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The Triumph Speed Triple is a series of motorcycles produced by Triumph Motorcycles. In 1994 the reborn Triumph became one of the earliest adopters of the new streetfighter style. This was essentially a modern sport bike or race replica motorcycle but without the aerodynamic plastic fairing.
The new bike was first released to the public in 1994, and in a nod to the 1938 Speed Twin, was dubbed the "Speed Triple". The original Speed Twin was powered by a 498 cc vertical twin cylinder engine, and was considered a high performance machine in its day. The new Speed Triple was based on the new Triumph Triple series of modular engines, which also powered the standard Trident, Daytona sport bike, and the Thunderbird retro bike. This engine came in two displacements as a triple: 750 cc for some European markets, and 885 cc for all other markets. The Speed Triple originally was equipped only with the 885 cc engine, but just before significant changes to the bike were made in 1997 a very few 750 machines were produced using leftover Euro specification engines.
Early Speed Triples were all carbureted, and were designated T300 series bikes (Technically, T309). 1994/1995 models came with the standard 885 cc water-cooled engine and a rugged five-speed transmission. Subsequent Speed Triples all had the same engine with six speed transmissions, except for the brief run of 750 cc bikes. As with all the modular Triumphs, the T309 series Speed Triple had a very large single steel tube backbone frame, and used the engine as a stressed member. Forks were 43mm multi-adjustable Kayaba units and the same Japanese firm's shock could be set for preload and rebound damping. Kayaba (now known as KYB) had had a special relationship with Hinckley Triumph from its earliest days. At the rear was a single monoshock with a progressive linkage, and at the front were standard hydraulic forks fitted with dual disk brakes.
In 1994 Triumph Motorcycles sponsored a racing series with the intention of spotlighting its new image. Dubbed "The Speed Triple Challenge", it was similar to IROC in that all the competitors rode identical Speed Triple motorcycles. This made up for the fact that in factory trim the Speed Triple wasn't a competitive machine in normal racing circles. On the other hand, a few privateers had some success on highly modified bikes based on the Triumph Triple engine, often using Spondon chassis. Some modified Speed Triples also were observed racing in B.E.A.R.S. (British European American Racing Series, now part of AHMRA).
The final T309 Speed Triple was built in 1996. The newly introduced T595 Daytona was supplied with fuel injection, and the 955 cc engine. The 1997 T509 received the frame, brakes and design of the new Daytona 595, but came with an 885 cc injected engine for '97 and '98. The remainder of the range including the Tbird, Legend, the Adventurer, the Thunderbird Sport, the Tiger,the Sprint and Sprint Sport and the 900 trophy retained the carbureted 885 cc engine.
Following the end of the T309 run of Speed Triples, Triumph released the first of its new generation of fuel injected sportbikes, the T509 Speed Triple. The new bike was a total redesign. While the all new engine still displaced 885 cc, it now produced a claimed 108 hp (81 kW) and was fitted with an engine management system by SAGEM, a French company that built systems for automobiles. The T509 had new aluminium perimeter chassis, a single-sided swingarm, and upgraded suspension components.
The restyling by designers John Mockett and Rod Scivyer saw the introduction of the twin "bug eye" headlamps which are a Triumph trademark to this day. When introduced in 1997 the T509 had a polished frame. It also had low mount clip-ons. To improve rider comfort and low speed handling, a regular handlebar was fitted from 1998.
When the 1997 T509 Speed Triple received the 885 cc fuel injected engine, the Daytona received an upgraded 955 cc engine producing 130 hp (97 kW) at the crank. For 1999 the new Speed Triple was officially upgraded to T595 status, also receiving the bigger engine. Due to tuning differences it did not make as much power as its fully faired contemporary, but it did have a substantially broader torque curve than its T509 predecessor.
Cosmetically, the T509 and the 1999 Speed Triples were nearly identical, and they shared many of the same components including the dual headlamps and single sided swing arm. Minor differences include the removal of the "T509" decal on the rear quarter panel and the addition of a header cross-over pipe. Small fairings referred to as "Bikini Fairings" were popular on these bikes, as well as other aftermarket accessories that wouldn't normally be of use to a fully faired sport bike.
