Bikes & Customs: Interview


Speedmaster surprise

Why is this new custom classic defying expectations?

A laid-back British custom with beach bars isn’t supposed to tackle technical mountain carving, right? At least that’s the normal expectation for a bike of this style. FTR spoke with stuntman Ernie Vigil – a guy who’s used to pushing Speed Triples to their limit – about how the Bonneville Speedmaster has blown the market wide open.

“It’s a blast,” Ernie states, just before he heads out for another ride on Palomar Mountain’s switchback-covered slopes. “I’ve been leading the press rides all week here in San Diego and I’ve found out a lot of things about this motorcycle I really didn’t expect.”

Tackling the twisties

The Palomar Mountain roads are a destination for sport bikes looking for a technical challenge right across California, but Triumph decided it would be the perfect setting for the Speedmaster press route.

“Twists and turns, fast sections, slow sections, Palomar has got it all,” Ernie explains. “This bike really takes it in its stride.

“To be honest with you I’m quite surprised. I usually ride a Street Twin and a Bonneville T120 for my everyday rides. The Speedmaster has a completely different feel – it’s got a true cruiser riding style – but it is just so agile.

“For a bike like this, the handling is incredible. It reacts quickly, it’s well-balanced and the weight is down low, so it feels light. It really responds to rider input. Many of the journalists we’ve been taking out have been reacting to how nimble it feels.”

Pulling power

“That 1200 has all the torque you could ever want – it’s similar to the Bobber as it shares the same engine. Really good low-end run with very linear power and a low-end pull. It’s a friendly motor. It’s got more than 40% of the power of the previous Speedmaster  – you can really feel it.”

Comfort counts

A sculpted seat paired with relaxed riding position have been made for long-distance comfort. Ernie’s been covering 160-mile days and can attest for its design: “We’ve been riding long distances for nine days and I’m not sore at all. I thought the beach bars would look cool but not be too comfortable. I shouldn’t have worried as they’re far enough back that you’re not hunched forward.”

Did the press like it?

“Some of the guys who are really good riders and pushed the bikes to their limits. By the end of the day they just wanted to keep going. There are also a number of new riders who described the Bonneville Speedmaster as easy to handle. Everyone agreed that this bike could be ridden confidently at a pretty fast pace.

“It’s one of those bikes that is completely the opposite of what you thought. That’s always a good thing. You really can ride this thing harder than most motorcycles of this size. It also has a crazy amount of configurations – you can personalise these things to an amazing level. The power, handling and customisation combine to make this bike something truly unique in the market.”

Create your own unique Bonneville Speedmaster with the Triumph configurator.