NEW Triumph Speed Twin (2021)

 

The Speed Twin has been a good seller for Triumph – they’ve shifted over 11,000 of them in the past three years, and they’re hoping to sell just as many of this new 2021 version. It was due for an update anyway around now - the last of the Bonneville family to get Euro 5 emissions compliance – but Triumph have taken the opportunity to do more than just clean up its tailpipes. The Speed Twin gets a whole new feel for 2021, and we were at the launch in Portugal for the world launch and first rides.

 

For and against
  • Grunty, willing engine
  • Uprated forks and brakes
  • Authentic classic style
  • Budget rear shocks
  • Lacking cruise control
  • Mudguards could be longer

 

2021 Triumph Speed Twin Price

The Speed Twin gets a slight price hike with this new version – it’s up £300 on the old model to bring it to £11,000 on the road for the standard gloss black version, or £11,200 for Matt Storm Grey (with yellow accents) or the Red Hopper metallic finish (as per the bikes we tested). To put that price into context, the cheapest BMW R nineT (which Triumph see as their main competition in this market sector) is the base Pure model at £11,395, while ‘normal’ R nineT models start at £13,150. The Speed Twin’s other stated rival, the Kawasaki Z900RS, ranges from £10,649 to £11,649.

 

Overview of the new-for-2021 Speed Twin

Triumph’s Head of Brand Management, Miles Perkins, talks us through the updates

 

Power and torque

The engine is now more or less the same spec as the Thruxton RS, although with a different exhaust system and engine mapping keeping it just a few horses down on the Thruxton’s power figures. So it's up around 3bhp on the old model to a claimed 99bhp, with peak power now delivered at 7250rpm), and a fraction more torque, delivered slightly lower down the rev range. There’s traction control (switchable) and three-way riding modes – Rain, Road and Sport. All three deliver full power, so it’s just the delivery and throttle response that vary. I was very pleased to see the three engine modes are easily changed while riding – no messing around having to stop to change modes. You just press the Mode button on the left bar to pre-select the one you want, it flashes, then shut the throttle and pull the clutch in at the same time and the new mode is active. As mentioned previously, the traction control is also easily switchable (press the Info button ‘til it shows TCS, then press and hold to toggle between on and off) but for that you do need to be stopped. Once you turn the ignition off and on again, the Mode reverts to Road, which is a bit annoying – I’d prefer it to remember its last setting – but that ease of switching means it’s not a problem. Also fair to say that the slightly less nervous low-down throttle response in Road is easier to get on with in traffic, where Sport can hunt and shunt a bit, especially when you’re on an almost-closed throttle, just coasting down to a junction or lights, for example. 

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Thruxton spec means a lighter crank, and a posh new alternator with rare earth magnets for less inertia. Combine that with new, higher compression pistons, modified intake and exhaust ports, and higher lift camshafts, and you get the modest power increase mentioned above over the old model. The fundamental engine architecture (including the gearbox) is the same as last year’s bike. The gearbox itself is pretty slow-shifting, but it suits the bike's nature – you're not going to be dancing up and down the box like a sportsbike on one of these.

Euro 5 compliance means a new exhaust system, but still retaining the old bike’s neat layout, where it looks like a two into two straight through system, but the downpipes don’t actually connect directly to the silencers. Instead they divert under the engine to the catalytic converter and pre-silencer, before diverting back out again to the mid-pipes and silencers. The point where they diverge is hidden by a neat little stainless cover and you really wouldn’t know all that tiresome emissions stuff was hiding away there.

