Best Standard Motorcycle of 2022

John Burns
by John Burns

Best Standard Motorcycle of 2022: Triumph Speed Twin 1200

Frankly the first modern-era Triumph to wear the legendary Speed Twin moniker was a tad disappointing when it rolled down the skids for 2020. All was forgiven, though, when Triumph made it all right with the 2022 version. The weedy suspension components of the first bike (which, in fairness, may have been more period-correct) gave way to a new, 43mm inverted Marzocchi fork brandishing radial-mount Brembo M50 monobloc calipers squeezing bigger, 320mm discs. A pair of “higher-spec” shocks brought up the rear. New lightweight 12-spoke cast wheels rolled onto the scene, shod with Metzeler RR Racetec rubber.

2022 Triumph Speed Twin Review

In making the bike cleaner for Euro 5, Triumph threw in a few more horsepower – 91 in total, on the Rottweiler Performance Dynojet, and 74.5 lb-ft of torque – via a bump in compression, a lightened crank, a new camshaft… That’s plenteous power for a “retro,” and all of it safely deployed via three ride modes: rain, road, and sport. Add all the new stuff up, continue on with the classic comfortable upright ergonomics, and suddenly you’re riding a retro that’s packing surprisingly modern, well-developed curvy-backroad sporting chops. At the same time, for just getting from A to B, you can feel free to think of the Speed Twin as an upscale Standard motorcycle, with beautiful suspension, comfortable seating for two (or one and a nice milk crate). Pile on the miles; Triumph’s proud of having designed the new 1200cc 270-degree Twin with longer service intervals.

The look was what drew buyers in in the first place, but Triumph made the new one even prettier: New brushed aluminum front and rear fenders ride new mounts, and match the brushed aluminum side panel trim and heel guards. There are LED lights all around, anodized headlamp mounts, a brushed Monza fuel cap, a clear anodized aluminum swingarm…

And get this: They lowered the price by $499 in the process, to $12,500 (which has only crept back up a little, to $12,595). Triumph says it’s a Modern Classic. It’s hard to disagree. So, we awarded the 2022 Triumph Speed Twin 1200 with the Best Standard MOBO!

Best Standard Motorcycle of 2022 Runner-Up: Yamaha XSR900

As long as we’re on a retro theme for this year’s Best Standards, what could be more fitting than Yamaha’s most excellent CP3 Triple, in a Christian Sarron-liveried homage to its vintage race bikes of yore? Really clever of Yamaha, given that great powertrain, to build one version of the bike for the modern crowd (the Dark Side of Japan MT-09), and one for the classic (Faster Sons!) crowd, who’ll never buy a new motorcycle again unless it has a round headlight.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 Review – First Ride

Not only does the XSR nail the look atop its light, golden “spinforged” wheels, it gets all the same upgrades the MT got last year from the waist down, including the new super-sized 890cc version of the CP3 three-cylinder and all its electronic controls, in a new vacuum-filled aluminum frame with a more flowing, less industrial look than the old one. Is there a color-matched tail cowl available yet?

Befitting the racy look, this one’s a tad harder-edged and purposeful than its MT sibling, with firmer suspension settings and more aggressive ergonomics. Compared to the MT, your grips are 14mm forward and 35mm lower, while your rear end is moved back a bit on a 22mm-lower and more severe seat than the MT’s. The XSR is slightly more aggressive than the MT, but not painfully so.

Think of the MT-09 more as an urban streetfighter, and the XSR as a more serious backroad sportbike. Yamaha says it’s “the highest performing platform ever for a Yamaha sport heritage machine,” complete with four ride modes and an up/down quickshifter as standard equipment. Either one serves double duty as an eminently practical everyday ride, complete with cruise control, and price tags hovering around $10k.

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 27 comments
  • Bmlgm Bmlgm on Dec 06, 2022

    Speed Twin 1200, yes (and I bought one). Yamaha trashed the XSR900 looks with the latest redesign, just my opinion.

  • Ducatirdr Ducatirdr on Dec 09, 2022

    I voted for the XSR with my wallet. They are rare to find in the wild so a deposit site unseen and the first ride when I registered it and drove it off the lot. First impression is that it is one of those rare motorcycles that hits well above its weight class. I own a few motorcycles and it's been over 40 years of street riding. Aprilia's Ducati's, BMW's all have graced my garage. This XSR900 bargain of a motorcycle exceeded my expectations. So RAW of an experience. So much aural feedback and its character filled. Would I want to pose on it at Starbucks and win the approval of some retired school teacher on a pension? (40+ years of riding, you do the math) Well sure, but the XSR isn't the bike for that. It's a street fighter and not a poser. The only people that are impressed by street fighters are motorcycle geeks like myself. The bike is incredibly fun to ride and it makes you feel like you pulled the bodywork off of an FZR1000 and are spanking it wherever you go. I downsized from the hyper naked class and found the XSR900 to be the goldilocks of naked bikes. I think anyone interested in one should plunk their money down at the volume dealer that gets these in and save up bail money for when it comes in.