Torqueing Heads: Talking Motorbikes

Ep6 - 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS

January 26, 2021 Bennetts BikeSocial Season 1 Episode 6
Torqueing Heads: Talking Motorbikes
Ep6 - 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS
Show Notes Transcript

Exclusive interview as Michael Mann asks Triumph's Chief Engineer, Stuart Wood, about the heavily updated 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS. The entire bike is new from engine capacity to gearbox ratios, chassis, riding position, and most importantly the power-to-weight increase of 26% over the previous generation (2018). 177bhp vs. 198kg (wet). You can even hear the 3-cylinder motor in action too!

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS (2021) Reveal

Michael Mann: [00:00:00] Well, Trump might be out, but Triumph is still very much in! Hello and welcome, I'm Michael Mann for Bennetts BikeSocial, and I'm here at Triumph UK's headquarters. Why? Well, I'm here to get all the details about the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS. Coming right up we're gonna get all the details from Chief Engineer, Stuart Wood. We might even get to hear it as well, this glorious new triple. You can watch this on YouTube on a video, or you can hear it as a podcast in our new Torqueing Heads series. Alright, stick with us...

Stuart, thank you so much for inviting us down here to have a look to touch, to feel, to sit on. Maybe even to hear you never know, but that was great, but yeah, it's great to see it in all the details, so thank you first of all for that. 

But the Speed Triple it's got, it's got quite a family tree, hasn't it? I think '94 was the first one, so what's that - 27 odd years of growth. But this generation, has it got kind of design or is it influenced by the original in any way? 

Stuart Wood: [00:01:23] Well, this is such a long history, and it's such a, been such a well-received bike that it does have influence on this bike, of course. We wanted to make sure the bike was appealing to our existing Speed Triple customers, and taking it further for others who may not have considered Speed Triple before. But you can go all the way back to '94, we've got a very strong bloodline first factory streetfighter - really, well-received, always exciting, always a little bit edgy, always about torque, response and character. So always a fun bike to ride. Fabulous. And yeah, just puts a smile on your face. 

Michael Mann: [00:02:04] And it's always very iconic with its, with its look specifically, I think from the second generation onwards - about '97, but I guess, you know, you've clearly kept some of those, some of those design features, except for those the twin under-seat exhausts have gone down, we've got the single-sided sort of low slung version, which I guess makes this the 2021 version a bit more easy to spot. 

Stuart Wood: [00:02:25] Okay, well, it's, it's an evolution, obviously. It's not the same bike. It's a completely brand new bike. Every component is new - engine and chassis. So part of the evolution is the way the bike looks and part is the way it performs. So we've focused on giving the bike more agility, more precision, much easier to ride but a lot more performance.

And one of the things that will give that is to focus on mass centralisation. And part of that is bringing the exhaust system to the centre of the bike. 

Michael Mann: [00:02:58] And that's Euro5 related as well, perhaps?

Stuart Wood: [00:03:00] Um, not specifically, no Euro5 we can deal with, with many exhaust configurations. It is about the performance and the handling.

Michael Mann: [00:03:08] Okay. I guess one of the headline figures for this new model is power-to-weight, right? So you've, you've reduced weight by a significant amount and also increased power while you're at it. Do you want to talk through the, sort of the, the details around that? 

Stuart Wood: [00:03:18] Okay. Well, that's, that's huge: 10 kilogram mass reduction for the whole bike.

Power-to-weight ratio improvement of 26% over the last generation. Absolutely. Just over the last generation. That was the highest performance Speed Triple to date. So we've got 180 PS, which is phenomenal performance, but retaining all that torque and response. Okay. So we keep all the character of the engine we've reduced the mass; wet weight is now 198 kilograms, and that gives you far more performance, but all manageable. Okay. It's an easy bike to ride, even though it's got all that performance, you can ride it on the torque or you can use all the power. 

Michael Mann: [00:04:01] So 180 PS is about 177 brake horse power. Isn't it? 

Stuart Wood: [00:04:05] That's right.

