Triumph returns in 2017 with three bikes in the America/Speedmaster family: the America, the America LT and the Speedmaster. All three models come with that bullet-proof 865 cc engine found in the Bonneville T100 and Thruxton.
Hanging onto its retro look but with modern tech where it counts, the America, its touringsibling, the America LT, and its black-and-bling stablemate, the Speedmaster, are nimble with not a lot of power, but still fun to ride. Triumph says of their Bonneville-based cruisers, “The heart and soul of British engineering reinvented with a splash of Stateside style.” I have to agree.
Harley-Davidson gets play as the bad-boy’s bike, but Triumph sees its share of bad boys. Norman Reedus, Steve McQueen, Marlon Brando, Matthew McConnaughey and a host of other Hollywood tough guys have, in various roles, ridden Triumph motorcycles and even everyone’s favorite bad boy, Fonzie rode one when he wasn’t riding a Norton.
Part of the cruiser culture means windsock rider triangle, low seat height and low-end torque and the America line-up has all that. The America offers a nice, deep saddle with comfortable two-up seating, floorboards with heel-toe gearshift and a large rear brake pedal.
Add a windscreen, saddlebags, footboards, and a backrest and you have the America LT. Even though physically, it’s a fairly large bike, it isn’t overly heavy and the low center of gravity makes it easy to handle. Even standing still, you don’t get the feeling that a little lean will make you lose it, which is nice for folks that don’t have the height or strength to wrestle with a big bike.
The Speedmaster is an almost bike. It’s almost a bobber, almost a café racer, and mostly just a standard cruiser with some chrome to accentuate the black-out everything-else. With very little customization, though, you can make it your own and spin it into whatever slot you like.
Instrumentation is basic with indicator lights on the tank and analog speedometer on the bars. The fuel tank is ample with over a five-gallon capacity and fuel economy isn’t atrocious for a big bike, but not quite what I’d call “commuter range.”
“Low” seems to be a subjective depending upon where you live, but on our side of the pond, low means low! Trumpet gave us what we want with a twin-downtube, double-cradle, steel tubing frame that drops the seat right down to 27.2 inches off the ground. This makes for a relaxed, windsock riding posture with the forward rider footboards, and makes for a short trip to the ground for the footwork. Plus, it boosts the bottom-heavy panache.
All three frames are the same, and the steering head comes set for a 33-degree rake. This bears out in the America models with the 16-inch hoops, and gives us 5.6 inches of trail for fairly middle-of-the-spectrum handling characteristics. However, the 19-inch front tire on the Speedmaster increases the rake to 33.8 degrees and 6.7 inches of trail, great for straight-line, high-speed stability, but gives a bit of a wrestling match in the corners.
The fat front tire on the America and America LT add to the visual weight as well with their 130/90 – 16 profile. True to its name, the Speedmaster comes with a racier arrangement with a 100/90 – 19 up front. All three run 15-inch, 170/80 tires in back, with all around cast rims and blackout treatment on the Speedmaster.
Kayaba supplied the suspension with big, 41 mm forks that keep the front heavy and fit with the classic American cruiser vibe, a look furthered by the chrome, upper-fork shroud and full front fender on the Americas. The Speedmaster comes nakedin that area. A set of Kayaba, coil-over shocks support the rear, and come with the only suspension adjustment in the family with a variable preload setting. Front and rear suspension yields a total of 4.72 inches and 3.77 inches of travel, respectively.
Triumph declined to get into a bunch of brake gadetry, such as ABS or linked brakes, and instead ran with a simpler setup. A single, 310 mm front disc and 285 mm rear each get a twin-pot, Nissin caliper for honest braking feedback and response, though at just over 500 pounds the factory is pushing what a single front disc can manage.
A classic, 865 cc, parallel-twin mill greets the eye with its typical British flair, and for me, it’s really the most Triumph-like feature on the whole bike. In fact, it almost looks out of tune with the rest of the bike, which may look more natural with a Japanese twin nested away. Regardless of the looks, the mill has a job to do and it comes out swingin’ with 61 ponies and 53 pounds of grunt. Best of all, that torque peaks out at a low 3,300 rpm, well within the relaxed-riding rpm range.
Traditional air-cooling keeps the engine clean, and an inconspicuous oil cooler between the downtubes acts as a backup to keep the engine’s lifeblood at a reasonable temperature. Notice the old-school carburetors tucked behind the engine? Don’t let your lying eyes deceive you, that’s actually a pair of throttle bodies with electronic fuel injection. I love it when people are clever and take the time to make things look old school.
The twin-walled exhaust is a three-fold plus. First, it looks beefy, which adds to the muscular look. Second, it reduces heat transfer to your legs — always an upside — and third, you don’t get that bluing on the pipes so the bike looks clean and the bling keeps blinging.
A five-speed tranny and chain final drive finish the running gear, and a simple wet clutch couples them to the engine power. As with the brakes, the clutch gives basic, honest feedback, but I’m a big proponent for hydraulic-assist/slipper-clutch technology so as always, I would like to see it here. The mileage with all this gear factored in is decent at 47.7 mpg in the city and 46.2 mpg at 75 mph.
MSRP on the America is $8,400 — a bit less than last year — and comes in Phantom Black or Cinder Red / Morello Red. The LT costs $9,800 — a carryover from last year — for the two-tone Pacific Blue and Sapphire Blue. The Speedmaster runs same as the America for 2017 and a couple of bills less than last year for Jet Black or Matt Graphite.
