2016 Triumph Speed Triple R

Editor Score: 89.75%
Engine 18.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.5/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score89.75/100

Triumph’s updated Speed Triple, specifically the “S” base model, already impressed us tremendously once this year, when it finished second to the all-conquering Aprilia Tuono Factory in our little six-bike comparo jaunt up the coast of California in August. You could argue the Triumph won that one, really, since the Tuono’s $17K price tag has it really in a different category than the $13,200 Triumph (though the Speed Triple also came out on top of the $16,395 Ducati Monster 1200 S).

Naked Sports Six-Way Shootout + Video

Last week, Triumph impressed us tremendously once again when it forked over the keys to a brand new “R” model Speed Triple for another little naked-bike comparo that’s currently rattling around in Tom Roderick’s head, where it again takes on the mighty Aprilia (this time the downmarket RR instead of the Factory), also the EBR 1190 SX and Yamaha FZ-10.

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Adding the R onto the Speed Triple ratchets the price up $1700 over the S to $14,900, but gets you lovely Öhlins suspension – a gold-encrusted full-adjust 43mm NIX30 fork in front and a TTX36 twin-tube monoshock at the rear. What little bodywork there is is carbon fiber on the R, complemented by a red subframe, red-striped wheels, and red stitching on the very comfy seat. But wait, there’s more! Billet machined handlebar clamps, risers, swingarm pivot covers and rear wheel cover.

Know the R by the TTX36 Öhlins shock peeking out from behind one of the tastiest Triples of all time, also by that red subframe, c-f front fender, excuse me, “mudguard,” and other tidbits.

Know the R by the TTX36 Öhlins shock peeking out from behind one of the tastiest Triples of all time, also by that red subframe, c-f front fender, excuse me, “mudguard,” and other tidbits.

Aside from those things, the song remains the same between S and R; both got a highly revised 1050cc Triple for 2016, and it’s a pip. I’ll go ahead and quote myself from earlier in the year when I wrote about the S:

“Triumph tells us there are 104 new components in the (still) 1050cc Triple, including new pistons and crank, squeezing mixture into new combustion chambers via higher-flowing intake ports, exiting via that pair of undertail exhausts said to flow 70% more efficiently (and wail even more movingly). Undertail exhausts are passe, but on this bike they still work (except when it’s time to bungee on soft bags). So what, the S3 still encourages you to carry a toothbrush in your jacket pocket and not change underwear.

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There’s a new ride-by-wire system with adjustable riding modes and variable traction control. In addition to the usual Sport, Rain and Road modes, there’s also a Track mode – and one more customizable one. We used Sport and Road modes on our 700-mile flog to Laguna Seca on the Triumph, and both are extremely well-sorted and glitch-free. Surfing along on the S3’s wave of torque is almost effortless, and shifting its revised 6-speed gearbox is likewise buttery positive. There’s a new slipper clutch in there too. If you don’t like buzz, the S3 is your bike; geared a bit tall, 6000 rpm on its beautiful big analog tachometer gets you 96 smooth indicated mph.”

The S produced 124 horses at 8900 rpm on our MotoGP Werks dyno, which isn’t going to win you any drag-racing trophies anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s not more than any 478-pound (fully fuelled) street motorcycle needs (maybe the R is only 476 with that carbon fiber, but Triumph says they weigh the same).

Most of the time and especially on tight little roads, the bike’s 76 lb-ft of torque at 6900 keeps it right up with the other bikes, mostly because it’s already above 70 lb-ft at only 4000 rpm. Also because its newly ride-by-wire fueling is without peer, which encourages you to open the throttle early and often.

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Its gearbox, with slipper clutch, is likewise one of the absolute best in the business, and its Brembo brakes are strong like bull but also capable of great finesse and feel. Stir well and let marinate since 1994, and the Speed Triple winds up being more than the sum of its parts, through refinement and carefully crafted systems integration. Judging from this and a few other Triumphs that have come down the pipeline lately, it feels like that factory might have the finest cadre of “product testers” in the world. They sell no wine before its time.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter: The Showa suspenders on the bargain-bin S model were so well dialled-in that that bike ranked second, behind only the Öhlins-equipped Tuono Factory, in last summer’s six-bike comparison. So do you really need to spend the extra money for the Öhlins equipment on the Speed Triple R? The answer is, of course you do. If you have it, anyway.

Triumph adds only the finest ingredients to its Speed Triple R. By the end of our testing, those chicken strips were lightly battered and deeply fried.

Triumph adds only the finest ingredients to its Speed Triple R. By the end of our testing, those chicken strips were lightly battered and deeply fried.

Our heaviest rider, 250-pounds plus, felt the S was a bit soft when the going got rough, but the rest of us were fine with it. The R model just adds to the impression that the ST is one of the most comfortable naked bikes you can buy, suavely rounding off the corners of every bump and adding even more chassis control as you flog the bike through tight mountain switchbacks you’d think weren’t really part of its design brief, given how Rolls-Royce stately it is around town. A super-short trail figure of just 3.6 inches, and the steeply raked 22.9-degree fork angle mean it can turn quickly, and the Pirelli Supercorsas have plenty of grip.

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Even if it’s not the absolute fastest backroad tearer-upper, it’s damn close, and for just about everything else – dropping your kid at school, schlepping across town for a bank robbery, picking up a box of wine at the Piggly-Wiggly – the Speed Triple leaves its more extroverted competitors in the dust… so smooth-running, so refined and comfortable. Then again, the new Yamaha FZ-10 has cruise control. Stay tuned to see how the Striple R fares against it. And the EBR 1190 SX. And the Aprilia Tuono RR! It’s our job to get to the bottom of it all.

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R
+ Highs

  • That Triple is smooooth and sneaky fast
  • So’s the suspension and everything else
  • Impeccable systems integration
– Sighs

  • The Showa-suspended S is no slouch either
  • Some other Triumph Triples have cruise control
  • Keith Richards will be 74 next week
2016 Triumph Speed Triple R Specifications
MSRP as tested $14,900
Engine Type DOHC liquid-cooled inline 3-cylinder; 4v/cyl.
Displacement 1050cc
Bore x Stroke 79.0 x 71.4mm
Compression Ratio 12.25:1
Horsepower 124.2 hp @ 8900 rpm
Torque 76.1 lb-ft @ 7900 rpm
lb/hp 3.85 lb/hp
lb/lb-ft 6.28 lb/lb-ft
Fuel System Multipoint sequential fuel injection
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension Öhlins NIX30 43mm inverted fork; 4.72 in. travel, adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Rear Suspension Single Öhlins TTX36 shock; 5.1 in. wheel travel, adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Front Brakes Dual 320mm discs, 4-piston Brembo calipers, switchable ABS
Rear Brakes 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston slide-type caliper, switchable ABS
Front Tire 120/70-17
Rear Tire 190/55-17
Seat Height 32.5 in.
Wheelbase 56.5 in. (1435mm)
Rake/Trail 22.9°/ 3.6 in. (91.3mm)
Curb Weight, MO scales 478 lb. (maybe a lb or 2 less due to carbon-fiber bodywork?)
Fuel Capacity 4.1 US gal.
MPG 40 mpg

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  • Born to Ride

    I was hoping they’d finally bump the performance on the 1050 with this revision, even if it required going to an 1100 or 1200. I loved the motor in my Sprint, but it was measured with just 5 less horsepower than this in 2005. For reference, the liquid cooled S4R monster in 2005 made 97 hp, and today’s monster makes upwards of 135 albeit with 20% more displacement. The motor is smooth, and I don’t doubt the fueling is light years better than my sprint, but I’d have liked to see at least power figures in the 130s or 140s given the competition the Speedie is up against nowadays. Alas, it does seem like a wonderful one bike in the garage kinda companion. When I graduate next year I’ll have some decisions to make about rearranging my garage. This bike will definitely be a contender. Or maybe the new 800 will just be a slam dunk, supposedly they’ve been working on it for years to get it perfect. Burns got it right when he said Triumph never sells it’s wine before it’s time. Love this Company.

