It's been a few years since seven-time World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty has been at the top of his game, but he still has lots of followers, an outsized personality and a willingness to mix it up. All the same can be said about the Triumph Speed Triple.
Triumph has issued a teaser video about a new Speed Triple that features Fogarty and two-time Isle of Man TT winner Gary Johnson. The video asks: "Who's the ultimate hooligan?" "Who's more powerful?" "The smartest?" "The most agile?" "The most aggressive?" "The greatest ever?" Again, we could be talking about the racers or the motorcycle.
The Speed Triple was once the most iconic Triumph model, and as someone who has owned one for nearly 20 years now, I obviously succumbed to the appeal. Those 20 years ago, the Bonneville line didn't yet exist, the 955 cc Daytona was nice enough but couldn't run with the top-line liter-class sport bikes on the track, and the cruiserish Triumphs weren't causing Harley-Davidson execs to lose any sleep. But the Speed Triple did have an impact.
Along with the Ducati Monster, the Speedy tapped into the streetfighter trend of the time — riders stripping rashed fairings off sportbikes and fitting them with a higher handlebar. A lot of riders felt the Speed Triple, among stock motorcycles, did the best job of capturing that attitude.
Since then, Triumph's Modern Classics line of retro bikes has become huge and the smaller, more agile Street Triple became Triumph's best selling model. Motorcycles like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, just to give one example, made the Speedy look a little weak and porky. Last year, when the Street Triple got the new 765 engine, the performance gap closed even more. It's like when you think you're king of the playground but then your kid brother grows up and starts beating you to the hoop in pickup games.
In short, the Speed Triple is overdue for some improvement and changes are coming.
So how new will the Speed Triple be?
Of course "more powerful" could be a new engine or a few tweaks to the mapping — five more horsepower or 25. "Smartest" could be just the new TFT dash we saw in the video and "most agile" could also mean a few upgraded suspension bits and new wheels or a full overhaul and serious weight reduction.
While we may feel it's time for the Speed Triple to get a complete makeover, it seems more likely to me that what we'll see next week is a new variation on the existing bike. Triumph already has S and R versions of the Speed Triple, the latter with Öhlins suspension. Can they tweak it enough to call it an RS, like they have in the Street Triple line? And if they do, will it be enough to revive interest in the model?
We'll find out next Monday morning.