Triumph’s just taken the wraps off its new Speed Triple 1200 RS, and while the press release is loaded with hyperbole, there’s some justification. This is an all-new re-design of Triumph’s flagship naked, and it gets a lot more power and loses a lot of weight. No wonder they’re chuffed, and if you’re the type who’s easily wowed by spec sheets, you might be chuffed too, after a closer look.
First things first, the biggest news here is the new 1160 cc liquid-cooled DOHC triple. Triumph’s used this basic engine layout for a long time in the Speed Triple series … but now, it’s pushed the platform to a claimed 177.5 crank horsepower at 10.750 rpm, and 92 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm (unless you’re in the Belgian market; for some reason, the Triumph presser points out the Belgians get a horribly restricted bike—Brussels is not big on muscles, it seems).
Errrr, getting back on track here, Triumph says the engine is 7 kg lighter than the previous Speed Triple engine. That’s impressive, considering it’s up almost 30 hp, and Triumph claims “significantly higher power’ in the mid-to-high rpm range, from 6,500 rpm onwards.
The new 1200 has throttle-by-wire, obviously. It’s also got an all-new quickshifter, allowing clutchless upshifts or downshifts. But, if you prefer doing things the old-fashioned way, there’s also a new clutch built with high-friction material that allows Triumph to use fewer clutch plates. In turn, that makes for improved feel and “maximum control on high speed downshifting.”
Continuing our exploration through the driveline, we’ve also got a new stacked six-speed gearbox, that delivers “the smoothest and slickest Speed Triple gear changes ever,” according to the marketeers. Triumph says there’s 12 percent less powertrain inertia on the new bike, which means it’s more responsive.
Triumph also says the new 1200 gets pretty decent fuel economy, at 50 mpg or 5.6 l/100 km. That’s excellent, for a machine with this much zip.
The Speed Triple 1200 RS has a 3-1 stainless steel exhaust, with a low-mounted muffler. As usual with its marketing, Triumph’s presentation makes sure we know the bike has a hair-raising new sound, etc., etc.
Some other notes on the new engine: There’s an all-new finger-follower valve train. The redline is new 650 rpm higher. The engine uses a new ignition system with twin-tip spark plugs, as well as a redesigned compact cooling system, with integrated oil circuit heat exchanger. This is the sort of thing the OEMs are going in for these days; small improvements, but improvements nevertheless.
Just as importantly as the massive muscle gains, Triumph’s managed to cut a lot of weight off the bike. The new Speed Triple 1200 RS is 10 kg lighter than the previous model, at 198 kg curb weight. That makes it the lightest Speed Triple in the company’s history. It also means it’s got a much-improved power-to-weight ratio, twice as good as the original Speed Triple and even 26 percent better than the previous model.
Along with the weight loss, Triumph also spent considerable effort on mass centralization. The chassis is more narrow now, with the mass carried further forward, and lower. Triumph even went so far as to go with a “significantly lighter” rear axle and cush drive, to improve maneuverability and reduce unsprung weight. There’s a new set of cast aluminum wheels, and the front fender is carbon-fiber.
The frame itself is 17 percent lighter, the handlebars are wider, and the seating position is supposed to be more commanding.
Triumph went with Ohlins shocks and fork on the Speed Triple. Up front, there’s 43 mm NIX30 inverted forks; in back, there’s a TTX36 shock.
Both the front and rear are fully adjustable, with 120 mm of travel. Seat height is 830 mm. Triumph also added more ground clearance on the Speed Triple.
As usual, Triumph put top-shelf brakes on the Speed Triple. The new 1200 gets radially mounted Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers up front, mated to new 320 mm discs and radial master cylinder. In back, there’s a single 220 mm disc, with two-piston Brembo caliper.
Brembo put a span-adjustable, ratio-adjustable front brake lever on the Speed Triple. There’s also a new Continental MIB-EVO modulator for the ABS system, with integrated IMU. This is supposed to offer more-refined ABS. The braking system is linked, also.
The Zappy Bits
And speaking of ABS: As any proper modern super-naked does, the Speed Triple 1200 RS has leaning-sensitive ABS. It’s not switchable, thanks to the regulations in the UK, but the traction control (also leaning-sensitive) is four-level adjustable, and can also be switched off.
Both systems are also manageable through the bike’s riding modes selection. The Speed Triple comes with Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and rider-defined riding modes. These govern throttle response, as well as traction control and ABS level.
The bike’s wheelie control is also less intrusive now, and linked to the traction control modes. To control these modes, Triumph includes nicely backlit switchgear (sorry—Triumph calls them “switch cubes”), and a new 5-inch TFT screen. Triumph’s My Connectivity system is standard, with Bluetooth integration for mobile phone.
Other electronic upgrades: Cruise control us standard, internally-wired heated grips and TPMS are add-on accessories, for extra cost (Triumph has an accessory catalog with a few dozen extra gadgets for the bike, including luggage). There’s a new lithium-ion battery. The lighting is LED all-round, where permittable by local regulations.
The bottom line
The naked bike market in Europe is in a full-on arms race right now, launching a new breed of super-nakeds, with well over 150 horsepower, and brakes and suspension that were superbike-spec only a generation ago (maybe even currently!). Aprilia’s there, Ducati’s there, BMW’s there, KTM’s there, and Triumph is there now, too.
Of course, it’s one thing to put together an impressive spec sheet and a hot press release—it’s another thing to back it up with an actual high-performance bike. But, in the past 20 years, Triumph has built a lot of sweet-handling nakeds; if it adds horsepower and at least the bare minimum of rider electronics to that formula, this should be the next-gen machine it needs.
One last thing: Triumph’s press release and handout photos keep talking about tracks and circuits, etc. Same for the press copy from the other Euro OEMs the past couple of years. No wonder; these bikes are on par with the superbikes of the mid-2010s, at least on the spec sheets. So, when do we actually get to see a proper international race series built around them? Surely there’s room in World Superbike for something like that.
The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS comes in Sapphire Black or Matt Silver Ice, with 16,000-km, 12-month service intervals, and two-year unlimited mileage. Canadian pricing is $19,900, available end of March, 2021. We’ll update you with US MSRP and arrival when we get that info.