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The quintessential street fighter in SA: The Triumph Speed Triple 1050 RS is not your average bike

2018-08-29 05:30

Dries van der Walt

"This is not what I think of when I hear the name 'Triumph'," a bystander told me while looking at the Triumph Speed Triple RS.

And its true: many people associate the British manufacturer with the Bonneville heritage range because the brand was so iconic in the 1960s. But Triumph has made some very competent sports bike over the years, and the Speed Triple is no exception.

Extensive updates

The Speed Triple was born in 1994, originally with an 885cm³ mill (750cm³ in some markets). It went through various redesigns and engine changes, and in 2005 Triumph increased the engine’s capacity to 1 050cm.

READ: Triumph SA launches 2018 bike range

The current model is an extensive update, featuring 104 changes to the engine, ride-by-wire, 5 rider modes (including Track, which is exclusive to the RS), and lean-angle-aware traction control and ABS.

There are two models in the current Speed Triple range, the S and the RS, but Triumph South Africa has decided to bring only the up-spec RS into the local market.

The quintessential streetfighter

It has a higher spec inertial management unit for optimised cornering ABS and track-style partial slip traction management, the aforementioned Track mode, a smattering of carbon fibre panel and a brushed titanium Arrow exhaust as standard equipment.

The bike retains its quintessential streetfighter design with no fairing, bar a small spoiler over the headlights. At high-speed wind becomes a problem, although it is possible to tuck into the low-pressure area created by the spoiler if you are really determined.

A five-inch TFT panel serves as info central and offers a comprehensive selection of information. A joystick on the left handlebar is used to change between the info sets, while modes are selected with a button just above the indicator switch.

Not your ordinary bike

With its Ohlins suspension and advanced electronics, it goes without saying that the Speed handles as if it were on tracks, something I found when I chased a pack of journos through some twisties at Triumph’s product launch earlier this year.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to take it onto a track during the test period, all indications are that the RS will make a formidable track weapon. Yet, for all of that, it is an easy bike to commute with.

Fueling is spot-on, and the abundance of low-end torque means that with a slight twist of your wrist, you leave everything else in the proverbial dust.

The Speed boasts keyless ignition – something I have always been ambivalent about: I enjoy the convenience when I ride bikes so equipped, but I don’t really miss it on bikes without.

There is also the concern about what happens when the bike and the key fob decide that they are no longer on speaking terms, so I asked Triumph if they have a plan B for such an eventuality.

It turns out they do: every new Triumph owner automatically becomes a member of the Triumph Mobility Club which offers a 24/7 call line in addition to the comprehensive roadside, medical and legal assist services.

The Speed Triple has always been admired for its grunty ways, and with the current update, Triumph has definitely upped the ante.

But what is more important is that they have tamed the beast somewhat – enough to make it usable as an everyday bike, but not so much that they have diluted the fun factor that is an integral part of the bike’s nature. And that, in my opinion, has created a bike that is likely to appeal to a wider audience than ever before.


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