The Speed Twin is obviously not a track machine, but this roadster hits triple-digit speeds in a jiffy and without any drama. The best part is that it doesn’t require a lot of shifting as you can use lazy gears and the massive torque wave will see you through the corner. That’s the beauty of the large capacity of twins. This makes it a very likeable street bike as you can dart through gaps in traffic quickly without having to pre-plan overtaking. The only glitch here is that the fuelling feels inconsistent, especially at low speed and in traffic when you’re constantly on and off the throttle. Switching to Rain mode does improve things and once you get going, it evens out. To match its meaty performance the roadster has shed a good 10 kg and the weight-saving shows. Though the Speed Twin still relies on the sportier Thruxton’s chassis, it gets a new sub-frame and aluminium downtubes. Apart from the lighter clutch and gear, the wheels and disc assembly have shed a couple of kilos. These neat tricks have helped reduce inertia and also boosted the bike’s agility. The rake angle has been made marginally sharper, which gives a nice and nimble handling, while the marginally longer wheelbase ensures good straight-line stability. And even though the suspension is a simple KYB kit with non-adjustable front fork and preload-adjustable twin shocks at the rear, the set-up complements the chassis, brilliantly tip-toeing the fine balance of sportiness and comfort and you hardly desire to fine-tune the set-up further.
The Speed Twin is quick and confident through corners and its mature steering geometry makes sure it’s not too twitchy. Making this 196-kg machine change direction is impressively easy and you’ll be surprised how quickly the bike turns in and how precise it is. The lightweight alloy wheels add to the agility and the high-grade Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber offers great grip on the tarmac. And it’s not just about the grip level but the right tyre size. If purely for aesthetic reasons the tyres were too fat, the Speed Twin would surely have lost its lovely flickable nature. Although some might grumble that this premium motorcycle should have got high-end radial brakes, the standard four-piston, four-pad Brembos exude good feel and a strong bite. Hard braking does amplify the fork-dive, but it’s hardly bothersome.
The big attraction for me is the relaxed rider geometry and forgiving suspension. Even after a few hours of riding, my joints weren’t hurting and I had a straight spine and could feel my wrist. That’s because the foot-pegs aren’t rear-set, as on the Thruxton, and are a bit lower too. And instead of the clip-ons, there’s a more forgiving conventional handlebar. The saddle height is a comfortable 807 mm, despite extra cushioning. This brings it closer to a Speed Triple than the Thruxton and hence the name Speed Twin.
For me this a classy and comfortable version of the Thruxton that has a lot to offer. It has the right amount of oomph, technology, top-class finish and quality parts, and laid-back riding posture. Plus, there’s ample power and lively handling to blast past ordinary retro bikes. This British classic can keep up with seriously fast sportsbikes and remains far more comfortable for all-day riding.