2022 Triumph Speed Twin review: a hooligan in a tweed jacket
Triumph adds proper suspension, brakes and tyres to its thumping retro roadster
Cast your eyes over the Triumph range and you'll be likely be blown away by just how many different variations there are on the retro theme. More than any other brand, the Hinckley-based Brits are creating increasingly niche bikes that look as if they've ridden straight out of the 60s.
Clearly, this is because retro bikes are huge business in 2022, and when you've the brand heritage that Triumph does, you don't cock about trying to reinvent the wheel. But what about those buyers who want retro looks but with a chassis and engine that can keep up with sportsbikes? Enter the Speed Twin. First introduced back in 2018, the Speed Twin combined a powerful, torquey 1200cc parallel twin with a chassis setup that was as happy tearing through corners as it was put-putting to coffee stops.
Triumph has seen that there's even more untapped potential in the Speed Twin, however, which is why the 2022 version of the bike is even sportier than ever. Hand us our tweed knee sliders, we're going in on this £11,000 slice of retro misadventure.
What's new then?
Well, lots of the major chassis components have been upgraded to make the Speed Twin feel even better when you're cornering as if someone's stolen your stuffed giraffe collection and you need to get back to the mansion. New for this year are upside-down forks, Brembo M50 brake calipers, sticky Metzeler Ractec RR tyres, new paint schemes, new-look exhausts and new cast wheels.
The meat of the changes are here: upside-down Marzocchi forks, Brembo M50 brake calipers and stickier Metzeler Racetec RR tyres
The 1,200cc engine's been tweaked for more responsiveness too. The crank's lighter, as is the alternator. It's now Euro 5 compliant, but there's actually 3hp more than before, with peak power sitting at 100hp at 7,250rpm. The 112Nm of torque kicks in 500rpm lower than before at 4,250rpm and the whole caboodle redlines 500rpm higher. The engine drinks from a 14.5-litre tank and the whole bike weighs 216kg.
How does it ride?
From the moment you swing your leg over the short-arse-friendly 809mm-tall seat, you feel as if you could be on any other Bonneville in the Triumph range. While it's no featherweight, the Speed Twin's mass feels relatively low down between your kneecaps, and most people will be able to get both feel flat on the floor with no dramas.
The twin upswept exhausts have a different design for 2022, and the paint schemes have been modernised slightly
A twist of the key switches both chrome-rimmed analogue clocks into life, and boring people on the internet will rejoice in the fact there's a fuel gauge with a range readout. The digital screen in the bottom of the left-hand clock also gives you a gear indicator. Handy.
Thumb the starter and the parallel twin's 270-degree crank treats you to a beautiful burble, albeit one muted by the needs of Euro 5 emissions regulations. Despite responding noticeably more quickly to a blip of the throttle than the last version, this isn't an engine that rips to the redline. And that's just fine.
Sadly the Speed Twin doesn't have 1,200hp. It's the high-power version of Triumph's 1,200cc twin
Pulling away is as simple as letting the clutch out on an idling engine, and the torque eases you up the road without a care in the world. The fuelling is silky smooth, and you can pick up the throttle in first gear with no snatchiness – meaning that the Speed Twin's well set up for town work and commuting.
But to keep the Speed Twin in town would be to miss out on its greatest party trick. Going fast.
As you might expect from a 1.2-litre parallel twin, the Speed Twin's motor is fantastically torquey. On the road you never have to worry about which gear you're in, because you're never many revs away from laughing in your helmet as the Triumph sods off down the road on a grunting wave of torque. Come out of a second gear corner hard on the gas and you'll laugh twice as hard as the handlebars go light in your hands before the front wheel leaves the Tarmac momentarily on your way to the next corner. You don't need to rev the engine out to go quickly, but more often than not you'll enjoy the increased rev limit, and we never found ourselves batting into the redline as we have done on previous versions of this engine.
The tank's skinny between your knees – and you will want to add some grips to it for sportier riding
But what happens when you get to a corner a bit too quickly? For a start those Brembo M50s are a welcome addition to the Speed Twin. The initial bite isn't exactly savage, but squeeze past the initial softness in the lever and you'll be rewarded with properly modern retardation. But keep your corner speed up and you'll discover the Speed Twin's new party trick – hammering around corners at faintly silly speeds.
The new suspension setup isn't rock-hard and it still floats over bumps with an oily compliance that won't tire you out on long rides, but it now has enough support to encourage higher corner speeds and – dare we say it – a bit of hanging off and knee-down action if you're feeling a bit saucy. We took the Speed Twin for a ride in a set of one-piece leathers and didn't feel any mismatch between our ridiculous attire and the bike's aptitude for sporty riding.
There are few more addictive pleasures in biking than carving down a twisty road on the new Speed Twin, with the retro-character of the engine pulsing in your ears while the chassis does its best impression of a much more modern naked sports bike. It's hilarious, and you'll have your chicken strips gone within 20 minutes of riding the thing.
What about the rest of it?
Traditional twin clocks are supplemented by small screens showing your gear, as well as a fuel gauge with range readout
There's not much else to it, to be honest. The ergonomics are perfectly comfy for long rides, although the seat is a little on the firm side, and over larger bumps you'll find yourself being bumped out of the saddle when you're riding quickly. The fit and finish is up there with the best, and our only real quibble is that the indicator switch is a bit tucked away and hard to feel without a quick glance.
Should I buy one?
We like the cute Triumph logo in the headlight – you can just about make out the LED daytime running lights too
If you like the idea of owning a bike that has a huge dollop of retro charm – but also beautiful handling, a compliant ride and the ability to be ridden hard without tying itself in knots – then yes. The Speed Twin's heart is still that deliciously smooth, torquey engine, but it now feels as if it has the chassis to back it up. It's an addictive bike to ride, and you could imagine the most die-hard sportsbike rider having a whale of a time on one.