2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster
2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Triumph Speedmaster masters cruising speed

Triumph has returned the Speedmaster name to the Bonneville range, targeting customers who want a light, lithe and low cruiser.

The Speedmaster is the 12th member of the new liquid-cooled Bonneville family.

It’s based on the popular Bobber, so it has the mono-shock, “hard-tail-look” rear, which is neater than the traditional twin shocks of the rest of the Bonneville fleet.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber is a styling hit - speedmaster wave - speedmaster
Triumph Bobber

The Speedmaster is powered by the 1200cc liquid-cooled parallel twin in the same high-torque tuning as the Bobber with 56.6kW of power at 6100rpm and 106Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

Although it is based on the Bobber, It doesn’t have the floating solo “tractor” seat, drag bars or bar-end mirrors.

Instead, it has a removable pillion seat, anchored rider’s saddle, forward foot controls, twin front brake discs, larger tank and wide pullback “Beach” handlebars for a very relaxed cruise.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

While the Bobber costs $18,000 (plus on-road costs), the Speedmaster costs an extra $1500 like the Bobber Black.

Speedmaster cruising

Don’t be fooled by the relaxed riding position with its super-low 705mm seat, vintage-style pullback bars and feet-forward controls.

It’s not just a Speedmaster by name, but a speed master by design and nature.

It can be pushed much harder into corners than the Bobber thanks to its 16-inch front wheel and dual brake discs with Brembo callipers.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

The brakes have plenty of bite, feel and progression so you can brake deeper and harder.

The cruiser also has more clearance than the Bobber thanks to its forward controls so you can keep up your corner speed.

For a cruiser, it’s light at 245kg (about 260kg fully fuelled) and quite lithe with 41mm cartridge forks and mono-shock rear.

When I rode the Bobber, I found the non-adjustable forks about the best I have experienced, perfectly suited to my 75kg.

They feel compliant with no jackhammering through the bars and plenty of high-speed stability.

It also has more precise steering than the Bobber thanks to the 16-inch, 130mm front tyre, rather than the Bobber’s 19-inch, 100mm rubber.

Like the Bobber, the near-horizontal rear shock has almost no sag load, so you extract full use of the shortened spring.

It is compliant in the initial part of the stroke, but it can quickly run out of travel and hit the bump stops.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Yet ride is a little plusher than the Bobber, probably due to the thicker seat.

For my 185cm frame, the seat feels a little close to the front, but that could be because of the easy-reach to the Beach bars.

Despite the seat being thicker and more comfortable than the Bobber, it started digging into my tailbone after a couple of hours.

That’s shorter than you will need to stop for fuel as the new liquid-cooled parallel twin has amazing economy.

The on-board computer says the average fuel consumption on my ride through the country was 3.6L/100km. That means about 300km range from the 12-litre fuel tank.

Triumph officially claims fuel consumption is a more realistic 4.3L/100m, which is still pretty good.

Liquid power2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

All the new liquid-cooled Bonnevilles have a 270-degree firing interval, rather than the lumpy 360 degrees of the air/oil-cooled models. The former 865cc Speedmaster and America had 270-degree cranks.

Together with the fly-by-wire throttle, it is smoother at low and high revs with a more linear midrange power delivery.

The 1200cc version is a lusty and flexible unit with a low rev limiter so you find yourself short shifting and riding the midrange torque.

On the highway, it will cruise efficiently at 2700 revs at 100km/h in sixth gear. You will have to drop it back to fifth for overtaking, though.

Under load, the shorty slash-cut pipes have a glorious exhaust note that is not annoying to your neighbours.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

They look classic and the bulky catalytic convertor is discreetly hidden underneath.

Creature features

It features the same single pod instruments as the Bobber with a classic analogue speedo and LCD screen with a host of valuable information: odometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range-to-empty indication, service indicator, clock, two trip meters, average and current fuel consumption display, engine mode display and traction control status display, all controlled by a handlebar mounted scroll button.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Like the Bobber, it comes with two engine modes for “road” and “rain”, plus traction control which you can switch off when stationary.

The chromed insect-antennae mirrors don’t stick up as high as on the previous model, but they stick out quite wide on those Beach bars. That can be problematic when filtering between cars.

They are very sturdy, though, and don’t blur at high speed.

It comes with all-LED lighting and a daytime running light which is very bright and attracts a lot of road attention.

Fit and finish on these new Bonnevilles is exemplary with neat cabling, nice brass touches on the engine, a discrete radiator between the cradle frame struts and attention to detail.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

A great example is that the chrome on the foot pegs continues underneath so that when you fold up the pillion pegs they still look nice.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Your pillion will find the seat is thick, but fairly narrow. There is a big chromed grab handle that allows them to use both hands.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

One gripe about the fit and finish is the big gap between the seat and the frame allowing you to see the ugly mono shock. 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

While I love the traditional look of chromed spoked wheels, they are difficult to keep clean, especially with twin discs on the front.

That also makes it difficult to get an air hose on the valve stems to pump up the tyres. I wish manufacturers would supply bikes like these with right-angle valve stems.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

I also acknowledge the traditional values of a key on the side rather than on the triple clamp, but it’s inconvenient and your keyring will flap around and scratch the engine covers.2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

There are two accessory kits available: a Highway Kit with a tall screen, comfort seat and panniers; and a Maverick Kit with flat handlebars and solo seat.

It comes in “Jet Black”, “Cranberry Red” and “Fusion White and Phantom Black”.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Seedmaster tech specs2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Price $19,500 (plus on-road costs)
Engine 1200cc liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Bore Stroke 97.6 / 80mm
Compression 10.0:1
Power 57kW @ 6100rpm
Torque 106Nm @ 4000rpm
System Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust Chromed stainless steel 2 into 2 twin-skin exhaust system with chromed stainless silencers
Final Drive Chain
Clutch Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox 6-Speed
Frame Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, tubular steel
Front Wheels 32-spoke, 16 x 2.5in
Rear Wheels 32-spoke, 16 x 3.5in
Front Tyres 130/90 B16
Rear Tyres 150/80 R16
Front Suspension KYB 41 mm forks with cartridge damping. 90mm travel.
Rear Suspension KYB monoshock with linkage and stepped preload adjuster, 73.3 mm rear wheel travel.
Brakes front Twin 310 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calipers, ABS
Brakes rear Single 255 mm disc, Nissin single piston floating caliper, ABS
Instruments LCD multi-functional instrument pack with analogue speedometer, odometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty indication, service indicator, clock, 2x trip, average & current fuel consumption display, traction control status display, heated grip ready – controlled by a handlebar mounted scroll button.
Width 770 mm
Height (without mirrors) 1040 mm
Seat 705 mm
Wheelbase 1510 mm
Rake 25.3 º
Trail 91.4 mm
Dry Weight 245.5 Kg
Tank 12L
Fuel economy ** 4.3 l/100 km (65.4mpg)
CO2 figures ** EURO 4 Standard: 98 g/km **CO2 and fuel consumption are measured according to regulation 168/2013/EC.  Figures on fuel consumption are derived from specific test conditions and are for comparative purposes only. They may not reflect real driving results.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

  1. Correction: The America and Speedmaster both had a 270deg firing position and that’s what made them lumpy in comparison to the smoother Bonneville T100 and Thruxtons etc which had the 360deg.

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