I’ve long had a fascination with the Triumph Speed Twin, or as it’s sometimes known to disambiguate it from historical models with the same name, the Triumph Speed Twin 1200.

The Speed Twin 1200 is one of the more recent models based on the Triumph 1200 platform that launched with the Bonneville T120, Bonneville Bobber, Speedmaster, and Thruxton 1200. Triumph later added the Scrambler XC / XE and the Speed Twin to the line.

The Speed Twin is a stunning bike. It sits somewhere between the Bonneville and the Thruxton — more aggressive than the Bonnie but not as sporty (or high-end in componentry) as the Thruxton RS.

But in striking this balance, the Speed Twin also manages to get dazzlingly good looks. It just looks so right. Let’s look at it right now:

2019 Triumph Speed Twin 1200 red
Triumph Speed Twin 1200 (2021 model with inverted fork)

If only looks were everything.

Of course, I wasn’t intrigued by the Speed Twin just for the looks. I’m not that superficial. I was also curious about the 1200cc (well, 1197 cc) parallel-twin motor with a 270-degree crank, the moderately low weight, and the standard riding position.

In my constant internal battle between the juvenile “sport bikes 4 lyfe!!” and the grumpy old man who wishes he were in an SUV, nakeds/standards are the eternal peacemakers.

But despite its promise, riding the Triumph Speed Twin was an odd experience. I had high expectations, fuelled by experience with Triumph motorcycles, poring over reviews, and a lofty price tag, that ultimately weren’t quite satisfied.

Coming from a background of sport bikes and naked bikes, I thought I’d share my impressions of the Triumph Speed Twin for anyone considering one, because my experience seems to be at odds with the reviews out there that have generally positive opinions.

Hopefully some of the below reflections help you, no matter which side of the fence you’re on!

Caveat — Overall, I didn’t like the Triumph Speed Twin. So, this isn’t your average bubbly moto journo’s review, half written off the press release.

Whenever I write a non-ebullient review, I get a share of people telling me I’ve missed the point or that I’m just not the target market. Sure, of course that’s true. I want to answer this by saying of course, the Speed Twin is overall a great bike. There’s so much to love. I can see how people would adore owning one and riding one. If I had no options, I’d never be upset, and I’d customise it to make it my own.

It’s just that in this golden age of many motorcycle options (what a time to be alive!), high standards, and also how much one can buy in this price range, there are bikes that are better and worse suited for each individual’s personality and ride style. I’m trying to offer here a review that might help some people who share my characteristics understand that a Triumph Speed Twin may not be for them.

Are you obsessed with motorcycles?

Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)

Ride the Triumph Speed Twin’s Spec Sheet

You can’t ride a spec sheet (definitely not in this case) … but here it is, so you can rev the snot out of it and kick the virtual tires. Here are the most important specs for the Triumph Speed Twin.

ComponentSpec (2019)
See below for 2021+ spec
Engine1197 cc liquid-cooled parallel twin with a 270-degree crank, SHC, 4-valve per cylinder. Big bump over the 900cc of the Street Twin.
Bore/Stroke97.6mm / 80mm (see our bore/stroke guide)
Compression ratio11.0:1 (moderate/not too aggressive)
Max power71.5 kW/96 hp @ 6,750 rpm (Decent power at quite low RPMs for a naked/sport bike)
Max torque112.5 Nm / 83 ft-lb @ 4,950 rpm (quite low); Cycle world measured peak torque at 3,500 rpm.
Drive6-speed gearbox, chain drive (par for the course, but not a shaft drive like the BMWs)
Core ride electronicsTraction control (switchable), riding modes, standard ABS, LCD gauges
Front suspensionNon-adjustable KYB cartridge forks, right side-up (not inverted)
Rear suspensionKYB twin shocks with adjustable preload
Front brakesTwin 305mm discs, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, standard ABS
Wet weight216 kg (476 lb), weighed by Cycle World (3kg lighter than the Thruxton)
Triumph Speed Twin core specs

2021 Triumph Speed Twin changes

In 2021, Triumph dated the Speed Twin. The core of it stayed the same, but they re-tuned the engine and improved some of the parts, including the suspension and brakes.

