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

Kev Raymond
By Kev Raymond

Kev's been riding since acquiring half shares in a CZ175 field bike back in the seventies, passed his test in a blizzard on Christmas Eve 1985, and got his first job on a bike mag in 1990. Likes: long distance touring and short-distance twisties. Currently owns a 1987 GSX-R1100, a 1992 Ducati 400SS, a 1973 Honda SS50, a 1978 Honda CX500, a 1988 Honda Bros special, a 1957 Mobylette and a 110cc pit bike. None of them work.

Triumph

 

Triumph's Speed Triple 955i followed the same path as its heavier forebears – it was basically the Daytona sportsbike with its fairing ripped off and thrown away. So you get the same grunt, growl and great handling and braking that made the 955i Daytona such a great road bike, but with a more upright riding position. Windblast aside, it's arguably an even better bike than the donor – not always the case with naked versions, which are often detuned and softened too much in the process. In this case the only real differences in spec were steel cylinder bores (rather than plated), slightly milder cams and a different engine map, all designed to give more grunt at the expense of a little top end. The 955 Speed Triple ran from 1999 until 2004, with a mild update in 2000 (posher engine management system, new silver wheels and round silver silencer) and a big one in 2002 (more power, new seat/subframe and a 17in front wheel). There was also a special edition (SE) model in 2004 which featured gloss black paint and black frame, wheels and engine. The Speed Triple 955i is still a great used choice – here's what you need to know if you're looking to buy one.

 

Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) Price

Back in 1999, a new Speed Triple would have rushed you a not inconsequential £7699 on the road (about £13,500 in today's money!). To put that in perspective a Suzuki Bandit 1200 was just £5474 that year, and you could have bought a new Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 and still had 400 quid left over for tyres and fuel. Over its model life the price actually fell slightly, and 2004 models retailed at £7499, but they were never cheap bikes. Over the years they've held their values pretty well, and it's only now that early and higher mileage bikes are dipping well under the two-grand barrier for private sales. Even then you'll do well to find anything that doesn't need some work for that money. Better to spend a little more and go for something clean and tidy. We'd say don't worry too much about mileage - condition is more important. if we had the choice at similar money between a 2002 model (with the uprated engine etc) with 40k on the clocks, or a 2001 with half that mileage, we'd still choose the 2002 bike. You do get the odd very low mileage, late example up for silly money (over four grand) but in the real world about £3000 is as far as we'd want to go for a clean late model.

 

Power and torque

100-110bhp (depending on whether it's a late or early one) might not sound much in these days of 200bhp sportsbikes, but it's the way it's delivered that's always made the Speed Triple so entertaining. The inline triple layout really is the best of both worlds - most of the grunt of a twin (more in some cases –  the Speed Triple out-grunts a Ducati Monster S4 right through the range), with most of the top end of a four. True, if you've just got off a BMW S1000R a Speed Triple's going to feel a bit slow, but with lower gearing than the Daytona, it feels more snappy and eager to accelerate than the power figures would have you believe. And it has such a fantastic growl to it, you find yourself rolling on and off the throttle just to hear more of it.

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The 955i engine is very tough, so long as you give it some love. In particular, you need to be absolutely meticulous about checking oil levels and changing oil on time, and also about warming the engine carefully before giving it some beans. Because these engines love to burn oil if thrashed from cold – if not checked and topped up frequently they can easily burn through so much there's not enough left for the pump to feed to the bearings, and mayhem ensues. This is why you should walk away from any Triumph triple that shows signs of neglect, and always make sure you see the bike started from cold – a little blue smoke on start-up is fine, but if there's a lot, and especially if it doesn't clear completely when warm, don't just walk, run... Also, listen to the engine. They're a bit noisy anyway, and cam-chain rattles are common, especially if the throttle bodies need balancing, but low-pitched knocking sounds could be crankshaft or big end wear. Look out for oil weeps from the head gasket too - often a sign of impending failure. Aftermarket exhausts are popular, but can affect the fuelling if the ECU's not been adjusted to suit. Gearbox clunky? They're all like that sir... Just as well the engine's so flexible you don't need to change gear much anyway!

