2008 Triumph Speed Triple 1050 Review

A Sharper Speed Triple

First, let me run through the updates Triumph has made to the grand old dad of streetfighters. Visually you’ll notice the new wheels, where the 14-spoke black rear wheel mounted on the trademark single sided swingarm is visible in all its glory from the right. Look a little bit closer and you’ll be able to inspect a brand new set of radial Brembo callipers that replaces the old squeaky Nissins. During my test I still found that Triumph’s still a bit stingy on the copper fat though.

Triumph mentions further details as “styling refinements” including a redesigned radiator, brand new rear sub-frame, new LED rear light, black anodised front forks and new tapered anodised aluminium handlebars from Magura. The new rear sub frame has paved way for a new seat too for those that complained that their big arse girlfriends didn’t fit properly. Personally I feel that this “improvement” doesn’t do much damage to the overall look, but it doesn’t contribute much either. Further, the heat shields have been redesigned and the pillion pegs are mounted slightly lower for better comfort.

Those are the changes and I find myself in the seat of the new Blazing orange Speed Triple. During my test I almost managed to do 1.000 miles mixed between both motorways, fast B-roads and town riding. I also got to test the new Brembo brakes and Dunlop Qualifiers to the extreme, but more on that later.

What always strikes me when riding any Triumph and with the 1050cc triple is how civilised and refined it is.

The motorway (Ed: highway for those of us on this side of the Pond) is not the right place to start a test of something as street savvy as the Speed Triple. But I did anyway as I always do. The true potential of that 132 horsepower 1050cc triple comes to its own right here. Though I couldn’t keep that power for long before my neck and back started hurting. The new and wide Magura handlebar is a great addition to the Speed Triple, but I feel that I am stretching my arms a bit. I have not got particularly short arms, so how this feels for someone with shorter arms is unknown. My preference would be to get a set of handlebars that are slightly more stretched towards me.

What always strikes me when riding any Triumph and with the 1050cc triple is how civilised and refined it is. There are hardly any vibrations and sadly not that much vocal expression from the exhaust either. The smoothness of the engine and one fantastic torque curve speaks of a full 14-year development program. The 2008 Triumph Speed Triple is pretty much as refined as any Triumph is ever going to be. I guess that this is the one to get before Triumph develops a new engine for the whole 1050 range.

Further on the motorway I test the midrange which is monumental and oh so smooth. I can tootle along in sixth gear all the way from London to John O’Groats if I had wished to. In England we’re hardly ever relieved from heavy bothersome winds on the long stretches of motorway. They contribute negatively on the fuel consumption and more often than not I had to refuel at around the 130 miles mark. In England the motorways are fast and going from London to Manchester is pretty much uphill all the way never doing less than 70mph apart from when there’s filtering to be done. The Speed Triple is a fine filtering tool with an engine perfectly suited for low rev punch. Those menacing bug eyes helps clearing the way ahead too. The Speed Triple is what it is on the motorway, it goes as fast as you like until you are knackered.

In town there’s a different story. The agility of the 189 kilo (416 lbs) Speed Triple shines through and sick sacking through the heavily trafficked English cities are no problem at all. The new Brembo radial callipers are very sharp and provide all the stopping power that you need. The Dunlop Qualifier tires (120/70-ZR17 front and 180/55-ZR17 rear) warm up quickly. On the last day of this long-term roadtest, $#!} happened as I hit a red light-jumping car smack on the side. During the last couple of seconds before my involuntary flight I remember grabbing both front and rear brakes whilst swerving to avoid impact.

Stiff on both wheels with perfect suspension action I still couldn’t avoid impact, but the S3 didn’t let me down in any way whilst braking for Queen and country! I stayed upright and the S3 would have been at a complete halt just a second later if given the space. So hit at around 20mph maybe as the stupid female driver panic braked in my path. I flew over the car and landed hard on my back and cracked my Sacrum (tailbone). Hospital next, bye-bye Speed Triple and welcome strong painkillers and crutches!

On fast B-roads the Speed Triple is one of the best motorcycles in the world I dare say! The S3 is Triumph’s most powerful 1050 and the torque curve is just everywhere you need it always! The suspension can take some serious beating on the standard set-up and only ever goes slightly out of shape when ridden in an extreme way. There’s no need for a steering damper and progress is always fast and smooth at the same time. My test pillion was always happy on the back but did slide a bit forwards and backwards during hard acceleration or braking. I was more than happy with the Speed Triple on all of my favourite roads in the Peak District.

Wheelies come very easy on the Speed Triple. At will you can elevate the front to the precise degree that you want on the throttle. Longer wheelie? No problem. Clutch it up in second and go as far as you want. On this particular area, quite essential on a streetfighter, the Speed Triple beats its little brother the Street Triple 675 hands down. Everything that’s fun or stupid on a motorcycle comes easy on the Speed Triple 1050.
One of the great things about the Speed Triple is that even the old ones with the 955 engines are still popular second hand buys. Second hand value is therefore nothing to worry about. I have tested the 2004 Speed Triple 955i, the first 2005 Speed Triple 1050, the 2007 and now the 2008. The 2008 Speed Triple is the best of them all due to the correct refinements. All I need now really is a taller more stretched handlebar to make the ergonomics perfect for me.


The 2008 is the best of them all. Refinement over 14 years has led to this fast, safe and angry streetfighter. It still is one of the top motorcycles that define the streetfighter segment. Hail the Speed Triple and let it live for another 14 years!

 Highs:     Sighs:
  • Smooth torque curve that border on perfection
  • Handling and brakes
  • The original hooligan
  • Handlebars a bit of a stretch
  • Copper fat for those brakes please!

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2008 Triumph Urban Sports Review
2008 Triumph Street Triple 675 Review

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