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.
Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS vs KTM 1290 Super Duke R vs Ducati Streetfighter V4 S
For 2021, Triumph have pulled the pin and gone full-on super naked with the all-new Speed Triple 1200 RS – but is this a smart move? Time for MCN contributor Jon Urry to see if the new Trumpet is a match for two other leading super nakeds: the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R around the MCN250 test route.
Despite the model only being launched last year, Ducati have already updated the Streetfighter V4 and this year sees its power shifted further down the rev range, a move that makes a great bike even better.
If you want a lesson in how to make a motorcycle with bags of sporting potential easy to ride when you just want to chill-out, none deliver it better than the V4 S.
Unless you go searching for it, you would never know the V4 packs over 200bhp as it is a total pussycat at low revs – albeit one that clatters and growls with fairly indecent noise. You can potter about, roll the throttle on and off to overtake cars in top gear and just enjoy the ride quality, which is superb.
Which makes me question why Triumph haven’t managed to replicate this feel with the RS. They know how to do it, the old 1050 was sporty yet easy to ride, and KTM have also demonstrated how to perfectly walk the fine line between bonkers and reassuring.
Again, we are cutting down preconceptions here, but when you see the Super Duke R it looks menacing. Big, bold, powered by a huge V-twin and with the associated wildness that KTM love to promote you expect the Duke to be a handful, but it isn’t – it’s actually a really accomplished road bike.
The fact the Duke is a bit physically bigger than its rivals makes it comfortable, certainly far more so than the diminutive Triumph with its granite seat, and now on this third generation the suspension and engine feel like they are working together rather than waging a war, which was the case on older models. And on the road this all results in a bike that hits the super-naked brief on the head.
If you want to take it easy that’s not an issue as the lazy LC8 V-twin is full of low-end stomp that is smoothly delivered via a lovely throttle connection. The WP suspension is damped beautifully and is about as good as it gets without any semi-active function adding an extra dimension of control and the electronics (mainly wheelie control, it has to be said) intervene gently to bring things back into check.
It feels and responds like a thoroughly sorted package and should you wish to get a bit excitable, well, it’s a KTM and that means the Duke loves to play the fool and is more than happy to go crackers and do so while keeping its overall feel of refinement and balance.
As a huge fan of the Speed Triple, I can’t help but feel disappointed by this latest incarnation. Yes, it is far sportier than the previous model, packing better electronics and on a billiard-smooth surface the chassis responds with gusto – but how often do you ride like that in the UK?
I fear Triumph have fallen into the trap of believing the hype that super-naked riders want a balls-out naked sportsbike when their rivals have proven that in reality this simply isn’t the case.
This year Ducati tamed their Streetfighter and having been labelled as ‘The Beast’ when launched, in its third generation KTM have done exactly the same to their Super Duke R.
Triumph have flown in the face of this and the Speed Triple 1200 RS is harsh, unforgiving and not that much fun at a gentle pace, which is a shame. Put simply, it’s too purposeful for UK roads and is far from the relaxed, yet sporty 1050 it replaces, which I think owners will find a turn-off.
The Ducati, which you assume will be mental with its V4, in contrast is relaxed, forgiving, plush and yet still more than happy to go bonkers when requested and the KTM is much of the same, although it still has a slightly untamed typically KTM side to its ride.
If Triumph released a more chilled S model I reckon they’ll be onto a winner but as it stands, the RS is just too sports-focused.
Find out how some of the other super nakeds on the market compare in Michael Neeves' group test video here:
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||-|
|Used price||£14,000 - £15,100|
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)
5 owners have 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:|
This Bike does everything you'd expect
Many bad comments about the ride quality being far to firm, I am 6' 5" and have kept the setting as it came out of the dealership. It is firm but for me it is not uncomfortable, I ride mostly A and B roads with plenty of potholes etc and never found it too stiff. I have done over 5 hours riding without taking a breakBrakes are phenominal and have incredible stopping power
The engine is a monster, it pulls and pulls when you want it too. Through towns and low down speeds it is friendly and compliant and remains smooth. Neutral was hard to find for first few hundred miles but seems to have improved now. Not significant enough to mark down to 4 stars.I prefer my exhausts a lot louder and had the arrow on my old RS, this one has a very different sound but is very very quiet
Build quality so far seems good, I've had no issues to date.
