You’ve seen it, you’ve craved for it, and you’ve most likely ridden the Triumph Speed Triple over its thirteen years of production. Its extremely powerful three cylinder engine combined with a top notch chassis made it go like a train and steer like a gazelle, but the stripped down stance first blinked an eye.
Triumph is known for producing successful Urban Sports equipped with three-cylinder engines and a lot of attitude and the 2008 Speed Triple tops it all with the help of some nice finishing touches like a new LED rear light, a redesigned radiator, black anodized front forks, and new tapered anodized aluminum handlebars. Not quite stylish just very efficient, the Brembo radial front brakes are also new on the bike, as well as the rear sub-frame.
Triumph first produced and marketed the Speed Triple in 1994 and the bike was fitted with a modular 885cc engine. At the time it was introduced, carburetors were the best option to feed an engine, but the three cylinders were cooled with the help of a water cooling system. The Speed Triple also made its debut featuring a five-speed transmission which was to be later replaced with a more modern and practical six-speed unit.
The Triumph Speed Triple was planed to gain popularity with the help of its reliable mechanics, sufficiently powerful engine, and extremely compact chassis which leaded to great maneuverability and an excellent road behavior. Even though it was pretty much destined to experienced rider, the impressive new Triumph was, and still is, supported by an impressive number of riders.
By 1997, Triumph had planed a great upgrade for the 855cc engine found on the Speed Triple. A fuel injection system was to increase the power from 98hp to 108hp and the aluminum perimeter chassis was ready to deal with the change. This meant faster cornering and more adrenaline. Clearly, the Speed Triple is immediately recognizable by its single sided swingarm and if you were wondering when this saw its way on the Triumph, 1997 is the answer. In fact, that important year helped individualize the Speed Triple with its unique swingarm together with the rear wheel and those nice-looking headlights.
Two years later, the triple’s displacement was increased to 955 and Triumph claimed the power of 130hp. The impressive numbers resulted in a stronger-pulling engine and greater sales.
The English manufacturer took the time and enjoyed the bike’s success for more than a few years before it made its ideas reality. The plan was to increase the cylinder capacity again, and in 2005 it ended up displacing 1050cc, as a result of longer stroke. Bulletproof built and excellent performing, the Triumph Speed Triple lives its best production days, and as of 2008, it features minor changes in comparison with the great evolutionary steps mentioned above.
Triumph really knew how to choose its cards and make a class-leader out of the Speed Triple as it fitted it with three cylinders and made sure it reached 131bhp. Keeping the retail price as low as possible was another step in front of the competition.
An example of Speed Triple’s supremacy over other European Urban Sports is clearly given with the help of the BMW R 1200 R. The bike is best characterized by its sporty behavior and excellent maneuverability. The boxer engine develops a satisfying 109hp so it disposes of enough power and torque in order to be up against the Triumph. BMW’s disadvantage is the fact that it comes with an MSRP of $12,600.
Another great example would be Ducati Monster S2R 1000, a motorcycle blending Ducati performance with Italian styling. It features the most powerful air-cooled Monster which delivers its 95hp linear and efficient. For those willing to go for this less powerful, but way better looking bike, the MSRP is $9995.
Ask any rider about a factory streetfigher and you’ll find the name of this review immediately reaching your ears. There’s nothing more iconic for this class than the Speed Triple. Over its long evolution, its manufacturer made sure to orient it towards an aggressive look and compact, stylish apparel. It was a big hit from the very beginning, but the single sided swingarm and the headlights clearly showed where this bike was heading. And the sky was the limit.
A newbie would actually tend to ask if the bike actually starts and goes on two wheels as it looks like big boy’s toy. The thing with these toys is that they go like no other.
The front end is dominated by the bike’s “eyes” and the instruments which look like hanged above(this would be the first streetfighter sign). Anodized aluminum handlebars contribute to the bike’s minimalist styling together with the new black anodized front forks.
Virtually everything that isn’t painted in the color that the buyer chooses will be black or matte black painted. The rims, engine, transmission, frame and swingarm all contribute to the mysterious looks.
The most important exterior piece is the fuel reservoir which, in this case, looks beyond any expectation. Able to store 4.7 gallons of gas and still looking smooth at the beginning and sharp where the rider’s knees reach, the gas tank gets an A plus, as well as the one-piece seat design.
At the rear, LED taillight is brand new for 2008, while chromed exhaust brings a lively feel in the entire harmony, just like the headlights covers.
You can have it painted Jet Black, Fusion White or Blazing Orange and it would look great no mater what. I mean…just take a look at it!
I had a wonderful time on the new Speed Triple and I would have never given it away. This ride really meant something because it opened my eyes towards stripped down machines that my comfort-oriented brain doesn’t tend to appreciate very much.
