Motorcycles

Triumph's new 2018 Speed Triple S and RS: Stronger, smarter, sexier

Triumph's new 2018 Speed Tripl...
It's evolution, not revolution for the Triumph Speed Triple this year - but a decent engine upgrade, cruise control and the new TFT dash make it highly desirable
It's evolution, not revolution for the Triumph Speed Triple this year - but a decent engine upgrade, cruise control and the new TFT dash make it highly desirable
View 30 Images
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: RS model comes with Ohlins TTX suspension
1/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: RS model comes with Ohlins TTX suspension
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: full color dash brings the Speed Trip up to date with what's been happening on the Street Triple
2/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: full color dash brings the Speed Trip up to date with what's been happening on the Street Triple
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: sexy seat stitching
3/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: sexy seat stitching
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: higher quality finish on the engine cases
4/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: higher quality finish on the engine cases
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: spunky fuel cap
5/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: spunky fuel cap
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: Brembo monobloc brakes
6/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: Brembo monobloc brakes
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: is that... Cruise control? Hallelujia!
7/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: is that... Cruise control? Hallelujia!
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: engine remains a 1050cc
8/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: engine remains a 1050cc
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: keyless start with a wireless fob
9/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: keyless start with a wireless fob
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: top view
10/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: top view
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: rear view, including double underseat exhausts
11/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: rear view, including double underseat exhausts
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: retains the bikini-style headlights
12/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: retains the bikini-style headlights
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: keeps the beautiful frame design it's had since 2011
13/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: keeps the beautiful frame design it's had since 2011
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: no sign of a quickshifter
14/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: no sign of a quickshifter
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: standard bellypan is a great look
15/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: standard bellypan is a great look
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: still one sexy beast
16/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: still one sexy beast
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: single sided swingarm looks great
17/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: single sided swingarm looks great
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: lightweight sport pipes still won't be as lightweight as pulling them off and fitting something low.
18/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: lightweight sport pipes still won't be as lightweight as pulling them off and fitting something low.
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: now split into an S and RS model
19/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: now split into an S and RS model
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: 150 horsepower now on tap
20/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: 150 horsepower now on tap
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: the original hooligan gets a decent sized update for 2018
21/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: the original hooligan gets a decent sized update for 2018
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: Triumph claims this is the best handling Speed Trip ever
22/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: Triumph claims this is the best handling Speed Trip ever
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: our favourite British hooligan 
23/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: our favourite British hooligan 
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: this model has always been hysterical fun to ride
24/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: this model has always been hysterical fun to ride
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: at home in an urban setting, but a terrific all rounder for fast blasts, touring and track days as well
25/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: at home in an urban setting, but a terrific all rounder for fast blasts, touring and track days as well
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: the look hasn't changed dramatically, but there's more than 100 new engine parts
26/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: the look hasn't changed dramatically, but there's more than 100 new engine parts
At 150 horses, this will be a very fast bike - but it's not going to compete with the horsepower kings of its category
27/30
At 150 horses, this will be a very fast bike - but it's not going to compete with the horsepower kings of its category
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: heavily refreshed for 2018
28/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: heavily refreshed for 2018
It's evolution, not revolution for the Triumph Speed Triple this year - but a decent engine upgrade, cruise control and the new TFT dash make it highly desirable
29/30
It's evolution, not revolution for the Triumph Speed Triple this year - but a decent engine upgrade, cruise control and the new TFT dash make it highly desirable
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: superb all-round fun machines
30/30
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: superb all-round fun machines
View gallery - 30 images

Triumph isn't swinging for the fences with its new Speed Triple. Top-end horsepower is up, but still nowhere near the raging 180-plus totals of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 and KTM Super Duke 1290 R. The British brand decided long ago not to engage in an ever-escalating top-end power vendetta, opting instead to concentrate on low- and mid-range grunt where most riders will actually use it on the road. It's been a terrific formula so far, a raw and raucous road riding beast with all-round comfort and capability. I lusted over the 2005 model, flipped out over the 2011, bought the 2014 and loved the 2016.

For 2018, thanks to a fairly major engine upgrade, we're looking at "just" 150 pferdestärke. Pferdestärke, for your information, is metric horsepower, and thus a term that makes equally little sense in metric or imperial countries. In regular horses, you're looking at 148, up a decent whack from the previous model's 140-odd.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple: higher quality finish on the engine cases
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: higher quality finish on the engine cases

The engine remains a 1050cc triple, instead of growing to a beefier donk around 1200cc like some folk were quietly hoping. There were 104 engine changes between the 2011 and 2016 models, and there's a further 105 changes for 2018. The press release tells us: "engine updates include new lighter crank gear, lighter Nikasil-plated aluminium cylinder liners, a smaller starter motor, and lighter battery and alternator. New profile pistons and a new cylinder head with optimised exhaust ports improve gas flow and deliver an even higher compression ratio to achieve the increased power output.

