From its new chassis and bodywork to the modified new
generation Daytona engine, the 2002 Speed Triple takes the concept of the
factory streetfighter to new levels. The Speed Triple now offers more
performance than any similar machine with arresting styling unlike any other
production bike. There’s more power – up by 10bhp to a punchy 120bhp -
aggressive new curves from revised bodywork while the handling is as agile
and responsive as ever.
Derived from the new
955cc Daytona 955I motor, the Speed Triple’s powerplant now runs cooler and
produces comfortably more power than its predecessor. With high-pressure
die-cast crankcases for strength and lightness, the DOHC 12-valve
liquid-cooled engine’s new cylinder head contains 1mm larger inlet valves
and 1mm smaller exhaust valves, set at a narrower included angle. Both inlet
and exhaust ports are redesigned for better gas flow and the new cast
pistons run in steel liners. The compression ratio is raised from 11.2:1 to
12:1 while crankcase breathing is revised to minimize power loss.
A larger, reshaped airbox feeds the new closed-loop
fuel injection system, which features smaller, lighter injectors. The
closed-loop system features an oxygen sensor that monitors and adjusts the
air: fuel ratio at varying engine speeds to optimize engine performance,
while compact, light plug-top ignition coils provide high intensity sparks.
The injection mapping is tuned for effortless mid-range torque.
As with the new Daytona 955i engine, the alternator is
now located on the left-hand end of the crankshaft and the starter motor
drive is located on the right. This layout, reduces noise, especially at
idle as it eliminates the need for a gear train to drive the alternator. A
revised claw-type gear-change mechanism gives a much smoother and more
positive shift action.
The exhaust system has new headers and a new silencer.
For the German and Californian markets a secondary air injection system is
fitted to minimize emissions.
Cooling and lubrication systems have been revised with
new circuits for coolant and oil. The radiator uses a thinner core, which
increases efficiency without adding size or weight. The new engine is a
substantial 2.5kg lighter than its predecessor.
The new chassis is also lighter, more agile and
Wheelbase is reduced by 11mm to 1429mm, steering
geometry is steepened for increased agility with rake and trail figures of
23.5 degrees and 84mm (previously 24 degrees and 86mm). The rear of the bike
is raised to increase ground clearance, which at the same time accentuates
the aggressive stance of the new machine.
A new lightweight 17-inch front wheel (same as on the
TT600) saves 450g of unsprung weight and further improves steering response.
The tubular aluminum frame has been revised and a new rear subframe has been
Showa 45mm diameter forks with dual-rate springs and
multi-adjustable damping take care of the front suspension, whilst at the
rear the single-sided swingarm and multi-adjustable rear shock are retained.
The front brake discs are now secured by five instead
of six mounting bolts but are the same combination of 320mm floating discs
and four-piston calipers fitted to the 955i. The rear brake is unchanged.
Available in Neon Blue, Jet Black and the adventurous
Nuclear Red, the Speed Triple bodywork has been restyled for a lean, mean,
aggressive look. And the new panels are now molded in-house at Hinckley. The
twin headlights are moved closer together for a slimmer, meaner frontal
aspect and a new lightweight, slimline digital instrument console mounted on
an aluminum subframe cleans up the new front end look even further.
Faster, slimmer, more agile and with its kicked-up
tail and new bodywork, the Speed Triple looks even more individualistic and
aggressive than ever.
*Second-generation fuel-injected engine delivering
120bhp and masses of midrange torque.
*Closed loop fuel injection system for clean-burning, responsive
*Revised chassis with shorter wheelbase, sharper steering geometry and
raised rear ride height.
*Restyled bodywork, digital instruments and more compact twin-headlight
*7kg lighter than last year’s model at 189kg
Naked and nasty: The Triumph Speed Triple has been
inspiring hooliganesque behavior since its introduction in 1994 when Triumph
returned to these shores. Eight years on and Mr. Speed continues to proudly wear
the black hat as one of the bad boys in motorcycledom.
You can see that the Speed Triple is a bad-ass from the moment you encounter it,
especially in the black version like our test bike. Other than the unique
aluminum tube frame, silver wheels and polished exhaust pipe, the wicked-looking
Triumph wears an all-black suit, accented by the multitudinous silver engine
cover bolts. If it were a person, the Speed Triple would be a cross between
Johnny Cash and Robocop.
Not only does the menacing Trumpet look the part, it also makes the rider join
in on the nefarious mood as soon as it's straddled. The aggressive forward
riding position immediately puts the rider ready for action, kinda like a sumo
wrestler's crouch. The supple seat narrows greatly near the tank, providing
shorter legs a straight shot at the ground from the 32.1-inch seat height.
You'll be appreciating the large seat step when the front wheel of this
villainous machine inevitably climbs skyward.
And the sonorous three-cylinder engine has the beans to stunt all day. The 955cc
mill was upgraded in 2002, going from sand-cast crankcases to pressure-cast
bits, combining with reduced reciprocating mass to result in a 12-pound weight
loss. A bump of compression to 12.0:1 ups the claimed horsepower from 108 to 118
hp. We saw just over 110 horsepower at the bike's fat, 190-series rear tire.
