I’m almost always running late when I head out the door for work. That means I’m pushing the speed limit instead of smelling the roses. Fortunately, the 2023 Triumph Speed Twin 900 has been doing commuter duty with me for the past couple of months, and it’s been a satisfying match.
The newly named Triumph Speed Twin 900 is last year’s Street Twin. While I’ve been stumbling over the name change, nothing material on the bike has changed, as we pointed out in our first review of the Speed Twin 900. This is good news because the Street Twin had been a much-loved model since 2016 due to its smooth liquid-cooled Bonneville 900 HT motor, relaxed personality, and spot-on retro good looks. It’s an easy motorcycle to ride and capably takes care of most everyday riding needs.
So, what is new for 2023 besides the moniker? A third color choice—Matte Silver Ice with an eye-catching yellow stripe on the tank and side panels—slightly brightens the palate of the returning Jet Black and Matte Ironstone colorways. However, there is no need for flashy graphics or colors; Triumph has the classic look down to a T. The Speed Twin 900 is a handsome motorcycle that draws appreciative looks from fellow riders and non-two-wheeled enthusiasts alike.
One of the appealing attributes of the Speed Twin 900 is how accessible it is. The bike’s compact physique and low center of gravity keep the hefty 476-pound curb weight from being a handful. While it doesn’t have the low-slung seating position of a cruiser, the 30-inch seat height means shorter-inseam riders can get their boots to the ground.
The upright ergonomics of the 2023 Triumph Speed Twin 900 feel natural, controls fall under hand and foot, and the comfortably thick foam saddle means there will be no fatigue if I skip work to head off on an all-day tour of the back roads. I push the thought to the back of my mind and click up a few gears as I move on down Lankershim Boulevard.
The meaty pull of the 899cc vertical twin is addictive, and the deep rumbly sound of the engine is pleasing. Strong, calm, and responsive, I already feel the Speed Twin affecting my throttle hand. Was I trying to get through that stale yellow up ahead? Nah, I roll off and let the abundant compression braking slow things down. This may be a Speed Twin, but I’m not exactly feeling in a hurry, and so my relationship with the Triumph Speed Twin 900 goes. There’s a push and pull between my reflexive urge to hurry and the Speed Twin’s roadster spirit seducing me as I ride.
Not everyone commuting to work is running late, and many commutes don’t include freeways, so surface streets are truly the better way to enjoy the Speed Twin 900. The bike excels on local avenues and boulevards. Its wide-ratio five-speed transmission requires infrequent gear changes thanks to the liquid-cooled twin’s 59 ft-lbs of torque, which maxes out at a cruiser-like 3800 rpm. With plenty of torque off-idle and a flat torque curve, the Speed Twin moves with an appealingly confident presence; it’s not in a hurry and isn’t rattled by anything.
The 2023 Triumph Street Twin 900’s engine is smooth, so there’s no discernable vibration in the seat, grips, or pegs. The mirrors are sharp at all engine speeds, something I particularly appreciate as a commuter since I need to keep close tabs on the vehicles behind me. I also enjoy the clutch’s assist function, which lightens the burden on my left hand when traffic is thick.
The fixed-damping suspension does a decent job of handling the many under-maintained urban and suburban streets around Los Angeles. With 4.7 inches of front and rear wheel travel, the Speed Twin 900 rolls steadily over everything without getting unsettled. The thick foam seat helps reduce the abruptness of harsh transitions. Spring preload can be manually adjusted for the dual shocks.
My route to and from work doesn’t include any canyon roads, but I did manage to ride through the Sepulveda Pass and a section of Mulholland Drive one morning, thanks to a dentist appointment. It allowed me to experience the Triumph Speed Twin stretching its legs on fast sweepers and winding roads.
The Speed Twin’s weight gives it a solid feel that holds its line nicely on sweeping curves. Tighter turns can be executed without much muscle, as long as you’re not trying to hurry the changes of direction. It’s a reminder that the Speed Twin 900 is a very agreeable ride, sporty even, though at a gentlemanly pace.
