The Triumph Speedmaster, the bike I lusted after for almost two years was finally mine in April of 2013. Having traveled far and wide together (well… maybe), I felt it was only fair to share the good and the bad with the masses, 24,000 miles later.
The Speedmaster will immediately get labeled things like “beginner bike”, “just another cruiser”, and “Harley wannabe”. Well, it was my first “big kid” bike, I was convinced I preferred the feet forward seating position, and if by cruiser you instantly think of Harley Davidson, guilty as charged; but I offer, there’s more than that. I could go on and on about statistics and dimensions, but honestly, I think most of us understand, despite all the most logical reasons to buy a given bike versus another; most of us choose a bike for emotional reasons and how it “feels” (those interested in stats, there’s this review).
In the beginning, I was immediately stirred by the Speedmaster’s sexy curves, generous amounts of flat black paint, chopped fenders, and subtle amounts of chrome. Considering that the U.S. motorcycle market is flooded with cruisers of every variety, the parallel twin engine, symmetrical dual exhaust, and classic British heritage, the Speedmaster stands apart. Like other cruisers, the seat is low, at 5’10” the pegs are comfortably in reach, and there’s the obvious cruiser rake. However, the Speedmaster comes with stock drag bars, which actually permit the rider to lean forward slightly vs. the typical reclined cruiser seating position. There’s no missing the deep scoop in the stock seat, which I initially felt uncertain about, over time it actually allowed for significant shifting in seating position on the long rides. Around town, feeling the cool breeze on your face is amazing; however once over 55 mph, the wind blast turns into a back breaking, arm stretching struggle to hang on. Enter the custom fly screen (more on that later); like saddle bags, the windscreen is on the top of the list of new bike accessories for many people, one of which I highly recommend for this bike. I hate the look of bags and windscreens, but if you plan on logging long miles on this bike, you’re going to wish you had one, or you have a better workout regimen than I do. On second thought, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to pick on the Speedmaster about wind protection, it’s like complaining about poor rear suspension or polishing chrome; Its a cruiser, certain ride characteristics should be expected. Frankly, it really annoys me when motorcycle journalists complain about things like storage capacity on cruisers (I said cruisers, not baggers), it’s a cruiser… what did you expect?
The Speedmaster has done everything I’ve ever asked it to do, four hundred mile days from Dayton to Red River Gorge, the daily twenty mile commute to the office (amidst the never ending downtown construction), and motorcycle vacationing in the mountains (WV & NC). The Speedmaster is the sister bike to the popular Triumph America, which Triumph offers in a “Light Touring” trim, and for obvious reasons; you can load it down with gear, ride two-up, keep up with the big displacement cruisers, and still carve up the back roads.
Things that have stood out most to me have been sportiness, tires, cost of accessories, and maintenance. The more I ride, the more I want to lean in the corners, and the Speedmaster has delivered. It’s no hooligan bike, and laughable on the race track, but I don’t get left behind when I’m chasing far sportier chassis. Metzeler tires come standard, and they’re amazing; hot summer days, and cold rainy nights, I have nothing but compliments about the stock Marathon 880’s, they stuck to the tarmac and kept the shiny side up. I replaced the rear at eighteen thousand miles, and I’m about to change the front at over twenty-four thousand. Triumph Accessories are pretty expensive; compared to Harley Davidson, probably not out of the ordinary, but when you look at readily available aftermarket parts for Asian bikes, they’re expensive. Are aftermarket parts available for Triumphs? Sure they are, but believe it or not, the Speedmaster is a niche in a niche. Obviously Triumph sells a limited number of bikes in the US each year, needless to say the Speedmaster is in the minority of those bikes; making it difficult to positively identify aftermarket parts that fit. Will they fit? Sure they do, but it’s seldom explicitly listed on the website, or there may be modifications required.
Overall, I would recommend the Speedmaster to anyone in the market for a cruiser. It gets 52 mpg, has a torquey 865cc engine, and turns heads every where it goes. In fact, the only warning I would give to prospective Speedmaster buyers: first, be prepared to talk old school Triumphs with strangers; second, get accustomed to sideways looks when you tell people it’s a new bike.
-Affordable (sticker price is $8,399)
-Metzeler tires standard
-Iconic British engine
-Harsh rear suspension
-Wind Protection (I guess it’s a cruiser though isn’t it?)
-Anemic pillion seat
-Limited aftermarket accessories