Standard equipment is superb. I also added the optional fly screen as it looks better. Stock tyres are good and give confidence. Sat Nav is my only gripe as it seems to crash the few times i tried to use it so had to stop, get phone out and check for directions
Buying experience: I bought from Pure Triumph in Wellingborough, they were excellent throughout. Would definitely recommend buying from them
Version: only the one
Engine and chassis good Stiff as a witches tit
Have backed off front and rear spring pre-load and set most damping to comfort (apart from rear comp damping as will wallow backed right off) Mostly back road Qld roads ridden Brakes work as they should
Its a gem of and engine
One of two headlight retains bolts fell out L/H header bolt fell off One of two front fuel tank retaining bolts parted ways Dealer on 1st service rectified and did comment they found other things loose in weird places (whatever that means)
Haven't purchased as yet as none available at least a 10 week wait Radiator vulnerable and no guard available which is piss poor on Triumphs behalf. $400 for a fly screen to cover up non finished area not good considering price of bike
Buying experience: Dealer purchase as usual with these transaction staff all seemed tired and "doughy" no change there
Yes, I would recommend this bike to a friend - without hesitation.I took ownership of this brand new machine less than two weeks ago. I had become anxious about taking delivery of it having read, watched and listened to the reports of press test riders - I didn't want what they were desrcibing, a bike that wasn't road friendly, one that was only good for the track! I don't ride on a track. And, I already had a perfectly sorted road bike in the guise of the 2018 Speed Triple 1050RS. I just wanted the 1200RS to give me more of the same. I was afterall handing the 1050RS over in part-ex for the new bike, and the press reports had rattled me; was I doing the sensible thing letting the 1050 go?In my humble opinion (and what do I know), the new bike has achieved all that I'd hoped for already. The moment I climbed on, it instantly felt familiar, and I instantly felt at one with it. I hadn't waited for a test ride - I'd been so blown away by the 1050RS, I just couldn't imagine the new bike being anything other than a progressive further improvement over what I already had.The new bike is superb; utterly superb. It's better in every single sense. Faster, Lighter, Comfier, more Flickable, as equally unflappable, looks fantasticly understated, like a naked bike should - naked bikes should be naked; not faired with wings and spoilers all over the place. And it still looks how a conventional two wheel naked bike should look... to me at least. It's easier to ride than the 1050RS - in every single sense, it's an easier bike to ride. I don't get where the press reports are coming from. I've lived with the 1050RS for two years, covered around 4,500 miles on that bike in that time, and loved every second of time I spent on it. I don't have a single negative word to report on the new 1200RS at this stage either. I can't imagine I ever will as things are.
Compared to the 1050RS the new bikes perch is exceptionally comfy and roomy. I don't know if it's the marginally wider bars or what, but the riding position feels better too; the way you're dropped forwards towards the tank seems to sit you into the bike more than before, and gives the feel that you have considerably more control and influence over the entire machine as a result. I feel more at one with this bike. The bike feels wider out front (it can only be the bars, surely), but it's a great riding position to be in. Oddly, visibility even feels better (how can that be even possible on a bike??? Same helmet too).I mentioned earlier that I was anxious about the reports I'd read regarding the overly hard suspension set up on this new model. I needn't have worried. The moment that I rode off the dealer's forecourt I knew I didn't have to worry; everything felt instantly familiar. The ride is firm, but so was the 1050RS's, but it's compliant too, like the 1050RS was. I'm intentionally riding at and over man holes, small pot holes, road repair seams and ruts, bumps and ripples on roads I know; nothing's upsetting the bike at all - it's so similar to the 1050RS in this respect. The feedback through the bars and saddle is excellent; giving a real sense of what's happening beneath you. Cornering is as pin sharp as the 1050 ever was, even more so perhaps. I'm a real world motorcycle rider, I'm not an ex-racer or press journalist. The bike's a hobby, an interest, and an awesome commuter when the sun's out.
It's a Triumph Triple... there's not much to dislike. These engines never sound or feel overworked. I was new to Triple's two years ago - I can't see me moving away from this engine configuration anytime soon. The new engine does feel very different to the outgoing 1050. The exhaust note is very different but no less addicitive. 1st gear feels much taller then the old bike's. You can hold the gear for longer, and it's feels usable - it's more than just a gear to get the bike rolling; it's a gear you can use. There's a square black box just in front of the new single exhaust can. I don't cliam to know what it is, or what it does, but it's integral to the exhaiust system. I think this is also what gives the exhaust is wonderfully rich and deep growl, howl, even... it's an addicitive sound all the same.
The build, finish, standard kit, comfort... it's all spot on. It's a £16K bike afterall; it should be well built and relaible for this kind of outlay. No problems to report thankfully. The 1050RS had the same high quality feel to it as the new bike does. That's a good thing. Nothing seems to be lacking and everything feels bullet proof. The quickshifter 'box is a marked improvement over the outgoing models version; super smooth, super quick, and best of all, no false Neutrals :-) The 'box snicks up and down with the mereset of touches. It's a very different sounding exhaust note - not quite as 'raw' to my ears as the 1050RS was, but that doesn't mean it's any less entertaining to listen to - the low down grumble is simply addictive. I'm not feeling any early desires for an aftermarket can.
It's a pricey enough bike at £16k but as yet I can't comment on running costs due it being so new. based on past experience with the 1050 I'm not expecting any horrors looming. Will be in for it's 500 - 800 mile service in the couple of weeks. 200 miles on the clock so far... I'm 1/4 way through my third full tank. So circa 100 miles per fill up so far.
Really well specced straight from the box. I opted for a few options, including a Tracker System, Heated Grips and Scrolling Indicators but the standard spec list is jam packed as it is.
Buying experience: Dealing with Triumph World in Chesterfield has been, and always is a pleasure.I had to wait a few weeks longer for delivery than initially expected, but as everything presently seems to suffering from one delay or another due to Covid, it was no hardship to wait.
Fabulous bike, I’m delighted to be back on a Triumph after 5 years on a KTM 1290 Superduke R SE which was also a great machine but just wasn’t me.
Ride quality is firm but I’m a big fella so it takes a firm set up. I have however heard from owners that this can be greatly improved by a good suspension technician. It’s something I’ll look into again. Brakes are phenomenal.
What an awesome engine Triumph have produced, this thing is superb!
Quality is top notch. Triumph have used only the best parts when they were putting this together.
It’s early days yet but it does seem to be rather fond of the unleaded but if I was wanting good fuel economy I’d have bought a tourer!
Everything you need and more.
Buying experience: Bought mine from Phillip McCallen Motorcycles in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Top quality service as always.
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.