TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE 1200 RS (2021 - on) Review
- Incredibly refined new engine
- Nimble like a Street Triple but suspension too harsh for the road
- Great dash graphics
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Triumph could’ve spoilt the Speed Triple 1200 RS by adding too much power, in a quest to keep up with the super naked Joneses, but they haven’t.
Instead, they’ve produced a machine in their own inimitable style with a beautifully refined new engine and gearbox that’s as friendly as a Street Triple’s, although the ride is too firm for the road and has lost some of the old Speed Triple RS’s plushness.
But it’s on track, where you can really appreciate the 1200’s brilliance and for the first time the Speed Triple has genuine superbike performance. Acceleration out of corners is like you’ve hit the fast forward button and it carves through turns with the grace and balance of a well set-up race bike.
Braking power is only limited by the size of your triceps and its traction and wheelie control only help and never hinder you churning out a cracker of a lap. It’s finished more conservatively than its flashier rivals, but it’s cheaper, superbly built and equipped.
Watch: Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS video review
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Where the old Speed Triple was wide and chunky the 1200 RS is slimmer and more compact, feeling more like a light and lithe Street Triple. Its 830mm high seat (up 5mm) is narrower and longer, to give you room to move around in the corners and is one of the comfiest you’ll find on any current production bike.
Its new aluminium chassis is lighter and together with the engine’s weight savings and 60% lighter lithium-ion battery, the new Speed Triple weighs 198kg ready-to-go - 10kg lighter than the outgoing model. Its power-to-weight ratio is 26% better and double that of the ’94 original.
As before the riding position is sporty, without being a knee or wrist-crusher. Bars are 13mm wider, footrests are the same height as before (although moved inboard for more ground clearance) and it’s easy to get your feet flat on the floor, compared to the raciest bum-up, head-down super nakeds.
But what washes over you as soon as its Metzeler Racetec-shod wheels start turning is just how ultra-refined it is. It’s never clumsy, clunky or straining impatiently at the leash and instead its light on its feet and so calm and friendly you could take your CBT on it.
The sweet new gearbox is a big improvement over the more industrial out-going machine’s and the quickshifter is as slick when short-shifting at low speed, as it is in attack mode.
Your view down from the comfy hot seat is trademark-minimal with just a set of handlebars, pretty decent bar end mirrors and a 5in colour display to greet you. Dash graphics appear simple, but there’s some very natty animation going on. The default view is just revs, gear position and speed, but to uncover more information the tacho graphic rotates 45 degrees into a Dali-esque ellipse to reveal the trips and set-up menus.
Triumph knows how to make a bike handle. The Street Triple and Daytona make you feel like a hero through corners and it defies logic how they can make oddities like the Bobber and Rocket 3 steer so sweetly.
Indeed, the outgoing Öhlins-clad Speed Triple RS had a front end so planted (like a Tuono’s) you could deliberately go into a bend too fast, just to marvel at how it would gather everything up and rail through.
On smooth tarmac it’s more of the same on the Speed Triple 1200 RS. Steering is light and accurate, Metzelers grip like race rubber, Brembo Stylemas are brick wall-powerful and the Öhlins never waver but aren’t as plush as the old model’s.
Forks and shock are so firm I have to check to see if the compression damping hasn’t been wound right up by mistake. The stiffly sprung ride isn’t a filling shaker by any means, but you’ll always feel the jolt of a concrete motorway joint or A-road drain cover.
Pushing hard on a bumpy backroad gets the Triumph dancing in your hands and the front doesn’t dig in and curve a graceful line as it did before.
Suspension set-up is always a compromise, but the new Speed Triple’s is more racetrack than road. That’s why the self-adjusting electronic semi-active Öhlins on some of the more expensive super nakeds, that work so well in all conditions, are worth their weight in Swedish gold.
It'll be a different story on a trackday where the Triumph’s racy set-up starts to make sense and without getting to hung up on chassis balance and geometry, the Speed Triple goes exactly where you point it, no matter how hard you push. Steering is sweet, there’s lots of grip and ground clearance and in Track mode there’s never any interference from the ABS, letting you use its brutally powerful Brembo Stylemas to the full.
Traction control works away in the background, subtly keeping an eye on grip levels and its smooth new wheelie control, which could spoil your fun on the road, is suddenly very useful accelerating out of slow corners at full throttle.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Triumph’s original 885cc, 1994 Speed Triple produced just 98bhp and 60lb-ft of torque, but now, 27 years later and with a dash of Moto2 knowhow thrown into the mix, its powered by a liquid-cooled three-cylinder a superbike would be proud of. Capacity is up to 1160cc and the new engine is choc-full of slippery, lightweight parts to help it rev harder and faster.
It makes 178bhp - up 30bhp on the outgoing 1050cc Speed Triple and 11lb-ft more torque (now 92lb-ft). The whole engine is a massive 7kg lighter with its internals producing 12% less inertia. Bore and stroke is a racier, over-square 90 x 60.8mm (from 79 x 71.4mm) and Triumph’s power curves show slightly more power and torque below 4000rpm and around same in the midrange, before it surges away at 6500rpm to its new 11,150rpm redline, 650rpm higher than before.
