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2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS road and track review

speed triple 2021 Visordown review

The new Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS promises more power, speed, and better handling – we went along to Donington Park to find out more

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 15100
Overall
Not rated

WITH a provenance stretching back to 1994 and more than 100,000 bikes built globally, the Triumph Speed Triple has, and probably always will be one of the backbone models in the modern Triumph range.

But with the supernaked class evolving in recent years, and brands like Aprilia and Ducati pushing the envelope and breaking through the 200bhp glass ceiling, the old 1050 Speed Triple had started to look a bit out of its depth.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS 2021

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS 2021 | Triumph's Ultimate Naked Motorcycle | Visordown.com

To combat this, Triumph went back to the drawing board, with a ground-up redesign for 2021 that leaves no stone unturned in the quest to make the 2021 model of the iconic roadster the fastest and best performing Triumph naked motorcycle ever.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS price, availability, and colours

The new 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is going to be the only version of the bike available, with Triumph following the advice of fans and ditching the previously available S model in favour of just one, top-spec road and track machine.

The bikes will be landing in UK dealerships from early May and will be available in two colours, Sapphire Black, and Matt Silver Ice (as ridden in the images and video). The OTR price for the bike is £15,100. Based on a £3,000 deposit, the new 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS will cost £173.32 over 36-months on a PCP with an £8,266 optional final payment.

To check out a PCP example or configure your own bike, head to: www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk

Engine and gearbox

The obvious place to start in this new quest for speed was with the Speed Triple’s 1050cc engine. Triumph’s engineers quickly deemed the engine would need significant updates to meet both Euro emissions regulations and Triumph’s own performance goals.

To deliver these targets a larger capacity unit was drafted, although it’s not just a bored-out or long-stroke version of the 1050. Everything about the engine is new. The overall dimensions are more compact, with a stacked gearbox, new assisted slipper clutch, and all new casings contributing to a unit that’s 7kg lighter than before.

Peak power is up for 2021 too, with the new bike producing a claimed 180ps (177.5bhp), 30bhp more than the previous generation. Peak torque has also increased, although the most noticeable difference is the increased spread of torque above 7,000rpm. Out on the roads around Donington, it became quickly evident that the increased top-end grunt was not at the expense of low-end and mid-range torque, with the latest generation Speed Triple dispatching third gear overtakes with all the ease we have come to expect of the flagship naked.

Out on the full Donington Park GP circuit in the late evening sunshine, the Speed Triple 1200 RS wailed its way to the redline with all the fury you’d expect of a 177bhp machine. I was lucky enough to take part in a trackday last year at the venue riding the previous generation bike. This gave me a fairly recent memory to compare my experience to. It became quickly apparent that the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is a much more physical animal to ride on the track. The increased power is joined by significantly lower weight meaning this generation has a power-to-weight ratio 26% higher than the outgoing model and double that of the original 1994 edition. This translates to a machine that launches out of corners faster than before, asking more of the tyres and of your body in the process. It’s nowhere near as physical as hurling around here on a 1,000cc sports bike, but without a fairing to hide behind, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve put a shift in.

Triumph is claiming that the new stacked gearbox design of the new bike doesn’t just contribute to a more compact design but improved shifting. I’m not completely won over by the new ‘box. Yes, it is accurate and didn’t give me any issues during my day on road and track, although it doesn’t feel massively different to the previous machine. It is of course worth noting that the bikes we rode were basically brand new and some loosening up of the cogs is likely to happen over time.

Suspension, handling, and brakes

Matched to the newly designed engine is a new frame and swingarm, and while I know that you’re thinking ‘well, it doesn’t look very different!?’, up close and in the flesh, the changes become more evident. Triumph’s aim was to get the new Speed Triple handling more like the smaller and lighter Street Triple. It’s a big ask, and while they may not have 100% succeeded, it is close. The whole bike seems much smaller, more compact, and neatly packaged. Nose to tail the bike seems shorter and squatter, although from the seat, the cockpit feels just as spacious as before. The pegs feel to be placed around the same height as before although Triumph has told us they are mounted closer to the centreline of the frame, aiding ground clearance when cornering.

The new bike does turn much more quickly than before, with the improved electronics and Brembo Stylema calipers allowing you to take great big bites out of the corner entry, something you could do on the previous machine, just not quite so aggressively. By the end of the evening’s sessions, a few of the bikes had fairly squishy brake levers, and the Racetec RR tyres had begun to squirm around in some of Donington’s faster corners - to be expected when you hand a batch of super nakeds to excited journos on a warm spring evening!

