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HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsTangerine Dream: The Triumph Speed Triple's Love Affair with Bold Colours

Tangerine Dream: The Triumph Speed Triple’s Love Affair with Bold Colours

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

The Triumph Speed Triple’s most distinguishing feature is its twin bug-eyed headlights; its second is its twin-spar aluminium frame. Ironically, neither of these were a thing on this iconic streetfighter’s initial release.

When the Speed Triple hit the scene way back in 1994, it had a single headlight and blocky bodywork that hid that now-unmissable frame. Triumph soon redesigned it with sculpted bodywork that exposed more of the frame—and a dual headlight design that would go on to polarise opinion for decades to come.

Photo source: Triumph UK

Some pundits hated the two chromed headlights poking out the front of the Speed Triple, others loved the bike’s unapologetic aesthetic. When Triumph finally ditched the twin round headlight design for a twin angled headlight design, opinionists were split into three camps. You either loved the sharper look, hated it because the round lights were some sort of sacred signature, or wished that Triumph would finally just put a regular headlight on there.

The Speed Triple has evolved over the years, but traces of its early DNA remain. And it doesn’t give a continental whether you like it or not either. That’s because it’s a thoroughbred hooligan; punk rock on two wheels. And nowhere is this more evident, than in the smorgasbord of colours it’s come in over the years.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

Right now, you can get the 2023 Triumph Speed Triple RS in black, silver, or the colour pictured here: Baja Orange. It’s a matt paint job that pops like heck in the sun, and it demands attention. Which means some people probably won’t like it.

Layered onto the orange base is a graphics kit that’s sharp and minimal. Most prominent is the ‘RS’ motif on either side of the tank—executed in a light grey, it can go from bold to almost ghosted, depending on how the light hits it. This particular demo model gets an extra little lick of orange, courtesy of a neat, colour-matched fly screen.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

It’s not the first time the Speed Triple’s been wrapped in orange. It was a colour option on the very first model and has popped up from time to time in Triumph’s catalogues. They’ve also drenched the rowdy streetfighter in red, yellow, blue, purple and bright green over the years. Scour the archives, and you might even find Triumph’s rare Nuclear Red hue—which is pretty much pink.

Sure, you can snag a Speed Triple, old or new, in black, white, grey and silver… but why? The bike’s aggressive stance, svelte layout and bug-eyed lights beg for something that’ll sear retinas. Nay, they deserve it.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

Of course, there’s also the fact that the current-generation Speed Triple 1200 RS is absolutely bonkers to ride. The 1,160 cc inline triple punches out 177.5 hp and 125 Nm, with a power band that’s broad and usable. With a six-speed box, a quick-shifter, multiple rider modes and a somewhat sanitised exhaust system (thanks, Europe), there’s an unavoidable air of refinement—but it’s done little to quell the Speed Triple’s hooligan nature.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

There’s a reason that that Triumph triple-cylinder mill has legions of fans. It loves to be spooled up, rewarding a heavy hand with arm-stretching torque and an antagonistic howl.

It offers up more riding comfort than its younger sibling, the Street Triple 765, but with a smaller weight penalty than it used to have. At 198 kilos wet, and equipped with fully adjustable Öhlins suspension and responsive Brembo brakes, it’s hella nimble.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

It corners intuitively, holds its line like it’s on rails, and has enough modulation in the brakes and throttle that, once you find your groove, you can go really fast on it. The more you manhandle it, the more fun it gets.

I had only two gripes when I first rode this iteration of the Speed Triple 18 months ago—the gear shifter was a little sticky getting into neutral, and upshifts on the quick-shifter had to be precisely timed. Triumph has clearly done some homework because the shifter is now far more forgiving in both scenarios.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

All this to say; the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is one of my favourite new motorcycles. And if I had to park one in my garage, it’d likely be orange. Because if you’re going to buy a bike that’s about as subtle as an Elon Musk tweet, you might as well pick a livery to match.

All Triumph has to do now, is bring green back to the catalogue. Or, better yet, Nuclear Red.

Photo credit: Wesley Reyneke / ZA Bikers

Triumph Speed Triple RS

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…


Triumph Speed Triple RS

Pricing From R309,000 (RRP)

Brand: Triumph
Wes Reyneke
Wes Reyneke
Wes Reyneke is a writer, photographer and all-round motothusiast based in Cape Town. When he's not on two wheels or scrolling through Instagram, he spends his time driving his own personal tribe of children around in his dad-wagon. He also has a well-curated mustache, wears skinny jeans and enjoys fine bourbon—just don't call him a hipster.