A curvy tubular frame showcases the blacked-out three-cylinder that is the
centerpiece of the Speed Triple.Cold starts don't require a choke thanks to the
electronic manipulation of the intake charge from the fuel-injection system. The
revised engine doesn't have as loud of a diesel-like clatter at idle compared to
older Triumphs, and changes have been made to improve cooling for better
The bike's most glaring imperfection makes itself known at takeoff: Fluffy
fueling below 3000 rpm necessitates a fair amount of clutch slipping when
starting from a stop. The most vivid demonstration of this condition can be
found during low-speed roll-ons in first gear. Crack the throttle open with 17
mph showing on the digital speedo and not much happens. But once the numbers
flash 22 mph you better be hanging on tight because the front wheel is coming
off the ground as surely as a sunrise.
Triumph says the Speed Triple received a new gearchange mechanism in its 6-speed
transmission for 2002, and indeed shifting is low-effort and smooth when not
rushed. But notchiness and imprecise cog swapping emerge when doing your Angelle
Other than that low-rpm glitch, the howling Triple is a real gem. Power builds
steadily until about 5000 rpm when the nylon fuel tank cover begins to shiver
between your legs from the vibes below, providing warning that the hammer is
cocked and ready to fire. As the three-pot sound begins to deliciously wrap
around itself, a snappy midrange pull launches the bike in a manner unlike a
common Four or Twin.
The Speed Triple really gets the job done on the street, but the bug-eyed wonder
isn't above doing some hot laps at a trackday.It has to be said that the tune a
three-cylinder bike like the Speed Triple sings is music to gearhead ears.
Imagine a high-pitched Porsche Flat-Six racing motor cut in half and you'd be
close. The delectable tone practically begs to be uncorked with a louder exhaust
At nearly 460 pounds on our scales with its 5.5-gallon fuel tank filled, the
Speed Triple isn't light but it's certainly not lardy. And the sensation of mass
disappears once the paddling ends. The high-leverage high handlebar helps, of
course, but it's more than that. As of '02, the Trip got sharper steering with
the 45mm fork losing half a degree of rake to 23.5 degrees and its wheelbase was
cut by 11mm to 1429mm (56.3 inches). Whether tooling between cars in traffic or
cutting up the canyons out of town, the black meanie never falls behind your
The 17-inch wheels are well-damped by the Speed Triple's suspension, fully
adjustable at both ends. It sucks up small bumps really well, and road
imperfections that made me cringe in anticipation gave far less a jolt than
expected. Supple if not quite Ohlins-plush.
Smooth as it is, the Speed Triple is no highway hauler. With nothing but those
bitchin' dual, round headlights blocking the wind, you'll appreciate the
forward-leaning riding position. After about 250 miles of watching highway
scenery pass by in the reflection from the bugeye's chrome shells, your neck
will feel like it had spent a day in a freshman chiropractor class. Your ass
won't be doing too well, either, as Dr. Velocity's seat doesn't offer much
support. While we've got the full-bore whining in top gear, let's also complain
about the short seat-to-peg relationship that'll cramp wimpier legs.
Whaddaya lookin' at? The Speed Triple's dual round headlights give it an
unmistakable crazy-eye look. There's not too much stopping the pegs from being
lowered, either, as we found out when testing sticky Pirelli Diablos at
Buttonwillow racetrack. Another of the '02 changes was an increase in rear ride
height for added ground clearance, and there's plenty for all but the looniest
street riders. Even with the greater corner speed a closed track can allow, you
should begin to think about putting numbers on your bike if you're regularly
grinding hard parts on the Triumph.
The Pirellis actually have more grip than the Speed Triple's chassis can handle.
When you feel the rear tire dig in under the Triple's big midrange pull out of
slower corners, the motocross bars you're holding might be calling out for a
trip down to Steering Dampers 'R' Us. The Triple's responsive steering that is
so much a boon in most situations comes at a cost; it can also get a mite
unstable at serious speed. Keep it off the track and under a-buck-twenty and
you'll be fine. Backed down a notch, you'll be enjoying its neutral steering
qualities, even with the big 190 on the back rather than a 180-series that makes
many bikes steer sweeter.
We've been impressed with Triumph brakes in the past, so we were a bit surprised
to find the front brake lever come back to the bar after a 30-minute abuse
session on the racetrack. The 4-piston caliper, 320mm disc brakes are usually
quite stellar, even on the track, so we suspect our well-used press bike just
needed fresh fluid and a bleeding.
In virtually all street environments, the sinister Speed Triple will almost
always have a grinning rider aboard. Unlike several other naked bikes, the $8890
Triumph has personality oozing out of its engine cases.
Like a couple of junkyard dogs, Duke and the Speed Triple are both formidable
opponents for anyone who dares step up to the challenge.It kind of reminds me of
a guy I used to know in high school. He was a bit of a flake and would often say
inappropriate things in conversation, but he never failed to evoke laughter and
had a loyal following among the rebels at school. Embodied as a person, the
Speed Triple would be shooting bottle rockets out of cars, throwing snowballs at
girls and sitting in the back row of the classroom making snide comments about
Nice people should stay away from this bike. It will entice you to do bad
As for me, a guy who learned what the word boisterous meant because my
third-grade teacher wrote it on my report card, this raucous scooter is right up
my dimly lit alley.