But does it work? Turn the key, the needles on the twin dials swing through their whole travel and back, then you can press the button and it fires up with a rustling burble from the twin cans. Clutch in (nice light action) prod at the rather ponderous gear lever (set a bit high for me on the test bike) and off we go. And quickly, because this Thruxton-clone engine has some proper go. Ok, so sub-100bhp might not set your pants on fire in these days of 200bhp superbikes, but then I’ve never been a fan of combustible underwear anyway, and on the right road 100bhp is plenty – especially when it’s delivered like this. The lighter engine internals help the motor spin up more quickly and you can really feel the difference. It’s still got the grunt to be able to pull hard from low down, although perhaps it feels a little harsher than before without the extra crankshaft mass to damp down vibration, but let it spin just a bit higher – from 3500rpm upwards – and it really drives, perfect for slingshotting between bends on these twisty Portuguese roads. The extra 500rpm or so of rev ceiling is welcome too – I don't remember accidentally hitting the limiter once, where it was a common enough occurrence on the original motor. The best compliment I can pay is to say it’s the sort of engine where you don’t need a rev counter – partly because you’ve got a broad spread of useable grunt over a wide range, but more because it’s just so easy to instinctively feel what it’s going to do when you open the throttle. Warning: you’ll also find yourself just winding the throttle on and off just to experience that surge of grunt again and again – fun, but intensely annoying for anyone you’re riding with...

 

 

2021 Triumph Speed Twin Economy

Triumph claim about 50mpg for the Speed Twin, and a quick calculation after a splash and dash at 80-odd twisty, quick miles showed we’d averaged about 45mpg – not too bad, but with a smallish 14.5 litre fuel tank it means you’ll be looking for fuel at around 125 miles, assuming a nominal reserve of a couple of litres (the light's supposed to come on at around three litres remaining). It's worth pointing out that owners of the older model routinely report much better fuel consumption than that, and therefore better range – up to 160 miles on a tank. Maybe they don't thrash it as much as we do... When you get to the fuel station, you might find, as I did, that you can’t put the sidestand down – it simply wasn’t possible to snag the sidestand tang with the heel of my Sidi race boots, so I had to lean down and do it by hand. No one with normal boots had a problem though.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

From the moment you pull away, it’s immediately obvious the new Speed Twin has great low speed balance – the kind of bike that makes low speed manoeuvres a doddle and means you can slow down to a halt and balance for a second or two before needing to put your foot down. When you do stick your boot out, the ground’s not far away – with a seat height only just over 800mm, even a short arse like me can get both feet flat on the floor. The only criticism for low-speed use is a slight lack of steering lock – turning round in the road for photos I ran out of lock a couple of times and nearly dropped it. Otherwise, though it’s so easy to get on with you could put a complete novice on it and they’d have no problems.

The Speed Twin is great in town, but it’s on twisty backroads where it really shines. The extra ride height at the rear gives plenty of ground clearance for quick riding, and it takes some committed effort to get anything touching down, although with the pegs a little lower and further forward than Thruxton spec, you do need to keep your feet out of the way in bends. The new forks have a firm, high quality feel to them, and along with the sticky tyres you’ve got a beautifully planted front-end feel that allows you to get away with trail-braking deep into turns, and which seems to roll perfectly naturally into bends with no real effort – just the hint of pressure against the inside bar and the bike sets itself up to whatever angle of lean you’ve dialled in, no fuss, no drama. Well, unless you start hitting big bumps mid-corner, when it’s a bit less lovely. The rear shocks – carried over directly from the old model – are budget items and it shows. The harder you push and/or the bumpier it gets, the more they lose their composure. They’re not actually bad – just not as good as the front end, and not as good as the rest of the bike. At least they’ll be easy to replace with something better a year or two down the line though. One other point about the shocks – normally you can fiddle with the preload adjusters on these using every single bit of the bike’s toolkit (which consists of one Allen key behind the right-hand side panel...). With the new silencers, though, access is extremely tight and you really need to loosen the exhaust mounting and swing the silencer out of the way.

 

 

2021 Triumph Speed Twin Brakes

The new brakes are a step on from the old system. Monobloc Brembo M50 callipers and radial master cylinder are undoubtedly overkill for a 100bhp roadster, but they do look good and in conjunction with relatively soft pads, they offer a good balance of power and feel. The ABS system is maybe a bit over-eager, especially at the rear (use the back brake at all while stopping hard and the ABS kicks and jerks) but I suspect although that was an irritation on dry tarmac, it might be a bit more welcome on a greasy December commute.

 

Comfort over distance and touring

Ergonomics are good – or at least they were for my stumpy legs and 5ft 6 build – with flattish bars giving plenty of leverage and a position that’s purposeful without being too sporty. The seat is a bit of a plank, to be honest, but ok for a couple of hours at a time, especially on the kind of roads where you’re shuffling about on the seat all the time. On a couple of fast sections of dual cabbageway it was no surprise to find anything over about 90mph was unpleasantly windy, and I wouldn’t want to do much of that if I could avoid it. Better to slow down a bit and ease the strain on your neck – 70mph in top, incidentally, is at a lazy 3500rpm, from which there’s plenty of overtaking grunt available without needing to bother the gear lever. Even at legal speeds though, with that smallish tank you’re never going to be long between fuel stops and leg-stretches. One last detail - the little bar end mirrors are surprisingly clear and vibe-free.

 

Rider aids and extra equipment/accessories

Well, aside from the engine modes and traction control, and the obligatory ABS system, there's not a lot of extra to talk about. The LED Daytime Running Lights are bright and effective - they show up well in mirrors when you've got one following you. The USB point under the seat is handy too. But that's about it for standard equipment, although the bike comes pre-wired for heated grips, so all you have to do is add the grips themselves, and also for a Tyre Pressure Monitoring system (ditto). Naturally there's a well-stocked catalogue of accessories and add-ons, from different seats to luggage options to indicators and extra bling – none of which affects your basic warranty on the bike, incidentally. There is one new offering though, and although it's not Speed Twin specific, it is targeted squarely at the Modern Classic Triumph range, and they chose the Speed Twin launch to make it official. For those who don’t want to fit a bulky sat-nav unit (or their phone) on the handlebars, but still want some route guidance, the Beeline system is a possible alternative. The small but surprisingly heavy head unit (the case is solid aluminium where you’d expect plastic) sits on your bars and connects to your phone via Bluetooth, once you’ve downloaded the specific Beeline app. Then you can either create a route on your phone, import from another source, or switch to Compass mode, which allows you to put in start and finish points and then rather than giving you detailed instructions, it just points you in roughly the right direction while letting you head off downside roads or make it up as you go along. For this ride we used a pre-loaded map from Triumph. Downloading, installing and pairing to the phone was easy (and I’m no tech-lover) and once I got the hang of interpreting the simple info on the screen, it worked ok, although on several occasions I was expecting to go one way according to what I was being told, while our lead rider actually took us somewhere else. Not sure whether that was my fault, Beeline’s fault or the lead rider’s fault, but I suspect I’d need a lot more time with it to be able to trust it fully. Speaking of time, the limiting factor is battery charge time. Firstly, for the unit itself, which doesn’t charge from the bike so needs separate charging each evening, and secondly for your phone – the constant Bluetooth activity is incredibly power-hungry and everyone finished the day with barely enough power left to send a photo of their first beer to Instagram/Facebook/Grandma (other social platforms/relatives are available).

Retail price of the Triumph-branded Beeline system is £199, which is the same as the RRP for the generic version (although actually you can pick it up cheaper than that). The only real difference is that as an official Triumph accessory the warranty goes out from one to two years. And it’s got ‘Triumph’ engraved on the casing.

 

 

Rivals and competitors

Triumph say they see the Speed Twin's main rivals as the BMW R nineT and the Kawasaki Z900RS. The closest in spirit is BMW's R nineT Pure, a little more expensive at £11,395, with a little more power (108bhp vs 99bhp) and a little more weight (3kg more than the Triumph at 219kg). It has a slightly lower spec, with conventional forks and brakes rather than the Speed Twin's upside downies and radial stoppers, and simple clocks with no rev counter. If you want those extras on the BMW you’re looking at paying an extra couple of grand for the main R nineT model, so the Triumph looks like a bargain in comparison. By contrast, the Kawasaki Z900RS competes much more directly on price – it works out about 350 cheaper comparing base versions, or £250 cheaper for premium paint. There's also a Performance version that adds an Akrapovic exhaust, engine sliders and tank pad for an extra grand or so. Standard or Performance, you're getting similar radial brakes and upside-down suspension, but in the Z's case that suspension is adjustable. The RS uses its four cylinders to punt out a bit more power than the triumph at 110bhp, for about the same wet weight (215Kg for the Z) and generally offers a more modern riding experience – the 'classic' element is really just the (very pretty) '70s-inspired paint, to be honest. Still great bikes though.

