MORE speed, more retro and a complete rebuild from the ground up. The 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster has had a total overhaul; from chassis to mechanical, and pretty much every visual angle.
Even the tyre sizes have changed from 18-inch/15-inch to chunky 16 and 16-inch, and the whole silhouette is far more compact. What Triumph has delivered is a powerful, traditional cruiser with a long range capability, perfect for the open road.
Between its effortless and casually enjoyable ride and its beating rebel yell heart, the Bonneville Speedmaster has great bike written all over it. Drop the clutch and embrace its distinct engine character and smile inducing pull.
That smile comes from its 1200cc high-torque engine, a power plant years ahead of its predecessors, delivering a 10 per cent increase in power and torque. That translates to 106Nm of torque and 77hp.
Triumph is also the master of producing user-friendly engines, and there’s not really a lot we can say about the ride-by-wire 1200cc HT that hasn’t already been disseminated. It’s silky smooth – everywhere – and always ready to respond to your command.
There’s a decent rumble and note from the chromed stainless-steel exhaust, and the Speedmaster’s performance and level of spec are way more suited to the open road than pussy footing around in the city.
Get it out on the highway and that strapping engine and slick gearbox – where no encouragement is required at all to slide through the cogs – and willing Brembo brakes (gripping 300mm discs), can take on a more engaging role.
The forward controls fit nicely with the look and feel of the bike, and don’t leave you feeling too cramped or stretched out if you are of average height and build. But the foot pegs scrape when cornering, and that can be an issue.
The indicators on each peg, at more than an inch, seemed a little excessive and inhibiting, and aside from the scraping the bike held stable when throwing it into turns at moderate to high speeds, and performed well under hard braking.
It generally felt nimble and sure footed, and is definitely very comfortable. A more cushioned seat, cruise control, preload-adjustable rear shock, improved 41mm cartridge fork, and a bigger gas tank all ensure more time between stops.
Like most cruiser seats, the saddle locks you into one place, so it isn’t ideal for real aggressive riding, but that’s not what this bike was really designed for. The beach cruiser-style handlebars look great and were nice when we were cruising the roads and highways.
Aesthetically, Triumph knew exactly what it was doing here; the nameplate and scalloped tank which allows you additional grip with your legs, and paint with hand-done pin striping all help maintain the iconic style of the Bonneville.
At the same time it’s vaguely masking that this is an awesome, fully modern engine capable of much more than the originals it pays tribute to. The $19,500 Speedmaster is essentially a fusion of the whole modern classic family.
The most obvious nod to that is the rear end with the swing cage straight from the Bobber handbook. That hard tail look replaces the previous twin shocks, and the Speedmaster has interchangeable twin and single seat setups.
It comes in three liveries; Jet Black, Cranberry Red or Fusion White/Phantom Black and features a five-inch LED headlight, daytime running light, one-touch cruise control, and two riding modes; road, and rain.
Both deliver full power. There’s also traction control and a single clock with an analogue speedo and LCD display. Along with the optional rear fender and pillion setup, there’s a wide range of accessories to diversify the Speedmaster even further.
A tall windshield or waxed canvas bags can take the look one way, while short bars, mid-controls, and a rack that replaces the passenger seat will take it back a couple of steps toward Bobber style.
Back to getting around on this bike though, and if you like to keep your Speedmaster spinning freely with hit-the-stops type acceleration, you probably won’t see much more than 170km between fuel stops.
But plonk it in the true overdrive and you’ll reap the benefits of a miserly Euro 4 engine with well over 200km in ride distance, thanks to its heavenly 12-litre tank. Overall, it’s eager to please, comfortable, competent and willing – but certainly not lacking.
Our 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster was provided by Triumph Australia. To find out more, contact your local Triumph Motorcycles dealer. Pictures supplied.