Michael Mann: [00:04:05] And does it make it right at the top, is peak powers is, is just over 10,000, I think? 

Stuart Wood: [00:04:10] Yeah. 10,750 RPM. Um, so it's, it's slightly up on the previous generation, that Speed, but it is absolutely gorgeous, you get even more of that sort of that triple sort of howl that the top end. 

Michael Mann: [00:04:23] And of course, it's going to want to love, it's going to want to be revved, isn't it?It's going to be, you know, you want to, you want to, as a rider, you want to hear it. You want to get all the way up to 10,000... 

Stuart Wood: [00:04:30] Absolutely, absolutely. It's the character of the bike runs all the way through. I said, we've added so much more performance that like, and yeah, absolutely, absolutely fantastic... 

Michael Mann: [00:04:41] And torque's up as well, so that helps with that boost and the way that the three cylinders will get all the way through that torque range, won't it, with performance?

Stuart Wood: [00:04:49] Yeah, absolutely. The torque is up by eight Newton meters. So 125 Newton meters now. Um, but the peak torque of the previous model was slightly lower down the rev range but this bike is making more torque than that at that point. So, although we've, we've actually increased the RPM at the peak torque position, it's producing more torque now than the previous generation all the way through the rev range. 

Michael Mann: [00:05:13] Let's just touch on the engine, shall we Stuart? Um, there is a whole new engine, as you've already said, and there must've been a lot of weight loss there, has it changed in terms of dynamics and dimensions? 

Stuart Wood: [00:05:23] Yeah, absolutely. The engine is actually a larger capacity; we're 1160cc now. So it's a 10% increase in capacity, but we've kept the overall package slightly smaller in every dimension and a lot shorter front to rear, which has helped us with our mass centralisation and packaging.

The engine has been reduced in mass by seven kilograms. So although we've got the extra capacity, all the extra performance, now we've got a 20% power increase with the engine. Yeah. So we've managed to keep it smaller, lighter, and lower inertia as well. So we've reduced the inertia of the crank shaft to make it even more responsive.

That's impressive. I mean from your department's perspective you must have slept well, when that got signed off! 

It's all about detail. Okay, the guys are absolutely fantastic. We've got a very, very strong team here. The team here is not just designing our road bikes but they design our race engines as well so the Moto2 race engines are designed by the same team. So, unlike some companies that might have a race department, our guys are learning all the time. So, and what we learn on the race engine goes into the road, bikes and vice versa for obviously the durability you've seen in the Moto2 engine.

Michael Mann: [00:06:39] Interesting. And does the dimension with the engine affect the gearbox too? 

Stuart Wood: [00:06:43] Yes, the gearbox is stacked. As I say, the whole engine is shorter. We're running a longer swinging arm to allow for that. We've got the same wheel base as previously. It's very nice and suits the bike completely. Brand new gearbox, every engine component's new. So it was a brand new gearbox, different gear ratios, taller first three ratios but a longer top gear ratio overall because we got more performance. 

Michael Mann: [00:07:12] And quickshift comes as standard up and down? 

Stuart Wood: [00:07:15] Absolutely, and that's a new system, even more refined than previously. We've got a new shift sensor that allows us to map an even wider variety of parameters to give the optimum shift up or down.

Michael Mann: [00:07:29] So with the new gearbox, Stuart, do they affect or is the sensor position thing, uh, affected by the rider modes? Is it, are they associated with it? 

Stuart Wood: [00:07:37] No, it doesn't need to be tuned in that way. The optimum shift is achieved whatever the throttle opening, okay, whatever gear you're in, whether you're up shifting or downshifting. So its sensing the gear pedal pressure, the selector drum position, so we've got two sensors in there and we've got algorithms that give you the optimum shift regardless of mode. 

Michael Mann: [00:07:57] Right, right. Now you talk about mass centralization, you've talked about the way in which the dimensions of the engine and the gear box are slightly different now, does that mean that the overall sort of centre of gravity or where the weight is carried on the bike is, is, is different to where it has been before? 

Stuart Wood: [00:08:10] Yeah. This is all about optimizing the handling of the bike. We've tuned every aspect so the geometry, the ergonomics, the mass distribution. So the mass is slightly further forward and lower, the way the bike performs with the extra power and the extra torque. We've got a slightly higher swing arm position, pivot position to give slightly more anti-squat to help the suspension keep the poise and the geometry we want for drive out of corners.

Everything is linked. That in itself has allowed us, and the mass reduction, to slightly soften the springs. You're not just looking for control and performance on a track, you're very much looking for comfort and control on the road. 

Michael Mann: [00:09:00] But that said it still will be pretty, you know, pretty handy on the track. I'm sure it'll be very athletic there too. 

Stuart Wood: [00:09:04] No. Absolutely. 

Michael Mann: [00:09:06] So in terms of performance, that must be a, that must be impressive, have you got any stats to kind of back that up?

Stuart Wood: [00:09:10] Probably the best one to consider with this is the acceleration. So if you imagine we've got 30 horsepower, more eight Nm, more and a much lighter bike, 10 kilograms lighter bike. If you take your 0-100 time, you're a second quicker than the previous Speed Triple. If you take 0-140 you're 3.8 seconds quicker. And 0-140 is only 10 seconds. Yeah, it's phenomenal. Yeah. Okay. So this is, this is a fun bike 

Michael Mann: [00:09:41] I cannot wait to get on it.

All right. Let's talk about the electronics the cause they must have changed. In terms of handlebar layout I'm seeing the, sort of the same sort of familiar switch cubes as we have on previous bikes or current generation Triumphs let's say, but in terms of electronics, how do they differ? Where the headlines? 

Stuart Wood: [00:10:21] Well, we've got all the functionality that you'd hope for from a bike like this. We've got riding modes, you can select a preset riding modes, or you can adjust those riding modes. You're adjusting your throttle maps. You're adjusting your traction control. You're even adjusting your abs. We've got a track mode on abs. Okay. So that's really unobtrusive for track use and a very, very nicely tuned system. 

Michael Mann: [00:10:49] I've seen that in the marketing video where the guy's backing it in. I assume that's what you're talking about. 

Stuart Wood: [00:10:54] Absolutely. It's all homologated and it's all road legal, but it's track focused.

Michael Mann: [00:11:01] So rider modes, the same rain, road, sport, track, right... 

Stuart Wood: [00:11:06] And a rider configurable mode as well. So you can adjust, you can adjust and take, take a combination of your preferences. You've got Bluetooth connectivity. Okay. And that's all fitted is standard to the Speed Triple...

Michael Mann: [00:11:20] That's with the My Triumph app, right?

Stuart Wood: [00:11:22] Absolutely. It's a free app. You just download the app and you can access that, that gives you turn-by-turn navigation. It gives you your GoPro connectivity, which is really useful. I mean you literally just using your joystick on the switch cube to control your GoPro and your phone and music connection, obviously.

Michael Mann: [00:11:42] Nice and easy. And the riding position, has that changed? 

Stuart Wood: [00:11:46] It has, we've tried to make the bike even more comfortable for the road. It's a really commanding riding position. Seat height is very slightly higher, but you wouldn't know because we've packaged the bike to be narrower. So the actual standover is lower, is easier to get to the ground. It gives you slightly more leg room. The seat is longer. So it gives you more space to move around and actually get down over the tank if you're at a track 

Michael Mann: [00:12:11] The seat looks like it's raised at the back, so it swoops down, is that the idea? 

Stuart Wood: [00:12:16] It's it's it gives you an ideal riding position if you do want to get down over the tank.

Yeah. That's what it's about. The handlebar is a slightly wider 13 mm wider overall. Okay. And the foot pegs are narrower as well so allowing them to be slightly lower without effecting ground clearance. 

Michael Mann: [00:12:32] Ah, yeah, it makes sense. Well if you've got more athleticism with the chassis, more power, you're going to want to be a bit more aggressive if you're on the track.

