Triumph Speedmaster 1200 (2018-on) Review

Highlights

  • Lighter engine internals
  • More comfortable seat
  • Extra front end stability
MCN AWARDS
Best Cruiser 2018
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £460
Power: 77 bhp
Seat height: Low (27.8 in / 705 mm)
Weight: High (580 lbs / 263 kg)

Prices

New £11,850
Used £9,300 - £11,900

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Triumph’s original Bonneville Speedmaster was a two-seat version of the hugely successful Bobber and arguably more desirable and practical, plus you have the option of sharing the ride with a (small) pillion. It’s laid-back, smooth and has class-leading handling.

It's powered by a water-cooled parallel twin and tucked away is tech such as ABS, traction control, cruise control and even two power modes. Running feet-forward footpegs, swept-back beach bars and the same 16in wheels and twin front discs as the Bobber Black of the day, it’s aimed at those looking for a chilled retro with the ability to take a pillion - something the Bobber has no provision for.

There’s a small pad attached above the mudguard and a neat chrome grab rail, but the rider’s seat doesn’t exactly have Gold Wing levels of luxury, as MCN tester Jon Urry was to discover when he rode it around the MCN250 test route.

He said: "After 272 miles I felt like someone wearing army boots had repeatedly kicked me up the bum. In fact, that sounds preferable to a long stint in the seat. Which is a real shame as it ruins what is, seat aside, a fabulous machine. The Speedmaster has the looks, handling and feel to be a brilliant bike for anyone who enjoys relaxed cruising and the addition of pillion provision opens it up to a whole new audience that the Bobber models can’t satisfy."

"But it is hampered by its poor shock and that seat, so don’t view it as a mile-muncher and if you want a relaxed two-up tourer, buy the Bonneville T120 instead. Despite the agony, I’d have the Speedmaster over the Bonnie as it is better handling and looks amazing. I’d just ensure I got the comfort seat included in the deal."

For 2021 Triumph released an updated version. Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves rode it and said: "It’s low, characterful, easy to ride, beautifully finished and more sure-footed in corners with its new forks.

"The new seat is a marked improvement over the old model’s, too. It’s still a machine to be enjoyed at more relaxed pace, just like an American cruiser, so for more wind in your hair and flies in your teeth on a Sunday morning, a more roadster-style Bonneville will be a better option. That’s not to say the Speedmaster lacks performance, but its grunty engine and laid-back riding position are at their most joyful when you’re taking it easy."

Watch: Triumph Speedmaster 1200 video review 

In this film our tester Adam Child takes to the California highways to discover whether the Speedmaster can cruise with the best of 'em. Get his full verdict below...

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The suspension on the original 2018 Speedmaster is similar to the Bobber’s and gets that classic hardtail look but is reworked to compensate for the extra weight of a subframe and potential pillion and luggage.

The steering is fluid, and it rolls into corners with relative ease for a laid-back cruiser. Footpegs eventually scrape the road when you push hard, but ground clearance isn’t bad for this type of bike. Twin Brembo calipers offer decent braking considering they’re stopping 245.5kg (dry) of Bonnie and are backed up by an unobtrusive ABS system.

Riding the Triumph Speedmaster 1200 highlights its character

The biggest problem with the way the 2018 Triumph Speedmaster rides is its hard shock and seat, which really made life difficult when tester Jon Urry tackled the MCN250. "Once I pass Burford, the discomfort in my lower back and bum transform into real pain.

"Noises I didn’t know I could make slip through my lips when I hit any pothole. I try sitting on the pillion seat but can only get my bum as far as midway between the rider’s and pillion seat, which is still marginally more comfortable."

For 2021 Triumph have tackled the problem, as Michael Neeves explains: "A plusher new seat with added lumbar support gives the Speedmaster extra comfort over distance – a big improvement over the old model’s.

"The pillion seat also has 11mm thicker foam and, as before, can be removed to give a cleaner single-seat look. The riding position is unmistakably cruisery with feet forward and bars swept back with the grips pointing towards you, like table football handles. It’s easy to ride thanks to a light throttle, clutch and gears and its leant-back, feelgood style works best when cruising, but at motorway speeds, especially in headwind it’s tricky to hang on."

He continues: "Triumphs of all flavours handle superbly and the Speedmaster was never an exception, even with its huge balloon-shaped 16in front tyre and 263kg all-up weight. But Triumph have improved it anyway and swapped the old 41mm forks with Showa 47mm cartridge units, adding even sure-footedness through corners, although footpegs still go down easily.

"At low speed and over smooth ground the ride is plush and cossetting, but its short travel suspension doesn’t like big bumps and it’s easy to get flicked out of the seat when the going gets rough. ABS equipped brakes have reassuring power front and rear."

Riding the 2021 Triumph Speedmaster on UK roads

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The original Speedmaster shares the same 'High Torque' engine as Bobber. The parallel twin will pull strongly from as low as 1800rpm, allowing you to simply short-shift at 2000rpm and surf the torque in the classic cruiser style. If you need a quick escape, this Triumph fires away from the lights too, laying down enough power to activate the traction control.

At 70mph the motor is hardly working, hovering around 3000rpm, which results in impressive fuel economy. Triumph claims 54.7mpg but we’ve averaged 64mpg with spirited riding on the original.

At town speeds the engine can feel a little snatchy due to the sheer amount of torque available at low rpm. However, the changeable riding modes smooth-out the power at low speeds and Rain Mode is perfect for town work and low speed cruising.  

The 2021 Triumph Speedmaster engine is Euro5 compliant

For 2021 its engine is overhauled. Michael Neeves says: "As well as having a cleaner exhaust with bigger catalysts the engine now has a lighter crankshaft, clutch and balance shafts to let the revs spin up faster.

"What the new internals give, Euro5 takes away, though, so power is only up from 76bhp to 77bhp, at the same 6100rpm. Its 78lb-ft@4000rpm torque figure remains. It’s at it most rewarding at low revs, which is where the meat of its smoothly delivered power lives (it still purrs at 70mph in top at 2950rpm). It’s vibey at high rpm, but if you’re revving the Speedmaster you’re missing the point."

Electronics also get a tweak for 2021, as Neeves points out. "One of the joys of Triumph’s Bonnies is how they mix old-school styling and subtle modern tech. Catalysts are hidden away in darkly rumbling chrome exhausts, the Speedmaster has a hardtail look, despite having a rear shock and it’s packed with silicone secrets, including a ride-by-wire throttle, ABS, traction control and rider modes.

"Road and Rain now have full power with their own throttle and traction control maps, but once you’re in Road mode the electronics stay in the background and you never give them a second thought, but its standard issue cruise control is a nice and very useful touch.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

No major issues have been reported on the previous, pre-2018 Bonneville/Bobber range, so the mechanically similar Speedmaster should prove just as reliable. The attention to detail is class leading and the level of finish superb.  

Our 2018-on Triumph Speedmaster 1200 owners' reviews show very happy customers, however some list the brakes as being in need of an upgrade, but on a cruiser-style machine like this it’s always the rear brake that does the most work, so don’t get too hung up on any lack of stopping power up front.

Triumph Speedmaster exhaust

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Speedmaster sits at the more expensive end of the Bonneville range, along with the identically priced Bobber it’s based on. It’s also on par with an Indian Scout, but a couple of grand cheaper than an entry-level Harley Davidson.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Triumph Speedmaster 1200 has a very classical appearance

The 2018 Speedmaster has the same engine and brakes as that year’s Bonneville Bobber Black with twin Brembo calipers and 310mm discs up front and a Nissin caliper at the rear. 

Like the Bobber, the Speedmaster’s beauty is in the detail, be it the seat piping or stylish and functional single clock, the battery box with heritage styling or carb-styled twin throttle-bodies, the finned exhaust clamps or hand-finished fuel tank. Every time you gaze at it something new catches the eye.

For 2021 Triumph have been careful not to mess with the Speedmaster’s classic looks too much, so changes have been kept to a minimum. It gets full LED lighting and the analogue clock has a new bezel incorporating an engraved Bonneville logo.

As before there’s a digital readout for the trips, fuel gauge, gear position and riding modes, operated via the left switchgear. Build quality is top notch, from the deep chrome and flawlessly finished 12-litre fuel tank (which will get you 137 miles between fill-ups, based on our 52mpg average).

There’s also a raft of Triumph official accessories available, including wax cotton or leather panniers, a chrome luggage rack, touring screen and footboards.

Specs

Engine size 1200cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, Parallel-twin
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Seat height 705mm
Bike weight 263kg
Front suspension Showa 47mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single KYB rear shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs with Brembo two-piston radial caliper
Rear brake 255mm single disc with single-piston Nissin caliper
Front tyre size 130/90 x 16
Rear tyre size 150/80 x 16

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 52 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £460
New price £11,850
Used price £9,300 - £11,900
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 77 bhp
Max torque 78 ft-lb
Top speed 115 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 137 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2018: Cruiser-style Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster introduced, based on the Bobber of the day, but fitted with two seats, twin front discs and 16in front wheel.