 

Triumph Speed Twin 2021 Review Spec Price _14

 

2021 Triumph Speed Twin - Verdict

Looks are subjective, but I think the Speed Twin scrubs up well, especially in the metallic red we were riding. All the inconvenient modern stuff is tucked away neatly (especially the exhaust/emissions kit as mentioned before) but it’s still got enough visual clues – especially the new front end – to say it’s a serious performance bike, not a wannabe classic cruiser. From ten feet away everything looks solid, quality, class – even the mudguards are brushed aluminium, not plastic – but get right up close and there are a few cheap touches that betray some cost-cutting (the plastic headlight bowl, for example). The mudguards, incidentally, could both usefully be a bit longer – the day before our ride was wet and riders were getting soaked from water flung up between the rear mudguard and the number plate holder. At the front a longer guard would keep gunge and stones from the vulnerable radiator – several of the test bikes were already showing minor stone damage. The only design touch I’m really not keen on is the clocks. They manage to pack a fair bit of available info into a tight space, and it’s generally easy to pick and choose what you want to see, but I’d have preferred a simpler, cleaner white dial design.

Summing up, the key word for the new Speed Twin is ‘balance’. Low speed balance is excellent, and at real-world speeds on twisty roads, there’s a great balance between handling and performance. The brakes are nicely balanced between power and feel, and even the overall specification is a carefully engineered balance between finish and price. Triumph’s stated aim with this bike was, ‘To combine the performance of the Thruxton with the looks of a classic’, and I think they’ve managed that very well. I liked the old Speed Twin, but this is just that little bit more exciting, more capable, more – yes - balanced. The main balancing act Triumph have attempted is to produce something that’s easy, welcoming and unthreatening enough to attract and flatter riders who may be taking their first steps onto big bikes after passing their tests or coming back after a lay-off, but which can still put a big grin on someone who’s just stepped off the latest sports or adventure bike after a lifetime’s experience. That’s a neat trick if you can pull it off, and I think they’ve done just that.

 

2021 Triumph Speed Twin Specification

New price

From £11,000 (£11,200 as tested)

Capacity

1200cc

Bore x Stroke

97.6 x 80mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin

Engine details

Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° firing order

Power

98.6bhp (73.6kW) @ 7250rpm

Torque

82.7 lb-ft 112Nm) @ 4250rpm

Top speed

130mph (est)

Transmission

6 speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

45mpg tested

Tank size

14.5litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

145 miles

Reserve capacity

30 miles (fuel light)

Rider aids

ABS, Traction Control (switchable), 3-way engine modes (Rain, Road, Sport)

Frame

Tubular steel cradle

Front suspension

43mm Marzocchi upside down forks

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

Twin shocks

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only

Front brake

320mm discs, Brembo monobloc M50 radial four-piston calipers

Rear brake

220mm disc, Nissin two-piston sliding caliper

Front tyre

120/70 R17 Metzeler Racetec RR

Rear tyre

160/60 R17 Metzeler Racetec RR

Rake/Trail

22.3°/91.5mm

Dimensions

2099mm x 778mm 1097mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1413mm

Ground clearance

n/a

Seat height

809mm

Kerb weight

216kg

Warranty

Two years, unlimited mileage

MCIA Secured rating

3/5 stars

Website

www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk

 

Photography: Kingdom Creative 

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance

 

Triumph Speed Twin 2021 Review Spec Price _mcia

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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