Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster Launch Ride Review

23 January 2018, 09:01 PM Ranjan R. Bhat

Introduction

Carlsbad is a small beach town on the dazzling coastline of San Diego, popular among tourists and surfers. The beaches offer a stunning view of sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, the twisty roads around Palomar mountains bust the stereotype of 'Murica being a land of just arrow straight roads, while the motorways allow you cruise in triple digit speeds (in miles per hour!). Carlsbad then, is the perfect place to try out the new Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

The styling

The Speedmaster's target audience might include people looking for a traditional American cruiser, but Triumph has taken a more classic approach towards the styling. The Speedmaster has more in common with James Bond than the Terminator. It looks elegant, rather than loud and brash. Both have their own following, but with the recent resurgence of modern classics, the Speedmaster and its Bonneville-esque styling is sure to have a wider appeal. 

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 11,33,700

I for one, have been drawn towards the retro styling of the Speedmaster (and how cool is that name!) It represents a perfect blend of old-school cues and modern touches. The chrome-rimmed headlamp and the instrument cluster for example, get a classic round design, but integrate modern touches like LED DRLs and a digital display respectively. The rear section gets the look of a rigid-frame hardtail cruiser, but hidden below the seat is a monoshock that would keep your back intact even through pretty rough roads. And then there is the beautiful detailing and the paint job. The Bobber might still be the most visually appealing Bonneville in the range, but the Speedmaster adds practicality to the equation, making it a more sensible choice for someone who is going to spend more time riding the bike than ogling at it. 

The mechanicals

Why am I calling the Speedmaster more practical? Well, for starters, the Speedmaster gets a rear seat (which makes it easier to convince your better half) and the option of mounting saddlebags. The frame is similar to Bobber, but the subframe is completely new. Up front, the Speedmaster gets 41mm cartridge-type forks while the rear monoshock now gets dual spring rates. The suspension setup has been revised to offer the best of both worlds - a comfortable yet sporty ride. The front 19-inch wheel has been swapped with a 16-inch wheel, and the brake has been upgraded with a Brembo twin-disc setup. It even gets a bigger 12-litre fuel tank and a cruise control system, which can be activated between 50kmph and 160kmph. At the heart of the Speedmaster is a 1200cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin 'High Torque' engine. This engine develops 76bhp and 106Nm of torque, and is mated to a six-speed transmission. 

The ride

You sit low down, with your arms and feet stretched out in front. Even the handlebar is raked backwards, which takes getting used to. This might have been a sign to take it easy around corners until a few years ago, but how the times have changed! Use countersteering appropriately, and you will be surprised how easily the Speedmaster tips into corners and changes directions. Mind you, it is not set up for serious corner carving, for the cornering clearance is limited and the footpegs will begin scraping in no time. Nevertheless, within its  limits, the Speedmaster is a delightful motorcycle to ride around twisties. 

The 1200cc engine is a low-revving torque monster. The grunt starts building right from the idle and peaks at around 5000rpm. Even if you happen to enter the corner a gear higher, you can just gas the Speedmaster and the torque will provide you with enough drive to see you through. As with the rest of Bonnie parallel-twins, the Speedmaster engine develops a buzz once you go past 3000rpm. However, considering that you can cruise at triple digit speeds (in kmph) in the sixth gear at less than 3000rpm, the vibrations aren't an issue unless you are belting the bike. The Speedmaster can be ridden in two modes - Rain and Road. Changing to Rain mode alters the throttle response to make the power delivery feel smoother. 
The initial bite on the front brake is a little soft, which makes it appropriate for a cruiser. It also offers a good mix of stopping power, feel and progression. The suspension setup offered a perfect balance of comfort and sportiness, although we would reserve our judgement on how appropriate it is for Indian roads. 

India plans

Triumph will launch the Bonneville Speedmaster in India around April, as a locally-assembled model. As such, we can expect it to sport a competitive price tag of around  Rs 10 lakhs. Triumph will offer 130 accessories to help you personalise your Speedmaster. As for those who are too lazy to build the bike themselves, the Speedmaster will be available with two pre-customised Inspiration kits - Highway and Maverick

Photography by Kingdom Creative

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