Bike-scooters/ First-ride/ Triumph Speed 400 Review | For the Ride? For the Pocket? Or Both?

Triumph Speed 400 Review | For the Ride? For the Pocket? Or Both?

A motorcycle cannot be handsome and beautiful at the same time but the Speed 400 disagrees because it is both!

For

Premium feel, Grunty Engine, Superb Suspension

Against

Vibrations in higher rpms, Lacks top end rush

Overview

Love and war. Two aspects where every measure you take, seems justifiable. Even slicing wrists in the name of your lover or dropping nukes on your rivals for that matter. We are neither here to illustrate an age-old love story filled with blood, nor are we here to discuss history and geo-politics. We are here to talk about a nuke that was recently dropped in the Indian motorcycling scenario – the Triumph Speed 400. The motorcycle itself seemed promising on paper but the thing which transformed it into a loaded nuke was its pricing. At an introductory price of just INR 2.33 Lakh, the Speed 400 seems too good to be true but for the sake of journalism, we ought to wash our faces to wash off this dream, open our eyes and start looking at the real picture.

Looks and feels like a Triumph

And the real picture? It does look nice! 250-400cc segment might one of the most hotly contested one but it shouldn’t mean that you should compromise on your brand’s ethos to give the motorcyclists an affordable motorcycle. And in this regard, the Triumph Speed 400 did manage to steal our hearts with its sublime build quality and attention to detail, in a signature Triumph fashion. For instance, the Triumph logo embedded within the round LED headlamp, switchgear and overall fit and finish of the body panels leave nothing to complain about. And it is not just the build quality which leaves a mark because even when it comes to the Speed 400’s looks, it has struck every chord you would expect from a motorcycle carrying Triumph badge.

The Speed 400 justifies its ‘Speed’ moniker really well because it indeed looks like a younger brother to the gorgeous Speed Twin 900 and even Speed 1200 for that matter. The overall silhouette of the Speed 400, including the shape of the fuel tank hark back to the bigger Speeds. The thing with Speed 400 is, it looked a little imposing during the unveiling but once we saw the motorcycle in person, the Speed 400 looked a lot more compact. It won’t turn heads with its proportions but admirers of neo-retro beauties will definitely get smoked by its appearance. Up front, the fascia is dominated by a round LED headlamp, LED turn indicators, chunky gold-finished USD forks and bar end mirrors. A motorcycle cannot be handsome and beautiful at the same time but the Speed 400 disagrees because it is both! The Speed 400 gets a single piece saddle and the rear end too, is rather minimalistic but we wished that the design of the grab rail could have been executed in a better way.

In terms of features, it feels like Triumph was aiming at just providing an enthralling ride experience, because it misses out on Bluetooth connectivity. The semi-digital instrument cluster, does pack some crucial information like Distance to Empty, average fuel economy and instant fuel economy. However, it would have been better if the analogue treatment was reserved for the tachometer, not the speedometer because Speed 400’s tachometer is rather miniscule. In terms of electronics, the Speed 400 gets a dual-channel ABS, ride by wire and Traction control. Things which make a difference in the overall ride experience.

For the ride!

At the risk of being labelled as a bald uncle with ancient thoughts, I come from the school of thought which dictates that if the riding experience makes up for it, there’s no need of over-the-top features. Because the Speed 400 is one lively motorcycle. First things first, the brand-new TR-series 398cc, DOHC single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-Valve engine has been developed from ground up because rumours were afloat in thin air that it is just a bored out engine found in the Dominar 400 and Duke 390 but that isn’t the case! If the position of the sprocket doesn’t give it away, the ride experience definitely will. To paint a rather graphic picture here, during commutes at slow speeds, while the Duke 390 lurches ahead as if it had something suspicious for dinner, that isn’t the case with the Speed 400. At 40PS and 37.5nm, it might fall a little short on overall performance but it makes up for it in terms of tractability because it hits its peak performance figures noticeably earlier in the rev range. While the low end grunt is worth praising, what will definitely hit you in the gut is the strong mid range. Where the Speed 400 vastly differs from the X440 is that it not only packs good low and mid range, the power curve doesn’t fall flat on its face as you approach its redline. Sure, the top end isn’t as maniacal as say, the Duke 390 but it still packs some punch.

Beers are opened and the party is commenced right after the tachometer crosses the 4krpm mark because after that, all you can feel is a strong wave of thrust which goes on till around 7.5k rpm. In terms of outright acceleration, the Speed 400 feels grunty and quick, while registering a time of 7 seconds to clock 100km/h from an absolute naught. It is fast by any standards and the way power is delivered throughout the rev range, even newer riders can get accustomed to it. While some of my peers did complain about the vibrations, I only found them to be noticeable after crossing 7k rpm and even then, they won’t send your body parts in a buzzing frenzy. Since it is a high-capacity single-cylinder motorcycle, expecting butter smooth refinement would be sort of unfair. In terms of cruising speed, the Speed 400 can comfortably sit at 120km/h whole day long while registering a respectable top speed of more than 165kmph!

The friendly character of the engine is further supported by an able chassis and underpinnings. The Speed 400 makes do with gold-finished KYB 43mm USD forks up front and a preload-adjustable monoshock at the back. The suspension setup is another highlight of the package. We had a chance to belt the Speed 400 around Bajaj Auto’s Chakan test track and during those 4 laps, the Speed 400 turned out to be a light and agile motorcycle which doesn’t mind registering good lean angles. While it doesn’t feel as sharp and clinical as the Duke 390, one can definitely have some fun with the Speed 400 around twisties. Once you get on the road, it becomes evident that the suspension has been tuned more towards the comfort side, rather than being all about nailing apexes. The Speed 400 paid absolutely no heed to our monsoon-blessed roads and just kept gliding over rough surfaces like it is meant to do just that. If the Speed 400 turned out to be this impressive, I can only imagine what the Scramble 400X will bring to the table with its slightly longer travel suspension and more ground clearance.

The sense of friendliness is reflected in the braking department too because the Speed 400 gets a potent braking setup in the form of a 300mm disc up front and a 230mm rear disc, paired to a dual-channel ABS system. A couple of hair raising moments revealed that the Speed 400 is indeed capable of stopping on a dime and with its level of performance on offer, the Speed 400 definitely has ample braking performance. It is further supported by the Apollo Alpha H1 tyres which our Speed 400 came shod with. The India-spec Speed 400 is being shipped with either these or MRF tyres, both being W-Rated.

Verdict

As we found out, the Triumph Speed 400 isn’t just an empty canister with danger signs, it is indeed a nuke! Not only are we getting a global product at such an attractive price but even when you look at the Speed 400 as an individual offering, it impresses on many counts. I’m going to stick my neck out by saying this but even if Triumph would have launched it at around 2.8-3 Lakh ex-showroom, the Speed 400 would still have made a lot of sense and that is saying something! Whether you wish to wait for the Scrambler 400X or jump the gun and get the Speed 400, you won’t come home disappointed. I don’t know about you but a heist is already being planned, for when the Scrambler 400X gets here, I will claim one for myself because the Speed 400 has set the context just right.



TopGear Magazine June 2024