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Triumph Speed Twin: the story

Published: 07 November 2018

Updated: 18 November 2019

When Triumph set out to develop their new Speed Twin the goal was to create a bike that combined the style of a modern classic with the performance and handling of a modern roadster.

To achieve this Triumph decided to take what they wanted from the Street Twin, Bonneville and Thruxton and put it all on a diet. The result is the Speed Twin, which weighs just 196kg dry.

What was the performance aim for the Triumph Speed Twin?

For the performance they wanted, the only choice was their most powerful production twin. "When we began we knew we wanted to use the engine from the Thruxton R," Stuart Wood, Triumph’s Chief Engineer, told MCN.

Lighter alloy wheels help shed weight on the Triumph Speed Twin

"So we took that engine, which is the high power version of the 1200cc twin with the high compression head and modified it to reduce weight. That engine is already a ‘low inertia’ model but we lightened it further with a new clutch pack and balancer shaft as well as side cases and magnesium head covers.

"That means the engine spins up quicker and saves 2.5kg, still with the long service intervals."

Triumph’s other key goal was to refine the riding position and chassis, to give the bike an aggressive look but without the more extreme riding position of the café racer Thruxton, which meant an all-new frame.

"We saved weight elsewhere, too," adds Wood. "There’s a new aluminium engine cradle in the frame, lightweight cast alloy wheels and a new battery that saves 900g without any decrease in starting power. All of these changes save 10kg over a Thruxton, which means it accelerates quicker and changes direction very easily. The Speed Twin will be a real class leader in the corners."

The Thruxton engine used in the Speed Twin has been lightened

But Triumph did not want to overdo it by using too many of the Thruxton R’s hot suspension and braking components as this would have driven the price up. "We had a lot of discussions about what level of spec and performance we wanted for this bike," says Steve Sargent, Chief Product Officer.

"We felt we had two gaps in the range at the start of this year. One was the 1200 Scrambler and the other was the Speed Twin. It was really important that the Speed Twin could provide progression for Street Twin owners but still be accessibly priced."

New aluminium engine cradles and a lighter battery save weight on the Triumph Speed Twin

The obvious remaining question is: will we see some of these improvements on the next generation of Thruxtons? "Who knows what the future holds," says Wood. Make of that what you will.


 

Triumph Speed Twin teased

First reported 07/11/19

Triumph have released a teaser video which suggests their long-awaited Triumph Speed Twin will be announced on December 4, 2018.

Spy shots of a bike that looked like a streetfighter verion of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 first emerged in late 2016, below is the story we brought you at the time.


Triumph Speed Twin spy shots first emerged in 2016

Triumph Speed Twin spec

  • Thruxton R fork and shocks
  • Retuned T120 engine
  • T120 Bonneville frame
  • Headlamps nicked straight from the 2007 Street Triple
  • Expected to be called a Speed Twin and to arrive in late 2017

Triumph are planning to unleash this street fighter version of the Thruxton R with the same grunty, 1200cc parallel twin at its heart. This cool and capable-looking machine is expected to carry the legendary Speed Twin name that the firm re-registered some time ago.

And it will build on the blazing success of the firm’s two new Thruxtons, T120 Bonnevilles, Bobber and five-strong family of T100-engined bikes.

Essentially a street-fighter version of the Thruxton R, the new Speed Twin is a clever crossover of styles, blending the now legendary bug-eye twin round headlamps and upright riding position from the first-generation Street Triple, with the highly polished Thruxton chassis and engine.

Triumph's more aggressive stance

Although the T100 and T120 engines are virtually indistinguishable – especially as this bike is using the primary cover from a T100 Black – the transmission cover is clearly a T120 item. The most telling giveaway is barely visible, but nestling just behind the rider’s right thigh you can just make out the unmistakable form of the T120’s throttle bodies, which masquerade as old-school carburettors.

With a single large headlamp, this new model would look a lot less remarkable, but by using the Street Triple’s bug eyes, Triumph have added a hint of contemporary styling to what is an otherwise heavily retro offering.

It’s clearly a well-used test bike, and could even be a reused and adapted Thruxton/Bonneville development bike. This fairly early-stage test mule is rolling on completely mismatched wheels; a cast item taken from the Street Triple at the front and a Thruxton laced rim on the rear – running Pirelli Diablo Rosso tyres. The most likely reason for this is that Triumph are intending to use cast wheels on the new model. Not only would they better suit the more aggressive stance of this bike, but they would also differentiate the model further from the T120 Bonnevilles, which use an 18in laced front rim.

Crude solutions

The other hint that this is an early bike is the lack of bespoke parts – Triumph have gone to great lengths to give each new model iteration its own styling parts – and the crude solutions to many of the engineering challenges, suggesting this bike is some way off going into production.

A rough triple clamp holds an extremely crude sheet of plate bolted between the top and bottom yokes, onto which the headlamps and clocks are bolted. On top of that is a Jenga-like stack of plates to allow the fat, flat bar to be mounted at various heights and fore/aft positions as the testers evaluate the best rider triangle of seat-bars-pegs.

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