Triumph Speed Triple Tested
Triumph’s 2008 Speed Triple 1050 ridden and enjoyed.
2008 Triumph Speed Triple Review
I’ve got a feeling that in years to come, one of the landmark motorcycles -and possibly among Triumphs greatest- will be the Speed Triple. The original “factory street fighter”, the Speed Triple arguably reset the meter on desirability of naked bikes. The iconic twin round headlights are just as memorable as the four big chrome pipes on the Honda CB750, or the angular knife edge styling of the Katana.
Originally released in the mid 1990s, the Speed Triple’s name reflects a much earlier part of Triumphs high performance history, the 1930s “Speed Twin”. Whilst the original Speed Triple has little in common with the current machine, from 1997 the now familiar twin “bug eye” headlights appeared, along with the high mounted bars and single sided swing arm on the T509 model.
Since then the bike has evolved into its current form, and whilst still retaining strong ties to the T509 visually, the engine and chassis bear little resemblance in the 2008 model. For ’08 the Trip gets a workover that includes Brembo stoppers, Magura tapered bars, a new rear subframe and a redesigned set of multi-spoke cast wheels. A host of other design and specification changes complete the picture.
For a full run-down on the details, see our model release article here: http://motoaus.com/road/road-bike-features-and-reviews/2008-triumph-speed-triple.html
On the Road
After riding and loving the Street Triple, the 675cc smaller brother of the Speed Triple, we couldn’t wait to sample the bigger 1050cc machine.
It didn’t disappoint, exhibiting the same tendency to promote less responsible riding techniques. Front tyre contact with the road surface is optional, and determined by the right hand control. And with a torque curve as broad as a McDonalds addict, a delight to ride.
The triple cylinder engine offers a cross between the grunty torque of a twin, and the smooth rush of an inline 4, somehow combining the charm of both, but leaving out the negatives of either.
If you ignore the fact this bike is marketed as a “streetfighter” and all that name signifies, it also does a surprisingly good impression of a well rounded “standard” bike. The higher bars make for a comfortable riding position, the gear shifting is impeccable. The Brembo brakes offer a huge bite at the front, and for my medium sized self, everything was pretty much in the place it should be. But I did say “if” and ignoring its hooligan heritage is difficult.
The Speed Triple is at its best when ridden aggressively, and a very easy bike to ride fast on. Dive it into corners, and the Triple steers exactly where you want it to, and the beautifully tuned fuel injection allows you to fire back out the other side without a stumble. The Brembo calipers on this model are more than adequate, in fact a little time needs to be taken to get used to the huge bite available, too savage on the lever could invoke a near lockup.
Once comfortable with the sensitivity, even one finger braking will slow you up nicely. In real world conditions, this is a bike that will enable you to stay within number plate reading distance of even the hypersports bikes when the going gets twisty. We noticed a mild nervousness in the front end when pushed very hard on bumpy roads, but it never developed into anything frightening. On smooth roads it was an absolute delight.
Out on the open road, the lack of any semblance of wind protection and the upright riding position will limit long distance high speed touring. At semi-sensible speeds however, there was no buffeting noticeable, just a clean blast of wind over the chrome headlights. Triumph do have an accessory small bikini style fairing available, this might be something to consider if you will be putting in a few highway miles. For the short 100km odd stints we did at a time on the bike when testing it, the peg and bar position was comfortable, as was the seat.
The instruments were easily readable, the tacho equipped with the great programmable shift light style of LED’s that ring the tacho, light up from around 9000 and change from green to yellow to red as the scenery blurs and another gear is needed. I’m probably spoiled, but in these days of LCD screens like the Speed Triple has, I did miss the inclusion of a fuel gauge, a low fuel light being the only offering.
The dash did include such things as a temperature gauge, trip computer, and a high score feature for top speed. The fuel tank is a reasonable 18 litre size, although it did seem to use it fairly quickly, perhaps as a result of the way it begs to be ridden. I’m sure ridden sensibly the fuel range would be more than your own. Underseat storage was available, but minimal, a phone and wallet size receptacle.
The 2008 Speed Triple features the same 1050cc engine as the previous model, Triumph stating that peak power is 131hp at just over 9000 rpm with a ripping peak torque of 105Nm (77ft.lbf) at 7500 rpm.
The Keihin fuel injection is second to none, with none of the on /off throttle hesitation found on some fuel injected bikes. A 3 into 1 Arrow low mount pipe is available from Triumph as a “race” accessory, but the twin standard high mounted mufflers provided a pleasing growl through the rev range. The induction growl was a lot less noticeable on this bike than on the Street Triple, that may be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.
The front end change most noticeable is the colour, the 43mm Showa adjustable upside down suspenders are black for 2008, after years of gold. Brembo radial front calipers feature four pad, four piston design, and are actuated by a radial master cylinder. Trust me when I say these can slow those 320mm discs quickly.
At the rear, the now familiar single sided swingarm shows off the new multi spoke alloy wheel nicely, and is suspended with a fully adjustable Showa set off with a funky blue coloured spring. Dunlop Qualifiers are standard fitment, and provided excellent grip all the way to (near) the limit.
This was another motorcycle that we were reluctant to return, a bike that you just want to jump on and ride, even if you have no where in particular to go. It does encourage and allow a more spectacular riding style than most, so in this day and age of hoon frowning, a good level of self control needs to be exercised. In spite of that however, it would happily commute, and riders of all skill levels will find it very easy to ride.
Triumph again have delivered a winner into the intended market, another chapter in the “Streetfighter” legend.
The Good: Great engine, Great brakes, Fun factor of 10.
The Bad: Is there anything? I dunno, maybe add a fuel gauge?
The Ugly: Your demerit points if you lack self control.
Click here for a wallpaper size Image of the Speed Triple
Images copyright Motoaus.com 2008
Boots: Alpine Star
Test Bike kindly provided by Triumph Australia and Team Moto Springwood.