2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Power is the name of the game with the 2006 Triumph Speed Triple 1050. Not quite “ultimate” power. Probably not “supreme” power. But “serious” power for sure. Particularly compared to the last few motorcycles I’ve owned and my current “other bike,” a 1999 Kawasaki KLR650.

I came to own this particular Speed Triple in a very roundabout sort of way. It all started with that 2006 Ducati Multistrada 620 and the decision to sell it that I made after owning it for less than two years (and a couple thousand dollars worth of farkles–don’t tell my wife).

After the Multistrada, I picked up a 2000 Triumph Thunderbird Sport, sold that after a few months to buy a 2005 Ural Gear Up, rode that through the summer (and my wife’s unfortunate playground incident), then sold the Gear Up and bought a 2005 MV Agusta Brutale (beautiful bike) and finally–after realizing that the Brutale was, well, brutal, I found a local guy who wanted to trade me the Brutale for his (now my) Speed Triple.

Acquiring the bike was sort of like that seven degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon game that people play. Except this was only five degrees of separation, I guess.

I’d been interested in owning a Speed Triple since I was stationed in Naples, Italy. I encountered one at a horse show my wife was participating in. Having just parked my own ’97 Ducati Monster nearby, I spied the Speed Triple and swooped in for a closer look. I remember circling the bike, taking in all the details–especially the bug-eye headlights and single-sided swingarm (I have a thing for single-sided swingarms). I think that bike in Italy was probably a second or third generation Speed Triple. I was in lust, but had a cool bike at the time and no desire to swap.

Now that the I finally have a Speed Triple in the garage, I’ve put about 700 miles on the odometer and I’m beginning to really enjoy riding her. Being a completely naked bike, there’s no wind protection when I’m riding down the highway, but the flip side is that there’s also no weird buffeting–at least none created by the bike. Most of the time I find the wind blast at highway speeds to be silky smooth (even in heavier winds). That alone makes it much quieter and easier to ride long distances than my KLR650–even with the Titanium cans I’ve installed.

And speaking of Titanium cans, I’d always heard that a triple with a good set of cans sounded amazing. Being a sucker for a good sounding bike, I had to find a good set of cans shortly after Speedy came to live with me. The Leo Vinces make the triple’s growl much deeper–at speed and especially under load. I can feel the sound in my chest and frankly, it kicks ass.

It isn’t necessarily my favorite motorcycle sound. No, that would be about any modern Ducati with a nice set of cans. Just behind that would be the MV Agusta Brutale I owned for about a minute. But the triple is cool–especially under load–and not too loud to be annoying while riding. It just sounds…powerful.

Mirrors. Mirrors. Mirrors. Why oh why do manufacturers put such crappy mirrors on motorcycles. Is it really that hard to put mirrors on a bike that actually work? Ducati managed it on their GT1000 and Hypermotard (even though the Hyper’s mirrors make it a bit wide)–though I haven’t seen good ones on a Duc since then. Apparently it’s hard for Triumph. I was looking at an early marketing image of the Speed Triple 1050 and realized why–it wasn’t designed with mirrors in mind. All the early photos I can find have no mirrors in fact. Hmmmmmm…hello CRG hindsights. Much better.

On to the fun stuff…engine, brakes, suspension. Power, power and more power. Not ultimate or supreme power, but really good power. Very usable power. Yummy power.

Speedy’s motor is (to quote various moto mags) a torque monster. According to Bikez.com, the 2006 Speed Triple’s motor is good for 130 horsepower and 77 foot-pounds of torque and that’s far more than any other bike I’ve ever owned. There’s so much power everywhere in the rev range that it’s almost too easy to ride. Pick a gear–any gear–and twist the throttle and you get a steady stream of power. Your choice of gear and enthusiasm for the throttle determine the rate at which power builds. This is great fun in a set of twisties since you don’t have to work the gears at all to maintain a sporting pace…which makes it easy to focus on cornering lines and effective use of brakes.

And oh, what brakes.

One finger squeeze = good power. Two finger squeeze = great power. Two finger panic squeeze = check underpants after you get the rear wheel back on the ground.

Even better than power, though, is the great feel at the lever. Speedy’s brakes are easily the best ever to live in my garage–and only second best to the mega-powerful Brembo monoblocs fitted to Ducati’s Streetfighter and Hypermotard S–both of which I’ve been privileged to test ride (and lucky enough to avoid binning while testing).

The last performance item, suspension, is a mixed bag with the Speed Triple. It’s good and powerful (not sure that’s the right term for suspension, but hey, it’s my blog, so I’m using it). Tires stay planted on the pavement in a good way and there’s lots of confidence-inspiring feedback, but it’s a bit harsh on some of the nastier frost-heave afflicted tarmac in Central Oregon. It’s miles ahead of the Brutale in terms of comfort, though, and will easily get me all the places I need to go in relative comfort–all while providing a confidence inspiring ride.

Overall, I’m very pleased with my 2006 Triumph Speed Triple and look forward to spending many more quality miles with her.

Here’s another gratuitous shot near Smith Rock to finish up my review.