2018 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SPEEDMASTER REVIEW
The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is the newest addition to the Triumph Bonneville family, the range of bestselling modern classic bikes from the British motorcycle manufacturer. It looks stunning, promises to be practical and boasts of having impressive performance from the 1200 cc parallel-twin engine. And the Bonneville Speedmaster also promises the ride and handling to make riding on a twisty road enjoyable. We spend some time, riding the new Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster in the cit, and on a nice, long highway to see what it offers to the Indian cruiser lover.
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(The Bonneville Speedmaster is a cruiser in Triumph's modern classic range)
Triumph has been on a roll in India, and is the second largest premium motorcycle brand by volume. And significant credit to that position is thanks to the bestselling Classic range spanning the Bonneville family. Last year, Triumph introduced the gorgeous Bonneville Bobber, a factory custom evocative of the Bobber styled motorcycles of the 1940s. It's absolutely beautiful and a guaranteed headturner, but it had a few drawbacks. And even though it sold out in record numbers overseas, it couldn't quite rake in the numbers here in India. And part of that reason, at least some folks say, is that the Bonneville Bobber doesn't have a pillion seat.
(The Bonneville Speedmaster is based on the Triumph Bonneville Bobber pictured above)
So, enter the Bonneville Speedmaster. It's a cruiser designed to take on the American rivals in its segment, and promises good looks paired with the performance to make it an almost irresistible option for someone considering a cruiser. And it gets pillion carrying capability, and luggage, for the occasional long ride as well.
(The Speedmaster gets better brakes, revised suspension and steering geometry, and pillion carrying capability)
Styling and Design
It's unmistakably a Bonneville, with the 'modern classic' touches like the throttle body covers designed like vintage carburetors, and a nice chrome belt type strip across the battery cover, again reminiscent of the age-old 1960s Triumphs. The Triumph badge on the fuel tank harks back to its 'classic' lineage, and the hard-tail type chassis with a concealed rear monoshock completes the period look. But make no mistake, it's a completely modern 21st century cruiser decked up like a classic.
And there's ample proof of that even on the skin; like the round, old-school headlight, garnished with a bright LED headlight and LED DRL announcing its contemporary and modern heritage. The single-pod instrument panel has a small digital screen with readings for odometer, rev counter, fuel consumption and range. And the Speedmaster comes with standard cruise control as well.
(The Speedmaster has swept-back beach-style handlebars and forward-set footpegs)
The swept-back beach bars, forward set footpegs and low seat height make it accessible to a diverse set of riders, of all sizes and builds. The slash cut exhaust mufflers not only look cool, but belt out a beautiful note, a throaty muted growl which will be welcome by riders seeking some aural pleasure, yet not too loud to wake up the neighbours during your 'break of dawn' sojourns.
(The 1200 cc High Torque engine makes 76 bhp and 106 Nm)
Engine and Performance
The 1200 cc, high-torque parallel-twin engine has the performance and range for all kinds of riding. 76 bhp of power comes in at 6,100 rpm and 106 Nm of peak torque arrives at a low 4,000 rpm, making the Speedmaster tractable at all kinds of speeds. A twist of the throttle is all it takes to make over 260 kg of mass lurch ahead with urgency, and the parallel-twin has the performance to make every ride enjoyable, and to all kinds of riders - including riders new to a big-displacement cruiser or even experienced hands seeking some thrills from its performance.
The ride-by-wire throttle offers two riding modes - Rain and Road, both modes offering full power, but with slightly subdued throttle response in Rain mode for slippery conditions. Two thousand revs or thereabouts is good enough for a leisurely cruise on a long road, and some minor input in the throttle is more than enough to make things get more interesting.
(The Bonneville Speedmaster has decent ride quality and very good handling, despite its fat tyres and cruiser ergonomics)
Ride, handling and braking
Overall, the Speedmaster's ride quality is pliant and plush, and in all kinds of broken and semi-broken tarmac that our urban and highway test ride offered, it sailed through with remarkable poise. A particularly nasty and biggish pothole inside a darkened underpass was also despatched without any sense of the suspension bottoming out, or transferring nasty jolts to the rider's body. So, we're happy to report that the Speedmaster can satisfactorily overcome most road conditions, save for the odd broken and bumpy road shoulder which needs to be avoided due to the low ground clearance.
(The Speedmaster's handling is quite taut and confidence-inspiring)
The Speedmaster's wheels come shod with fat Avon Cobra tyres on the 16-inch wheels (130/90 on the front and 150/80 on the rear). Despite the fat rubber, there's no effect on the bike's handling. In a straight line, or around a sweeping curve, the Bonneville Speedmaster remains planted and in poise, even encouraging somewhat spirited riding. But that's when the Speedmaster's chink in armour is exposed - clearance!
(Low cornering and ground clearance are the Speedmaster's Achilles Heel)
Less experienced riders may not initially face this, but such is the Speedmaster's handling and poise that it begs to be ridden around a corner, with some amount of spirit, if not outright aggression. And that is when you'll end up demolishing the feeler bolts on the pegs, not to mention the somewhat unnerving sound of metal scraping tarmac. Brakes offer good bike and progression and the ABS offers superb confidence to shave speed in a hurry.
(The Bonneville Speedmaster definitely deserves a closer look from cruiser lovers)
The last word
The Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is a drop-dead gorgeous cruiser with classic 1960s details and modern technology. It has a superb engine which packs enough performance to make every ride enjoyable, and the handling to make less experienced riders feel confident about its capabilities and expert pilots appreciate its taut road manners. For cruiser lovers, it definitely offers something different than the current crop of American cruisers available in the segment costing ₹ 11-12 lakh, with a level of refinement, quality and performance that is difficult to resist. All of these make the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster certainly deserve a close look.