The Öhlins NIX30 fully adjustable forks are the same kit as fitted to the last Speed Triple RS and they are joined by a TTX36 rear shock with the same adjustability. While the hardware is the same, the internal settings of the suspension have been tuned for the bike’s new geometry and capability. On standard settings, the ride is firm enough to have me darting around the road to avoid the largest of the potholes, although I think it’s just about right for fast road riding and the occasional trackday. It is noticeably firmer than the older generation Speed Triples I’ve ridden, giving the impressions of a more focused and high-performance machine. For riders who never venture to the track on their bike, the standard settings might seem a little too much for every day on the road. Luckily for you, there is all the adjustability you’ll ever need to dial the set up to just how you want it.

Equipment

Matching the increase in power and performance is a completely new suite of electronics that are bespoke to the 2021 model. The tech is crowned by an all-new optically bonded TFT. It’s a lovely bit of kit, neatly laid out and unfussy. It doesn’t have the same levels of customisation we’ve seen from other TFT-shod Triumph’s, with just two themes to choose from - a blessing for riders like me who prefer the simple life. Switching through the riding modes is all done through the mode button and five-way joystick, both located on the left-hand handlebar.

There are five preset riding modes to chose from, Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and Rider – your user-configurable setting. Each has its own preset ABS, TC, and throttle map settings, with the wheelie control forming part of the traction control system.

2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS riding modes

Riding Modes

Throttle Map

ABS

Traction Control

Rain

Rain 100ps restriction

Road

Rain

Road

Road

Road

Road

Sport

Sport

Road

Sport

Track

Sport

Track

Track

Rider

Rain/Road/Sport

Road/Track

Road/Sport/Track

The 2021 model comes equipped with an up and down shifter and blipper and as standard will come equipped with Metzeler Racetec RR hoops – Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC2s are also handbook approved.

If there is one thing within the electronics it would be nice to have is the chance to split out the traction control and wheelie control. It’s not something that will assist with everyday riding, but for those serious about making the most of a laptime, the chance to individually alter the TC and lift control would be optimum.

Comfort

One of the areas Triumph was keen to work on with the new model is the rider comfort, with a new more contoured seat being the key point of note. It is a more supportive perch which provided a more comfortable place to sit during the long road ride that preceded our evening track sessions. The old RS would cause me to have a case of the numb bum in no time at all, while the 2021 model evaded this allowing me to ride four a couple of hours or more before needing to shift around for a more comfortable position. Other than that, the new bike feels roomy, despite seeming to shrink visually, if you are a larger rider worried about being cramped – don’t be. Get your self down to a Triumph dealership in May for a test ride and see for yourself.

What we like about the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS

  • Revised electronics allow more control and easier adjustability on the fly
  • The new engine takes the fight to the other ‘proper’ super nakeds on the market
  • New chassis and revised suspension provide sports bike levels of control and capability

What we didn’t like

  • The seat is still a tad uncomfortable on longer rides
  • Combined TC and wheelie control
  • Gearbox requires a very firm input

2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS verdict

Trying to figure out the new bikes place in the pecking order of super naked superiority has been made a little easier for 2021. It’s still not in the same league as bikes like the Tuono V4 or new Ducati Streetfighter V4, although it’s a fair chunk cheaper than both. For me, the new machine sits closer to bikes like Honda’s CB1000R, KTM 1290 Super Duke and even the boosted Kawasaki Z H2. Here we have a crop of naked bikes, all floating around the £15k mark, all making between 150 and 180bhp and, most importantly, all being bespoke-built, naked motorcycles, not sports bikes with fairings removed.

Placing the bike in this hotly contested pack I’d have to say it is up there as a serious contender for the outright winner of this theoretical group test. The level of spec as standard is extremely high, with electronics and adjustability through the new TFT that again set it apart. It’s also probably one of the most accessible machines in the class, partly thanks to the chunky torque and power and juicy delivery of that new 1200cc engine, but also due to its top-spec componentry and hardware Triumph has used.

It may not be perfect, with just a couple of small glitches in what is an otherwise very tasty motorcycle, but it is the best Speed Triple you’ll ever swing a leg over.

For more information, head to: www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk