The 2021 Speed Triple RS Is the Most Powerful Triumph Triple Yet

by Gabrielle DeSantis

From the Trident 660 to the Rocket 3, Triumph has a whole host of three-cylinder motorcycles. One bike, in particular, the Speed Triple, has become an icon for the naked bike segment. However, in recent years it’s arguably been overshadowed by some of its rivals. This is why, for 2021, it’s been redesigned and re-sharpened as the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS.

Moto2 lessons made the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS even faster

2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS side | Triumph

Since 2019, Triumph has been the exclusive engine supplier for Moto2, the bike racing series immediately below MotoGP. The company supplies 765cc inline-three engines based on the one found in the Street Triple 765. And the lessons learned in Moto2 were instrumental during the development of the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS’s powerplant, Motorcyclist reports.

Instead of a 765cc engine, the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS has a new 1160cc inline-three engine linked to a six-speed transmission. More displacement means more power and torque; so, instead of 148 hp and 68 lb-ft, the new engine makes 177 hp and 92 lb-ft. That makes the Speed Triple 1200 RS the most powerful Speed Triple yet. Plus, the 1160cc engine is 15 pounds lighter than the outgoing 765cc one, RevZilla reports.

The rear 3/4 view of a gray-and-black 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS on a city street
2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS rear 3/4 | Triumph

The new engine, though, is just the beginning. For 2021, the Triumph Speed Triple RS has a new slipper-assist clutch and standard quickshifter, Roadshow reports. The aluminum chassis has also been revised, and the exhaust moved out from under the seat. And the 2021 model has wider handlebars, a narrower gas tank, and a longer seat. Plus, at 437 pounds, the 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS is the lightest Speed Triple yet, RevZilla notes.

Some of the outgoing model’s features carry over to the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple RS, Cycle World reports. Like the 2020 bike, the 2021 model has fully adjustable Ohlins suspension, multiple riding modes, keyless ignition, cornering ABS, and traction control. The latter two are adjustable, as are the brake and clutch levers. But the new bike has an updated 5” TFT dash, full LED lighting, a lighter lithium-ion battery, Brembo Stylema brakes, wheelie control, and cruise control.

“This is the best Speed Triple to date,” Motorcyclist says

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Although the outgoing Speed Triple 1050 RS “still is a great bike,” Motorcyclist explains, its rivals had moved on in terms of technology and performance. The 2021 model neatly rectifies that.

RevZilla calls the 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS “the Speed Triple, reinvented.” The benefit of a triple is that it’s narrower than an inline-four while still delivering similar levels of horsepower. And indeed, the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple RS’s narrow proportions make it nimbler than most liter-bikes, RevZilla reports. Plus, it makes the naked bike feel lighter, Motorcyclist points out.

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The new engine isn’t just more powerful and lighter, it also revs higher and faster. As a result, the 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS has superbike-like acceleration, MCN reports. And the new transmission, clutch, and quickshifter make changing gears “effortless,” Motorcyclist says.

One downside of the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is that it rides more harshly on the road than the outgoing bike. Adjusting the suspension settings, which is simple on Ohlins units, mitigates this somewhat. But the upshot is a motorcycle that handles better the harder you push, Motorcyclist reports. And the new Brembos deserve every cliché about powerful brakes, Bennetts notes, including “like hitting a brick wall” and “stops on a dime.”

How does it compare to its naked bike competition?

The side view of a red 2021 Ducati Streetfighter V4
2021 Ducati Streetfighter V4 side | Ducati

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Besides the new tech, the other big change for the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is the lineup. Although Triumph offered lower trims of the naked bike before, for 2021 it’s the RS or nothing. The first bikes should be hitting dealers now, with prices starting at $18,300.

While that price may seem expensive, it’s $1695 cheaper than the Ducati Streetfighter V4. True, the Streetfighter V4 has 31 more hp, a slightly larger TFT dash, launch control, slide control, and engine-braking control. But it’s also slightly heavier than the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS. And while the base Streetfighter V4 has adjustable Showa suspension, only the $24,395 V4 S has Ohlins units.

A black-and-orange 2021 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
2021 KTM 1290 Super Duke R | KTM

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The 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS also slightly undercuts the $18,699 KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Its 1301cc V-twin makes as much power as the Triumph’s triple, but the KTM is slightly heavier. The 1290 Super Duke R has similar electronics and features to the Speed Triple RS, but it also comes standard with heated grips and adjustable handlebars. However, the KTM naked bike’s more-adjustable Performance and Track modes, which include launch control, are optional, Motorcyclist reports.

As with any motorcycle, ride before you buy. But in terms of features and, well, speed, the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS no longer trails the competition.

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