2021: Driven in part by Euro5 emissions regs the Speedmaster has new catalysts as well as lighter engine internals, bigger forks, revised riding aids and styling tweaks.  

Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH SPEEDMASTER 1200 (2018 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH SPEEDMASTER 1200 (2018 - 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.

Review your TRIUMPH SPEEDMASTER 1200 (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £460
5 out of 5 A Marvel: Classic Looks with Modern Handling, Power and Electronics
24 July 2021 by Don1234

Version: Two Tone Black and White

Year: 2021

Traded in a large cruiser/tourer for this bike. Speedmaster has excellent handling and instant power on tap. The suspension is very good, never bottoms out. It came with the comfort seat, which is pretty good, but the comfort pillion, while thicker than the previous years, is very hard and not cushy at all. I'd definitely recommend. Riding position was so good with the forward controls that when I got home from picking up the bike, I called the dealer and cancelled the footboard kit that I had on order!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Great all-around bike. Great around town, nice on the highway with no absolutely no vibes up to 75 in 6th gear. The digital rev counter and gear position indicators help stay in the power range. Good handling in the curves, although the beach bars took a little getting used to.

Engine 5 out of 5

Feels bulletproof.... just pulls and pulls. The engine is quiet so the put all the sound into the pipes, which just sounds great.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Build quality looks excellent. I've had two previous Triumphss and over 25 years had no repairs other than a thermostat and a switch replacement. I expect this will be just as reliable.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I got 56 mpg on the first two fill ups, which will probably increase (so they told me) after my first service.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I like the rain and road modes on the fly. I might recommend a better pillion seat and I just bought a dual Corbin seat with a back rest. This will make it better for my wife on the pillion, and for me when taking longer rides.

Buying experience: Bought from a dealer. Paid the MSRP advertised price of $13, 650. But they gave 10% off accessories, including the backrest, luggage rack and dresser bars for highway pegs that I ordered.

5 out of 5 Bonneville of my dreams
14 December 2020 by Dart Player

Version: Basic

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £460

Love this bike. I have upgraded front and rear shocks and rear brake to Brembo 310mm, but I am 110kg and ride with occasional pillion. Worst feature is the pillion seat, although fine for short distances for small pillions. Quality is top notch.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

upgraded to comfort seat for rides over 2 hours. raised bars 70mm/2.5" for 1.8m/5'11"" height to straighten my back. Also upgraded rear brake to Brembo 310mm for extensive trail braking use. Twin front discs are impressive.

Engine 5 out of 5

Snatchy at low speed maneuvers which rain mode improves, otherwise a very torquey engine with good gearing the winds forever.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I had the left indicator replaced on warranty, caused by rubbing behind teh light cowl. Replacement cabling was much thicker.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

occasional oil top up

Equipment 5 out of 5

Avon Cobras are great, replaced with Cobra Chrome. Added the auxiliary plug for USB charging and better horn. Recommend a Dart fly screen for buffering some wind at high speed.

Buying experience: Purchased new from a Triumph dealer. Service was very good, but it pays to read the manual, especially the mono shock preload adjustment for riders > 80kg

5 out of 5 I don't believe this bike in this class can be beaten
13 September 2019 by Pete B

Year: 2018

Attention to detail and ride position with an awesome high torque 1200 block. Makes you smile every time you get on it.......... Makes all the old boys smile when they see it also ! Great sound from the 270 deg block with V&H exhaust installed

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Two Brembo 310 caliper brakes to the front are really good at bringing you to a stop when you need to, the ABS kicks in at the right time also. 4 out of 5 because i think there should have at least been a single 310 Brembo at the back and not a Nisin, it feels like there's not even a brake there. I love the ride position but I had tail bone ache after 1.5 hours so went for the comfort seat and that's much better

Engine 5 out of 5

It would be quicker to tell you what i dont like about this engine.......... NOTHING! I honestly feel that this engine is just about as good as it could be. If i was to be really picky, maybe a bit of foot vibration when going over 70 mph

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

1st proper service not had yet (only 500 mile service so far)

Equipment 5 out of 5

Great options for this, however like i said i dont like the Nisin pot on the back or the standard seat. Apart from that i love everything about this bike although i think a small none tinted "dart" type screen should have been an option aswell along with 100% leather panniers and not leather / fabric combo but thats a personal choice

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