For the years 2000 and 2001 the Speed Triple changed little other than cosmetically. The engine control unit was updated to the Sagem MC2000. Both the Speed Triple and the Daytona came to be referred to as 955i bikes (the Daytona adopting the 955i designation in 1999), which ended some confusion from the earlier T500 series designations. Other notable differences were silver wheels instead of black wheels, and the Speed Triple logo on the rear quarter panel was in print rather than cursive.
In 2002, Gareth Davies redesigned the plastics. The 432 lb (196 kg) was reduced by a change to the engine casings of the 955i engine that decreased weight by roughly 17 pounds. The power was slightly increased thanks to a new cylinder head design. The MC2000 control unit remained, but was adapted for an O2 sensor.
In late 2004, a small number of Special Edition Speed Triples (Speed Triple SE) were produced, with only cosmetic differences.
1050 and beyond
In 2005, Triumph released its fourth generation Speed Triple. While this was not a redesign of the scale of the T509, there were many changes to the bike. The engine was still the venerable and reliable fuel-injected engine used since 1997, but it had been increased in capacity to 1,050 cc. This was accomplished by lengthening the stroke. Also fitted was an all new fuel injection and engine management system made by the Japanese company Keihin. Other engine modifications resulted in a claimed 129 hp (96 kW) and a broader, flatter torque curve.
The design of this new Speed Triple was by the Italian Frascoli Rodolfo.
Other improvements included inverted forks, radial disc brake calipers and a redesigned electronic gauge cluster which included a trip computer. Handling was once again improved.
Late in 2007, a few changes appeared in the Speed Triple, consisting of an updated engine management system and a revised exhaust containing a catalytic converter in a different location. The revised Electronic Control Unit (ECU) had more memory and provided a solution for some starting and low speed fueling issues. A revised metal tank also replaced the plastic unit that had been fitted. For the 2008 model year several changes were made to the bodywork and Italian made Brembo front brakes were supplied as standard.
The new Speed Triple shared its engine with the new Sprint ST and later the 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050, but 2006 was to be the last year of the 955i Daytona. In its place was a new bike, the Daytona 675 . The new Daytona 675 had an all new smaller displacement engine and a completely new modern chassis. It garnered excellent reviews. In November 2007 the same platform was used for the new "Street Triple," which has received excellent reviews such as TWO magazine's choice as Bike of the Year. The two bikes share many of the same styling cues as well as the three cylinder engine configuration and fuel injection. Performance numbers are not too dissimilar, with the Street Triple only falling short in the shape and height of its torque curve.
Triumph celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Speed Triple in 2010 with a limited edition model that features black paint with red trim and a number of optional accessories that were added as standard equipment. The bike also is the first production Triumph to feature the signature of company owner John Bloor, who rescued Triumph from bankruptcy in 1983. According to Triumph, more than 35,000 Speed Triples have been sold since the model was introduced in 1993.
In October 2010, Motor Cycle News published details and a test-ride of a new Speed Triple for 2011. The engine is a tweaked 1050 motor, now yielding 133 bhp (99 kW) and 82 pound force-feet (111 N·m) of torque. The frame is a new alloy tubular design, and the trademark "bug-eyed" headlamps have been reshaped. Kerb weight is 214 kg (472 lb). With a slightly lower seat and less bulk than before, the agile new bike is said to feel "faster, classier, more refined, more comfortable, more modern and ... far easier to use" ((MCN)).
For 2016, Triumph updated several aspects of the bike, including 104 changes to the engine. Ride-by-wire has been added for the first time with 5 ride modes with traction control and ABS that can be turned on or off. The new engine is narrower as well as the smaller more efficient radiator are just some of the new updates. The new Speed Triple has a wet weight of 212 kg (467 lb) and a claimed dry weight of 192 kg (423 lb). Power for the new Speed Triple is a claimed 140 hp (100 kW) @ 9,500 rpm and 82.6 lb·ft (112.0 N·m) @ 7,850 rpm.
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