A Modern Version Of Triumph’s Most Iconic Bike

Triumph expanded its “Modern Classics” lineup ahead of MY2019 with the new-for-’19 Speed Twin as a tribute piece that pays visual homage with all the modern yummy-goodness you’d expect tucked away under the hood and out of sight. The result; a clean-looking classic with gobs of retro appeal, and that’s an important detail because the newest generation of riders has shown themselves to have an interest in the old-school looks, much to their credit. So let’s take a closer look at Trumpet’s newest Speed Twin; not the first of its name.

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Design

The factory went all the way back to 1938 and the original Speed Twin roadster for the inspiration we see reflected here in the finished product.

No doubt, Triumph has some deep roots indeed, and the factory took advantage of that when it went all the way back to 1938 and the original Speed Twin roadster for the inspiration we see reflected here in the finished product. The bike is reduced to the essentials with an old-school custom vibe that serves as the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

It starts right out of the gate with blackout treatment startingrts at the wheels and spreads to nearly all possible points in between. Everything from the standard front forks — sliders, gaiters and tubes — to the cyclops headlight can and dual analog clocks for the instrumentation, is done up in an achromatic finish up front. All except the heavily bobbed front fender that is finished bright and cut down to reduce unsprung weight at the front axle. Gotta’ say; I’m a little surprised and disappointed that the factory decided to roll on mags instead of laced rims, but whatever, can’t have everything I guess.

A 3.7-gallon teardrop tank strikes the appropriate figure in profile, plus it sports the good old knee pockets that pull the rider’s legs into the bike in order to reduce drag. Normally, I’d gig a builder for using a flange-style tank, but in this case, it just adds to the retro vibe, as far as I’m concerned. The tank drops off to a bench seat that has only a grab strap to serve as the break between pilot and pillion, so you have room to slide fore and aft as needed for body English or whatever.

A sparse subframe helps keep the rear end clean with a taillight nestled between the tip of the tail and the chopped-back rear fender, and like the rest of the lights on this ride, they’re LEDs so you can count on them to make you highly visible, even in daylight.

Standoff winkers brace the taillight, and the license plate acts as a fender-extender from its position on the short mudguard. Some might call it austere, but I like the clean look and the subtle, old-school performance hacks, and I’d point out that this is a tribute piece, so there’s that.

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Chassis

2019 Triumph Speed Twin
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To call it eager in the corners would be an exercise in understatement.

Tubular-steel members make up the bulk of the frame with an aluminum cradle to support the engine and keep weight down to 432-pounds, dry. I was a little surprised at the steering geometry, if I’m honest. It clocks in with a super-short 22.8-degree rake with 3.68-inches of trail over a 56.3-inch wheelbase, so to call it eager in the corners would be an exercise in understatement, but it’s cool ’cause the original was a performance-oriented machine as well.

The cast-aluminum wheels are symmetrical fore-and-aft at 17-inches around with a 120/70 Pirelli Diablo Rosso hoop up front and 160/60 out back. Dual, four-piston Brembo calipers grab twin, 305 mm discs to do the bulk of the work with a 220 mm disc and twin-pot Nissin anchor out back mainly to keep your rear-end where it belongs; behind you. ABS comes stock, like it or not, and I’m a little surprised that the anti-lock feature isn’t switchable, but what are ya’ gonna’ do?

An aluminum swingarm articulates the rear wheel with a pair of coil-over shocks on suspension duty. Up front, a pair of 41 mm, cartridge-style forks take care of business, and while both ends rock 4.72-inches of travel, the rear end gets the only suspension tweak with an adjustable preload feature. Overall, the chassis is fairly vanilla, but not only does that uncomplicate matters, but it helps to keep the final price to the consumer down.

Frame: Tubular steel with aluminum cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminum
Front Suspension: 41 mm cartridge forks, 4.7 in (120 mm) travel
Rear Suspension: Twin shocks with adjustable preload, 4.7 in (120 mm) rear wheel travel
Rake: 22.8 º
Trail: 3.68 in (93.5 mm)
Front Brakes: Twin 305 mm discs, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
Front Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy, 17 x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy, 17 x 5.0 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Drivetrain

2019 Triumph Speed Twin
- image 809555
Power comes from a 'Thruxton-tuned,' parallel-twin engine that looks very much like the Twingles of old except it has a pleasant lope the old 180-degree engines lacked.

Power comes from a “Thruxton-tuned,” parallel-twin engine that looks very much like the Twingles of old except it rocks a 27 degree crank-journal offset giving it a lope the old 180-degree engines lacked. It has polished cooling-fin edges that probably do draw off some waste heat, but it’s the water jacket and radiator that does the heavy lifting there; thank goodness the radiator all but vanishes against the rest of the black paint so it doesn’t ruin the image the factory was going for.

A single over-head cam times the poppets that come four to a cylinder to keep the top end relatively uncomplicated. Bore and stroke measure out at 97.6 mm and 80 mm, respectively, for a total displacement of 1,200 cc on the nose and a moderately warm, 11-to-1 compression ratio.

While the realist in me understands and supports the use of ride-by-wire, fuel-injected, throttle-body induction control, the purist can’t understand why Triumph didn’t use its really cool throttle bodies that look just like the old mechanical-slide carbs. I mean, if there was a bike other than the Bobbers that need that item, it’s this one. Oh well. As long as I’m picking at bones, I’d point out that a shotgun exhaust or even a peashooter would have been better than the upswept blackout mufflers. Just sayin’.

