What is this motorcycle, exactly?
The 2022 Triumph Speed Twin is the latest generation of an iconic nameplate the brand produced from 1938 to 1940 and 1947 to 1966, then revived for modern thrill seekers in 2019. That means it packs loads of history, plus aesthetic and performance tweaks made over the past few years, all aspiring toward a fast, fun café racer that doesn't break the bank.
Is it new?
Relatively. The bike rolled out to dealers over the summer, and I got a couple weeks of quality seat time right before beach season came to a close.
What makes the Speed Twin special?
A number of notable updates over the past few Speed Twins. Among other boosts, the latest version boasts more peak power, more mid-range power and torque, higher spec forks, brakes, tires for better handling, upgraded riding modes (Road, Rain and Sport) and higher-spec ABS and LED lighting with daytime running headlight for improved safety.
The bike's looks also got a minor facelift. It now sports new 12-spoke wheels, brushed stainless steel pipes, anodized headlight and mudguard mounts and streamlined, stripe-y tank graphics.
How does this Triumph ride?
If you have read some of my Indian and Zero motorcycle reviews, you'll know this is easily my favorite question. Because no matter what else a bike has to offer, the feel of the ride, and how the ride makes you feel, is easily the most important and memorable factor. As far as I'm concerned, if you aren't stoked every time you throw a leg over your motorcycle, just daydreaming about the fun that lies ahead, what's the point of owning one?
Without further ado, I can sum up my thoughts on how the Speed Twin rides in six words: it resurrected my love of motorcycling. The reasons why are both personal and technical. On a personal note, it's fascinating to review a Triumph bike because my first and only personal motorcycle hails from this brand. It's a 2014 Bonneville T-100 that has brought me loads of adventure, joy and pain.
The reasons for those first two nouns are obvious — she's a beautiful beast with sweet seat, fender, mirror and lighting mods — while the third results from the fact that city living can be rough on a motorcycle. My bike has endured freezing temperatures, been rained and snowed on, seen multiple covers and un-screwable accessories mysteriously disappear, had all her wires cut, been knocked over multiple times and more.
All the abuse has meant a motorcycle education for me — but also a bike that, like an old dog, doesn't spring into action quite like she used to. So getting back to my six-word synopsis, riding a brand-new Triumph brought all my fledgling moto joy roaring right back... and then some. After all, on a technical level, the new Speed Twin is nearly 20 pounds lighter than that Bonnie, yet boasts a 33 percent bigger engine (1200 cc vs 900cc).
The resulting power-to-weight ratio, combined with some of the upgrades mentioned above, result in one zippy little lane-splitter. I put it through its paces all over the New York metropolitan area and found it impressively nimble to maneuver in and out of traffic at both high and low speeds. Its finest features got perhaps the best possible test when I gave my friend Holly her very first motorcycle ride one balmy Saturday.
I picked her up in Brooklyn and we rode out to Coney Island. The way out was a relatively relaxed jaunt, but on return trip, the bike truly shined. I absolutely had to be somewhere by a certain time... that required me to literally pull out all the stops, with my newbie pillion in tow, on the 20-mile trip back to Manhattan. Holy crap did we cut through the early evening traffic, skirting all sorts of legal lines as we blasted the Belt Parkway and flew up Flushing Avenue, mashed the Manhattan Bridge and crushed Canal Street. Did I make it on time? Yes. Was Holly simultaneously thrilled and convinced I was a cycle-path? Maybe.
The real point is that this bike brought back all the thrills promised by a ride that might look old school, but is loaded with new-school performance features that provide a mighty adrenaline rush far outstripping whatever expectations the approachable price tag ($12,500 base) bring to mind. Most impressive to me was its acceleration at already high speeds. Not every bike — certainly not mine — can quickly leap from 60 miles per hour to 85 when the moment calls for it, but this Speed Twin answered that call without hesitation. Hallelujah.
Anything else stand out?
I would be remiss not to mention a few minor quibbles, of course. The first one is heat. When the Speed Twin really gets fired up, you start to feel that inferno around the shins. It's not dangerous, provided you are wearing pants, but it can cause a ye-ouch moment or two.
Second, and this is highly personal, but the very sporty metal foot pegs are not my proverbial mug of Earl Grey. I favor more substantial pegs that make it easy to stand up on the bike, not only to stretch your legs but to survey the scene when traffic backs up, and that sure is easier on beefier ones like those on my beat-up ol' Bonnie.
Lastly — and this one only really applies to riders who reside in urban areas where the streets can be narrow and the congestion quite tight — I don't love the stock mirrors. They jut out from the ends of the handlebars in a manner that's not exactly optimal for dipping in and out of traffic. I found myself constantly concerned about taking out other vehicles' mirrors, especially on my Coney-to-Chelsea speedrun. No such clipping occurred, thankfully, but my beard may have sprouted a few gray hairs in the process.
All that said, this bike is a bit like a Honda Civic in that it very much lends itself to personalization. Triumph itself offers more than 50 custom accessories spanning everything from seats to grips to head bolt covers, all developed alongside the bike for seamless fitting. That means that just as I have tweaked the crap out of my T-100, you can make the Speed Twin your own — and love it just as irrationally.
What’s it cost?
The base price of the 2022 Triumph Speed Twin is $12,500.
2022 Triumph Speed Twin
Base Price: $12,500
Engine: 1200-cc liquid-cooled transverse parallel twin
Horsepower: 98.6 @ 7250 rpm
Torque: 83 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
EPA Fuel Economy: 41.8 mpg