Here’s what changed between the 2019 and 2021 Speed Twin:

Part2019 Speed Twin2021 Speed TwinNotes
Peak Power71.5 kW / 97 PS / 96 bhp73.6 kW / 100 PS / 98.6 bhp @ 7250 rpmA few more horsepower up top
Peak torque112 Nm / 82.6 lb-ft @ 4950 rpm112 Nm / 82.6 lb-ft @ 4250 rpmPeak torque lower in the rev range
Compression ratio11.0:112.1:1
Front suspension41mm conventional cartridge forks (non-adjustable)43mm Marzocchi USD (non-adjustable)Better, but still not adjustable
Front brakesTwin 305 mm discs, Brembo 4-piston calipersTwin 320mm discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monoblock calipsersSuperbike spec! The 1299 Panigale had these calipers
TyresPirelli Rosso Corsa 3 Metzeler Racetec RR
Wheels7-spoke cast aluminium wheels12-spoke cast aluminium
2019 vs 2021 Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph also added a bunch of aesthetic things to the 2021 model, including stainless steel upswept mufflers, and metallic and graphic details.

What the Triumph Speed Twin is like to ride

Triumph Speed Twin - parked on dirt road

Considering what it is like to ride the Triumph Speed Twin is a complicated question. I’ll answer it by describing the character of the engine, and riding position, and handling, and how suitable it all was to a range of riding conditions.

Let’s talk first about the engine.

Anyone who has ridden the old EFI Bonneville or Scrambler, or the newer 900cc liquid-cooled engines, and still had a bit of a need for speed may have thought “Well, that’s very nice. Now, give me one of those with more of everything!!

The 1200cc parallel twin is Triumph’s answer to that request for more. It’s a big-bore water-cooled parallel-twin engine with dual overhead cams, fuel injection, and a sophisticated computer that lets you have a smooth but engaging ride. And of course, it keeps the 270-degree crank for that balance between smooth and lumpy that makes modern Triumphs such a joy. (Here are a bunch of other motorcycles with parallel-twin 270-degree cranks.)

My first attraction to the 1200cc engine was the torque curve and power band. This is an engine that makes most of its torque from about 3000 rpm. And while it has redline of a technical 8000 rpm, power starts dropping around 7000, leading to a natural shift point of somewhere around there when you’re riding it hard.

Triumph Speed Twin — Dyno torque curve Nm (updated)
Triumph Speed Twin — Dyno torque curve (composite, various sources) Correction in Jan 2022

The attraction of this is that in everyday riding, I’m rarely above 10,000 rpm. So, my 600cc sport bike, while fun, is most suited for the track. And I’m not quite at cruiser territory where I want to just lump around and short shift — my ideal powerband is to rev up to around 10K RPM with a decent amount of torque to have fun on the way, without waiting for a small engine to spool up. Could the 1200cc plant from Triumph be “the one”?

Not quite. Even though I was attracted to the not-too-narrow and not-too-wide powerband, in reality, I ended up riding it around 5-6,000 rpm casually around town for it to feel alive. This is fine, but it’s alarmingly high (I can tell, as it’s above the middle part of the gauge). It was odd. It didn’t feel fast.

Gauges/clocks of the Triumph Speed Twin
Gauges/clocks of the Speed Twin. It’s fun keeping the revs in the right-hand side of the tachometer.

Of course, the Speed Twin did have lots of torque. At anywhere above 4,000 rpm I could grab the throttle and feel the weight tip back. Power wheelies are easy in first and not difficult in second gear. I didn’t have to downshift in everyday riding, though I couldn’t quite lug it around in high gears and low RPMs, like I can with four-cylinder naked bikes. (It didn’t stall, but it grumbled a bit.)

Riding the Speed Twin reminded me, oddly, of the Indian Scout Bobber that I had taken for a ride a couple of months earlier (and which, similarly, I couldn’t stop looking at). Very similar amount of torque, very similar amount of fun. On a bobber/cruiser it felt more appropriate.

So, the engine from the Triumph Speed Twin is — for me — OK. Not bad, but definitely not “the one” that I was looking for.

On to the sound, the visceral feeling. A bike like the Triumph Speed Twin is more about that.