"A new sump lowers the oil level in the engine, reducing drag and improving weight distribution. The re-routed oil system now runs the oil internally through the head gasket to the cylinder head, allowing for the removal of external oil pipes, improved styling and reduced mass."

Righty-o, then. Torque (on what was already a magnificently grunty beast) is lightly boosted from 83 to 86 pound feet (113 to 117 Nm), and the rest of the power increase comes from an extra thousand RPM at the top of the tacho. The 2016 bike was a pretty furious little customer in the lower gears, and it's fair to assume the 2018 will stomp even harder. Excellent.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: lightweight sport pipes still won't be as lightweight as pulling them off and fitting something low.
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: lightweight sport pipes still won't be as lightweight as pulling them off and fitting something low.

The exhausts breathe a little freer, which Triumph says contributes to the best sound a Speed Triple has ever made with a standard pipe on, as well as its super free-revving feel. The designers have stuck with the signature double underseat cans, which stay nicely out of the way of the rear wheel on its lovely single sided swinger, and have a decent look to them. But it's no secret these bikes elicit just as much dribble with a single, lightweight low slip-on that takes a lot of unnecessary weight off and lowers the center of gravity for quicker steering. I think a trip to the Arrow section of the accessory catalogue would pay dividends here.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple: full color dash brings the Speed Trip up to date with what's been happening on the Street Triple
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: full color dash brings the Speed Trip up to date with what's been happening on the Street Triple

The rider interface is vastly upgraded with a beautiful, full-color, five-inch TFT dash, similar to the one on last year's new Street Triple 765. There are four modes: Road, Rain, Sport and a programmable "Rider" mode, which interact with the bike's traction control, ABS and ride-by-wire throttle systems to give you plenty of options. Interestingly, Triumph claims the on-off throttle response is smoother than the 2016 bike, but I thought the power on that bike came in beautifully smoothly – if anything, all I wanted was a touch more feel between the throttle and the motor.

There's daytime running lights, a USB charging port and … wait, what's that on that LED-accented left switchblock? Could it be?

2018 Triumph Speed Triple: is that... Cruise control? Hallelujia!
2018 Triumph Speed Triple: is that... Cruise control? Hallelujia!

Yes! The 2018 Speed Triple gets a cruise control system for the first time. I think I've made my opinions on this sort of thing clear in the past – if a bike's running fly by wire, there's really no excuse for it not to have cruise, which does an excellent job of keeping your right wrist fresh on a long ride.

At 150 horses, this will be a very fast bike - but it's not going to compete with the horsepower kings of its category
At 150 horses, this will be a very fast bike - but it's not going to compete with the horsepower kings of its category

2018 Speed Triple RS

Instead of a standard and an R version, the Speed Triple is now split into S and RS versions – the S being the standard, the RS being a touch more special. And although the 2018 RS does indeed have some carbon fiber bits and a set of Ohlins NIX30/TTX36 suspension, the gap is a little wider now thanks to some other nifty inclusions.

The RS model gets a higher spec inertial management unit, developed in conjunction with Continental, that allows for optimized Cornering ABS and track-style partial slip traction management. There's also an extra Track mode on the dash.

The exhausts on the RS are a brushed titanium finish Arrow job, lighter and more sharply angled than the S model's pipes, with a carbon fiber heat shield.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: standard bellypan is a great look
2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS: standard bellypan is a great look

The RS is a bit fancier in terms of paintwork and the like, but it's not overdone. Even the gold Ohlins fork stanchions have been switched with black ones to keep the look a touch more low-key. And the RS also features the first keyless ignition/steering lock system ever fitted to a factory Speed Trip as well, which is lovely.

In all, it's a solid upgrade for 2018, with a modest ladle of extra power, a much nicer dash, and a few much-appreciated pinches of luxury like the cruise system and the keyless ignition. The overall look hasn't changed, and I'm of the opinion that gorgeous frame is still one of the sweetest looking backbones in the business, so there's no complaints there. Two shades are available: white and black. That's for both the S and RS models. No pricing or availability details are out yet.

I remain, as always, a huge fan. Enjoy the condensed launch video below:

Introducing the New 2018 Speed Triple S & RS - the greatest ever generation - web

Source: Triumph

View gallery - 30 images
2 comments
Buellrider
I'd be more impressed if it was updated with a non-ICE. Putting off the inevitable.
DavidRogerBrown
Last time I checked my Buell had a big lump of Sporster ICE. The electrics still have big limitations & price tags. Not quite prime time yet. Building vehicles that don't sell means bankruptcy. Triumph has been there before. They continue to do a upstanding job on updating new models.