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Originally launched in 1994, the Triumph Speed Triple will mark 15 years with the release of a special 2009 model. Even though the 15th Anniversary Special Edition only receives rather tacky visual enhancements, this is an important milestone, also marking the maturation of the reborn marque. Over those years we've seen the Speed Triple evolve from a stripped version of the Daytona sportsbike into its own unique model and now into Triumph's flagship motorcycle. That evolution, depending on how you look at it, has either kept pace with changing buyer preference for performance bikes as it's moved away from race replicas or helped inspire that shift. We thought we'd mark the occasion with a gallery of every Speed Triple model ever; read on for a full history.

The T309 Speed Triple originally hit showrooms in February 1994 using a
98bhp version of the 865cc modular three-cylinder engine and a
five-speed gearbox. That engine was a stressed member of the steel
backbone frame. Fully adjustable Showa forks and a progressive
monoshock gave the Speed Triple uniquely high-quality suspension for a
naked bike. The T309 formed the basis for the Speed Triple Challenge
race series.

Released in 1997, the T509 became not only the first fuel-injected
Triumph, but it also set the mold for every subsequent generation. In addition to the new 108bhp 885cc engine was a
tubular aluminum perimeter frame, a single-sided swingarm and the
distinctive chrome bug eye headlights. Clip-ons were replaced by flat
bars in 1998. The T509 received criticism for its relative lack of
power and snatchy fuel injection.

In 1999 the T595 Speed Triple received the 955cc engine from the
Daytona T595. That meant more power and torque across the rev range as
well as smoother fueling. Looks and specifications remained largely
unchanged with the exception of the name, which switched to 955i so
that people would stop thinking Triumph's liter bikes were actually
just 600s. 2002 saw new engine cases in an attempt to address criticism
of the Speed Triple's high weight (195kg dry) while 2004 brought a
special edition all-black model.

Everything changed in 2005 with the release of the current 1050cc Speed
Triple. The new engine was actually a stroked version of the old 955i
unit, but it now made 129bhp and had a broad, flat torque curve. A new
frame combined with USD forks and a shorter wheelbase for drastically
improved handling. I attended the originally press launch for this
model and found it to be an extremely fast, good handling motorcycle that
retained plenty of Triumph's classic character in its engine note,
power delivery and slight tendency towards top heaviness. It was this
model's styling that grabbed most of the headlines though, it swapped
awkward nakedness for raw aggression; its incredibly abrupt seat
remains unique to this day. The 1050cc engine is shared by the Sprint
ST, but, despite a large amount of speculation to the contrary, a fully
faired sportsbike based on the 1050cc triple and tubular aluminum frame
has not surfaced.

2008 saw a facelift for the Speed Triple, cleaning up some unfinished
lines around the seat, bringing new wheels, a new catalytic converter
and a revised ECU. The radial brake calipers were also swapped for
Brembos, addressing criticism of the Nissins that had come before. The
Speed Triple now makes 132bhp, 77lb/ft of torque and weighs just 189kg
(dry). It's this bike, one of our favorites ever, that forms the basis
for the 2009 SE. That model adds decals, a John Bloor signature on the
tank, red pinstriped wheels and a smattering of bodywork from Triumph's
parts catalog. If you think that sounds like a pretty pathetic tribute
to a bike largely responsible for Triumph's success, we'd agree with


Special thanks to: Ivar from MC24.

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