If anyone asks you to name a dog primarily from England, what would you say? British Bulldog probably? A powerful, adorable, squat animal that people associate with the British Union Jack more than anything else, right? Now, if you had to combine the attributes of mentioned mutt with any motorcycle what would you choose? Yes of course you would –the Triumph Speed Triple.
It’s been around since 1994, the bike not the dog, and it has attracted a huge cult status throughout the world, for many reasons; naked, aggressive and always willing to put a smile on your face, and the same goes for the Speed Triple as well. But enough of four legs and incessant drooling let’s get into this new 2018/19 1050 RS.
Let me first get the bad news out of the way; this RS version costs R214,000 and an extra 5k if you require the ‘both ways’ quick-shifter to be fitted as well. Now that’s a lot of dosh in anyone’s books for a naked bike but why is this so you ask? Well basically it’s the most advanced, high-tech, posh and well-finished Speed Triple ever made, riddled with the world’s best components, so there! If you want the ultimate in any field, it’ll never come cheap and neither does this motorcycle.
So, what are these expensive parts? Ohlins NIX30 43mm front fork and Ohlins TTX36 rear shock, as used by everyone in our National Superbike race series (worth around 40k alone), and Brembo mono-bloc callipers and discs to match. There’re also carbon parts all over, a red stitched pillion seat and race cowl to convert into a single seat, a matching headlight cowl and tinted screen, plus two posh Arrow silencers, so you don’t need to buy those. You’ll also notice, or not, new lightweight and rather splendid wheels. Then there’s the new engine and electronics package…
Triumph says 105 changes are inside the wrinkly finished black crankcases and I’m most certainly not going to name them, but I’ll reduce the list to a few. New Nikasil cylinder liners, new lighter crank, new pistons, new cams and cylinder head they sit in, revised gearbox and slipper clutch and the list goes on. Capacity stays the same at 1050cc and the outcome is 10hp more than the 2017 model up to 150hp@10,500 and 4% more torque, up to 117Nm@7,150rpm, and the engine revs higher by 1,000rpm with all the new lightweight internals.
Then we have the new electronics package, which is more than enough to entertain anyone who loves jabbing buttons and setting parametres. A bit confusing at first but after a few days it’s relatively simple and everything is relayed to the rider from the new 5-inch full colour TFT dash. Five power modes, traction control, cornering ABS, keyless ignition, track mode, cruise control (not sure on that one), but tons of stuff to fiddle with in your garage before your ride begins.
To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of all this electronic intervention so I always selected ‘Stig’ mode. Find the Stig helmet and then everything can be turned off to keep it ‘real’. However, when the ignition is turned off you’ll have to do it all again, a bit irritating but worth it if you prefer wheelies and wheel spin.
Talking of wheelies, they’re instant from pull off when all the traction control is disabled. Just roll the throttle back and the wheel lifts within a few metres. Or with a bit of clutch action you can easily point the front wheel towards the moon in second gear. Either way it’s a tribute to the Speed Triple RS’s new-found torque. Don’t chase rpm on the RS because it hits the rev-limiter too quickly, a testament to how quickly the revs pick up compared to the previous model. Just enjoy the immense wall of torque, short shift, and be amazed by the speed figures the new ‘TV’ style clock shows you, this is a very quick and effortless motorcycle folks.
Another effortless tribute is, predictably, the handling, which is possibly the best found on any large capacity naked bike. And so, it should be with those suspension parts, especially the rear shock which is magically firm but supple at the same time - Ohlins at its best. Only 189kg is the RS mass with 16 litres of fuel to add to that and admirably the RS turns as quickly as something half its size. A bit like a Bulldog deciding which of two bones it wants to crush when placed in each corner of a room. And this new engine is so smooth and with no vibration it confirms the RS is one special piece of engineering. In fact, it’s now so refined you’d believe that Bentley or Rolls-Royce had something to do with the multitude of changes, maybe they did, they are British (sort of).
To sum up the Speed Triple 1050 RS is easy; an executive Triumph full of excitement and oozing quality and unique styling. It is after all the most advanced Speed Triple to ever be offered, hence the price. So, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning a previous Speed Triple you’ll be slobbering over this, I’m sure. So why not buy one and a matching sturdy Bulldog and have hours of fun dribbling together…
Go to www.triumph-motorcycles.co.za for more information on this bike and to see all the new models for 2019, and to book a highly recommended test ride of course.