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Radical, retro, and ruddy gorgeous, there’s a lot to admire here

So, let’s get one thing straight from the outset. The Triumph Speed Twin 1200 boasts an outstandingly visual presence. Yes, it’s a stunning bike to look at and admire. I guess it has much to do with the standout colour (red in this case), and the retro styling. There’s no other way to describe it. It simply looks right. It’s the business.

Triumph is good at that, having recently added the bike to its other models based on the Triumph 1200 platform that saw the likes of the Bonneville T120, Bonneville Bobber, Speedmaster and Thruxton 1200 plus others, cast under the spotlight. I’ve ridden the Bobber and the Speedmaster, and the latest iteration of the Street Twin, but not the Speed Twin, so this should prove yet another interesting exercise.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

Fuelled by those good looks, I was keen to sit astride the bike and hit the road, but then it wasn’t too long before something started to ring not quite true with me. Something wasn’t quite right. Let me add straightaway that it was nothing to do with the bike itself; the eminently impressive 1197cc parallel-twin motor with a 270-degree crank. The weight felt right, and it sounded lovely. No, it must have been down to the riding position. It was only when I rolled up to a café to meet my good friend Julie for my first proper ride-out on the Speed Twin that the realisation struck home. “That looks small for you,” was her greeting. That was it. That lightbulb moment neatly encapsulated in a nutshell. Yes, I had thought the same, but had dismissed the thought, the same as I had done upon first impression when test riding the Trident. I am 6ft and 14-plus stone. I was somewhat mortified. Did I look like a gorilla on a Monkey bike? Gawd, I hoped not. Perhaps it was all my layers of winter gear making me look, er, oversized?

As Julie led the way, I was hoping to cruise slowly past some shop windows to see what I looked like, but there weren’t any, so I took her word for it. She is one astute lady. Before we had set off, Julie asked if she could sit on the bike. She looked good on it. She is 5ft 5in. Having mentioned that, I don’t believe female riders are the target market. So, who is? I’ll come to that later.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

We arrived at our pre-planned destination where a group of all-female riders had pitched up for a coffee stop. They were all riding naked bikes. Only one came out to check over the Speed Twin. There’s a clue there, perhaps not so much for ladies then, but it’s early days to be fair.

As we sat over a coffee, I pondered the riding position of the bike. Yes, it’s reasonably upright, although not as upright as other bikes I have ridden recently. I had found myself leaning slightly forwards, nothing like as extreme as a sports-bike, and my wrists didn’t ache from any sort of acute angle, but slightly tilted forwards I was, gripping the slim tank as I would power down. Endeavouring to do that felt somehow counter-intuitive to any kind of bodily weight distribution. It may read like I am being totally negative, but it’s not meant like that. I am merely explaining my very personal experience of riding this bike for the first time which, wishing to reiterate yet again, is a lovely bike, but I’ve yet to get more riding time in before I convince myself that this bike is right for me. A thought had crossed me mind. My, ahem, weight was not the issue, but If I was, perhaps, a couple of inches shorter, that might have made all the difference… As I say, just a thought.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

So, the good things, and there are plenty of them. If you, and others like you, are looking for your first big bike, then this would make for a perfect option. It oozes confidence, with everything seemingly tuned to perfection. It’s both smooth and engaging, and great for everyday riding, just as I had found its stablemate, the Street Twin. It’s fun to ride around town, skip through traffic, and take to the country roads for an exhilarating spin to a local café, but you’re not going to long-haul on it, it’s not built for that. For me, that’s where the rather delightful Speedmaster comes in, with its beach bars and forwards offering an incredibly comfortable cruiser-style riding position. That one, I must admit, I was sad to see returned to Hinckley.

