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Triumph Speed Triple Timeline | Columns | Gassit Garage

The first Speed Triple was touted as a hooligan, a tag it has carried well over its 24-year production run


Introduction of the first Speed Triple hooligan, the T309. Powered by an 885cc version of Triumph’s then newly released big-bore triple, it sported a single headlight and pumped out just under a hundred horses. It revved to 9000rpm and captured the imagination of the world with its naked, raw look.


Still using the 885cc, the T509 gained 11 horsepower over the previous generation and increased the rev ceiling to 9300rpm, which meant more fun. A complete revamp in appearance and the addition of the bug-eyed headlights set the tone for what was going to be one of Triumph’s modern success stories.


This was the year the Speed Triple became a movie star through a brief appearance in the hands of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2. Over the next six years, the 955 was lightened and perfected to the point that Triumph had to make a significant change.


Other manufacturers were enjoying big-bore nakedbike success, so the Speed Triple’s capacity went up to the current 1050cc, and for the first time it could do over 250km/h. With 128 horsepower and less weight, the hooligan was living up to its name.


The Speed Triple took on its current form with the introduction of a new, sportier frame, a small side fairing, a slipper clutch and five different electronic riding modes. The the new bug-eye headlights polarised opinion, but modernism won out.


The last major shake-up, with improved internals making gear shifts smoother and the engine once again made to feel more modern. Something big needed to happen, however, to keep the Speed Triple in the ball park. We had to wait until 2018, but it was well worth it.


Speed Triple RS is the range-topping model in a three-tiered affair and it’s something a little special, with magical gold Öhlins suspension, trimmed-down weight, Brembo calipers and stunning lines.

When the 2018 Speed Triple RS broke cover, it was the top-spec version from a two-tiered line-up, but Triumph Australia opted not to introduce the lower-spec S model. Why?

“In this category, customers aspire to, and purchase, the highest spec available,” the company says. The S model would have probably been around $3K less expensive, but would have lacked a lot of equipment that makes the RS so damn good. On the plus side, if you can afford the RS you’re getting a top bike with no more to spend. Oh, except that quickshifter.

At a glance

New full-colour five-inch configurable TFT screen; switchgear is illuminated; five-way joystick to navigate adjustable electronic settings.

With no fewer than 105 new engine components, the Speed Triple has 7 per cent more power (110kW), along with a torque increase from 112Nm to 117Nm.

Fully adjustable Öhlins USD fork replace the standard Speed Triple’s Showa unit. Twin front discs with Brembo radial monobloc calipers.

The new RS model gets as standard lighter twin upswept Arrow titanium sports silencers with carbon-fibre heat shield and end caps.

Electronics are big news; five riding modes on the RS with the addition of a Track setting over standard model’s Road, Rain, Sport and rider-defined presets.