    • spiff

      I also think the cc’s need to increase. I wonder if there is room to make it a 1200 or more? More cc’s bring better power, not high strung, just there. I would do it with plenty of stroke. Seems you need to make 160hp to get people to do more than read the brochure. Other wise you lose the premium status.

      With no race specs to control engine size it seems that engine output is dictating the classes. If I were Triumph I would keep the Street Triple and Speed Triple, and create the Super Triple, and play with the big dogs. Small/medium/large. 100ish/125ish/and150ish at the wheel would be my goal.

      • Born to Ride

        Triumph actually has a 1200 stroker motor in the trophy and big tiger. However it is more analogous to the current 800cc in the baby tiger. Lower compression, lower state of tune for maximum smoothness and reliability.
        It would be interesting to see what they could get out of that engine configuration performance wise. But I think a 1050 speedier could never sell alongside a 1200. The only way in my mind that could be a viable marketing option would be if they could make the new chassis for the 1050 that was significantly lighter and smaller as to create a completely different riding experience, like an STR on steroids. But I think if they could make the Speed any lighter or compact, they would have done so already.

        • spiff

          Astute logic. I think you are correct. Time for a new generation if they want to keep up. My guess is the speed triple will fade to the background as Triumph focuses on their cruiser(ish) line.

          • Born to Ride

            I certainly hope not, the Speed Triple is as Triumph as any Bonneville is as far as I’m concerned. I would like to see what the aftermarket tuners can get out of this revised engine, it may be horrendously choked up, with 10 or 15 hp lurking in the black box somewhere.

          • Gabriel Owens

            9 more rear wheel horsepower would be nice.

          • Born to Ride

            That’s awfully specific, is there something magical about having exactly 133 horsepower?

          • Gabriel Owens

            That’s what people are getting with exhaust and tuning.

            I gained 9whp on a bike that weight and it was noticeable

          • Born to Ride

            Ahh see I wasn’t able to dig up any good data on the 2016 model. A really nice thing about getting an aftermarket exhaust on the speedie is opting for a low or mid mount can reduce the weight by up to 20 lbs! Add a shorai and some BST wheels and you’re looking at a 440lb roadster with some serious punch and handling, while being perfectly everyday rideable. No wonder sport bikes are dying.

    • Gabriel Owens

      I wish they had a better dealer base here.

      • Born to Ride

        I’ve got 2 dealers in reasonable driving distance.

  • SRMark

    I remember when this was a good looking bike. Those days are long gone but it has always been a great bike. I’d save a couple grand and get the slower but much more stylish Thruxton.

  • john phyyt

    I would dearly love someone who knows; to ride this and the Thruxton-R back to back to give the world an idea of the benefit or otherwise of monoshock tech. If relatively short swingarm and two quality rear shocks work as well as rising rate ( heavy) linkages perhaps it is time to revisit a simpler time.

    • JMDonald

      I have also wondered about how those two bikes compare. The rake and trail is almost identical as is the wheel base though the Thruxton is slightly shorter. The Triple seat height is slightly higher and it weighs less. I wouldn’t mind owning either bike. Preferably both. I am a fan of the single sided swing arm.

      • Andrew Capone

        I own both, a 2013 Speed (in LA) and a Thruxton R at home in NJ. Without delving into explicit performance comparisons, or trying to avoid the question, I don’t believe they compare whatsoever, and I’d never be confused as to which one I’d choose for a given riding situation if they were parked in the same garage.They are quite different in spirit, style and function. I’d give the nod to the Speed as a single hoon- worthy versatile all-rounder. I’d take the Thrux R every day as a more emotive, interesting spirited roadster. Whatever that means.

        • JMDonald

          I hear you. Two different dynamics. Here’s to owning two great bikes and the enjoyment riding them brings.

