Goodwood Test: 2021 Triumph Speed Twin

Speed, style and substance...
30th March 2021
Laura Thomson



Last year, I spent several months at the helm of Triumph’s Street Twin. As pleasant as it was, I found the 900cc parallel twin a little complaisant.

The formula was otherwise perfect – classic styling, premium equipment and a comfortable rider triangle. So, when the manufacturer offered me the change to climb aboard the more potent and performance-orientated Speed Twin, I leapt at it, despite the less than clement weather conditions for the majority of the test.

New in 2019, the Speed Twin featured a revised version of the Thruxton’s 1,200cc parallel-twin, with consistently high power from low down in the revs, rising to a peak of 97PS (71kW) at 6,750rpm. To put this into perspective, that’s 49 per cent more than the Street Twin. Torque of 112Nm (82lb ft), meanwhile, peaks at 4,950rpm – 40 per cent more than the Street Twin, if you were wondering.

We like

  • High power and abundance of torque across rev range
  • Incredibly cool styling
  • Comfortable riding position

We don't like

  • Awkward, faffy fuel cap
  • Throttle sometimes snatchy
  • Long gap between first and second gears



At the risk of repeating myself, Triumph really has the modern classic style nailed, with each model that launches looking better than the last. And the Speed Twin, with its dark styling and simple logo is the perfect compromise of classic with a touch of contemporary.

As a result, it looks cool just about anywhere and from a dirty petrol station to a scenic vista, had me looking back over my shoulder every time I walked away

The shining jet-black tank of our test model was complemented by matt black and silver effects throughout, with not a hint of unnecessary chrome. There are dual tone tank paint jobs available (for an extra £350) but the base option looks best.

Sweeping pipes finish under twin shocks, giving the bike a wonderfully symmetrical appearance from both and rear, while its profile remains uncluttered and fancy-free.

While Triumph’s modern classic range is undoubtedly a confusing one, with so many models on offer, the Speed Twin is – to my mind – one of the best-looking options, tied perhaps with the Thruxton RS and the Scrambler 1200. It’s certainly the most practical of the three.

Performance and Handling


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.



With the Speed Twin arriving immediately after a stint on BMW’s R nineT, I was looking forward to putting its through its paces. Upon climbing aboard, it immediately felt less aggressive and commanding than its German cousin – the pegs and seat angles making for a more upright position. Believe it or not, this bike shares much with Triumph’s racey Thruxton – including the frame – but manages to offer an entirely more comfortable riding experience due to revised geometry.

The triangle was spacious, and the bench seat comfortable – even on longer rides, I wasn’t stretching my legs or suffering from the dreaded numb bum. With a seat height of 807mm and a dry weight of 196kg (notably 10kg lighter than the Thruxton), it wasn’t awkward to manoeuvre.

As with the R nineT, the lack of fairing meant that my chest was open to buffeting at higher speeds, but the only wind noise was generated from my helmet itself – making for a chilly, but relatively quiet ride.

Technology and Features


Usually, you wouldn’t blame a modern classic for falling short on the tech front. After all, they hardly purport to be cutting edge entities.

However, Triumph has hit the perfect compromise between style and substance on the Speed Twin, with a brace of subtle tech, including a USB charging socket, LED lights with a DRL headlight, and twin clocks sat just on top. It has everything you could need for the day-to-day duties of a modern classic.

On minorly irksome detail was the awkward two-part fuel cap, which required first the cap be unscrewed and removed, before the flap be unlocked and lifted. Granted, it makes for a stylish detail, but it soon feels faffy every time you stop for fuel.



If you’re looking for a stylish, comfortable and engaging modern classic, you won’t go wrong with the Speed Twin. It combines the very best elements of Triumph’s sportier Thruxton with the classic Bonnevilles to make for the perfect compromise and a comfortable everyday machine.

Its lack of wind protection is a given, and otherwise it boasts impressive standard equipment, and a wonderfully sleek style. Costing from £10,700, it is well worth the £2,500 premium over the Street Twin, and offers a viable competitor to BMW’s £11,395 R nineT Pure.



Liquid cooled 1,200cc parallel twin

Power 97PS (71.5 kW) @ 6,750rpm
Torque 112 Nm @ 4,950 rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, chain drive
Dry weight 196kg
0-62mph Not disclosed
Top speed 120mph+
Fuel economy 59 mpg
CO2 emissions 109.0 g/km
Price From £10,700

Our score

4 / 5

This score is an average based on aggregated reviews from trusted and verified sources.

  • Motorcycle News
    4 out of 5
  • AutoTrader Bikes
    4.6 out of 5