The 2022 Triumph Speed Twin is a 1960s Bonneville modern classic
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BY JOE MICHAUD,
Special to Maynard’s Garage
The original Triumph Speed Twin 5T was designed in 1937 by the prolific British visionary Edward Turner. When the 5T made its debut, the 500cc parallel-twin design proved innovative in a performance world previously dominated by large displacement single-cylinder motorcycles. The 5T provided significantly more horsepower, torque, and, more importantly, less vibration than era-available performance singles.
Turner was complicated, sources say, and his inability to compromise was often an impediment to design progress. However, no one can doubt the success of his Speed Twin design. Turner’s design would set the tone — as well as the basic parallel-twin engine design — that would sustain the British motorcycle industry for nearly four decades. Even today, most Triumph devotees credit the 5T and its offspring, the 5TA, for the post-war recovery of Triumph. Its popularity would allow the model to soldier on until 1966.
Triumph cannily resurrected the famous “Speed Twin” nameplate in 2018. It marked the introduction of a line of 1200cc twin-cylinder bikes the factory called “modern classic performance roadsters.”
Four years later, the newest Speed Twin continues the panache of the sport roadster.
Triumph has updated the High Power Bonneville twin engine with more midrange power and torque. The fresh enhancements boost the fun for me with the 83 foot-pounds of peak torque moved lower to 4,250 rpm. The power band is more available for real-world riding. And torque is where my motorcycle fun lives.
Rider feel has been enhanced by a reduction in rotating engine inertia. A lightened crankshaft and alternator allow the motor to rev quicker. The combined modifications raise the redline by 500 rpm to 7,250 where the horsepower peaks at 100. A revvy motor coupled with a new profile camshaft (more lift and longer duration) and fresh porting add to the fun factor. It’s all good stuff.
Triumph improved the 2022 Speed Twin handling with fresh higher-spec Marzocchi cartridge-damped forks up front. The Marzocchis are a non-adjustable, upside-down 43mm design with 120mm travel.
Twin rear shocks are pre-load adjustable only, and also give 120mm travel. Suspension mods always improve riding feel. These non-adjustable items certainly fit the moderate price point, but enthusiastic riders may tire of them.
Metzeler Racetec RR tires wrapped on lighter 12-spoke 17-inch cast wheels make turn-in smooth and predictable.
Front brakes are Brembo four-piston M50 radial monobloc calipers squeezing twin 320mm discs. The rear stopper is a single Nissin two-caliper 220mm disc. ABS is standard. Initial bite is strong with much good feel for the bike.
The cable-pull clutch is torque-assisted, coupled through a six-speed gearbox. The shifts are as slick as a bolt-action rifle.
The narrow-waisted saddle with a 31.5-inch seat height provides a slim stand-over width. The reach to the midposition pegs and tapered bars deliver an easy upright position to the rider. It sits easy-peasy and comfy in urban use. Dealing with a stretched sport-bike crouch designed for the track can often be an ergonomic distraction for urban commuting. For most of my bike business, I’ll take some upright situational awareness over sport-bike ergonomics.
There is no multi-axis lean angle sensing (IMU), no quick shifter, and no cruise control. ABS is non-cancellable and electronic controls are limited to basic ride modes — rain, road, and sport. There are no wide distinctions between the basic ride modes. After a few days of playing with the modes, I suspect most riders will simply leave in it Sport and modify their right fist as needed.
The lack of cruise control might feel like an oversight to some riders; inclusion during production would be a pushover for a ride-by-wire bike. Triumph already includes cruise control on other models, so perhaps it’s an additional cost saver. However, I’m not sure I would miss it. Electronic cruise control can be a boon on long commutes over open interstate roads, but I enjoy having personal control of my motorcycles.
All lighting is LED, except the headlight, oddly enough. An under-seat USB charger can keep your phone at the ready.
The claimed weight is 476 pounds, wet and ready. And the first major service is slated for 10,000 miles. That’s a nice cost saving.
Fuel capacity is a moderate 3.8 gallons with a claimed combined fuel economy of 43 mpg. I’m not a fan of the exposed bottom seams currently unavoidable on many new bike tanks. It’s less expensive to manufacture, but I always see the seams.
I like that the Speed Twin looks as a Triumph should.
The modern Speed Twin has kept the open, airy silhouette of a vintage twin-shock 1960s T120. The Speed Twin would not look out of place parked in formation with my 1966 T120 and ’68 TR6R. Light, nimble, and sporty. To my eye, it simply looks right. As much as American V-Twins cling to their classic look, the Bonneville line from Triumph also stays the course. Retro sells, and I enjoy it.
The brushed stainless-steel pipes with black-capped exhaust cans look the part. Together they cleverly hide the emission-control catalyst that makes the bike Euro-5 compliant.
Brushed alloy fenders fore and aft lend a sporty detail. A bar-mounted scroll button controls the discrete multi-function LCD display. The gauges — tach and speedo — are analog and needle-swept. I love them.
Sharper-minded race folks might decide the Thruxton RS better suits their jam. But the Speed Twin at $12,500 MSRP, has the same basic horsepower and torque as the RS — albeit with a few less zooty parts, suspension, etc. — for $5,000 less.
Paint choices are three, Jet Black is standard, Red Hopper and Matt Storm Grey are $300 options. Finish and detail are superb throughout the Triumph line.
Accessories I would select include knee grips ($70), round bar-end mirrors ($199), and the quilted black seat ($430). See the list of accessories here.
My dictionary defines a roadster as a “two-seat performance vehicle” so it’s not a stretch when Triumph calls the Speed Twin “a modern Classic, performance roadster.”
I’ve never bought a motorcycle simply for transportation. For me, emotion is a powerful persuader. So, I’d like to see a Speed Twin with polished alloy engine cases and wire-spoked wheels. Otherwise, this bike ticks all my boxes for a thoroughly modern 1960s Bonneville.
Joe Michaud is a San Diego-based motorcycle rider and restorer. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Style: Sport roadster with tubular steel frame and steel cradles
Engine: liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC 1200cc High Power Bonneville parallel-twin, 270-degree crank angle
Power: 98.6 bhp at 7,250 rpm; 83 lb.-ft. torque at 4,250 rpm
Fuel injection: electronic multipoint sequential
Fuel economy: 43 mpg, estimated; combined city and highway
Exhaust: brushed stainless steel 2 into 2 system with twin silencers
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Clutch: wet, multiplate torque-assist clutch
Front: 12-spoke cast aluminum alloy, 17 inches by 3.5 inches; 120/70 ZR17
Rear: cast aluminum alloy, 17 inches by 5 inches; 160/60 ZR17
Front: 43mm USD Marzocchi forks, 120mm travel
Rear: twin RSUs with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel
Front: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers, ABS
Rear: Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
BY THE NUMBERS
Wet weight: 476.2 pounds (216kg)
Fuel tank: 3.8 gallons
Seat height: 31.85 inches
Length/wheelbase: 82.6 inches (2099mm)/ 55.6 inches (1413mm)
Speed Twin base price: $12,500 MSRP
Warranty: two-years unlimited mileage
Where assembled: Hinckley, Leicestershire, EnglandRead more