Test rode the Triumph Speed 400 at a showroom: 10 quick observations

The engine seemed to have adequate power to never make you feel wanting for more in the city conditions – with a powerful pull at a constant rate (flat torque curve).

BHPian srvshaun recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

After watching possibly every review worth watching, it was my day to experience the Triumph Speed 400 first hand. To set context, I have not been riding for the last 10 years. The last bike I owned was the OG Honda Unicorn. My daily drive is an Octavia 1.8 TSI (2018) and the last few cars I have owned were Ecosport and Polo. My total riding experience (mostly as a commuter) is 10+ years. I am 42.

So while I know what I want (I have reasonable experience), I clearly don’t know what to expect (I have been out of touch).

I was the first to reach the Triumph Whitefield Showroom at 9.45 AM. Mr Joshi from the showroom has been very warm in his interactions. The reason to be the first one for the day was to know, if I own this bike, when I cold-start it in the morning to go for a ride, what would it be like. I idled for a min and started riding with no intent to “check” any variables. It was to mimic what would it feel if I owned this bike and riding the way it would feel natural to me (i.e. not to test the tractability or to get the feel of the redline).

My experience:

  • The bike looks desirable – and I didn’t find anything which felt like an afterthought for the price in consideration.
  • The front-end / design of the bike even with its retro theme has a very modern feel to it. Triumph and Bajaj designers hit it out of the park for the budget they had.
  • The handle bar was wider than I expected – but was easy to adapt to.
  • The bike has an instantaneous response to throttle – which is a good thing and has minor downside. On lower gears when you turn the throttle after coasting (in a gear) – the bike tries to gallop – which made me hold the handlebar tighter than I’d like to.
  • The exhaust note is pretty neutral – I’d not call it great, won’t call it poor either. It just exists
  • By now we know, that the suspension is a big highlight – the roads in Whitefield of late are smooth – so it wasn’t expected to be noticed anyway.
  • The engine seemed to have adequate power to never make you feel wanting for more in the city conditions – with a powerful pull at a constant rate (flat torque curve).
  • I did not notice anything troubling my legs (in terms of heat) – I was the first rider anyway and deliberately so; to know for myself if heat is an issue and it wasn’t for me
  • But with all of this, my constant experience of overall lack of polish in the way power was getting delivered – which did not make the experience memorable for me. I did not feel like I have been missing out on this experience for a decade. To draw a product management analogy – Behind a great visual frontend – the backend seemed a bit raw. The backend has great hardware and specs but the architecture seems rushed.
  • To put this in different words – everyday when I drive my car (Octavia 1.8 TSI) it gives me a sense of great excitement with the way she delivers her horses. It’s almost like poetry where you feel a great connection – and has been the case since I drove her first. I was clearly expecting the connection, which wasn’t the case.

Next steps:

  • The test bike I rode had 500 odd KMs on the ODO – I will probably take another test ride after it’s first service when the Oil gets changed.
  • I will hold onto my booking (amongst the first 10K customers) for the test bikes to put more miles (or KMs) so that I get a more realistic feel.

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