Stuart Wood: [00:12:38] But also more comfortable, this bike has been focused for the road but with real track performance 

Michael Mann: [00:12:46] What about the other components, so I noticed on the press sheet, Ohlins all the, you know, the big high-end components that you wish for on a bike like this, your Ohlins, Brembo's... Is the suspension the same setup? 

Stuart Wood: [00:12:57] Well, we've got Ohlins suspension front and rear, very high specification. All new for this bike. We've tuned the suspension to give complete control, obviously in all conditions, but slightly more comfort again with the road focus. You wouldn't know that on the track, this bike is more agile and precise and better handling in every way. But it's allowed us, the work we've done, has allowed us to refine the suspension even further. So absolutely top-end Ohlins suspension. 

Michael Mann: [00:13:27] And brakes are even better than before, right? 

Stuart Wood: [00:13:29] We've got Brembo Stylema calipers. We've still got the span and ratio adjustable lever, which I absolutely love. Because you can tune that feel just how you like it. Yes. Okay. So absolutely top end spec. That's the theme of the whole bike. We've we've put the specification that we know our customers want on this bike. 

Michael Mann: [00:13:52] Tyres and wheels are new too, right? So you can...

Stuart Wood: [00:13:54] ...absolutely all new, we've got Metzler RaceTech RR tyres are standard, completely new wheels. As I said, Every component on this bike is new and it's all focused on more performance, lighter weight, but keeping all that character and attitude of the Speed Triple. 

Michael Mann: [00:14:12] So the RS model is as we see, and it's, it's obviously it's high-end, it's a it's of a high specification. Did you, did you have to fit it to a certain budget as in a retail price? 

Stuart Wood: [00:14:23] Okay. Well, obviously there's affordability for any bike but we've been very focused on getting a good competitive price for the bike; £15,100 on the road in the UK. So I think you'll agree, that's a pretty good price for all the spec and all the performance improvement that we've brought to Speed Triple.

Michael Mann: [00:14:49] Yeah. And the fact that, you know, you get Triumph build quality. We've seen in models over the last few years, the impeccable attention to detail. So I think that,  in terms of, we've already talked about power-to-weight ratio, but in terms of components-to-GBP ratio, you know, you've got, you've got a lot of quality on show. 

Stuart Wood: [00:15:10] And also you're not having to add extra packages to achieve the performance. All the, all the spec is there as standard. 

Michael Mann: [00:15:18] So as a result, will there, well presumably won't be an S and an R model as there have been in previous generations?

Stuart Wood: [00:15:24] No, this is the focus. Absolutely. This is, this is the Speed Triple, and this is the spec that our customers have told us they want. And this is where we are focusing 

Michael Mann: [00:15:35] Just finally then ,can we hear it?

Stuart Wood: [00:15:38] Yeah. Why not? Let's do that 

Michael Mann: [00:15:39] I'm glad you said yes, I'll get into the firing line so I can smell it as well. 

Stuart Wood: [00:15:46] You may as well.

Michael Mann: [00:16:05] Lovely. Thank you, Stuart. No. Well, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I can't wait to get out and get on it and hear it in real life. A couple of extra questions and on paint options, warranty, servicing, sort of cost of ownership. 

Stuart Wood: [00:16:17] Okay. 10,000 mile service interval now. So the work we're putting in, isn't just about performance, it's about making this bike easy to own. Two, two colour options, both for that £15,100. So there's no, no extra cost, extra charge for that. Bikes will be available in the UK middle of March, so.... 

Michael Mann: [00:16:39] Can't wait for that. 

Stuart Wood: [00:16:40] Won't be long. 

Michael Mann: [00:16:41] No good stuff. Thank you. Thank you so much. Look you can read every other bit of detail at

Ah, if you've been watching this as a video please, don't hesitate to comment or ask us any questions, perhaps even Stuart will answer some, if we've got some tricky ones that I can answer. If you're listening to the podcast then thanks so much for joining us as well, don't forget if you want to watch it, have a look at the video. Thanks again. See you next time.