A Triumph Speed Four has found its way into my garage! It is black and sleek and boasts 600 cc’s. So why the Speed Four? Well, last year I had the pleasure to ride my friend, Carolyn’s, Speed Four for the day. I could not stop thinking about it, dreaming about it. I coveted it. I rode several other sport bikes, and longed for several more. My dream sport bike was a Suzuki GSXR 750. I have never had the opportunity to test one. So when the bank account said I was ready for my sport bike purchase, I opted for the Triumph. The Suzuki dealers I visited weren’t as test-ride friendly as my local Euro Sports of Tampa Bay who indulges me whenever I beg, plead and grovel to ride their bikes. I am a somewhat privileged personality there, as they have graciously handed over the keys to many a motorcycle. Thanks guys! I truly understand the philosophy behind the dealers’ policies of not allowing test rides, especially sport bikes, but serious buyers should be accommodated more graciously. I purchased what I was allowed to ride from whom I was given the opportunity!
Ok, so what about this little black beauty? Well, for starters, the Speed Four is fittingly named after its engine. This naked bike’s engine is a sophisticated 599cc, DOHC, 16 valve, liquid cooled, four-inline cylinder unit with cam profiles and a multipoint sequential electronic fuel injected system with forced air induction. It has the capacity for fully adjustable front and rear suspensions which provides for a wide range of set-up options including the ability to lower it just a tad more for those of us in need of that skosh less distance between seat and pavement.
The twin air scoops along with the pair of chromed headlights bespeak its individuality amongst other naked sport bikes. The frame’s black satin finish theme is continued to the engine and swingarm creating a spectacle to behold and a crowd pleaser for sure. It certainly stands out in the sea of other sport bikes (which from here on out will be fondly referred to as OSB) at the local bike events and wherever the road happens to take it.
The transmission is x-chain driven with a wet multi-plate clutch and a 6-speed gearbox. All of this is housed in an aluminum frame, 85.2 inches in length, with a 54.9 inch wheelbase, 27.2 inches in width, 43.7 inches in height, with a seat height of 31.9 inches and a dry weight of 374 pounds. Ok, now for the brute force information. It supposedly has less than 100 horsepower and about 52 foot-pounds of torque. I don’t believe that and haven’t since my first roll on Carolyn’s throttle! Both Carolyn and I had Scorpion exhaust systems installed, which opened up the airways and perhaps added a slight horse or two. I’m not sure. I just feel more horses than the brochure boasts. Of course I probably weigh about 100 pounds less than those who test these babies and I’m confident that may have something to do with the outcome of those tests!
The seat height is much lower than the Asian bikes, which translates into a female-user friendlier motorcycle, well for those of us who may be a little vertically challenged such as myself at 5’ 2″. I had to lower mine one inch, which is about 2 to 3 inches less than I would have had to lower an OSB. The problem with lowering this model was that it interfered with the parking and kick stand, resulting in the parking angle to be almost non-existent, thus it was sitting almost perpendicular to the ground when on the kick stand. That little situation caused me much fear and trepidation to park it and walk off! So off to my friend Kim’s workshop where the kickstand had some metal shaved. That helped somewhat, but I still look for a slight decline wherever I park. Those who are vertically gifted may find this bike a tad bit less comfortable as the leg room is not as generous as the OSB.
The handlebars are angled in a comfortable position for those of us with a slightly shortened reach. I think Triumph designed this bike with a female in mind! The bars are also slightly higher than the OSB, which eliminates some of the weight on the hands and wrists. Good news for those of us who suffer from carpel tunnel or riding related numb hands. I suffer from both conditions and have put 2,000 miles on this bike in three months and have yet to experience a numb thumb. This feature also assists with the back position being more ergonomically correct. I will admit, however, that I took off for what was supposed to be a fairly short ride of around 100 miles round trip.
It was Bike Week and my riding companion, Kim, and I decided to jaunt over to Daytona for the day. Hindsight? My cruiser would have been the choice to ride that day had I known we would be making a 350+ mile round trip in one day! The ride over was fun. We sliced through the back roads and rode like our inner little girls were in control. They were. The Speed Four did not fail to deliver the promised performance. It was quick, agile and extremely fun. It owned the roads, even through the construction zones. There is a need to shift more frequently in the city traffic, but I did not find that feature an annoyance. Parking was much easier on the busy streets and parking lots of Daytona during this Bike Week visit than previous visits on my cruiser, which is 350 pounds heavier and much bulkier. It eased through traffic owning its way around the big men on their big machines. We were cute, compact, and cunning! Life was good. It was a great experience.
Then came the journey home. In order to avoid Florida’s wildlife (two legs and four), we opted for the interstate system. It would be quicker as well. So we thought. Two miles outside of Daytona heading south on I-95, the traffic was at a standstill and judging from experience, would likely be so all the way through Orlando. The next exit greeted us with a much friendlier traffic-free roadway! What we weren’t prepared for though was the long journey home after a full day of riding on the very same little c-rockets that popped us over there in no time flat! It quickly became evident to both of us that these little motorcycles would not be the choice vehicles for long distance riding. We were hurting!
Our plan was successful as we cut through the back roads bypassing Orlando back to I-4. Riding at excessive rates of speed (the limit was 70 mph), made us long for our cruisers. Without a windshield, one is much more susceptible to being smacked with a large assortment of insects, especially at night when they seem to be out in greater numbers than during daylight hours. Without a windshield in that previously ergonomically correct position I touted as being so great, the neck gets extremely tired holding up a full-faced helmeted head while blasting down the highway! My neck still hurts. I will probably have to visit the chiropractor!
This is definitely a bike for the more experienced rider. I would not recommend the first time buyer to purchase this bike. It should be reserved for those with more riding experience. The brakes are strong and swift and perhaps a little too unforgiving for a novice. The steering is light with honest feedback from the tires. The center of gravity is ideal and makes it feel like you are riding on a crème filled éclair. The suspension is firm and needs an aggressive approach in handling it to its ultimate function. The Speed Four is not at its happiest tooling around the city, which requires lots of shifting in heavier traffic and may not be ideal for those who are lazier in the shifting department. Out on the open road or track is another story! That is where the fun takes place.
Roaming out in the open country, carving up the curves in the mountains, or battling it out on the track will prove this little beauty’s purpose. It handles with ease through the curves and allows for a smooth lean induced change of direction without fear of failure to meet the other side. In fact, the deeper the lean, the smoother the curve. Acceleration-wise, speed enthusiasts will not be disappointed. Please obey all traffic laws in your state and always wear protective gear.
The Speed Four is a naked sport bike that competes nicely with its Japanese counterparts. At $6499, it not only competes, but beats its competitors.
Oh yeah, in addition to my color choice of Jet Black, you can also get it in Racing Yellow and Tornado Red.
*first published in 2007. Sadly, the Speed Four has been discontinued.