Driving report Triumph Speed Four
The second chance
Everyone deserves it. Has Triumph solved the problems with its 600cc four-cylinder? First driving impressions of the Speed Four from Spain.
No camouflaging and deceiving, instead sober self-criticism: “The top performance characteristics of the TT 600 have been the problem so far,” says Ross Clifford, Marketing Director at Triumph.
The Speed Four, the naked bike based on the TT 600, should now do everything better. Much better. Says triumph. Sure, of course. And the famous English food now also tastes great, the beer is no longer warm and stale, and the weather on the island is now always nice and sunny.
Cartagena, southern Spain. The chance of sun is actually good. Not on March 16, 2002. Triumph Speed Four’s day of truth. Now there are no more excuses. Mount up. One to one TT 600 ergonomics. Compact sitting position, but not uncomfortable, as it should be for a classic, undisguised sports motorcycle. A quick press on the electric starter, the four–cylinder wakes up, runs smoothly and without grumbling. Shift into gear, drive off. Just because. The engine looks like it has been replaced. After a short warm-up phase, the Spanish tour guide chooses a refreshingly quick driving style. Quickly quilted through the easy and clean shifting gears, the foot instinctively searches for the next higher gear. Nothing. There are only six. Nice trick, the resourceful English shortened the translation. No, the Triumph technicians swear sacred oaths: 100 percent TT 600, no more tiny teeth on the sprocket.
All the more amazing how the engine starts. From as little as 5000 rpm it pushes off with full force, accelerates more gently, and the load change reactions are smoother than with its fully wired sister. It all feels like a healthy 98 PS (72 kW). Subjectively, the Triumph engine reminds one of the engine of the Yamaha YZF 600 R Thundercat, much praised for its punch in the middle speed range. It’s great how the changes to the Speed Four engine work. Triumph used, among other things, new camshafts, which ensure tamer control times, changed the map of the ignition box and lengthened the intake trumpets of cylinders two and three by ten millimeters. A larger piston pin misalignment contributes to smoother running, but the engine doesn’t appear softened.
The landing gear? Outstanding. Unsurprisingly, it also comes from the TT 600. Without compromises. In the last 600 series comparison test (issue 6/2001), the Triumph was way ahead. The well-coordinated Kayaba spring elements offer a practical, extremely usable adjustment range. A fine compromise between stability and comfort for the country road can be found quickly. The Speed Four then shows its true qualities on the tricky Cartagena racetrack. Where many of their cheaper naked bike competitors quickly reach their limits, the fun with the unconventionally styled Englishwoman really begins. Two or three clicks more compression and rebound damping, and a passable set-up for happy gazing emerges. Time and again the Speed Four impresses with its maneuverability, even at high speed it can be turned precisely. A praise for the choice of the first tires: the Bridgestone BT 010 harmonizes perfectly with the English woman. Your braking system is one of the best that is currently available in the 600 supersport league. Exactly the right mixture of bite and dosage, it only requires little hand strength. The Speed Four is not stressful in the least. It shines with a casual drivability, gives you enough time to concentrate on the line and to hone your own style. The engine‘s willingness to perform is also impressive on the racetrack. Although the four-cylinder bite over 11,000 rpm is not as greedy as a Yamaha YZF-R6 or a Suzuki GSX-R 600, with its newly gained thrust from 7,000 rpm, you can make a lot of meters from the apex of the curve.
W.How well the miraculous healing of the “English patient” really succeeded can only be shown by a detailed top test in Germany. Must all Triumph fans ?? and those who want to become one? unfortunately wait a little longer. A major fire at the Hinckley plant paralyzed the production of the Speed Four, which had just started, for an indefinite period of time.
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