Even in stock form, the note from the exhaust is great. It’s easily audible at 60km/h and with my earplugs in (and I use moulded earplugs), without being obnoxious like a Harley with slash-cut pipes. I’m writing this from a café where I literally just saw a Triumph Speed Twin go past and it’s very acceptable and public-friendly. From the seat, the vibrations are pleasant without being juddering.

I would call the character of the Speed Twin’s engine “lively” and “engaging”, without being “rev-happy” — a description I’d reserve for the triples in Triumph’s line-up.

On the other hand, the liquid-cooled parallel twin doesn’t have the brutal character of a Ducati V-twin (especially an older air/oil-cooled one), nor does it have the animal kick of BMW’s air-cooled boxer engines.

Now let’s talk about riding position of the Triumph Speed Twin. It’s pretty upright. But it’s not as upright as a Bonneville T120. And it’s slightly canted forward, but it’s not as forward-leaning as a Thruxton 1200. All these motorcycles share the same engine block, but with slightly different tunes (biases towards power and torque), and with different seating positions.

SpecBonneville T120Thruxton R/Speed TwinThruxton RS (2020+)
Peak power57.8 kW (79 hp) @ 6550 rpm71.5 kW (96 hp) @ 6750 rpm77 kW (103 hp) @ 7,500 rpm
Peak torque105 Nm (78 ft-lb) @ 3500 rpm112 Nm (83 ft-lb) @ 4950 rpm112 Nm (83 ft-lb) @ 4,250 rpm
Compression ratio10.0:111.0:112.066:1
Different power/torque biases of the 1200cc parallel twin

Here’s the bad news though — the riding position of the Triumph Speed Twin feels “not quite right”. It slants you forwards so that you slide into the tank, but the tank is so narrow that there’s not much to stop you there.

And there’s a slight lean forward to the handlebars (I’m 182 cm / 6 feet tall and have fairly standard torso/leg proportions), but you can’t grip onto the tank with your knees (as one does in standard sportbike riding position), so you inevitably have to lock your elbows and weight your wrists. Which is bad.

Triumph Speed Twin - narrow tank, gauges
The view from the seat. Narrow tank, semi old-school gauges

The easy answer, of course, is to accelerate a lot so that the weight isn’t on you. Or ride constantly above 100 km/h or 60 mph so that the wind holds you back. But that seems a cop-out for a bike and motor that could have been very fun on windy roads, if it weren’t for having to hold yourself up on your wrists.

On to handling. The Speed Twin does fine around town, but you can tell that this is no sport bike.

I mean, you can tell the suspension of the Speed Twin isn’t a sport bike’s suspension before you even leave the parking lot. What kind of premium bike doesn’t have adjustable forks, and only has preload adjustability in the rear shock? It’s… disappointing (not “shocking”. I’m trying to maintain some self-respect here.)

Rear shock on the Triumph Speed Twin
Rear shock

The suspension of the Speed Twin is what I’d call adequate to blast about on, but not to corner too aggressively. In this regard, it’s quite similar to the Street Twin or older 865-engined non-premium Triumphs. How this translates to riding on the road:

  • When braking hard, you’ll get dive.
  • When cornering hard, you’ll get a bit of wander.

These are more noticeable to people who (like me) are used to sporty naked bikes or outright sport bikes. But if you’re coming from a cruiser, you’ll likely feel right at home.

If you are concerned about the Triumph Speed Twin’s handling, the answer, just looking through forums (like this thread at TriumphRat) is to modify both the front and rear suspension. People often replace the rear shocks (Nitron, Öhlins), and the springs and oil in the front shocks, sometimes upgrading to a fancy cartridge kit.

So, what’s the Triumph Speed Twin good at? Exactly that — blasting around town.

There’s a certain joy in having a midrange-happy upright motorcycle on which to snarl through traffic, get to the gym, get to a cafe (yes! I do go to cafes on motorcycles), and maybe not feel like you have to dress the part by wearing full race leathers.

Because the riding position of the Triumph Speed Twin isn’t one I’d get comfortable on for long distances, riding around town can be a joy because you’re always moving around in the seat. The engine is fun to keep alive in the 3-6,000 rpm range.

When I hit dirt roads on the Speed Twin, I never felt like I was too out of place… I almost wanted to spin the rear wheel a bit and do dirt-bike style turns (before I remembered how heavy the damn thing was, and that a small risk of dropping it onto a bar-end mirror was too much).

The Speed Twin is happiest above 60 km/h (40 mph). Below that, I found the fans often come on (it just bugs me, even though it’s normal function, just as it bugs me when it happens on my laptop), and my wrists get sore.

But above 60km/h (40 mph) — particularly beyond the traffic, in the little hills — the Speed Twin starts to make more sense. There’s less pressure on my wrists, as the wind is keeping me up, as is the acceleration. It’s still not the perfect bike. I just wish the tank was wider and the weight of the bike was a little lower (both in number and in how high up it is) for it to feel really sporty.

Mostly, when trying to pull any sporting performance out of the Speed Twin, I think “hmm, maybe what I need is a Speed Triple”.

Maintaining the Triumph Speed Twin

Overall, maintaining the Triumph Speed Twin is pretty easy.

  • It’s liquid-cooled, so you have to change the coolant every four years.
  • It has a chain drive, so you have to keep it clean and lubed.
  • You have to inspect and adjust the valves every 16,000 km, but that’s not too hard as there’s just one cylinder head, one camshaft, and two pistons.

See here for the full maintenance schedule for the Triumph Speed Twin, plus guidance on what parts to get.

Alternatives to the Triumph Speed Twin

After riding the Speed Twin, my mind obviously turned to a few alternatives. What else is out there that gives me a pleasant, mid-range powerband, a bunch of tech options, and style?

Here are the main contenders.

BMW R nineT — More power (82 kW / 110 hp), an air-cooled bike with shaft drive, and the 2021+ models have cruise control and an IMU. The R nineT makes a bit less torque early on, but has a lot more top end. Plus, the full-spec (not Pure, etc.) R nineT has fully adjustable suspension.

The R nineT is the clear class leader in the “retro naked” category. They’re also a lot more expensive, and being air-cooled, have shorter 6000 mile / 10000 km valve inspection intervals (though they’re easy to do). My favourite bit is they kick over when you grab the throttle. The R nineT is alive!

Read the buyers guide to the R nineT range here.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 — Second in line is the Scrambler (which is a whole line of motorcycles, ranging from street to sport, despite the “Scrambler” name). Also using an air-cooled retro engine, the Scrambler has a chain drive, just like the Speed Twin.

The Scrambler 1100 is down on power (64 kW/86 hp), but also lighter weight at 206kg wet — and it wears it well, feeling a lot lighter. The Scrambler 1100 has an IMU for cornering ABS, but no cruise control. The Scrambler 1100 has 7,500 mile/12,000 km valve inspection intervals, and a desmo service isn’t cheap, or it’s a several hour job.

Read our guide to the Scrambler 1100 here.

The Triumph Street Twin (from 2023 the Speed Twin 900) — that’s right, the little sibling to the Speed Twin 1200 is a worthy contender. A lot of people (including me) like it more. It just seems to aim lower and hit the mark.

It could be lower expectations I have of a smaller bike, but those are informed by Triumph’s market positioning and the price they set — I just like the 900! It’s fast (enough), it’s friendly, and it doesn’t fail to meet a high standard that would be set by a higher price.

The Japanese retro nakeds are all more “sport naked” rather than “retro”. I could list the Yamaha XSR900, the Honda CB1000R, and the Kawasaki Z900RS, and the Suzuki Katana, but they are all just a lot more aggressive with their 3-4 cylinder engines, liquid cooling (which the Speed Twin has, I know, but it tries to hide it away), and usually higher power outputs. But they’re great bikes (I’d rather be on one of those).

Wrap up — Did I miss the point of the Speed Twin?

The cruel thing about a beautiful bike that’s not a bad bike is that I really want to like it. So, when I step off it and think “Hmm, not for me” I can’t help but wonder: Is my opinion wrong?

I don’t think so. After all, I know what I like. But I’ve asked around (ok, looked around in forums), trying to get the general feeling for who likes the Triumph Speed Twin. Here’s what I’ve figured out.

