2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster road test review
The current generation family of Bonnevilles from Triumph has pretty much set new benchmarks in the world of classic motorcycles. Every motorcycle from the family is an interesting blend of retro design, precise engineering and impressive handling. Not surprising then, I came back impressed after riding the newest member of the Bonneville family, the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster in the USA. The bike impressed me with its kind of performance and handling, not to mention the refinement levels, on the open freeways and hills around San Diego in California. And now that the bike has been launched in India, it's time to tell you what it feels like on our roads.
The 2018 Triumph is the newest and seventh member of the current generation Bonneville family
The test bike we were offered by Triumph came fitted with this optional 'Highway' kit that costs an additional Rs 1.23 lakh. It includes a more comfortable rider's seat, a wider pillion seat, pillion backrest with a luggage rack, adjustable touring screens, medium sized panniers with pannier rails and engine crash guards, all of which add to the bike's classic looks immensely. The Bonneville Speedmaster looks stunning in stock trim itself thanks to its retro-cool design, the smooth, clean lines all round as also the high level of finishing for the paint and metal parts. With its mix of black and chrome, the all-LED headlight and fat front tyre the Speedmaster turned quite a few heads on the road, more so thanks to the accessory kit. There's a 'Maverick' kit on offer apart from the Highway kit as well, though it will suit the taste buds of custom bike builders better with its single seat and custom bits.
The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster comes with an optional accessory kit called the 'Highway' kit which includes an adjustable windscreen, panniers and more
The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has a flat, wide handlebar that's comfortable in city and on the highway as well, but its angle towards the ends makes it slightly awkward when opening the throttle fully
The optional seat that's a part of the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster's Highway kit makes it more comfortable to sit on, while providing adequate support to the rider's tail bone
The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster's instrument cluster is the same single pod unit we've seen on other Bonnevilles and offers good amounts of information while looking well integrated
Engine and performance
One major reason why I was impressed with the Bonneville Speedmaster during my first ride was the bike's engine. The liquid-cooled, 1200cc parallel-twin engine boasts a strong bottom-end punch, which makes for some serious acceleration off the line. The Speedmaster accelerated from 0-100kmph in a scant 5.2 seconds in our VBOX tests, which is really quick for a cruiser weighing over 260kg! The engine's refinement is what adds to the bike's likeable feel, as there was nary a moment when the engine felt stressed, even during full-bore acceleration runs.
The 1200cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine powering the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster makes for brisk acceleration - the bike managed the 0-100kmph run in 5.2 seconds in our acceleration test!
The engine offers lots of torque on the go, thereby ensuring gear changes are minimal. The beauty of the Speedmaster's engine clearly is the way it puts its 77PS and 106Nm down which along with the light clutch action at the lever and the light and precise gear changes makes the bike a lot more likeable on the highway than you would imagine a cruiser to be. Covering distances rapidly is thus no mean feat for this British motorcycle. What's even more impressive is how easy the bike is to ride in traffic, thanks to the strong performance at low revs, coupled with the gearing.
The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster's engine is tuned to offer likeable performance in city traffic as well as open highways
Riding through peak hour traffic in Mumbai was thus a breeze, also thanks to the fact that at no point did the engine threaten to roast my legs. Full marks to Triumph for getting the powertrain right, since typically cruisers tend to despise our riding conditions and are not very friendly to ride in traffic. For those interested, fuel efficiency is a decent 14.22kmpl in the city and 17.75kmpl on the highway. The tank capacity of 12 litres might be slightly disappointing for some though, since effectively you will need to plan fuel stops at regular intervals when riding distances.
Ride and handling
Belonging to the Bonneville family, the Speedmaster impresses with its handling and is an eager beaver unlike traditional cruisers. The front end feels surprisingly light and nimble, while the chassis allows you to lean into corners quickly. And therein lies the problem. The Speedmaster's low ground clearance and low set footpegs are really quick to dig into tarmac and hold the bike back from offering its full potential around corners. I say so, since the ability of the chassis aside, the Avon Cobra tyres, well set suspension and 1510mm wheelbase make for a confident and planted feel but the low clearance really sticks out like a sore thumb.
The Triumph Bonneville family has always known to boast impressive handling abilities and the Speedmaster is no different, offering a sporty and confident feel, unlike most traditional cruisers
In fact, even the side stand was scraping when the bike was leaned to the left and thus hard cornering on the Speedmaster is a strict no-no. I was also impressed with how well the suspension managed broken roads. There were several bumps and potholes where I was expecting the front forks to bottom out and transfer some of the impact to my arms but that didn't happen. The suspension soaked up almost everything the roads threw at the bike, taking them with aplomb.
The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster's low ground clearance limits its cornering abilities, and in fact it is easy to scrape the side stand when leaning to the left
The rear monoshock that's neatly hidden from view did a good job of damping impacts as well, which along with the plusher feel from the optional seat made sure I was comfortable. In fact, I was able to ride the bike for a couple of hours without any discomfort, which speaks a lot about the bike's comfort. Bite from the brakes is decent, though throwing the anchors from high speeds makes for a slightly jittery feel. On the whole, the Speedmaster's ride and handling package is thus a well-rounded one.
Our country's eternal love for cruisers has had Triumph launch cruisers prior to the Bonneville Speedmaster as well, like the Thunderbird LT, which offered a similar feel. The Speedmaster is a well-mannered cruiser that is engaging to ride, irrespective of whether you're munching miles on highways or trying to slice through traffic. The engine adds to the bike's impressive feel with its performance and refinement levels both. In fact, the past couple of years have seen Triumph hit the nail on its head in the powertrain department, and the Bonneville Speedmaster is yet another example.
Like its siblings, the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster is a friendly, easy to ride and comfortable motorcycle thats at ease being ridden in various environments
The bike is priced at Rs 11.11 lakh ex-showroom which sounds enticing for someone wanting a relatively lightweight, easy to ride cruiser motorcycle. The Bonneville Speedmaster faces off against bikes like the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom and the Indian Scout. Given that both bikes come from traditional American cruiser makers it should be interesting to see how the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster fares against them, though on its own, it is a really affable motorcycle if you like cruisers.