There’s nothing quite like a ferocious countryside ride to shake out the cobwebs come spring, and for the last weekend of our time together the weather gods delivered dry roads and ever-so-slightly milder conditions. Trailing a friend on an Africa Twin, I pushed the Triumph through sweeping bends and along open straights, relishing in its comfortable ride and powerful motor. The compliant suspension was softer than that of the R nineT, and as a result, the Triumph felt well connected to the road, the Pirelli Rosso Corsa 3-clad 17-inch, seven spoke cast aluminium wheels surefooted on the thawing tarmac (especially once they had warmed up). While it didn’t feel quite as dynamic and quick on its toes as the BMW, the front wheel actively sought out bends, sending the bike gliding confidently through. Here, it paid to remember that the footpegs sweep low, and that feet, unless snatched out of the way, will end up tracing the tarmac.
Those 41mm cartridge forks felt more forgiving than other competitors too, and while they handled admirably under aggressive riding, weren’t too firm when it came to the potholes that winter had left behind. Under a heavy handful of front brake – Brembo four pot fixed callipers on 305mm discs – they dived somewhat, making an odd clicking noise/sensation on a couple of occasions without bottoming out. Otherwise, the brakes offer stopping power comparable with Triumph’s sportier roadsters, while the rear twin shocks offer adjustable preload, and a supple comfort on the move. As on most modern motorcycles, the ABS was omnipresent, and borderline intrusive, but switchable traction control was a welcome treat.
The heaving heart of the Speed Twin is what makes the machine. Developed from that of the Thruxton, and with the addition of a low inertia crank and high compression head, it offers high power across the rev range, and an abundance of torque.
Unlike the aforementioned Street Twin, the Speed feels like it always has so much more to give – more than a speed-limit abiding citizen could ever use, certainly. It cruises comfortably in the middle of the rev range with ample torque still on tap, sitting smoothly at 70mph in sixth gear at 4,000rpm, and 40mph in fourth gear at 3000rpm - both well ahead of the 7/8,000rpm redline.
Sport, Road and Rain riding modes offer distinct characters and varied rider aid intervention. While Sport was undoubtedly my favourite, the throttle felt a tad snatchy at times.
A torque assist clutch made for a lovely light lever, and while the six-speed gearbox was smooth and well-ratioed, there was a long enough gap between first and second gears that I often landed in neutral accidentally.