Triumph Speed Triple (2011) A Bulldog of Bike – Review

I am a big fan of the modern generation of naked muscle bikes; witness the fact that I am a former proud owner of both a Yamaha XJR1300SP and FZ1S. The former was more of an old school and the later a more modern take on the same basic theme. The XJR is like a Triumph TR6 sports car in spirit: Brawny but about as complicated as a lump hammer. In contrast the FZ is more like a Jaguar XKR; well dressed but still a bare knuckle fighter underneath a thin veneer of sophistication. So it was in this context that I was really keen to try out the equally meaty 2011 Triumph Speed Triple, a real attack-dog of a bike. Especially with the snarling aftermarket pipe the bike owner had chosen to fit.

If this bike had a name it would be Spike…

A Bulldog of a Bike

The big triple has a solid, muscular stance; stocky, straight forward, no-nonsense: If it was a bloke it would have a tattoo on its’ neck and drive a white van. To make another four wheeled comparison it reminded me of a that Aussie legend (ignore the Vauxhall badge it wears in the UK), the V8 Holden Monaro. A gutsy, fast, no bullshit sort of car. This is a machine that wants to get directly to the business in hand and no messing.

Tuneful Triple Soundtrack

Like all the modern Triumph triples that I have ridden the experience was utterly dominated by that wailing, barking three cylinder engine. Obviously the bike is fast. Power and torque are instantly on tap seemingly in any gear all the way through a big juicy fat rev range.  That evocative exhaust note an ever present, egging you on to ride more aggression than is strictly necessary. Addictive and fantastic, I love it.

Too hard?

However, to be honest the suspension set up was too firm for me. The bike could be deflected off line too easily and the comfort level wasn’t great, especially when compared to my own Yamaha FZ1. The Yamaha has another 10bhp on tap when compared to  the Triumph.  For me those extra horses are easier to access because the suspension set up is better too. The Triumph did have more mid range punch where the FZ liked to to revved. This a typical for a four cylinder bike. I didn’t explore the upper reaches of the triple’s rev range, but here I think the FZ would have had the edge.

Brakes to match the power

The brakes were superb too. Great feel at the lever and speed melted away quickly with the slightest touch of the lever. The riding position wasn’t great for me: Somehow it put  a lot of pressure on the small of my back. This would really limit my ability to enjoy the bike overall, which is a great shame, as the looks of the bike and the engine are both just about perfect.

So perhaps not a bike for me. However, I remain genuinely impressed and proud that the British bike industry can produce such an awesome piece of kit

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly