▲ 2019 Triumph Speed Twin. It bears little resemblance to any of the classic Speed Twins from the late 1930s through to the 1960s. But had Meriden Triumph survived, this Bonneville based Hinckley-built general-purpose retro might well have been the machine the factory would be building. Or would it? We can see this one dividing a lot of opinion.
2019 Triumph Speed Twin
Bonneville | 1200 | 270-degree crank | Traction control | ABS | Slip-assist clutch
Triumph Motorcycles is describing the 2019 Speed Twin as an "all new model". But to most Triumph watchers, this bike is likely to be viewed as a roadsterized Thruxton that's been rightly or wrongly tagged with a legendary moniker.
The 1200cc engine, for instance, is derived from current Thruxton. Same liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, parallel-twin architecture. Same 97.6mm bore. Same 80mm stroke. Same 96bhp max power @ 6,750rpm. Same 112Nm of torque @ 4,950rpm. Same 11:1 compression ratio. Same multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection. Same 6-speed gearbox. And the crank angle has the same 270° throw for that fashionable "loping" sound and feel.
But the frame, we're advised, is new—albeit also derived from the Thruxton chassis. The clutch assembly has been revised. Up top is a new magnesium cam cover (that's a claimed 2.5kg lighter). The wheels are also new. And we're fairly sure that a Triumph design engineer could point to dozens (if not hundreds) of other changes, many of them invisible, and most of them well beneath the scrutiny of all but the most hardened rivet-counter/anorak/industrial spy, etc.
In fact, given the plethora of similar modern classics in the Triumph range, we're a little surprised that Hinckley hasn't been a little more radical in terms of styling and performance.
The original and seminal 1938 5T Speed Twin, after all, wasn't simply another model in the range. It was at the top of the range; a shrewd and timely template for dozens of similar models to follow—not only from the Triumph factory but also emulated by BSA, Norton, AJS, Ariel and others. Whereas this Speed Twin isn't leading the parade. It's merely following the herd, and for some of us there's more than a tinge of disappointment here.
So okay, we could make the same negative argument with the Hinckley Bonnevilles. And we have. But the Speed Twin name is arguably far more evocative, and for that reason we were hoping (perhaps unrealistically) that Hinckley would serve up something with a few more nods and winks at the classic Speed Twins from the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties.
Such as what for instance? Well, we don't know. Maybe a re-imagined nacelle. Or re-imagined bathtubs. Or a serious performance boost. Or a splash of Amaranth Red. Or even a modern girder fork and a rigid looking frame à la Bobber.
There are, after all, still plenty of older bikers out there who worship the Meriden-era Speed Twins, and we figure that one or two of them might be tempted by a new machine that more faithfully addresses their sense of purism/history/whatever.
But clearly, Triumph is playing it safe by giving us pretty much more-of-the-same whilst hoping to persuade us that it's different.
All that aside, we'd be surprised if Hinckley doesn't sell many thousands of these bike, if only because of the hallowed Speed Twin name. They look as good as any in the Bonneville range (but the liveries could use a little more punch and vibrancy).
Features include traction control, ABS, a slip-assist clutch, ride-by-wire throttle, and three rider modes (Sport, Road & Rain—or, if you prefer, Fun, Ho-hum, and Ah S#!t). There's also a cartridge front fork, an aluminium swinging arm, Brembo and Nissin brakes (check the specs below for details), 17-inch wheels, LCD instruments and two years warranty. And we're promised 10,000 miles of travel before the first service is needed.
The list goes on.
So okay, a 100mph top end (or thereabouts) isn't going to impress anyone anymore. But fuel economy from the SOHC counter-balanced motor is likely to be around 60 - 70mpg (and we're guessing a little more for the ultra frugal among us).
There are now twelve models—or variants—in the Bonneville range. And this newcomer looks like a very satisfying all-rounder that can only bolster the kudos of the brand. But perhaps Triumph will, in redeveloping this bike, add a few more original Speed Twin cues. We wouldn't complain if they did.
There are no prices yet. The bikes are expected in the Spring of 2019—which is vague, but that's all Triumph has to say about it at the moment.
Specifications: 2019 Triumph Speed Twin
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank, parallel-twin
Colours: Silver Ice/Storm Grey; Korosi Red/Storm Grey; Jet Black
BAD-ASS BIKER T-shirt
Copyright Sump Publishing 2018