More Power, More Poise, More Control

Triumph refurbished its Speed Triple family ahead of MY2018, and the British giant carries its new-for-’18 Speed Triple S and Speed Triple RS straight over into the 2019 lineup. These two rides epitomize the “performance naked” subgenre with a stripped-down look. They come with an updated powerplant alongside a robust electronics suite on the base model that gets even better on the “RS” variant. Power, poise and control, the new Speed Triples seem to have it all, so today I want to see how well they hold up to closer scrutiny and pit one of ’em against a likely competitor from Japan, or maybe Italy. Let’s get to it.

  • 2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
  • Year:
    2018- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    1050 cc
  • Price:
    14350
  • Price:

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Design

2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
- image 811551
New color TFT screen, cruise control, illuminated switch cubes, and four ride modes; five on the “RS.”

The family was on the receiving end of a makeover that included the addition of a set of ten-spoke cast wheels shot in high-gloss black on both rides, but the “RS” adds to the picture with a sharp-lookin’ red stripe on the rim. On the “S” there’s a larger-bore, dual-muffler exhaust system with aluminum heat shields that make a small contribution of their own to the aesthetics. A new color palette and decal selection wraps up the finishes to make this pair unique to their respective model-years.

The instrumentation falls solely to the five-inch, color TFT display, and this year-model sees the addition of backlit switchcubes to make it easier to navigate the various systems, even in inclement weather or after the sun goes down.

Dual headlights lead the way and dominate the front end with just a scant little flyscreen to protect the instrumentation, and on the “RS”, the headlights come loaded with DRLs as well. Both rides come with bar-end mirrors, and you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan ’cause they clean up the control area quite nicely, and I think most bikes would benefit from a pair, mine included. The bar and risers provide some lift, but they’re just about two inches away from where a set of clip-ons would ride and allow for a fairly comfortable upright riding position that’ll serve you well as you tool around town.

A 4.1-gallon fuel tank dominates the flyline with a generous flare up top and a narrow section in back where it meets the saddle to form a set of pockets for your knees. Not only does this pull your stems in and out of the slipstream, but it leaves you room for some proper body English if you like to toss it around in the corners.

The pillion pad is of the “I’d rather not” variety, and if you want that solo look you can always put on the p-pad cover for a racebike finish. Unfortunately, the rear blinkers and tag come on the subframe-mount mudguard, and as usual, I will advocate for a nice hugger from the aftermarket instead ’cause it’s a shame to clutter up the rear end of a bike that’s so clean and essential.

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Chassis

2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
- image 811833
Lighter and with a more responsive throttle, the Speed Triple's handling is decidedly more agile and flickable.

Aluminum beams make up the twin-spar frame, and that lightweight alloy continues into the single-sided swingarm as well to keep the overall weight down at 423 pounds, dry. The steering head is set for a remarkably steep rake at 22.9 degrees from the vertical with a short, 3.59 inches of trail, and that turns in some decidedly agile handling and flickability at the end of the day.

A pair of 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels round out the rolling chassis with a Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa 120/70 up front opposite a fat 190/55. The 43 mm forks push the front wheel out to put the contact-patch centers at 56.89 inches apart with 4.72 inches of travel at the front axle and 5.12 inches at the rear. On the “S”, it’s Showa, and for the “RS”, it’s Öhlins, though both ends come with the full trinity of adjustments so you can dial right in for your personal preference.

As for the brakes, dual four-piston Brembo calipers bite the 320 mm discs to slow the front wheel opposite a 255 mm disc and twin-pot anchor with switchable ABS all around. After all, what good is it to have plenty of brakeage if you can’t safely use it all?