The first few miles I couldn’t erase the smile from my face and at the end of my three days of test riding the Speed Triple, it became practically a reflex. It was the single obvious result of the blast offered by this bike and it could be noticed from a block away.
No other roadster or sport-touring motorcycle accommodated me the way this Triumph did. The seat is very comfortable and even though at first I thought it is just a sweet oneself, the 600 miles I’ve rode on it proved contrary. Things wouldn’t have been the same without the natural riding position offered by the handlebars which are, of course, carefully positioned in order to be at easy reach and so offer a relaxed riding feel.
Speed Triple’s 1050cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line three-cylinder produces a claimed 131bhp at 9,250rpm, and 77ft.lbf at 7,550rpm. I noticed that it pulls awesome from down low, delivers strong, linear power all through the rev range and still retains the strong feel while riding at around 135mph. The bike can easily go higher and reach a TopSpeed of approximately 160mph, but being a roadster, I preferred keeping things easy on the top end in sixth gear.
I enjoyed taking corners on this Triumph as it has a low center of gravity and a perfectly balanced chassis which keeps it nice and steady while your eyes follow the exit from the curve. It can be easily maneuvered through city traffic and tight corners at slow speeds won’t become your everyday nightmare.
The clutch engages smoothly and you won’t have any problems with quick departures. But while trying to maintain the adrenaline rush you may happen to miss a gear or two. That only happens when you think you’ve sorted things out and try to see what it can do best. If you’ll exploit it as it was designed and tuned to, the Speed Triple will carry you for many years onto those long journeys on country side roads, highways, and, why not, crowded cities.
For 2008 the brakes are new and after reading this test ride you won’t be surprised to hear that Brembo radial front calipers are mounted on the bike. These units do their job spotless and there is no ABS version available because people at Triumph seem to know best what they are doing. Firmly pulling the front brakes won’t introduce you to a wheelie, but if you are familiar with Urban Sport, you can easily go your own way and through a wheelie.
Talking about this bike’s competition I mentioned that one of its biggest advantages is the price tag. For only $10,299 this piece of machinery offers all it promises and a special something: attitude.
If you feel ready for the Speed Triple challenge than nothing can stop you to get going and live your dream. That’s what motorcycling is all about, but making the right choice is also very important and that’s what we’re here for.
With the 2008 Speed Triple, Triumph takes further the powerful legacy of both this very successful model and the three-cylinder engine that starts controversy for some, and makes other’s hearts beat faster and harder.
By having the horses of a modern day 600cc supersport motorcycle and streetfighter looks, the Triumph Speed Triple proves balancing muscle and style with accuracy.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Bore/Stroke: 79 x 71.4mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Tubular, fabricated aluminum alloy perimeter
Swingarm: Single-sided, aluminum alloy with eccentric chain adjuster
Front Wheel: Alloy 5-spoke, 17 x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Alloy 5-spoke, 17 x 5.5 in
Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tyre: 180/55 ZR 17
Front Suspension: 43mm USD forks with dual rate springs and adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping
Rear Suspension: Monoshock with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping
Front Brakes: Twin 320mm floating discs, 4 piston radial calipers
Rear Brakes: Single 220mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Length: 83.3 in
Width (Handlebars): 30.7 in
Height: 49.2 in
Seat Height: 32.1 in
Wheelbase: 56.2 in
Rake/Trail: 23.5 degree/84mm
Weight (Dry): 416lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.7 gal
Maximum Power: 131bhp at 9,250rpm
Maximum Torque: 77ft.lbf at 7,550rpm
Colors: Jet Black, Fusion White, Blazing Orange
The Speed Triple’s 1050cc, three-cylinder engine, with its unmistakable character and sound, pumps out a great surge of bottom-end torque, massive mid-range punch and an impressive level of overall power. Peak power is 131bhp at 9250rpm while peak torque of 77ft.lbf arrives at 7550rpm. Triumph’s Keihin ECU offers sophisticated mapping for quicker starting, cleaner running and fuel economic engine.
5-spoke alloy wheels add to the Speed Triple’s streetfighter attitude.
The fully adjustable 43mm upside down forks and rear monoshock add superb levels of quality and control, while the new black anodized finished to the front forks amplify the Speed Triple’s rebellious look.
High-spec, twin Brembo radial front caliper four pad, four piston units, with a radial master cylinder, supply outstanding braking performance.
The Speed Triple’s rear-end has sharp, minimalist styling and features a new rear sub-frame, polished stainless steel heat shields and repositioned ball burnished aluminum rear foot rests to give the passenger rider more leg room. It also sports a new, clear-lens LED rear light.
Magura tapered, anodized aluminum handlebars are a sharp addition to the Street Triple’s minimalist styling.