What is a custom motorcycle when it isn’t made by a heritage American motorcycle company or a clone of one of those companies’ products? That’s a question that the engineers and product managers of Triumph have pondered long and hard. You can see their unique answer in the new 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster.
That solution is to stick closely to 1950s and ’60s classic British styling, and fit it to the riding position and some of the modifications made by American customizers to post-war British motorcycles more than 50 years ago.
Perhaps the simplest way to think about the new Speedmaster is that it’s a more practical and versatile version of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber, with two-up seating and a larger fuel tank. The changes go further than that, but let’s start with what’s common.
Like the Bobber, the Speedmaster is built around the twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 1200cc 270-degree-crank, Bonneville T120 engine. The Speedmaster has the same midrange-enhancing intake and exhaust tuning as the Bobber, giving a 10 percent bump in torque at 4,500 rpm compared to the T120. The Speedmaster shares the hard-tail-look chassis and swingarm with the Bobber, giving both a retro appeal.
Like the Bobber Black, the Speedmaster comes fitted with fat 16-inch tires and wire-spoke wheels front and rear, and shares the dual-disc front brake system with the newest Bobber, Brembo calipers and all.
Suspension tuning, however, is different with a 41mm cartridge fork and a rear suspension unit with both a dual-rate main spring and a top-out spring, optimized for the extra weight of a passenger. The fuel tank retains a classic Bonneville shape but grows not quite a gallon in capacity to 3.2 gallons, giving the Speedmaster a much more usable touring range—176 miles by Triumph’s claim.
The biggest differences are at the rear of the bike, where the Speedmaster has a fixed (frame-mounted) fender that carries a pillion pad for a passenger. (Both pad and passenger grab rail are readily removable if you’re looking for a different single-seat look.) The rider’s position changes as well, with standard forward mounted footpegs and controls working with a low, 28-inch seat height and a wide, “beach-cruiser” handlebar that wraps back in classic cruiser fashion.
Rather than more of the darkness of the Bobber Black, the bike glistens with chrome and polished aluminum, with white contrast piping on the seats and dual black and gold pinstripes on the two-tone paint scheme offered. At the front, the round headlight fits into a very traditional-looking nacelle rather than the more chopped and minimalist Bobber housing.
Electronic features have not been left out in the nostalgic rush. As with all recent Triumphs, the Speedmaster has throttle by wire, which makes the addition of cruise and traction control, and switchable rain or road throttle maps possible on this new cruiser. Lights are generally LED, although the LED headlight won’t make it the US market for regulatory reasons. And, as with all current European motorcycles, the Triumph has ABS, which will come standard to the US as well.
Triumph also understands that customs should of course be customizable, and it will offer a catalog of 130 accessory parts with the new cruiser. At the launch, designers showed a Speedmaster fitted with windscreen and leather saddlebags that almost looked like a smaller alternative to a Harley-Davidson Road King, and another with single seat and a few blacked-out parts that had a long-and-low retro look.
Price for the Speedmaster has yet to be set, and availability is expected in early 2018.