Triumph bracket the Speed Twin as the benchmark modern classic sports icon. So, what are we looking at here? Well, enhancements to the engine, high-specification Marzocchi suspension, premium radially mounted monobloc Brembo M50 brakes and lightweight wheels are just a few of the updates and, yes, despite these notable increases in performance, the updated engine exceeds EURO 5 emissions regulations, making this the cleanest Speed Twin yet. Cleverly, the brushed stainless steel exhaust system has been carefully engineered to keep the cat box hidden while twin upswept megaphone silencers deliver all of the trademark Speed Twin roar.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

That significant engine update has seen an increase in both peak power, now 3PS up at 100PS, and also mid-range power, which is up by five per cent. With the torque this is also up by five per cent in the mid-range, which, of course, is where the Bonneville twin engine excels, and better still, there is also a reduction in inertia thanks to a lightweight crankshaft and a rare earth alternator. Combined with high compression pistons, revised ports and a cam profile, the Speed Twin 1200 is even more responsive than before, spinning up faster and revving harder for longer.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

Advanced modern technology allows the use of a ride-by-wire throttle, ensuring the perfect throttle response for enhanced rideability, safety and control. Similarly, the torque assist clutch gives a light lever action for superb feel and reduced fatigue in the stop/start scenario of a town commute. Up front, the Speed Twin’s suspension has been upgraded to 43mm Marzocchi USD forks with cartridge damping, matched with rear shocks for 120mm of controlled damping. That change to USD forks has allowed the fitment of higher specification radially mounted Brembo M50 callipers paired with 320mm discs for superb braking performance. High-specification Metzeler Racetec RR tyres mount lightweight cast aluminium 12-spoke wheels, delivering improved agility, better handling and excellent levels of grip.

With so many things to like, I almost forgot to mention the three riding modes (Rain, Road and Sport), which again have been upgraded with a dedicated throttle map and traction control setting for each mode. They are easily switchable via a handlebar-mounted button, and the easy-to-read twin clocks with contemporary 3D dial faces feature a huge range of information from fuel range to gear position, riding mode setting to service indicator, all easily navigated via a handlebar-mounted scroll button.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

Of course, looks are subjective, but in this case, and in my mind, the Triumph Speed Twin 1200 is a beautifully designed and engineered bike, exhilarating to ride for the seasoned biker and confidence-inspiring enough for the newly qualified. With a low seat height of 809mm, tapered handlebars and relaxed, upright-ish riding position, it’s perfect for the urban commute or a day ride through the countryside.

Perhaps if I hacked the heels of my riding boots… that might help. Nah, no need to try and compensate for anything here. Let’s just leave it that this gorgeous retro twin, with its lustrous contemporary colours, is poised to take the market by storm, and so it should. But, sadly, I still don’t think it’s one for me.

Trumph Speed Twin 1200

So, who is the target market then? Well, I can tell you the main rivals will be the BMW R nineT Pure and the Kawasaki Z900RS. Get prospective buyers past those, and we have the lovers of retro-styled bikes; those that are looking towards taking their first giant leap of faith to a bigger bike, or indeed swinging a leg over a bike after a long lay-off; those moving away from sports bikes; and, er, probably anyone else under 6ft tall.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Image by Alexa from Pixabay


Can’t for the life of me remember where I parked that Speed Twin. Ah well, probably looked like a gorilla on it anway.








  • Price: from £11,795.00
  • Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
  • Capacity: 1200cc
  • Maximum Power EC: 100PS / 98.6bhp (73.6 kW) @ 7250rpm
  • Maximum Torque: 112Nm @ 4250rpm
  • System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
  • Exhaust: Brushed stainless steel 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin silencers
  • Clutch: Wet, multi-plate torque assist clutch
  • Gearbox: 6 speed
  • Frame: Tubular steel, with steel cradles
  • Front Wheel: Cast aluminium alloy 17” x 3.5”
  • Rear Wheel: Cast aluminium alloy 17” x 5.0”
  • Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR17
  • Rear Tyre: 160/60 Z
  • Front Suspension: 43mm USD Marzocchi forks, 120mm travel
  • Rear Suspension: Twin RSUs with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel
  • Front Brakes: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc callipers, ABS
  • Rear Brakes: Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating calliper, ABS
  • Seat height: 809mm
  • Tank Capacity: 14.5 Litres
  • Fuel Consumption: 5.1 Litres / 100km
  • Wet Weight: 216kg
  • Service Interval: 10,000 miles/16,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first
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