2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride Review

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

A more practical Bobber

The Bonneville family continues to expand with its 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. The new Speedmaster builds on the Bobber and Bonneville lines to offer a versatile cruiser with a level of refinement and finish that has become synonymous with Triumph’s recent model releases.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

Editor Score: 85.5%
Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 7.75/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 7.75/10
Overall Score85.5/100

2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber First Ride Review

2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black First Ride Review

Triumph continues to release additional models with its 1200cc “High-Torque” parallel-Twin engine, and it’s easy to see why. The SOHC, 8-valve engine with the 270-degree firing interval is an excellent beating heart to any of these new motorcycles.

Triumph claims 77 hp at 6,100 rpm and 78 lb-ft of torque at 4,000. This power and torque is spread on smooth with a near flawless ride-by-wire system which only seems to have slight abruptness at low rpm during on/off throttle inputs. The 270-degree crank helps emit a low exhaust note that sounds even more appealing as the revs climb. Couple that charming engine with a smooth, positively actuating transmission, and you have a solid base for any kind of motorcycle you want to build around it. The torque-assist clutch also allows for a light lever pull which was never found to be tiring when putting around town or while lane-sharing.

The 2018 Triumph Speedmaster shares suspension components with the original Bobber, now tweaked for the potential of two-up riding. The 41mm KYB cartridge-style fork has been outfitted with stiffer dual-rate springs, while the rear mono-shock also includes a heavier spring and adjustable preload. Although we didn’t have a chance to test the motorcycle with a passenger, I thoroughly enjoyed the stiffer fork, and the motorcycle seemed very well balanced throughout the ride. Bumps, abrupt changes in line selection, and freeway riding were all soaked up with ease and stability.

With a 130 front and 150 rear tire, and a heavier overall weight when compared to the Bobber Black, it would be easy to think the Speedmaster’s handling could be negatively affected. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Speedmaster feels amazingly light yet stable when being flicked back and forth considering its specs. Its sporting character is mostly limited by cornering clearance, which will leave you scraping pegs corner after corner.

At our first roundabout, I found myself dragging the pegs and concurrently shattering a reflector next to the painted lines on the road.

The dual 310mm front rotors slowed by Brembo twin-piston calipers provide excellent stopping power. Hard braking is confidence inspiring with the well-damped fork. Out back, the Speedmaster uses a 255mm single rotor and single-pot Nissin caliper. ABS is standard and is unable to be disengaged.

Hi-viz yellow extended mudguard not U.S. Spec.

Styling is unmistakably Triumph. Pricing starts at $13,150 for Jet Black, while Cranberry Red will cost an additional $250. All models come with 32-spoke wire wheels adding to the classic appeal. The model we tested retails at $13,650, with the Fusion White/Phantom Black colorway adding $500 to MSRP. The white and black on the tank are separated by a hand-painted gold coach line which lends a premium quality to the Speedmaster.

Inside Triumph: Top 10 Tidbits Learned Behind The Factory Doors

Most of the Bonneville line combines just the right amount of modernity with retro styling, and the Speedmaster is no different.

While the visual impression is classic British custom, the technology is modern, all while being cleverly tucked away and masked. Some of my complaints with bikes such as the new Kawasaki Z900RS are that they are too much a mashup of futuristic styling and classic components. I prefer the mostly classic look with slight nuances of modern tech as seen on most of Triumph’s modern classics range.

All lighting on the Speedmaster is LED, including the daytime running light which lets you know this isn’t a bike from the ’60s. Other than that, you may be hard-pressed to notice the modern accoutrements.

The Speedmaster uses a single-clock instrument to house all of the information needed, such as a fuel gauge, trip meters, odometer, average and current gas mileage, while using an analog speedometer. The tech doesn’t stop there. The ride-by-wire controls bring two engine maps: Road and Rain, both of which offer full horsepower, with the latter offering smoother power delivery. Traction control is switchable on or off via the information screen. The Speedmaster also comes standard with cruise control actuated by a single button on the left control module. One press to turn it on, one press to set, and one press for off. Easy as it comes. There is also an immobilizer in the key in case someone happens to knick your precious Trumpet.