  • If you’re coming off cruisers or other old Triumphs, then you’re probably going to like the Speed Twin. It gives you a sporty engine, good handling and generous cornering clearance, and lots of visual presence.
  • If you come off other standards like the R nineT, then it’s really just “pick your poison”. It’s often brand loyalty; you’ll pry a BMW/Triumph/Ducati out of a certain kind of rider’s cold, dead hands.
  • If you’re coming off sport bikes or sporty nakeds, then you’re probably going to feel like the Triumph Speed Twin is slow and ungainly. Unless you’re willing to slow down (and we all do at some point… right?) or invest in suspension then it’s unlikely to be for you.

Hopefully that’s some guidance for you.

Here are a couple of other pics of this beauty to round this article out.

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  1. Hi Dana,

    The new version has USD forks, maybe that will help for sport riding.
    For true sport riding, Triumph offers it’s triple engine range.

    Besides the Thruxton, the Speed Twin is the sportiest from ther twin range.
    But I think the most interesting proposition from the twin range (apart from the price tag) is the Scrambler 1200.
    The over-equipped XE version I rode felt equally at home on decent or bad surfaced roads. It basically rides like a big supermoto, with heated grips and a retro look.
    The cheaper SC version, road-oriented, might even be a better deal if you don’t consider trail riding. Reminds me of a heavier, torquier HM1100.


  2. Hi, The T120 does have a different engine tune from the Speed Twin and Thruxton. It is supposed to be more biased to low rpm torque than the others.

    1. The Speed Twin and Thruxton R shared an engine, but the 2020+ Thruxton RS has a newer spec. I made it clearer in a table showing all the specs (including with the Bonnie T120).

      1. Thanks for clearing it up. Great site you have here.

        I have never ridden any of the new Triumphs, but I wondered how comfortable the Speed Twin would be with those pegs kinda far back. Sounds like maybe it’s not so great for comfort. For me personally something like the T120 or Street Twin would be all the performance I would need, and probably more comfortable.

        1. I think you would be disappointed in the T120 too … because it is clearly detuned compared to the Speed Twin, does NOT feel stronger in the lower rev range at all and is even closer to the T100. The T100 is actually the goldilocks zone in the Triumph twin program! Many online comparisons have found this in their tests.

          1. You’re 100% right. I have now ridden them both (write-up forthcoming). I found the T120 just way too heavy above all else. Or was it just because I somehow found myself in a situation where I had to do a U-turn in a place where I had no space, facing forward, on an incline? Man, I sweated that afternoon! I did like the T100 more. Beats me why manufacturers make smaller, better bikes, and then omit nice bells and whistles that have nothing to do with displacement.

    2. Hi Paul from what I read a lot of guys love the thruxton with a change of bars. A simple enough swap before even leaving the store. Yes it’s more money but you get a lot for that the extra power and suspension and electronics are worth every penny. Want even more power and torke? Upgrade the exhaust. Make it your bike.

      1. Joe
        Have you ridden the Thruxton with the mods you suggested? It is a very cool bike. Torque is wild. Wonder about the comfort for 2-4 hr rides.

  3. I got mine 2 weeks ago l love it fast handles all day comfortable drove it home from Macellsfield mix of motorway and a road would normally have had a least sore knees no discomfort what so ever don’t think ive ever went up the Dumfries to Ayr rd so fast thought handling was superb absolutely love it

  4. Hi Dana, I love your article on the Speedtwin. I just bought a 2020 Speedtwin and would like to take it on some long trips. Can you offer any advice on how to make the riding position more comfortable on longer trips? Thanks, Benny

    1. Hi there, as I don’t OWN one I don’t feel qualified! But I did a bit of desktop research for you and people start with the usual suspects of a touring seat (Corbin/Airhawk), a flyscreen at least (your own personal compromise of wind deflection vs looks), and a throttle lock. I wrote up a guide on throttle locks. I personally just bought electronic cruise control for my own R nineT but that’s a big investment.