Power is respectable with 96-ponies at 6,750 rpm and 82.6 pound-feet that tops out at 4,950 rpm. The engine control incorporates the balance of the fandanglery with a trio of riding modes — Sport, Road and Rain — and switchable traction control to help you manage all that power. A slipper clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission, and not only does it give some anti-hop protection to the rear wheel, it also makes for a relatively light pull weight at the clutch lever.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel-twin
Displacement: 1,200 cc
Bore x Stroke: 97.6 mm x 80 mm
Compression: 11.0 :1
Max Power EC: 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6,750 rpm
Max Torque EC: 82.6 lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4,950 rpm
Fuel System: Multi-point, sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 exhaust system with twin brushed silencers
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Pricing

2019 Triumph Speed Twin
- image 809558
MSRP is TBA as of this writing, but I'm gonna' call it somewhere in the high elevens or low twelves.

Price won’t be available until January the 18th, but since capabilities and gadgetry are similar to the Thruxton that rolls for $13,000 this year, I’m gonna’ call it somewhere in the high elevens or low twelves. We’ll know soon enough how well I did.

Instrument Display and Functions: LCD multi-functional instrument pack with analog speedometer, analog tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range-to-empty indication, service indicator, clock, trip computer, scroll and mode buttons on handlebars, heated grip ready, fuel consumption display, traction control status and throttle mode display. TPMS ready.
Color: Korosi Red/Storm Grey, Jet Black, Silver Ice/Storm Grey
Price: TBA

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Competitors

2019 Kawasaki W800 Café
- image 804514
2017 Honda CB 1100 EX
- image 809580
If I'm right about the price, the Speed Twin is a lot more bike for the buck, not only 'cause it has more power, but because the Honda has bupkis for higher electronics.

At first I was tempted to grab the café-tastic W800 Café from Kawasaki just based on looks alone, but decided the displacement difference was just too great to justify. Then I remembered Honda’s tribute piece, the CB1100 EX, and I was set.

The “CB” just does it for me, lookswise. I love the dated panache and the old-school performance vibe, even if Honda targeted a much more recent vintage for its inspiration. It’s a true UJM that we’d just call a “standard” nowadays. Honda even chucked in some knee pockets ahead of a faux tuck-and-roll bench seat to put these rides roughly on-par with one another in the looks department.

Rather than relying on blackout paint to go for a custom feel, Honda instead left lots of bits finished bright so there’s no shortage of chrome/polished bling to be had, and it sends the CB out with adjustable spring preload at both ends for a bit of an advantage in the suspension.

Both rock dual front brakes and ABS, so the brakes are a wash as well. As for the engine, Honda springs for a 1,140 cc plant that falls just short of the Trumpet, and that carries over directly into the power numbers. The CB’s four-cylinder mill generates 49 horsepower and 67 pound-feet of torque against 96/82, and that’s a significant difference in favor of the Brit.

At the checkout it looks like it could be down to a photo finish. Honda asks for $12,199, and if the Speed Twin goes for the $12k I expect, then it’s a lot more bike for the buck not only ’cause of the power, but because the Honda has bupkis for higher electronics.

He Said

“What a snazzy little ride. Maybe not so little, more like mid-size, though there was a time that 1,200 cc would have been considered a large engine. I like the looks and the ’lectronics, the performance is on point, now let’s see where the price tag falls.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This bike is all about performance in a classic style. I love the retro vibe. The instrument clocks are new and give it an old-school look, but the modern electronics are there in the way of rider modes, traction control and ABS. According to the factory, the Speed Twin is all about the best parts from each of the “Modern Classics” models rolled into one with a little bit extra for the thrill of it.”

2019 Triumph Speed Twin Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel-twin
Displacement: 1,200 cc
Bore x Stroke: 97.6 mm x 80 mm
Compression: 11.0 :1
Max Power EC: 96 hp (72 kW) @ 6,750 rpm
Max Torque EC: 82.6 lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4,950 rpm
Fuel System: Multi-point, sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 exhaust system with twin brushed silencers
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel with aluminum cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminum
Front Suspension: 41 mm cartridge forks, 4.7 in (120 mm) travel
Rear Suspension: Twin shocks with adjustable preload, 4.7 in (120 mm) rear wheel travel
Rake: 22.8 º
Trail: 3.68 in (93.5 mm)
Front Brakes: Twin 305 mm discs, Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
Front Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy, 17 x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast aluminum alloy, 17 x 5.0 in
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Width Handlebars: 29.9 in (760 mm)
Height Without Mirror: 43.7 in (1,110 mm)
Seat Height: 31.8 in (807 mm)
Wheelbase: 56.3 in (1,430 mm)
Dry Weight: 432 lbs (196 kg)
Tank Capacity: 3.8 US gal (14.5 l)
Details:
Instrument Display and Functions: LCD multi-functional instrument pack with analog speedometer, analog tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range-to-empty indication, service indicator, clock, trip computer, scroll and mode buttons on handlebars, heated grip ready, fuel consumption display, traction control status and throttle mode display. TPMS ready.
Color: Korosi Red/Storm Grey, Jet Black, Silver Ice/Storm Grey
Price: TBA

Further Reading

Honda CB1100 EX

2017 Honda CB 1100 EX
- image 809571

See our review of the Honda CB1100 EX.

Kawasaki W800 Café

2019 Kawasaki W800 Café
- image 804500

See our review of the Kawasaki W800 Café.

Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757052

See our review of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200R.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

2017 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
- image 774573

See our review of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber.

Triumph Motorcycles

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- 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.com, honda.com, kawasaki.com

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