Frame: Aluminum beam twin-spar
Swingarm: Single-sided, aluminum alloy with eccentric chain adjuster
Front Suspension:
Speed Triple S: Showa 43 mm upside down forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 4.72 in (120 mm) travel
Speed Triple RS: Öhlins 43 mm NIX30 upside down forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 4.72 in (120 mm) travel
Rear Suspension:
Speed Triple S: Showa monoshock with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 5.12 in (130 mm) rear wheel travel
Speed Triple RS: Öhlins TTX36 twin tube monoshock with preload, rebound and compression damping, 5.12 in (130 mm) rear wheel travel
Rake: 22.9 º
Trail: 3.59 in (91.3 mm)
Front Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy multi-spoke 17 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy multi-spoke 17 in x 6.0 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 320 mm floating discs, Brembo 4-piston Monobloc radial calipers Switchable ABS
Rear Brakes: 255 mm disc, 2-piston sliding caliper Switchable ABS

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Drivetrain

2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
- image 811850
The updated 1050 cc engine delivers more power and a sharper, more focused ride than ever before.

The electronics suite differs between these two rides, so let’s start with the crunchy bits first. Power comes from a transverse-mount, inline triple that rocks a 79 mm bore and 71.4 mm stroke for a total displacement of 1,050 cc. That puts compression near the top of the range at 12.92-to-1, so you can disabuse yourself of the notion that you’ll be feeding this beast anything less than the best pump gas you can find.

Dual over-head cams time the 12-valve head, and a water jacket around the engine draws off waste heat and keeps the bulk of the mechanical noises where they belong; in the cases. Power is consistent across the board and boosted for this year with 148 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 86 pound-feet of torque that tops out at 7,150 rpm. A slipper clutch couples engine power to the improved, six-speed transmission and provides another layer of safety by preventing loss of traction due to excessive backtorque.

Now for some electronical yummy-goodness. Traction control joins the ABS in the “switchable” category on both models, though the base model rocks a vanilla system while the RS comes with a top-shelf Continental inertial measurement unit to give the top model a lean-senstive version of these two systems. The S comes with four Riding Modes including one user-programmable profile, and the RS alone adds a fifth profile with its “Track” mode to finish off the fandanglery.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder
Displacement: 1,050 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.11 in (79 mm) x 2.81 in (71.4 mm)
Compression: 12.92:1
Max Power EC: 148 hp (110 kW) @ 10,500 rpm
Max Torque EC: 86 lb-ft @ 7,150 rpm
Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Exhaust: Stainless Steel 3 into 1 into 2 high level stainless steel mufflers
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate slip-assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Pricing

2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
- image 811841
MSRP ranges from $14.4k to $16.5k depending on the mode before you start adding options and hitting the accessory catalog.

The price range starts with the Jet Black Speed Triple S on the low end for $14,350 and goes up to $16,500 for the RS in Crystal White, and that’s before you start adding options and hitting the accessory catalog.

Instrument Display and Functions: Full-color 5" TFT instruments
Colors:
Speed Triple S: Jet Black, Crystal White
Speed Triple RS: Matt Jet Black, Crystal White
Price:
Speed Triple S: Jet Black: $14,350, Color: $14,600
Speed Triple RS: Matt Jet Black: $16,350, Color: $16,500

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Competitors

2018 - 2019 Yamaha MT-10
- image 758219
2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
- image 811552
Yamaha does get a minor win at the checkout with a lower starting sticker, and that might buy it some business, but the British tech is certainly worth the extra cheddar.

When I started this, I figured on finding a Japanese bike that could stand toe-to-toe with Triumph’s base model. I was starting to despair when I remembered Yamaha’s newly-renamed MT-10 and badda-bing, I was in business.

Yammy brings an angular look to the table with a Transformer-looking headlight and flyscreen unit that fits right in with the tank scoops and other edgy-looking body parts. All-in-all, the MT-10 looks the part, but let’s be honest; once we get to this level, performance and gadgetry takes precedence over something as silly as visual vanity. To that end, Yamaha supports the MT-10 on KYB components all around, and since both ends come with the trifecta of adjustments, neither bike gains anything here. Both come with ABS, but it looks like Yamaha’s is of the non-switchable variety, so touché to Trumpet.