  5. Hi Dana. Like you, I’m taken by the classic look and clean lines of the Speed Twin. It’s on my short list for my next motorcycle to fill the role as an around-town bike. I’m very disappointed to read you are underwhelmed by the bike. I don’t think think a bike at that price point should feel underwhelming to anyone. You say you’d prefer one of the Japanese naked sport bikes over the Speed Twin. I’m curious, which of those would you choose for an around-town bike?

    1. Yeah they’re quite expensive — that’s the conundrum. It’s not that it’s a bad bike (a rare thing). But when you’re spending that cash, almost anything is an option, and one can be fussy about one’s specific tastes.

      To answer your question — of the standards out there, a Kawasaki Z900RS would be my poison. With an exhaust and a tune. I like the song of an inline four.

      1. Dana, amongst 2021 T120 Bonneville, Kawasaki Z900rs, Triumph street twin which one do you recommend. I am going to be driving in the city on weekdays and on the motorways over weekends.
        P.S. I am 5’ 11 and found street twin a little short

        1. For myself I’d pick the Z900RS, but I’m not to say what will tickle your fancy! They’re all beautiful obviously so it’s the one that aesthetically pleases you the most while riding it (i.e. including the feel of the ride).

          1. Hi guys,
            New to this site. Had Jap bikes all my life, last a Z1000, but I was getting to old and sha was getting to fast so decided to sell. Wife said no as I’m a grumpy shit at the best of times and a really grumpy c?,t when I haven’t had a bike. So as she’s always liked Harley’s I buy one, as I don’t it was a second hand 1200 sportster, that cost a fortune in brakes, fork and shock upgrades, exhaust and a big bore kit about to go in, and it will still only be good for Sunday posing, but she wants it once she’s got her unrestricted license. SO I just bought a Triumph Thruxton 1200R and it is almost exactly perfect for ME, like Dana said, to paraphrase, what suits one doesn’t suit another. Suspension I need to work on for my weight, bit too firm as bought but, with its adjustment should be fine. Exhaust could be a little louder (Weslakes and x cat just arrived). Slim tank, bar and foot peg position fine for my size. Only thing I don’t like are the tubed tyres, like the style of the wheels, but tubed no having had a tubed blow years ago on a wet roundabout with an artic a few yards behind! So love the bike but wish it had the Speed Twins wheels.

            Sorry I posted my reply to Dana’s review in Tarun’s comments. As an add on to my reply I agree that the Kwak is great looking and no doubt a great ride, but as I said in my misplaced post I traded my Z1000 as it was to fast and I was too old to wring its neck. The Thruxton reminds me in a lot of ways of my 1200 Bandit which I loved.

  6. Interesting perspective Dana and thank you for making the effort to gather your thoughts and put them in writing. I’m going to test one of the new Speed Twins at some point this month and I suspect that, at 188cm, my experience will be a little different, certainly in terms of riding position. I rode a Street Twin around for a the best past of a week earlier this year and had no problem gripping the tank with my knees and likewise, my long arms mean less forward stretch. My biggest bug-bear was the awful seat, which literally gave me saddle sores, and the stock seat on the Speed Twin doesn’t look any better. Peak torque now 600 rpm lower can only be good, IMO but it remains to be seen if the new suspension fixes the handling problems of the older model. I’ve yet to see a back-to-back comparison review.

  7. Triumph has a 4-cylinder bike in its lineup? That’s news to me. Apparently it’s news to Triumph as well.

    1. Hi Dana.I own a 2019 speed twin, having bought in on the wave of enthusiastic reviews I saw on the media.All of your honest observations have become apparent to me during the 6000 plus miles I have ridden it.Your findings echoed my reservations about the hard seat and angle which makes me slide into the petrol tank which is narrow causing me to try to knee grip the bike in the (hot) area beneath rear of the tank.I mainly cured this after buying a custom padded seat of eBay with about three inches of padding at the front which stops the forward slide, makes bumpy roads durable and being higher, makes the knee angle more comfortable.(I am not tall, about 32” inside leg, just over 9 stone weight).

      I was finding, as you did, gripping the handle bars too tightly like riding a speedway bike. I found the rear end skipping on occasions on uneven country roads though after 6000 miles, this does not seem as severe so I’m either used to it now or the rear shocks possibly worn in a bit and become more synchronised.

