What a day to choose to ride this bike; 31st October 2019. The Boris Brexit day and/or Halloween! What possibly could be my theme? Thinking about it on the ride, it had to be ‘Best of British’. This bike is the bigger brother of the Triumph Street Twin at 1200cc instead of the smaller 900cc version that I tested earlier in the year. I saw and heard the Speed Twin bigger brother come into Triumph Newcastle from a demo when I was taking the Street Twin out.
This has the same muscular and purposeful look as its smaller brother, but the added oomph that comes from the 96 BHP is the deciding factor. It’s a small, short bike which I knew with this power package would be an irresistible combo. Checking the spec later, I realised why the bike sounded as it did as for the techies, it has the 270-degree crank parallel twin-engine, mimicking some of the v-twin vibes and sounds. However, this was added to by the aftermarket Triumph approved Vance & Hines superlative exhaust end can. What a sound.
Eric, at Triumph Newcastle, showed me around the bike. It was a lovely start-up sensation. It barked on start-up and immediately set into an insistent ‘bubba bubba’ which told of things to come. This bike is another ride-by-wire bike with rain, sport and road modes which were easy to pick. I didn’t bother with the rain mode. It was a cold and clear October day. The analogue dial display has, at the bottom of it, lots of computer functions, but it isn’t the ‘in your face’ modern TFT display because this is a retro classic-looking custom roadster (as Triumph say!).
The instrument was understated but everything that you wanted was in there including the gear position indicators often missed off. I couldn’t believe how little this bike slipped petrol as I put some petrol in and, as I was riding, the mileage left in the tank was actually going up!
First impressions were, as usual for this type of bike with a big engine and a smaller, lighter frame, really exciting. No problem in feet on the ground, swinging out of the carpark and it was a bike you got used to immediately. A clunk for first but that was all and easy to find neutral and the other 5 gears were an easy snick into place. Research showed that the Speed Twin was originally produced by Triumph in 1937 and was the benchmark for fast machines after the War. All of the other manufacturers copied. It’s a great name, isn’t it?
I decided on a run-up to Prudhoe because i had found that there was an award-winning coffee shop called Caffè Ginevra on Prudhoe Front Street which also had sister Caffès in Wynyard, Blyth, and West Denton. I had a very pleasant run up on the A695 out of Newcastle, climbing all the time up to Prudhoe, climbing all the time up to Prudhoe, in and out of different road layouts with some fast work. Caffè Ginevra produce a lovely flat white and a light salami and cheese panino. I thought I would mix a little Brexit goodwill, with our Italian friends, on a British bike.
Where to after my coffee stop? I decided on a run South on the A68 as there are some lovely, swooping but challenging bends and hills along that stretch. Passing great names like Snod’s Edge and Wallish Walls, I just felt as if I could keep on going as I was having such a good time on this bike. Sadly, I had to turn back north and did a mini-exploration of North West Durham/South East Northumberland. This bike was best on the open road and as soon as you saw the national speed limit signs or the combination of long or flowing, sweeping bends, this bike was in its element. Its direct competitor, although different, could be the BMW RNineT. They are similar bikes in terms of fantastic attention to detail and handling, together with a great power advantage from a 1200cc engine in a smaller frame.
I do like the careful attention to detail throughout all Triumphs with the triangular black and silver Union Jack Triumph logo, and it’s difficult to see any area where there has been any scrimping on materials. This is a thoroughly well-made, nimble handling, powerful, smile-inducing British bike (new) classic with a famous name heritage. The exhaust note did it all. All I have to say to you is: “Bubba Crackle and Pop.” No ifs, no buts!
Thanks to Triumph Newcastle for the demo and marvellous afternoon.
Mark Hipkin is joint head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department at Alderson Law, and specialises in Personal Injury law (particularly for motorcyclists, scooterists and cyclists) and Civil Litigation including professional negligence. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.