Less motorcycle, more time machine! The Speed 400’s price can’t help but remind us of the time the Duke 390 rolled out on the streets. Unlike the Duke 390 though, the Speed 400 is the more mature cousin that pruned the rowdy, got a sharp haircut and put on a crisp suit instead of the ripped jeans and flip flops.
Triumph Speed 400 review
A new segment leader?
Build & Comfort
When it comes to the new Speed 400, Triumph didn’t just dip their toes in the premium pool; they cannonballed right in! Triumph didn't want this bike to be the odd one out in the family portrait. They made sure it fits right in with the rest of the Triumph clan. Apart from some right-curious quirks, like the chain drive on the right side, an off-centre fuel filler on the tank, and even matching engine covers and cooling fins, particularly impressive is the way they cleverly made the exhaust to look like one unit. It's like they went shopping in the Speed Twin 900 and 1200 aisle and said, "I'll have one of everything, please!" The Speed 400 strikes a blend of retro-modern perfectly!
Well, when you hop on the Speed, it’s like finding that Goldilocks zone of motorcycles – not too big, not too small, just right! It’s compact, but not to the point of feeling like you’ve borrowed your kid’s bike. The seat has ample room for two, however you will miss a stiffer cushion if you ride long distances. There’s a host of accessories available for the Speed 400 and our favourite is the quilted seat option. It emphasizes the Triumph DNA and truly brings out the character of the bike. It may just add to the comfort too.
The pegs are slightly set back, but the handlebars are up high enough that you’re sitting all prim and proper, like you're sipping tea with your in-laws. The position is engaging enough to keep things interesting but won't have you visiting the chiropractor anytime soon.
The new engine (yes, it is a brand new unit) doesn’t sound that great but it is beautiful when put through its paces. It’s effortlessly smooth, flexible and most of the power kicks in around 4000rpm in the middle sweet spot which makes it a lot more accessible than the higher revving Dukes. The new 398cc mill is as tractable as a well-trained border collie. As you gingerly roll away from a dead stop and dive headfirst into the urban jungle, you'll notice that the clutch pull is easy and light. There’s no need to summon the spirits of horsepower with a heavy right handed twist of the throttle here unlike on my 2016 KTM Duke 390.
Ride & Handling
The Speed 400 takes our pothole-ridden roads like a champ, turning bone-jarring bumps of Mumbai roads into mere gentle nudges. What's truly remarkable, though, is that it manages to keep its cool through it all. It's only when you decide to imagine you’re competing in the Isle of Man TT on Andheri roads or responsibly take it onto a racetrack that you'll feel the suspension raise an eyebrow. It's as if the suspension is saying, "Hang on a minute, this isn't quite what I signed up for."
The handling overall is predictable and the Speed feels agile on road. It isn’t as sharp as the Duke’s but it can curve corners comfortably enough should you want to use it that way. While on the subject of sharpness, we noticed that the instrumental cluster isn’t very practical. The tiny details are difficult to grasp on the move and we also noticed that the speedo was off by 8-10kmph! Shame.
The Speed 400 has the potential to be a class leader in the segment but picture this: from a modest 15 showrooms, Triumph is cranking it up to a whopping 120 showrooms across the nation. That’s like going from a cozy pub to a full-blown stadium concert! Now we know Bajaj isn’t noobs in the arena, in fact, they’re masters of handling volumes, and the success and the adaptation of both the baby Triumphs relies on this. Triumph’s going all-in on this uncharted journey, and with these stunning bikes in their arsenal, this partnership might just cut a healthy slice for Triumph on the chart at this end of the market.
Classy, accessible and well-rounded, the Speed 400 is a potential class leader provided the network and aftersales can handle the volume