Just over a week ago, I was fortunate enough to spend some time aboard Triumph’s new Bonneville Speedmaster during a day of riding near Carlsbad, CA. This was the first of Triumph’s revised Modern Classics that I had a chance to ride.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride Review

I remember at one point being very interested in a Bonneville or Scrambler, yet after riding my brother’s 2012 865cc Bonneville, I was underwhelmed with the engine and overwhelmed by the weight – the idea of owning one simply faded away.

Flash forward to a week ago and here we are: an all-new Speedmaster and an all-new riding experience on Triumph’s newest Bonneville iteration. Let’s take a look at what I found to be the Top 8 features of the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster.

1.) 1200 HT Engine

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

How could I not begin with the engine? I was stoked immediately with Triumph’s new 1200 High-Torque engine. It was so much more than what I had experienced previously in my brother’s 865cc-engined Bonneville (Sorry, bro! It’s not that bad, just don’t ride the new 1200). The 1200 HT with what Triumph calls the “Bobber tune” hit all the right notes for me. Triumph claims 78 lb-ft of torque being produced at 4,000 rpm and 77 hp at 6,100 rpm from the 1200 HT: “Bobber tune” is said to provide 10% more torque and horsepower at 4,500 rpm from the standard tune.

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Looking back at our Retro Roadster Shootout, when we dynoed the Bonneville T120 Black which shares the 1200 HT engine without the Bobber tune it produced 69.8 hp at 5,500 rpm and 71.4 lb-ft of torque. Add 10% to those numbers and it’s pretty close. While we haven’t had a chance to dyno the Bobber-tuned 1200 HT, to my butt dyno, it is is certainly a welcome improvement to the older 865cc motor.

2.) Dualies up front

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Triumph does a great job, in my opinion, of creating genuinely classic looks while maintaining modern performance and technology. When I saw the single disc on the front of the original Bobber, it was a bit of a let down for me. Purely an aesthetic choice to a vital component of the motorcycle’s performance. Needless to say, I was glad to see the dual front rotors were carried over to the Speedmaster from the Bobber Black.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black First Ride Review

The dual 310mm front rotors clasped by Brembo two-pot calipers do a great job of slowing things down in a hurry. Remember, let’s keep it relative here, they aren’t M50s but they still give strong braking power and adequate feel at the lever.

3.) Light and easy handling (until you hit the peg feelers)

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

The Speedmaster is small for a “touring” motorcycle, yet it was still surprisingly agile when taken through some twisty backroads. Of course, cornering clearance becomes an issue all too soon but, the Speedmaster moves from peg feeler to peg feeler with ease.  

4.) White Fusion/Phantom Black color option helps to justify the Triumph rep’s liberal use of the word premium throughout the tech briefing

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on a marketing/PR guy for using buzzwords. That’s the name of the game. While premium may have been used 10 or 20 times too many during our briefing, it is my pleasure to report that it isn’t all buzzwords and BS with the Speedmaster. If any of you have had a chance to check out a new Triumph in the last few model releases, these motorcycles do feel premium and have an attention to detail that unequivocally shows Triumph’s focus on creating real modern classics.

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The new Speedmaster comes in Black, for you brooding types, Cranberry Red for $250 more, which I feel brings out a little more of a hotrod/rebellious feel, and the classy Fusion White/Phantom Black for $500 extra dollars, which is separated on the tank by a hand-painted gold coach line. I have been told the signature of each painter can be found on the underneath side of the tank. Fancy.

I ♥ cruise control

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

When I bought my first motorcycle in California after moving from Illinois, I noticed the previous owner had installed aftermarket heated grips. Heated grips? In California? GTFO! Well, it turns out heated grips are kind of a nice option to have anywhere. It can get cold here too, especially at elevation.

I have had a similar revelation with cruise control. None of my personal motorcycles have it and sure, people have been doing just fine without for plenty of years but, it is kind of the best thing since sliced bread. Exaggeration? Nope. I love it. The Speedmaster and other Bonnevilles boast an easy to use system: one press to turn it on, one press to set, one press to cancel (or use the brakes). Easy as pie.

6.) 150 accessories available and counting…

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

An advantage of creating new models based off of similar chassis and motors means many accessory parts can be bolted on easily. Triumph now boasts over 150 different accessory options for the Speedmaster. Many of which are options for the Bobber and Bonneville models as well.

7.) Larger fuel tank than the Bobber

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

The Bobber’s range-limiting 2.4-gallon tank was a bit of a miss for some but, to be realistic, the Bobber was never meant to be a touring motorcycle. Thankfully the Speedmaster boasts a 3.2-gallon tank which, according to Triumph’s claimed 50 mpg, should get you 160 miles per tank. Although it’s a decent upgrade from the Bobber in terms of capacity, it’s still less than the Bonneville T120’s 3.8-gallon tank.

8.) Like the Bobber? Well, you can pick up chicks (or dudes) with this one

Top 8 Features Of The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

I really like the aesthetic of the Bonneville Bobber but it is impractical in so many ways. That didn’t seem to stop it from being the fastest-selling model in Triumph’s history as a brand but now those who want to bring a special someone with them or strap something to the backseat, have a place to do so. The Bonneville Speedmaster with the curated Maverick inspiration kit ($2,030) brings it closer to the attitude and styling of the Bobber.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Can’t anyone make a relaxed cruiser that handles well AND has enough clearance to allow a safety margin when negotiating fast mountain road corners (or any corners beyond those experienced in urban traffic)? I guess no one wants to raise the seat height up enough to make that happen. In any case, not everyone can afford multiple bikes with individual focuses; some need one that can do it all, and in Triumph’s lineup that will still be the standard Bonnies.

    • Old MOron

      Yup, the bonny standard Bonnie would be my pick.

      • Alaskan18724

        Yup. This one sure is pretty, though.

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  • Alaskan18724

    1. Why on earth do they not use this motor across the lineup?

    2. Especially the Scrambler?

    • Keith T Robinson

      i never understood that.

      • Alaskan18724

        I know, right? Even if they were using up inventory, better to keep it for parts and standardize production. Then again, Indian can’t get off its thumbs and build the FTR1200. What do I know?

  • faztang

    Love the look of this bike but that windshield is brutal, It’s so tall they might as well made a roof!. Hope the aftermarket makes something a little more streamlined (and quick release).