Bike to the future: The Triumph Speed Triple would have gone down a storm at the old Ace Cafe, says Roland Brown

The recent news that Triumph has won planning permission for a new and larger factory near its present home has not pleased all the neighbours in Hinckley, but it is a big boost for the fast-expanding Leicestershire firm. Five years ago, Britain barely had a motorcycle industry. This year Triumph intends to build 8,500 motorcycles, three-quarters of them for export, with a 50 per cent increase planned for 1995.

Central to the firm's success, in both the home and export markets, has been its ability to produce modern, well made bikes with a distinct image and a sense of tradition. Its first two models were four-cylinder machines which, although very competent, were regarded by many as 'too Japanese'. The three-cylinder models that followed, with an engine layout echoing that of the famous 750cc Trident of the Seventies, were more distinctive and more popular.

Triumph has played the nostalgia card again with the Speed Triple, one of two newcomers that bring to eight the total of three-cylinder models in the range. The Speed Triple's name recalls a famous old Triumph, the 500cc Speed Twin of 1937. And the new bike is a lean, unfaired machine whose appearance and low 'Ace' handlebars bring to mind the days of rockers, black leather jackets, twin-cylinder Triumphs and the Ace Cafe, a famous old motorcyclists' meeting-place on London's North Circular Road.

Like all other modern Triumphs, the Speed Triple is built using the modular concept - by which numerous components are shared with other models. Its watercooled, 885cc twin-camshaft engine is the 97bhp unit that powers four other bikes, differing only in that it has five gears not six.

Triumph's trademark steel-spine frame is used for all its new bikes, and the Speed Triple also offers most of the top-specification components available in the company's modules. Front forks are multi-adjustable units from Kayaba, the Japanese firm that makes all Triumph's suspension parts. Other up-market components include the large front-brake discs (with sophisticated four-piston calipers) and 17in wheels fitted with low-profile radial tyres.

The Triple's low handlebars and exposed, black-finished engine combine with styling borrowed from the Daytona sportster to make an attractive machine. Bikes without weather protection are often not much fun in winter, but although the Triumph's low bars put too much weight on the rider's wrists in town, the wind-cheating riding position is well suited to cold days and higher speeds.

The Speed Triple certainly lives up to its name, thanks mainly to the supremely responsive motor. By superbike standards the machine's top speed of about 130mph is unremarkable, but the Triumph scores with outstanding smoothness and flexibility; the sixth gear is not missed at all.

Although (like other Triumphs) the Triple is tall and, at 460lb, rather heavy, the handling is very good. Its rigid frame combines with sophisticated suspension to give agile cornering without compromising high-speed stability. Its fat Michelin tyres are very grippy, and the brakes equally impressive. For everyday use the Triple is reasonably practical, its lack of luxuries and luggage capacity offset by a generous fuel range, comfortable seat and good standard of finish.

Its performance would have impressed the Triumph-riding regulars of the Ace Cafe back in the Sixties, when even the fastest bikes had half as much power. The Ace is now a car-tyre depot, barely recognisable from the nights when up to 1,000 motorcyclists would gather there. Then, a favourite trick was to put a record on the jukebox and to roar off in an attempt to complete a predetermined 3.5-mile 'lap' before the song had finished.

Heavy traffic, roadworks and a change in the North Circular route meant that my attempt to trace the old circuit took much longer, despite the new bike's extra speed and sophistication. Even so, the charismatic Triple evoked some of the spirit of those days. At pounds 7,499 it is among the less expensive Triumph models and its simplicity, looks and performance make an attractive combination.

(Photograph omitted)

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam