It doesn’t take long for anyone to notice that I am probably the worlds biggest bike fan. My house is littered with motorcycle accessories and replica toys. There are boots and old gloves hidden away in every cupboard and the garage often has anywhere between one to five motorcycles sleeping under the fluorescent light.
However if there is ever one type of motorbike I have never associated with, it’s the Harley, or old school cruiser. They are a marketing achievement over engineering and usually feature a heavy frame, narrow tyres, an air cooled twin and an unorthodox riding position.
However after spending some time with the Speedmaster, I can now say I fully understand why Harleys and other old school cruisers have such a unique appeal. Just like Harley Davidson, Triumph also has an illustrious career history having created their own enthusiast network who understand their bikes backwards.
The Speedmaster, like the Harley 883 custom, features an air cooled twin, but unlike the Harley which is a V-Twin the Speedmaster’s is a parallel twin. The power output is 60HP @ 6800 rpm and 63 ft-lb’s of torque @ 3,300 rpm. The DOHC air cooled parallel twin is definitely suited to a rider who optimizes torque more than power. As you ride along it is possible to slip up gears at low RPM and indulge in what this bike was designed to do, look cool with a dash of bad ass attitude.
Obviously because the Harley and Speedmaster are so similar, I’m sure both marketing divisions have listed each others bikes as threats in their SWOT analysis. However for Triumph to outdo Harley in this market segment would take a great deal of effort.
When you purchase a Harley you receive H.O.G member ship and are immediately accepted in to a family of Harley Riders. However, with Triumph, you don’t and as a result I believe the Speedmaster is for true Triumph enthusiasts.
What makes the Speedmaster exciting though are all the modern engineering bits that Triumph designers have managed to hide behind the old school exterior. At first glance you would be forgiven to think that the Speedmaster features carburetors but in fact it is fuel injected, giving it many benefits. One of them being a more efficient engine. Although power might not have increased dramatically, the engine is now Euro3 compliant. You also receive dual front brake discs (310mm) and a rear brake disc (285mm) allowing for improved stopping power. Don’t be fooled though this is not Casey Stoners’ 2011 Honda Motogp bike, the frame is still made out of steel and thus the wet weight of the speedmaster comes in at 250Kg’s. Because of this I would advise you to practice your low speed maneuvering especially around tricky car parks as the Speedmaster isn’t the easiest bike to balance on.
Once on the open road, the bad ass riding layout makes for a very relaxed riding position. The handle bars have a wide grip and are very ergonomically pleasing. Long journeys are comfortable and the teardrop tank holds close to 20 litres of fuel making regular petrol stops a thing of the past. It is very easy to cover vast distances on board the Speedmaster thanks to a very comfortable, relaxed riding style. Obviously the looks of this old school cruiser are fantastic. I personally prefer superbikes however over the past weekend the Speedmaster has turned more heads than if I were riding a bright orange CBR spitting fire. Most importantly I had lots of girls looking at me at the traffic lights which was exciting. It seems this bike really emits a bad boy attitude. This is established by the generous use of chrome, accentuated by two large exhaust pipes either side of the bike a sweeping tail fender and teardrop tank.
So although I’ve been trying to impress girls by blasting past them on some Jap track weapon, it seems I was doing it all wrong. I need to be on a Speedmaster cruising around at 80km/h with that traditional thump echoing from the twin pipes. That’s what the old school cruiser offers, an image, a lifestyle a fashion piece, a piece of history and enjoyment in bundles. It will surely impress the Triumph faithful and those who glance at the magnificent design.
Here are some important figures:
||Air cooled, four stroke, parallel twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
|Bore x Stroke
||90 x 68 mm
||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
|Ignition / Starting
||Digital inductive type / electric
||61 hp 45 kW @ 6800 rpm
||72 Nm @ 3300 rpm
|Transmission / Drive
||5 Speed / chain
||Tubular steel cradle Swingarm Twin-sided, tubular steel
||Kayaba 41mm forks with polished lowers, 120mm wheel travel.
||Kayaba chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 96mm rear wheel travel
||2x 310mm discs 2 piston calipers
||Single 285mm disc 2 piston caliper
||700 mm / 27.5 in
||250 kg / 550 lb
||19.3 Litres / 5.1 gal
Modern interpretation of a classic
Aimed at the enthusiast