Three for the road: Triumph Speed Triple
ICONIC British bike-maker Triumph has been scampering ever since it entered India last November. It has set up seven dealerships, and is set to open an eighth one today (Friday) in Chennai. Most of south India has been covered, and Delhi in the north; Kolkata is next on the radar. The company says it has already garnered 450 bookings, as though a nation of bike-enthusiasts had been waiting to exhale. It remains to be seen how long the momentum will sustain - and that will depend mostly on how its bikes deliver.
Among Triumph's most popular bikes, especially in the UK homeland, are the Street and Speed Triple, its street bikes. We recently got our hands on the Speed for a limited period, and came away very impressed. Here is what we found.
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Most of Triumph's bikes have twin headlights, and the Triple siblings are endowed with bug-eyed lights vaguely reminiscent of Professor Calculus of Tintin fame. They give the bike a striking appearance from the front, though the visage may not be everybody's cup of tea. But then, the main competition in the form of Kawasaki Z1000 too has an atypical visage, so the choice is rather mixed. The bug eyes are a definite improvement from the old geeky-looking lights of the previous version.
The bike itself has an eager read-to-race stance, and a typical forward crouching position. The wheelbase is shorter than a track bike, in keeping with the primary purpose of street riding. The rear end is typical, and the raised twin exhausts give it a purposeful look. They do make life hot for the pillion rider, though.
Triumph has sort of taken over the three-engine concept. Most of its bikes have triple-cylinders, while the classics have twins. The format makes it stand out in a jungle of V-twins and inline fours, but the others are catching on, Yamaha for instance.
The 1,050-cc inline-three engine has plenty of muscle. And the growl is distinctive, neither a twin nor a four, which has to be heard to be believed, though owners are more than likely to adopt after-market pipes to add timbre to the music.
The power delivery is rapid, to put it mildly. The bike is wheelie-friendly (novices beware) and the spurt makes life on the pillion seat a nightmare. Interestingly, Triumph has gone in for a traditional single-piece long seat, rather than the bikini seat that comes on most sportsbikes these days.
The ride is typified by Triumph's video presentation of the bike --- a beam of light streaking through the screen in a zigzag. It is a speed-fiend's dream, and rocking around corners and stop-start takeoffs are fantastic. We did not feel a glitch anywhere, and we did really push it as far as the roads would permit. Young riders would find its speed and nimbleness appealing, while more sedate riders would like the seating, the power-on-call and the torque right up their street. With short clutch and brake levers, start-stop traffic is also not tiring for the rider, though the heat radiation does make things uncomfortable.
By the way, an optional short visor is available, which would be a great thing to add on if one is planning to push performance, especially since the bike has close to 250 kph under its belt. Now, if only they made roads to fit these bikes.
There is a big hole in the street bikes category in India. Apart from the Speed, there is only the Z1000 available at present, and the Zee is a full ` 2 lakh costlier. A KTM or a Ducati would have stirred things up nicely, but…
The Speed is one of the most versatile bikes in Triumph's kitty, and would suit a tallish person to a T. Ride it to work, and take it for a weekend to the mountains. Probably the best part about Triumph's bikes is that they take standard fuel.
The only potential issue we see: the flaring exhausts and the resulting heat, especially on long rides, for the pillion. There is an optional Arrow racing exhaust available, worth a look in.