To make your Speedmaster yours, Triumph offers an accessory catalog that is ever-expanding as the Bonneville line-up grows. Don’t have the time to pick out each individual part? Triumph has put together two “inspiration packages” which give the Speedmaster more touring capability or attitude.

The Highway kit, aimed to enhance the bike’s touring capability, will retail for $2,225 and includes a waxed cotton & leather pannier set, adjustable touring screen, comfort rider seat, matching wider passenger seat, and a host of chrome features including engine bars, passenger backrest, luggage rack and a polished machined oil filler cap.

The inspiration kit that inspired me though, was the Maverick – which is meant to give the Speedmaster a more stripped-back aggressive styling closer to that of the Bobber Black. The Maverick kit includes a brown quilted single seat set-up, flat handlebars, black Vance & Hines exhaust and other details, including a blacked-out oil filler cap, and a grabrail-removal kit and rear mudguard finisher for a stylish, minimal rear end.

The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is a solid British cruiser built on a proven chassis around an exciting engine. While a little extra finesse is needed in corners to counteract the minimal cornering clearance, the Speedmaster is just as easily and confidently ridden aggressively as it is adept at cruising down the highway.

All Things Triumph On Motorcycle.com

Interested in the Bobber but want the versatility of two-up riding? The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster might be the goldilocks option for you.

2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster

+ Highs

  • Strong front brake
  • Well balanced suspension
  • Both of those combined with the 1200cc HT engine make the Speedmaster fun to ride fast

– Sighs

  • Peg feelers feel the ground all too often
  • Swept back “Beach Bars” put wrists at an awkward angle some may find uncomfortable
  • Slight abruptness from RbW throttle at low rpm

2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster Specifications

Price$13,150 for Jet Black / $13,400 for Cranberry Red / $13,650 for Fusion White and Phantom Black
Engine TypeLiquid-cooled SOHC Parallel twin cylinder; Four valves per cylinder
Bore and stroke97.6mm x 80mm
Power (claimed)77 hp at 6,100 rpm
Torque (claimed)78.2 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm
Fuel systemMultipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Final DriveX-ring Chain
Front Suspension41mm non-adjustable KYB Cartridge fork; 3.5-in travel
Rear SuspensionKYB Mono-shock with linkage and preload adjustment; 2.9-in travel
Front BrakesDual 310mm discs with two-piston axial mounted Brembo calipers; ABS
Rear brakeSingle 255mm disc with single-piston axial mounted Nissin caliper; ABS
Wheels and TiresWire spoked steel rims; Front: 2.5”x16” Rear: 3.5”x16” Avon Cobra
Front: 130/90 B16 Rear: 150/80 R16
Saddle height27.8 inches
Trail3.6 inches
Wheelbase59.4 inches
Dry Weight541 lbs (claimed)
Fuel Capacity3.2 gallons
Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

More by Ryan Adams

Join the conversation
3 of 69 comments
  • Gary Gary on Jan 22, 2018

    The Bobber and the Speedmaster are growing on me. I love the idea of a basic bike for tooling around. But my pragmatic side won't abide spoked wheels and three-gallon tanks. Sorry. I wish they'd figure out a way to add fuel capacity without affecting the look, and for heaven's sake, offer optional wheels that will fit tubeless tires.

    • Alex Alex on Jan 25, 2018

      Completely agree, the limited fuel capacity is one of my main concerns when looking into this motorcycle. I do need at least a 250km range on a motorcycle to be comfortable on longer trips just because I have had issues in the past with this in some areas of the country.

  • Kahless Kahless on Jan 30, 2018

    holy cow. priced about the same as my thunderbird storm was in 2011. what in the world do storms cost now i wonder?