Same Old Hooligan

 The Speed Triple is the hooligan cousin in the Triumph family. It was always but is it still today?


Triumph and Ducati dispute the title of who made the first naked bike but we can all agree they were the pioneers. The name was inspired by the 1938 Speed Twin, the first Triumph twin cylinder engine.

Probably it’s me getting older but I’m less into road-going superbikes and more into real life motorcycles. But I like the idea of a fast naked bike easy and comfortable to use on the road and fun on the racetrack.

Triumph Speed Triple R
Photo by Motor Rausch

Getting around a cone

I swear I hate cones, I hate whatever you can do with them. But this test is supposed to show how the Speed Triple reacts to slow corners and I have to say the three cylinder is easy to get around at low speed. Although 140 HP are a lot, the throttle was pretty easy to control at low-speed corners without any jerk.

Triumph Speed Triple R
Photo by Motor Rausch

The High-Speed Oval Track

The setup is not adjusted for the banked curves so we are kindly reminded to stay on 160 kph in the corner and to stop every two laps. I don’t have any experience with ovals so I thought it might have been a good idea to follow the instructions.

When I come out of the first corner I’m pretty fast over 200 kph and I can immediately spot the difference with the Street Triple. It’d be an exaggeration to call it fairing but there is a small spoiler above the headlights of both models. But since they have different shapes, the results are quite different. The aerodynamics seem to work better on the Speed Triple. The helmet is pushing less against my face while passing the 200 kph. 

On the Racetrack

When I’m in a new racetrack I always make sure nobody is behind me. Then I’m ready for a couple of laps in high gear and almost no breaks. I just let the bike flow without forcing it. After I memorized the lines, I’m warmed up and ready to go for a faster lap. The first thing I see is I how nimble it is. I’m flipping the bike in a narrow right/left without any problem, loss of grip or confidence.

Photo by Motor Rausch
Photo by Motor Rausch

There is a quick right-left on the top of a hill. The exit is fast and downhill and at the end of a short straight, there is a hard braking point and a rounded wide left corner. This is an interesting part of the track to see how the Speed Triple reacts. It’s the first lap and coming out of the chicane downhill and I can’t completely open the throttle because I’m running off of race track. My first thought is understeer but since it’s the only part of the track that presents this problem the conclusion is just one. Human error. In the second lap, I anticipate the chicane. Now I have the bike in a better angle at the apex and I can completely open the throttle.

I try to move my braking point deeper and deeper but the Speed Triple seems to have no problem with that. A solid front end lets me enter the corner while slowly releasing the brake. Those Brembo are simply amazing, no wonder they dominate the market of the fastest superbikes. The rear is also very firm while the engine braking and the slipper clutch work well together on a small racetrack like this.

Triumph Speed Triple R
Photo by Motor Rausch

Final Thought

The Speed Triple is not just a naked bike. It’s comfortable enough to use it on your daily commute to work and you can have some serious fun on a racetrack on one of these. So is it still a hooligan? Well, with all the electronics it got more civilized but it still got that type of soul. So yes, it still is the old hooligan but it grew up a bit.


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Gasolist in chief, test-rider, and content writer. He began in the two-stroke era which makes him feel pretty old but gave him the chance to race everything from 125cc to 1000cc. All useless experiences when he got lost in the Sahara desert with nothing but a can of beans.

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