Originally posted: 20 Dec 2015. Revised: 15 Feb 2018.
Triumph Speed Triple (2005 – 2015): Buying Guide
Why you want one:
With the immanent arrival of the brand new Speed Triple S and Speed Triple RS for 2018, now is the perfect time to start searching out a lovely used example of this quintessential slice of British beef. Speed Triple fans are very brand loyal and that means when the new models arrive in dealerships sooon, the used market will see a spike in older 1050 bikes as owners trade in. For a canny buyer, this equals a price drop as the competition between sellers to secure a sale increases. But why look at the 1050 and not an older version of the Speed Triple?
The 1050 Speed Triple is a very significant model in the range. This was the first time Triumph designed and built the Speed Triple as a dedicated naked bike rather than just peel the fairing off a Daytona 955i and call it a street fighter. What this means is that the 1050 Speed Triple has none of the compromises that come with having to please two camps (sport and naked) and is a considerably better bike because of it. Not only was the 1050 engine itself designed to look great naked with lots of lovely stainless steel fasteners, the chassis, geometry and riding position are all aimed at creating a perfect naked bike for the UK’s roads. Something Triumph’s designers more than achieved.
While the Triumph has always lagged behind the Japanese super nakeds when it comes to outright power, the Speed Triple has remained the most enjoyable naked to ride on the road. Yes, it’s a bit heavier than the competition, but the triple engine’s wonderful spread of torque makes it far more relaxed and you simply can’t beat the sound you get from that motor. When it comes to smiles per mile, the Speed Triple is easily the best naked bike on the market as while it is more than happy to play the fool when required, it is equally as adept at just being a damn fine machine to ride around on. And anyway, if you want a bit more sporting potential there is always the option of the R model…
What to look for:
The build quality on the 1050 isn’t as bad as on the older 955i model and so a very tatty bike is best avoided as it hints at an unsympathetic owner. Generally, Triumph owners are more mature and tend to care for their bikes, meaning poor examples are rare. That said, forums do grumble about corrosion issues on the fork legs and the depth of paint on the tank.
Mechanically the 1050 is very robust as the triple isn’t in a very high state of tune, however the gearbox is notoriously poor and fairly clunky. The R model featured a few internal upgrades which help smooth the changes, but always check on a test ride that all the gears are present and correct and feel for the suspension’s action and if the brakes are dragging. It’s a common Triumph fault caused by poor servicing, but if the 12,000-mile service is done and the suspension linkages not stripped and regreased they tend to seize up. Always inspect them well for signs of grease and ask the owner if this work has been completed. While you are there, also check the single sided swingarm’s eccentric adjustor isn’t seized solid.
The early 1050 models suffered from their Nissin brake calipers’ pistons seizing, causing the brake to drag and potentially warp the discs. Check this area by getting the front wheel off the ground, spinning it and feeling for a pulsing through the brake lever. While the bike’s front end is in the air, also check the steering head bearings for any roughness - Speed Triples do wheelie very well…
Aside from mechanical issues, a big part of buying a Speed Triple is knowing the model range as the various generations will suit some riders’ needs better than others. The very first 1050 (2005-2007) has an absolutely terrible pillion seat so if you ever want to take a passenger then get the updated 2008-2010 model with its redesigned back end. Those who are going naked for the first time after a life on sportsbikes are probably best buying the later 2011-onwards generation as its altered weight distribution makes it the sportier model and less sluggish in the bends. If you want the ultimate Speed Triple, get the very first year (2012) of Speed Triple R as the PVM lightweight wheels were dropped after this point and subsequent models reverted to heavier cast aluminium items with the PVMs an optional extra.
The first 1050 Speed Triple arrived in 2005 and was a completely new machine with underseat pipes, a 1050 engine and brand new chassis. This was updated in 2008 with the addition of the ‘bendy spoke’ wheels, black anodised forks and Brembo brakes replacing the troublesome Nissins. More significantly, the tail end was also altered with the pillion seat extended by 20mm and pillion pegs reduced in height by 50mm. After this minor update, 2011 saw a major alteration as the Speed Triple received a brand new frame with altered geometry and weight distribution making it the most sports focused Speed Triple to date. The engine received a few upgrades to boost power and smooth the gearbox’s action through an altered selector mechanism while ABS was now offered as an option for the first time. It was also the first model to feature ‘foxeye’ headlights instead of the traditional round ones. An R model was introduced in 2012 and brought Ohlins suspension, upgraded Brembo monobloc brakes, more gearbox tweaks, lightweight forged aluminium PVM wheels and a red subframe to the party for only £1500 more than the stock model. Subsequent Rs came without the expensive PVM wheels… In 2015 Triumph released a limited edition Speed 94 and 94R, which featured new graphics, a few bolt-ons and very cool yellow paint (black was also an option) that harks back to the original 1994 Speed Triple.
What to pay:
Prices start at £3100 for a 1050, but that is at the low end and adding an extra £500 will get you a far tidier example with a lower mileage. The first of the ‘bendy-spoke’ models come in at £4000, which isn’t too much extra to pay for a more practical and newer machine, and top out at £5500 which is when prices for the upgraded 2011 bike start. There are a lot of 2011 Speed Triples for sale between £5750 and £6300, which suggests this is the sweet spot for this generation, but to secure an R version you will need to cough up an extra £1000 as their exclusivity ensures they don’t appear for less than £6500.
Who to ask:
Engine: 12v dohc, 1050cc liquid-cooled triple
Power: 128bhp @ 9,100rpm (2011-onwards: 135bhp @ 9,200rpm)
Torque: 78ft.lb @ 5,100rpm (2011-onwards: 82ft.lb @ 7,750rpm)
Weight: 189kg (2011-onwards 214kg wet, R model 212kg)