The British have a long history of two-wheeled rebellion. In the 50s, biker groups called the ‘ton up boys’ roamed London’s inner city streets, congregating in iconic places such as Ace Café. These boys with greased up hairstyles got their name from riding 100mph-capable bikes in the days of spindly frames and wobbly forks. A result of the 1950s era’s economic prosperity, youths from the lower income had the means to indulge in what was previously an elitist hobby of the 1930s – biking. This became a way of life, giving bikes like the original Speed Twin cult status.
The Speed Triple is the spiritual successor to that. Though it packs all the new and modern technology, the Triple still flashes its middle finger to the establishment in the same manner as the Twin did in its heyday. This was clearly evident when I found myself riding the first night I got the bike on the MRR II, fully geared and with no clear reason. It’s been a while since a bike made me do that. Out on the open road, I finally twisted that throttle wide open to let those twin exhausts to split the night’s stillness, reverberating through tunnels and screaming on the stretches. This Triple’s engine setup is unlike any other and if you have never experienced it yet, you should.
There is a wonderful burble at idle but give it some throttle, and it reciprocates with a wall of torque. Unlike that familiar gradual build up common of Japanese in-line fours that crescendoes near the 12,000 redline, you get a good honest, punch of torque propelling you from 0-100 km/h faster than it takes to say “Yeaahh”, followed by the instant adrenaline rush and a good arm workout. No in-line four buzz or the typical Italian V-twin vibrations here, just that 10,000 rpm red line and peak torque of 111Nm at a lowly 7,750 rpm.
All you need to unleash the brutish side of this bike is to simply twist the throttle, transforming it from a civil being into an all out hooligan. The instant throttle is applied; torque comes up briskly and lightens up the front end. The Triple lifts wheelies effortlessly. You shouldn’t, but if you wanted to, you could with ease. The broad powerband means city commutes at 50km/h in top gear is possible, but keep that throttle open and the Triple will reach 200 km/h in the same gear a few seconds later.
The Speed Triple’s handling is top notch, having a flickable 214kg weight. With a forward weight bias, the adjustable 43mm inverted Showa front forks and adjustable rear monoshock gives precise and predictable handling trait. Unlike previous Speeds, this one is more forgivable. The superb frame geometry makes high-speed corners easy for novices without letting them run wide, while experts would be thrilled when finding themselves charting new handling territories. Excellent stopping power comes from the front’s twin radial-mounted Brembo 4-piston callipers with 320mm dual discs, and the rear’s 2-piston Nissin with a 255mm.
When parked, the bike’s radical front end grabs attention and admiration. The tapered, short rear end and underslung exhausts adds a lithe and lean stance while the chain running through the single swingarm is a work of art. Triumph invented the street-fighter genre through its early 90s renaissance. It spawned the original Speed Triple that sported distinctive twin round headlamps on a naked frame. Some still prefer the original round chromes, but I prefer these new ones. Equipment such as the analogue tachometer has a high quality feel to it, having big roundish retro-styled lettering that is easy to read. Adorned on this paticular bike are Rizoma aftermarket bits, available from Fast Bikes in Kampung Pandan. The firm is also responsible for Triumph’s Malaysian revival.
A well-known brand amongst the previous generation of Malaysians, Triumph was dormant during the influx of Japanese bikes from the 1970s to the 1990s. But that’s changed as Triumph UK sold some 67,000 Speed Triples worldwide. Now, Triumph is once again synonymous with fast and powerful motorcycles that inspire rebellion in all of us. This would have done the ton up boys proud.