      I did change the rear tyre, after puncture, for a sports touring tyre of the same brand which has a less severe radius which has helped reduce the rear end tracking in rough road ruts.

      I had some issues with the front brakes grabbing on low speed stopping causing fork dive. Thought front discs might have been warped at one stage so dial gauged them found 0.9 mm one one and 1.9 on the other which local triumph dealer said in spec. Cleaned callipers and disc floating pins ,changed fluid and have been ok since. Found the Speed Twin’s suspension fine on the good roads but, for me, would need full suspension upgrade for the country lanes to enjoy the bike to its full potential as the suspension is restricting.

      I have felt front fork flex accelerating on rough roads twice.

      These issues I have found annoying, as I love the bike as a whole but I feel that Triumph has put so much care in the beautiful finish then not quite got it right with those issues. (I also had to put throttle spacers in to cure the slack) One last moan, the rear mudguard is useless in the heavy rain, letting water soak riders back. It’s either a suspension upgrade for me, which I can ill afford, or regrettably give it up and find a bike without any issues for me.

      Starting to ponder on the z900rs as they seem not to have many complaints. Always tried to avoid Japanese bikes (I’m old fashioned) though tTiumph now made in Thailand, does not seem to matter anymore. Any advice?

      1. PS-from Billy.Reading back through my comments about my speed twin, I feel that I neglected to portray, despite my grumbles, generally what a well designed ,compact well finished motorcycle it is , being easy to ride, with a very nice torquey engine and has brought me great pleasure riding around the twisty country roads.I believe triumph have addressed some issues by fitting improved front forks and brakes on their latest version.-Billy.

      2. Mate, the Z900RS is a great bike, and sometimes just going and sitting on one and taking it for a ride can help make that decision. Many love them — I think Lemmy (or someone over at Revzilla) once described it as the bike most people would want. Surprisingly fast, and a lot of character in that engine — but I like four-cylinder engines.

        I understand your old-fashionedness about non-Japanese bikes, but if you spend some time looking into the last fifty years of bikes, you might begin to appreciate how much Japanese manufacturers brought to the biking world. The 70s and 80s were decades of really quick innovation, and a lot of what they did inspired European manufacturers afterwards. Heck, the Ducati 916 borrowed quite a bit from Hondas of the 80s. And of course the new Triumph, as you mention, is a totally different Triumph anyway! Kawasaki, Honda etc. have much more continuous history than does John Bloor’s Triumph.

        But on to your bike — sometimes a bike that’s really easy on the eye and feels mostly great is worth spending just a little on to see if you can get it right. If possible I’d join some of the local Triumph rider groups and see if you can borrow the parts to get it right. If you can, I often find “better the devil you know” — especially as trading in a bike always costs you somehow (at very least in time). This is what I’d do if I already owned one. In fact, I already own a bike in the same class of “good-looking roadsters”, the BMW R nineT, and it’s also not perfect for me, so out comes the wallet… again.

        Peace and ride on.

  8. Hi Dana, loved your review on Speed Twin here. I too had higher expectations from the speed twin, given it’s price and the reviews on internet. Really disappointed with the suspension and the uncomfortable seat. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  9. Well I love the reviews above and I agree having had a speed twin, my thoughts were its to ready to go and not relaxed enough for me, being a 61 year old mancunian who loves bikes and I have had many over the years. I Had mine decatted and it sounded lovely and looked great in black with the headlight bezel and the led indicators (round ones) and the integrated tail light and indicators she looked lovely, however over time I thought she was a bit small and to to ready to go out of the blocks, I think they should have fitted the speed twin with a bigger tank and canted the bike more upright, easier on the arms and more relaxed, the bigger tnk would give it a better look as over all i thought it was to small, the quilted seat was lovely but not comfortable any way she was sold, i now have a z900 rs and intially preferred twins but i read a review that stated the z grows on you, it does, its a lovley looking machine
    and the engine note when riding is addictive to listen to, so much so that i have been out for two hours and on arriving home i though i will do an extra loop locally to just listen to the bike, i was not sure ref having an inline four as i had never had one before, but the engine is quick and responsive, my colour is the blue and is lovely, It looks better then the speed twin in my opinion, i do miss however seeing the headlight infront of you on the speed twin , i have fitted a rear rack radiator cover and centre stand and that will do i think. I did consider getting the t120 Bonnie as i think it might have suited my style of riding which is just pootling over Dartmoor in Devon and down the back line with a long trip every now and then. I think over all my time riding it comes down to being honest with the type of riding you do for me however i have to like the look of my bike, so watch this space will i end up with a Bonnie?? safe riding everyone, Dartmoor Dog.