Yamaha almost matches Triumph in the electronics department with a D-Mode feature (rider modes) that delivers three preset power-delivery profiles. Traction control makes for another similarity, and in a move that’s sure to endear the Yammy to the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there, the MT-10 carries a Quick-Shift System that allows for clutchless shifting up the range. None of the above are of the lean-sensitive variety, but neither is the base Speed Triple S, so it’s pretty even-Steven across the board.

Yamaha powers its entry with an inline-four engine, so naturally there’s the trade off between power and grunt. The MT-10 claims 160.4 ponies and 81.8 pounds o’ grunt against 148/86, so yeah, take your pick cause it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other. Yamaha does get a minor win at the checkout with a $12,999 starting sticker, and that might buy it some business, but the British tech is certainly worth the extra cheddar.

He Said

“Nakeds are probably my least-favorite bike, if I’m honest, so perhaps I’m not the best judge of the looks. Having said that, the Speed Triples carry themselves in a business-like fashion that leaves these bikes as leans as snakes with nothing of fat to be found, but plenty of muscle. At the end of the day, it’s muscle and maneuverability that rule, and I can’t fault these rides for a lack of either.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Just an observation, the seating position is very much like the Street Triple. Triumph counts over 100 changes to the engine and gearbox, and the same to the chassis with this latest update. Add all that up and the bike certainly feels a lot lighter, more poweful and more agile than the previous gen. If you tried a Speed Triple before and weren’t impressed, try it again. This really is a marked improvement over what was already an awesome bike.”

Triumph Speed Triple S / Speed Triple RS Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder
Displacement: 1,050 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.11 in (79 mm) x 2.81 in (71.4 mm)
Compression: 12.92:1
Max Power EC: 148 hp (110 kW) @ 10,500 rpm
Max Torque EC: 86 lb-ft @ 7,150 rpm
System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Exhaust: Stainless Steel 3 into 1 into 2 high level stainless steel mufflers
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate slip-assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame: Aluminum beam twin-spar
Swingarm: Single-sided, aluminum alloy with eccentric chain adjuster
Front Suspension:
└Speed Triple S: Showa 43 mm upside down forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 4.72 in (120 mm) travel
└Speed Triple RS: Ohlins 43 mm NIX30 upside down forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 120 mm travel
Rear Suspension:
└Speed Triple S: Showa monoshock with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping, 5.12 in (130 mm) rear wheel travel
└Speed Triple RS: Öhlins TTX36 twin tube monoshock with preload, rebound and compression damping, 130 mm rear wheel travel
Rake: 22.9 º
Trail: 3.59 in (91.3 mm)
Front Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy multi-spoke 17 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy multi-spoke 17 in x 6.0 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/55 ZR17
Front Brakes: Dual 320 mm floating discs, Brembo 4-piston Monobloc radial calipers Switchable ABS
Rear Brakes: 255 mm disc, 2-piston sliding caliper Switchable ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Width Handlebars: 30.51 in (775 mm)
Height Without Mirror: 42.13 in (1,070 mm)
Seat Height: 32.48 in (825 mm)
Wheelbase: 56.89 in (1,445 mm)
Dry Weight: S: 423 lbs (192 Kg), RS: 416 lbs (189 kg)
Tank Capacity: 4.1 US gallons (15.5 L)
Fuel Consumption: 45.2 mpg (5.2 L/100km)
Details:
Instrument Display and Functions: Full-color 5" TFT instruments
Colors:
└Speed Triple S: Jet Black, Crystal White
└Speed Triple RS: Matt Jet Black, Crystal White
Price:
└Speed Triple S: Jet Black: $14,350, Color: $14,350
└Speed Triple RS: Matt Jet Black: $16,350, Color: $16,500

Further Reading

Yamaha MT-10

2018 - 2019 Yamaha MT-10
- image 758194

See our review of the Yamaha MT-10.

Triumph Street Triple R

2018 Triumph Street Triple R
- image 773245

See our review of the Triumph Street Triple R.

Triumph Motorcycles

no article
- image 791470

Read more Triumph news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: triumphmotorcycles, yamaha-motor.com

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