While the Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp tires felt fine around town, on the freeway the tread pattern on the 18-/17-inch tire combo does not get on well with parallel seams and is particularly slithery on road paint. As one who makes liberal use of lane splitting on my freeway commutes, this is an unsettling feeling. Whenever I found myself straddling seams or paint, I made sure I was accelerating instead of neutral throttling. Unfortunately, the stylish wheelset limits tire options.
Although the 2023 Triumph Speed Twin 900 is best experienced at moderate speeds, it is more than capable of moving the analog-style speedometer’s needle past extra-legal speeds without breaking a sweat. However, that wonderful elemental feel of the unfaired upright starts to wane the faster you go. The 900 can easily push well past 80 mph while feeling freight-train planted, but the windblast gets fierce. It helps that I can tuck my knees against the fuel tank to get a secure grip on the bike. If this were my daily commuter bike, I would opt for the Triumph accessory Touring Windshield to prevent fatigue from simply hanging on at higher speeds.
Around town, I rarely had a need to get hard on the brakes as the ample engine braking shaves off plenty of speed. The single 310mm front disc and Brembo four-piston caliper are well-matched for the expected use of the Speed Twin; it slows the bike down capably, and the engagement is initially soft. I was reminded of the bike’s weight when getting hard on the brakes at one point and unrealistically expecting a more sportbike-brake response. The 255mm rear rotor has good feel for those final few mph slowdowns rolling up to a light. ABS is standard and unobtrusive.
One of the benefits of a retro-modern bike is the updated safety technology under the classic motorcycle aesthetic. The 2023 Triumph Speed Twin has two basic electronic aids—ride modes and traction control. Most of the time, you’ll choose to ride the Speed Twin in the Road mode getting full use of the SOHC 899cc engine. Rain mode tamps down throttle response and is just a button push away on the left switchgear. Traction control can be turned off on the right switchgear.
Many accessories are available, both aesthetic and functional, to customize the Speed Twin. For various duties, from café racer (bar-end mirrors and Fox shock) to retro-sport light-touring (centerstand and bags). If you dig around the Triumph catalog, you’ll likely find something you must have.
Triumph understands the enduring appeal of its history, and the Bonneville-powered Speed Twin 900 carries its heritage proudly. Well-built, beautifully detailed, and with a muscular charisma that is hard to deny, the 2023 Triumph Speed Twin 900 is an immensely enjoyable ride. It’s hard not to feel cool on the bike, whether commuting to work or cruising around town, as I know it paints a classic picture, evoking a memory of simpler times while delivering contemporary performance, convenience, and reliability.
Photography by Don Williams
2023 Triumph Speed Twin 900
- Type: Vertical twin w/ 270-degree firing order
- Displacement: 899cc
- Bore x stroke: 84.6 x 80mm
- Maximum power: 64 horsepower @ 7500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 59 ft-lbs @ 3800 rpm
- Compression ratio: 11.0:1
- Fueling: EFI
- Valvetrain: SOHC; 8 valves
- Cooling: Liquid
- Transmission: 5-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ assist function
- Final drive: O-ring chain
- Frame: Tubular steel cradle
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable KYB 41mm cartridge fork; 4.7 inches
- Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable KYB shocks; 4.7 inches
- Wheels: Cast aluminum
- Front wheel: 18 x 2.75
- Rear wheel: 17 x 4.25
- Tires: PirelliPhantom Sportscomp
- Front tire: 100/90 x 18
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 17
- Front brake: 310mm disc w/ Brembo 4-piston fixed caliper
- Rear brake: 255mm disc w/ Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 57.1 inches
- Rake: 25.1 degrees
- Trail: 4.0 inches
- Seat height: 30.1 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.2 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 69 mpg
- Curb weight: 476 pounds
- Jet Black
- Matte Ironstone
- Matte Silver Ice
2023 Triumph Speed Triple 900 Price: $9695 MSRP