in changes between lower ratios. False neutrals can also occur if you’re less than positive with the lever.

Fuel tank cap: The seal around the filler cap can harden. Water can then seep into the cavity underneath the cap and ultimately leak into the tank. Modern ethanol rich fuel isn’t kind to fuel pumps or injection systems either, especially if a bike’s left standing with juice still in the tank.

Electrics: A source of issues, from the charging system and reg/rec to the clocks and switches. Reg/rec failure is common – if this drains the battery too much that can in turn cause sprag clutch failure. Keep the battery topped up by a trickle charger.



Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Rivals


Aprilia Tuono, 2003 | Approx Price: £2000-£3500
Power/Torque: 126bhp/75lb-ft | Weight: 181kg

Fast, powerful and immense fun, the Tuono 1000 is essentially an RSV Mille minus fairing and with high bars – perfect for wheelies. Perhaps the closest competitor to the Speed Triple and a great value machine to boot. Higher spec Racing model also available, but expect to pay a couple of grand more.


Ducati Monster S4, 2000 | Approx Price: £3500-£5000
Power/Torque: 101bhp/68lb-ft | Weight: 193kg

Ducati’s popular Monster with a liquid-cooled  916 derived engine and handy fly screen. Meaty performance, great handling and decent all-round road manners. S4 R model with single-sided swingarm and stacked pipes also available, but several thousand pounds more expensive.


Honda X11, 1996 | Approx Price: £2300-£3500
Power/Torque: 134bhp/84lb-ft | Weight: 222kg

Basically a CBR1100XX Super Blackbird minus fairing. Huge performance, but held back by a lack of wind protection. Lacks the style and drama of a Speed Triple, Monster or Tuono, but reliability is stoic and acceleration is tendon stretching. Rare due to being  a poor seller when new. A lot of performance for the money, though…



Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Verdict

The Speed Triple has long been a strong seller for Triumph, and with good reason. You get a great engine, knockout style, bags of character, and a superb road bike all in one package. Better still, used 955 Speed Triples are exceptional value for money; 1980s sports mopeds are starting to command higher values than these big bruisers, and that’s not to be sniffed at. Go for a 2001 or later model and you’ll benefit from the updated engine, too. Still a belter, even two decades on.


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Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) – Technical Specification

Original price


Current price range




Bore x Stroke

79mm x 64mm

Engine layout

liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12v, inline-triple


110bhp (80.2kW) @ 9200rpm


71.5lb-ft (97Nm) @ 5800rpm

Top speed



6-speed, wet, multi-plate clutch, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

40 mpg

Tank size

21 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

185 miles

Reserve capacity


Rider aids



Aluminium trellis

Front suspension

45mm telescopic forks

Front suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload and compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension


Rear suspension adjustment

Adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping

Front brake

2 x 320mm discs, 4-pot calipers

Rear brake

220mm disc, 2-pot caliper

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

190/50 ZR17



Dimensions (LxWxH)

2115mm x 790mm x 1290mm



Ground clearance


Seat height


Dry weight



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