TRIUMPH SPEEDMASTER 1200 Bonneville Speedmaster (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Laid-back cruiser from Triumph
  • Handling is great considering size
  • Powerful but chilled engine
MCN AWARDS
Best Cruiser 2018
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £460
Power: 76 bhp
Seat height: Low (27.8 in / 705 mm)
Weight: High (541 lbs / 246 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £9,800 - £11,900

Overall rating

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

The Triumph Speedmaster 1200 is a two-seat version of the hugely successful Bobber and is 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. 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, it is aimed at those looking for a chilled retro with the ability to take a pillion, something the two Bobber models have no provision for. There is a small pad attached above the mudguard and a neat chrome grab rail, but it’s not exactly Gold Wing levels of luxury. As I was to discover, neither is the rider’s seat.

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.

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 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 feels fluid, and the Speedmaster 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 Triumph Speedmaster rides is the hard shock and seat, which really made life difficult when tester Jon Urry tackled the MCN250 on this bike. "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."

Oh dear. 

Engine

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

The Speedmaster shares the same high-torque engine as in the highly acclaimed 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.

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.  

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 both list the brakes as being in need of an upgrade. 

Value vs rivals

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

The basic Bobber, which the Speedmaster is heavily-based upon is just over £1000 less than this Speedmaster, but only runs a single front disc and a lower spec. The 2018 Bobber Black, which has identical wheels and twin discs, is priced the same as the base Speedmaster.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Triumph Speedmaster 1200 has a very classical appearance

It receives the same engine and brakes as the 2018 Bobber Black, with twin 310mm discs up front and Brembo calipers – 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.

Cruise control comes as standard, unlike the original Bobber. It also features two rider modes, traction control and ABS. The fuel tank has increased from the Bobber’s 9.1-litres to a more practical 12 litres.

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 246kg
Front suspension 41mm, KYB forks none 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 64 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £460
New price -
Used price £9,800 - £11,900
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 76 bhp
Max torque 78 ft-lb
Top speed 115 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 166 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

The 2002 - 2011 Triumph Speedmaster. 790cc powered laid-back Bonneville.

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

2 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 out of 5 (4/5)
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 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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