 

Triumph

 

Triumph Speed Triple 955i (1999-2004) Economy

Outright economy was never the Speed Triple's strong point, and you can easily get it dipping towards 30mpg if you're heavy handed. Even if you're not, you'll struggle to get much above 40mpg in general riding. You've got a fairly big 21 litre fuel tank though, so that gives you a realistic range of about 160-170 miles before you need to start getting properly twitchy.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

You don't get lightning fast steering – you'll need to work those wide bars to get it to turn in at speed. But you do get high quality suspension with plenty of adjustment. The biggest problems are wear and tear and neglect. The forks are hard on oil – it needs changing frequently –  and the adjusters can seize, so check that before you buy, and move them through their full range every now and again. At the rear the shock will probably be due a rebuild by now, but it's the linkages you should look at – not uncommon for them to corrode into seizure if they're not regularly greased. Same with the eccentric chain adjuster for the single sided swing arm – loosen the bolts and check it moves freely.

 

Triumph Speed Triple 955i (1999-2004) Brakes

Excellent when new, with great feel and plenty of power, but the calipers have always been prone to corrosion and partial (or complete) seizure over time. The service schedule calls for new rubber caliper seals every two years, but it's almost never respected. Strip, clean, lube, rebuild, repeat - or send them to www.triumph-ant.co.uk for reconditioning. Various Kawasaki and Suzuki calipers are also a bolt-on swap. Check the brake discs for wear, warping and excessive play on the rivets holding the floating bobbins in place.

 

Triumph

 

Comfort over distance and touring

You can tour on a Speed Triple, but it's not really its strong point. The riding position's great for stunts and back roads, and the seat itself is comfy enough, but windblast takes its toll and at motorway speeds (even more so at autobahn speeds) you'll probably be wishing you had a smaller tank so you could stop sooner. There was a genuine Triumph accessory flyscreen available to fit above the headlights, and although it looked useless it actually made a surprising difference to airflow and comfort – worth having.

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

None of your namby-pamby safety stuff here. No traction control, no ABS, no fully-featured display screen, no quickshifter, no nothing. Which is just how owners like it – it's a proper motorbike, not a Playstation substitute. Triumph have always had an extensive accessory catalogue but the most popular items have always been the genuine 'not for road use' exhausts (which are often too loud for track days as well...) and the flyscreen mentioned above.

 

Triumph Speed Triple 955i (1999-2004) - Other stuff to look for

As well as the corrosion and oil consumption issues outlined above, electrics have always been a bit of an issue, with voltage regulators a common fail point (upgrade with a Mosfet version from a later Triumph or Yamaha, or from Electrex) and a battery that's on the small side leading to problems starting (and potential expensive starter clutch failure if it kicks back). With age though, corroded loom connectors are the biggest problem, along with water sitting in spark plug wells and causing serious corrosion.

 

Triumph

 

Triumph Speed Triple 955i (1999-2004) verdict

There's always been a lot to love about the Speed Triple 955i – the grunt, the handling, the looks, the sound – and that's as true for a well cared-for 20 year-old example as it was when they were new. But the key is that 'well cared-for' tag. A neglected Speed Triple can be a swift pathway to depression and an empty wallet. There are various Speed Triple forums out there, some of them lively but not very useful, others apparently dormant but with great archives of useful info – our advice is to join several and see how you go. For new and used parts and advice, try long established breakers and marque specialists www.triumph-ant.co.uk and for servicing and in-depth mechanical knowledge, you won't find better than independent specialist (and former Speed Triple racer) Clive Wood. Email him or track him down via Facebook.

 

Three things we love about the Speed Triple…

  • The grunt
  • The wheelies
  • That triple sound

 

Three things we don't…

  • Windblast
  • Corrosion
  • Oil consumption

 

Triumph Speed Triple (1999-2004) spec

Original price

£7699

Current price range

£1500 - £3000

Capacity

955cc

Bore x Stroke

79x65mm

Engine layout

Inline triple

Engine details

DOHC, liquid cooled, fuel injected

Power (claimed, '02 model)

118bhp (88kW) @ 9,450rpm

Torque (claimed, '02 model)

74 lb-ft (100Nm) @ 5,100rpm

Top speed

150mph

Transmission

6 speed, chain drive

Average fuel consumption

39mpg tested

Tank size

21 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

180 miles

Reserve capacity

n/a

Rider aids

n/a

Frame

Auminium tube type, single sided swing arm

Front suspension

45mm conventional forks

Front suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Front brake

320mm discs, four-piston calipers

Rear brake

220mm disc, two-piston caliper

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

190/50 ZR17

Rake/Trail

23.5°/84mm

Dimensions

2115mm x 780mm 1250mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1429mm

Ground clearance

n/a

Seat height

815mm

Kerb weight

215kg

 

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

 

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