  10. Part 2 I thought i would also mention that ref similar bikes i also test rode all of the 9rt,s series and found that the urban R9T was the most comfortable and sounded the best, the other bikes are better looking but again not as comfy. I think also that from reading all the bike reviews the Bonnie Speedmaster is underated according to a lot of reviewers (food for thought) In the past I also had a Norton and for anybody looking at a new one be aware that the turning angle is limited, and the side stand is difficult to use. So thats it My other bike is an R18 and bike to Try in the future the ktm 890 R great reviews and less expensive the the big BMW GS,s which i have owned and maybe a Bonnie, hopefully will i find my perfect bike ??

  11. I appreciate a critical review, but what strikes me as odd is that the author doesn’t suggest any viable alternative bikes. The Ducati resembles an inexpensive dirt bike, while the BMW is expensive, has a polarizing design, and the protruding cylinder heads intimidate many riders I know, fearing a painful shin contact. The issue is that there doesn’t seem to be a high-performing standard bike on the market without resorting to models like the Streetfighter V2, S1000R, or Super Duke.

    Personally, I find that Triumphs have appealing aesthetics and beautiful paintwork, but the company significantly cuts corners on the brakes, suspension, and wheels. This has led me to lose all respect for Triumph’s management. The suspension on the Speed Twin is so low-quality, I doubt the components cost more than $40 wholesale for the entire setup, the M50s are likely around 14 years old by now, and though I’m not certain about the wheels, they appear to be cast. Essentially, their bikes are visually appealing but lack in substance. Nevertheless, I’m in the market for a café racer and am considering the Speed Twin. I plan to upgrade it with Ohlins and find some lighter wheels. That should suffice.

    1. Funny you should mention the cylinder heads of the boxer. I fear those on the R 1200 GS and the like, as I do hit them, but then I never do on the R nineT. I guess everyone’s personal geometry is different! It’s a shame it’s so hard to adjust the riding position of a motorcycle vs a car, where you can just move a seat around and move the steering wheel up and down. I mean, it’s not hard to change a seat or bars, but you can’t experiment easily.

      On reflection, another alternative is the Kawasaki Z900RS. Retro-inspired, great looking, good performer, well-liked other than low-RPM fuelling.

  12. I appreciate your honest, against-the-grain evaluation of the Speed Twin 1200.
    And so with your R9T perspective, relevance is established.

    So, while being the ideal target market of Triumph’s Speed Twin 1200, I temper my ownership of a recently acquired Speed Twin 1200 along with that of a Vitpilen 701 which takes up any slack the Speed Twin 1200 leaves behind on the street while also scratching track itches too.

    It is what it is as you say, it’s great for “ blasting around town.” Agreed!

  13. Does putting a “sporty cruiser” engine in a sportbike chassis work? Yes and no, really depends on what you’re seeking. If you’re like me and have a passion for the old school retro look, but want modern day performance, then the answer is no. I’d opt for the Kawasaki Z900RS, hands down a better alternative.

    1. Me too, but the Speed Twin has its share of fans. Might be some people who just fit on it better. Regardless, I’m happy if I get to look at them and hear them go past.

  14. i would disagree with the fact the jp sport-retros are aiming for a different bar — if you look, the z900rs is about same horsepower and overall numbers as the RnineT, with very classic-look styling. arguably it looks more classic-y than the beemer, and about as much as the bonneville. I mean looking at all of them, the speed twin is the least classic looking AND feeling, since it’s got the 270 crank and a lot of really modern-y looking things on it that take away from the classic feel.

    Still, good breakdown of everything!

    1. Valuable points. Yeah, they’re all quite different to me, too! But that’s because I look at them all day. At the same time, I’d be happy with any of them if I had no choice.

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