Since Triumph clearly built this to compete on U.S. shores and for fans of the American style, I thought it fair to compare it to another bike that fits into the same market; the Iron 883 from H-D.
I am a Sportster fan, so I may be a bit biased here, but I got to say the Triumph bikes look a little confused, almost like a Honda Rebel on steroids trying to borrow the front end and upper lines from a Softail . The Sporty, on the other hand, carries the look that helped define the genre, so it looks a lot more natural than do the Brit bikes.
As much as I like V-twin engines, I’ve also always been a fan of the “Trumpet Twingles” as well, and so as far as aesthetics are concerned, They are both good-looking mills that compliment the rest of the bike. At 865 cc, Triumph gives up a few cubes to the 883 cc Sportster, but makes up on that loss at the power-to-weight ratio. The Iron 883 cranks out 53.8 pound-feet of torque versus 53 pound-feet from the Triumph mill, but the Iron also weighs the most at 562 pounds wet, a bit heavier than the 553-pound America LT, and much heavier than the 509-pound America and 509.3-pound Speedmaster. Harley gets the best mileage at 51 mpg city/highway combined, over the 46-to-48 mpg range with the Triumphs. Honestly, not a big difference with today’s gas prices.
Speaking of prices, Triumph scores a small victory at the sticker with a $8,400 starting price on the Speedmaster and America versus $8,849 for the Iron 883, all in what you would call basic black. Additional colors are available from both factories, and though Harley is the undisputed king of paint, they are proud of it, and the custom paint colors quickly push the Sporty up to $9,299. One thing Harley does offer is ABS for an additional $795, so you at least have that option available if you want it. Folks hard up against a budget may want to look at the Triumphs, but for a few bucks more the Iron 883 may be the better, all-around choice.
My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “I usually like Trumpets, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. I guess I like my Brits to be Brits, and U.S. bikes to fit the U.S. mold, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Still, it demonstrates two things. First, classic American styling is enjoying a popularity boom, and second, more and more manufacturers are entering the fray with their own interpretations, a situation that will promote competitive prices and design innovation. I expect this sector to get more interesting for the next few years, at least.”
“I like the wider tripleclamps and the bigger headlight on the America over the Speedmaster. That’s just a personal preference; I feel like the bike looks more muscular. Triumph also gets props for staying true to their heritage with the parallel-twin engine. So many manufacturers go for the Harley look with the V-Twin, but Triumph stays true. Triumph made a cruiser that appeals to the American market, but kept it their own.
|Model:||America – America LT||Speedmaster|
|ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION:|
|Type:||Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 270º firing interval||Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 270º firing interval|
|Bore/Stroke:||90 mm / 68 mm||90 mm / 68 mm|
|Max Power EC:||61 Hp (45 kW) 6,800 rpm||61 Hp (45 kW) 6,800 rpm|
|Max Torque EC:||53 FT-lbs (72 Nm) 3,300 rpm||53 FT-lbs (72 Nm) 3,300 rpm|
|System:||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI|
|Exhaust:||Stainless steel twin-walled headers, twin chromed silencers||Stainless steel twin-walled headers, twin chromed silencers|
|Final drive:||X ring chain||X-Ring-Chain|
|Clutch:||Wet, multi-plate||Wet, Multi-Plate|
|Frame:||Tubular steel cradle||Tubular steel cradle|
|Swingarm:||Twin-sided, tubular steel||Twin-sided, tubular steel|
|Front Wheels:||Cast aluminium alloy 12-spoke 16 x 3.0 in||Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 19 x 2.5 in|
|Rear Wheels:||Cast aluminium alloy 12-spoke 15 x 4.0 in||Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 15 x 4.0 in|
|Rear Tires:||170/80 B15||170/80 B15|
|Front Suspension:||Kayaba 41 mm forks with polished stainless steel shrouds, 120 mm travel||Kayaba 41 mm forks with 120 mm travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Kayaba chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 96 mm rear wheel travel||KYB chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 96 mm rear wheel travel|
|Brakes Front:||Single 310 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper||Single 310 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating calipers|
|Brakes Rear:||Single 285 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper||Single 285 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper|
|Instrument Display and Functions:||Analogue speedometer with odometer and trip information||Analogue speedometer and tachometer with odometer, clock and trip information.|
|DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS:|
|Width Handlebars:||36.2 in (920 mm)||35.2 in (895 mm)|
|Height Without Mirror:||America: 46.3 in (1175 mm), America LT: 1480 mm||46.1 in (1170 mm)|
|Seat Height:||27.2 in (690 mm)||27.2 in (690 mm)|
|Wheelbase:||63.4 in (1610 mm)||63.0 in (1600 mm)|
|Rake:||33 º||33.8 º|
|Trail:||5.6 in (143 mm)||6.7 in (170.4 mm)|
|Dry Weight:||America:509.3 lbs (231 Kg), America LT: 553 lbs (251 Kg)||509.3 lbs (231 Kg)|
|Tank Capacity:||19.5 L||5.2 US Gallon|
|Urban:||47.7 US MPG||47.7 US MPG|
|Constant Speed 56mph/90kph:||59.2 US MPG||59.2 US MPG|
|Constant Speed 75mph/120kph:||46.2 US MPG||46.2 US MPG|
|Colors:||America: Phantom Black, Cinder Red / Morello Red — America LT: Pacific Blue / Sapphire Blue||Jet Black, Matt Graphite|
|2016:||America:$8,900, America LT:$9,800||$8,650|
|2017:||America:$8,400 ,America LT:$9,800||$8,400|