There’s an angst to the Triumph Bobber. Something about the solo seat, steep rake, and mock-hardtail line just looks like it’s rebelling against whatever ya got.
But the Speedmaster is different; it has the same engine character, the same smile-inducing pull when you drop the clutch on that 1,200cc high-torque engine, but with a friendlier look and huge line of accessories to maximize touring capability.
For a small jump in the price tag, the Speedmaster takes the niche, solo city-jammer/cruiser hybrid that is the Bobber and turns it into a more traditional cruiser capable of longer miles. The ride is more effortless and casually enjoyable, but you can easily turn it up and get that rebel yell back if you want it.
A more cushioned seat, cruise control, preload-adjustable rear shock, improved 41mm cartridge fork, and a bigger gas tank all ensure more time between stops. Like most cruiser seats, the saddle locks you into one place, so it isn't ideal for real aggressive riding, but that's not what this bike was really designed for.
The beach-cruiser-style handlebars look great and were nice when we were cruising along Pacific Coast Highway, but again, bringing the Speedmaster into more aggressive cornering they were a little cramped and uncomfortable.
The forward controls fit nicely with the look and feel of the bike — not feeling too cramped or stretched out — but they scrape when cornering. The large feelers on each peg, at more than an inch, seemed a little excessive and inhibiting, but for the third and final time, I was probably riding this bike harder than most of its intended market will.
Aside from the scraping and a little discomfort from the bars, however, it held stable throwing it into turns at high speeds, performed well under hard braking, and generally felt like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Aesthetically, Triumph knew exactly what it was doing here; the chunky nameplate and scalloped paint with hand-done pinstriping on the tank — I was flashing back to my old 1977 Triumph T140 and loving every minute of it. Little details like the fuel injector made to look like vintage Amal carbs and the mock pre-unit transmission that houses the rear brake fluid reservoir all help maintain the iconic style of the Bonneville, while vaguely masking that this is an awesome, fully modern engine capable of much more than the originals it pays tribute to.
Along with the rear fender and pillion comes a wide range of accessories to diversify the Speedmaster even further. A tall windshield or waxed canvas bags can take the look one way, while short bars, mid-controls, and a rack that replaces the passenger seat will take it back a couple of steps toward Bobber style.
For $1,250 more than the original Bobber — and the same price as the Bobber Black —the Speedmaster offers more variety for the rider while still having the same capacity for fun and potential for similar aggressive style. Essentially, this is the Bobber your significant other will let you buy, while you know it's going to be the wolf you hoped for.
This piece originally appeared at Cycle World.