    • allworld

      I know a farther and son, that took a 2016 Thuxton R and 2016 Speed Triple R out for a 2 day ride.
      They general opinion was; the Speed Triple was more comfortable over the long haul.

  • allworld

    I am a big fan of Triumph, so my opinion is somewhat bias, that being said, this is a fantastic bike. Ten years ago the naked/streetfighter chooses were few, but Triumph was there and still is.
    For many buyers real world usability is why this category has become so popular, and Triumph’s Speed Triple is front and center. Looks, price, performance, quality, and reliability.
    This should be the base platform for sport touring bike similar to the KTN Duke 1290 GT.

  • major tom

    Burnsy hit it out! Great write up. Did he mention old world charm, or craftsmanship? I appreciate refinement, a velvet glove with a clinched fist when appropriate.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Wish it had cruise

    • imprezive

      I’d add an up/down quickshifter, LED headlights, an IMU, and optional hard luggage to the list of wishes. If it’s going to be an all around bike having features to make it good all around would be nice. Get rid of those stupid high pipes too.

    • Douglas

      Yep, CC wd be nice (on my dream Bonny….see above)

  • All you people talking about the Trumpet needing more power, what it needs is less WEIGHT! Rather than another 9-20hp, I’d rather see this loose 30-50lbs! The weight loss would have a more dramatic effect on the overall riding experience, that is if you are not just a grip it and rip it kind of rider.

    • Kevin Duke

      It’s waaaaay easier to get an extra 15 hp out of a 1050cc engine than it is to find a way of dropping 50 lbs!

      • Won’t argue that with you KD, however, on the roads you ride out there in The People’s Republik, wouldn’t dropping LB’s make more of a difference up in the canyons?

        • Born to Ride

          Remember, Triumph has to bring this thing to market epa legal and at a reasonable price too. However, nice weight saving modifications are abundant. Low mount exhaust(20 lb savings), lithium battery (5-8 lb savings), fender eliminator (up to 2 lbs), and carbon fiber wheels would make a big difference in the way this girl moves underneath you. But we can’t reasonably add power to our bikes without spending mountains of cash and losing tons of reliability. Triumph tunes their triples to have tabletop flat torque curves, which is great for wide range rideability. However, if they tuned in a nice step up in the power around 7k rpm that carried to near redline, I wouldn’t mind giving up a few ft-lbs below 5k.

          • imprezive

            They could just do a factory low mount exhaust.

          • Born to Ride

            I’m kinda glad they don’t, the factory low mount exhaust they have on the street Triple is ugly as sin. This however, is mucho sexy.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e980404f3b0460bd7c67ab0bd291b9f0d51e7df05105df12eeb44a3c42508fc3.jpg

          • Born to Ride
          • imprezive

            They redesigned the exhaust anyway so they could have made something pretty. Either carbon like the SC or something with some style to it like the MV triple exhaust. They are fitting two cans from the factory so the cost to switch to a nicer single low can’t be that much higher if at all.

          • Born to Ride

            I don’t doubt that cost would permit the switch, I just think Triumph has a problem with over-stylizing things like their exhausts and headlights on these bikes. I’d rather them keep it simple so its easy for us to rip off and replace with something clean. I wonder if the cat is behind that heat shield. If so, they have done a muuuch better job than every other manufacturer in this segment of hiding it and I would leave it there with no issue.

          • randy the great

            Yes, the cat is behind the shield, tucked beneath the belly pan. You really have to want to see it in order to find it.

        • Kevin Duke

          Yep, lighter is always better. But lopping off dozens of pounds would require huge capital expenditures, including a new frame and engine, and even then it wouldn’t add up to 40 or 50 lbs. Losing big chunks of weight isn’t easy and costs lots!

  • Douglas

    Me? I’d like a Bonneville with this engine…..no cosmetic or other changes, other than what’d be necessary to fit in the motor/gearbox…..and a ROUND, chromed 3-into-1 megaphone. And cast wheels and a compact but really effective windscreen….oh, and a belt drive. That’s all.