It’s out with the twin underseat exhausts and in with a single upswept superbike-style item and despite being Euro5-friendly it’s a fruity little number. A smoother new stacked gearbox has revised ratios and a lighter, slip and assist clutch uses higher friction materials to reduce the number of plates needed.
It also runs a new ignition system, twin tip spark plugs and a lighter, more efficient cooling system. Valve check services are every 10,000-miles.
A new six-axis IMU enables a host of electronic aids, including four-way adjustable lean-sensitive traction control with integrated anti-wheelie, which will also switch off to let the Speed Triple wheelie.
You also get two-stage cornering ABS (Road or Track), an up/down quickshifter and five riding modes: Rain (power restricted to 99bhp), Road, Sport, Track and a customisable Rider.
As grunty down low as it ever was, you don’t need to rev the Speed Triple past 6000rpm to get a move on - just leave it in the higher gears and ride it like a big scooter. Despite pumping out its familiar, bass-laden triple tune through its new exhaust and airbox, there are no vibes from the new engine, so it’s less clattery than a Super Duke and smoother than a Streetfighter V4 or Tuono V4.
But life on the Speed Triple 1200 RS is very different at the tomato ketchup end of the tacho and it keeps on pulling long after the old bike would’ve run out of puff, especially on track. In fact, it accelerates so hard out of corners it takes you by surprise at first, quickly ramming home that you’re on more than just a hotted-up Street Triple.
The bulging midrange will let you run higher gears through corners and still rocket you out of the other side and it keeps on pulling along the straights, munching through gears as fast as your left foot can feed them in. It’s so addictively quick you don’t even notice the wind trying to peel you off the back, lap after lap…until the next day when your body will feel like it’s been in the ring with Tyson.
Fuel consumption isn’t great. We manage just 37mpg with the reserve light coming on at just under 100 miles.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Fit and finish is superb, if a little understated for the money and although the new engine isn’t yet tried and tested, MCN owners’ reviews for the previous Speed Triple are glowing with no major mechanical or electronic issues.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
It’s not cheap, but Triumph have priced the Speed Triple 1200 RS at the affordable end of the super naked scale.
If you compare it with similarly spec’d rivals, it squeezes in just under a base KTM 1290 Super Duke R and is a fair chunk cheaper than the Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory, Ducati Streetfighter V4 S and nearly half the price of an MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR.
It might not be as flashy or opulent as some, but the Speed Triple is tastefully understated with subtle satin grey or black paint finishes.
Build quality is worthy of its big-ticket price and you get fully adjustable Öhlins suspension, Brembo Stylema brake calipers, Metzeler Racetec RR K3 tyres, LEDs, backlit switchgear, self-cancelling indictors, keyless ignition and fuel cap, carbon front mudguard, cruise control and a neat 5in colour TFT dash has three graphics themes and optically bonded to reduce reflections. It’ll also control a GoPro or turn-by-turn navigation.
35 official performance, cosmetic and touring accessories are available, including three-stage heated grips.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||15.5 litres|
|Front suspension||Öhlins NIX30 43mm USD forks. Fully adjustable.|
|Rear suspension||Öhlins TTX36 single shock. Fully adjustable.|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs with four piston radial Brembo Stylema calipers. Cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||220mm disc with twin piston Brembo caliper. Cornering ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||190/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||37 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||178 bhp|
|Max torque||92 ft-lb|
|Top speed||155 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||126 miles|
Model history & versions
1994: Original steel-framed, single headlight, 885cc, 98bhp Speed Triple released.
1997-1998 Triumph T509 Speed Triple: Power up to 108bhp, new frame, single-sided swingarm, twin headlights, change from clip-ons to flat bars.
1998 – 2005 Triumph Speed Triple 955i: Fitted with bigger 955cc from the Daytona 955i. Power remains the same but peak torque up from 62 to 72lb-ft.
2005 – 2010 Triumph Speed Triple 1050: New 131bhp, 1050cc engine, chassis, underseat pipes, and radial calipers. Updated in 2008 with new wheels, subframe and Brembo calipers replacing Nissin
2011 – 2017 Triumph Speed Triple 1050: Complete overhaul with a new chassis, suspension, gearbox mods, fox-eye headlights. 135bhp.
2012 - 2017 Triumph Speed Triple 1050 R: First R model Speed Triple with Öhlins, upgraded Brembos and carbon parts.
2016: Updated with power up to 138bhp, a reshaped fuel tank, ride-by-wire and rider aids. Available in R or S trim.
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: Won MCN Bike of the Year - Engine mods boosting power 10bhp to 148bhp. New TFT dash and backlit switchgear. Available in S or RS trim.
The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 is only available in top spec RS trim.
Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE 1200 RS (2021 - on)
1 owner has reviewed their TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE 1200 RS (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Suspension has always been an issue on the previouse Speed Triples, Triumph seem to always get it wrong especialy when the say the new 1200 is a bike made for the road not a race bike for the road. How can Ducati, Aprilia and KTM get it so right. I dont think Triumph spoke to there customers about suspension.