Inexpensive, smaller displacement motorcycles are all the rage right now. Cars might be expensive, but you can walk into your local Royal Enfield dealer, drop less than $6,000, and ride out on a new motorcycle that harkens back to the earlier days of riding. This healthy interest in smaller, more affordable machines has helped power a notable change in the industry as other marques introduce their own variations. After over five years of development, Triumph has finally unveiled its entry into this space. The Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X are the marque’s first singles in several decades, and these seriously attractive machines look primed to show up in your driveway.
This year marks the 40th anniversary since British businessman John Bloor purchased Triumph, which at the time was broke, on the ropes, and in receivership. The storied motorcycle brand was outdated and uncompetitive, leading to Bloor investing tens of millions in bringing the brand up to spec. Over time, Triumph began flourishing with more staying power in the market and some fiercely alluring motorcycles. The comically massive, yet powerful Rocket 3 is a product of revamped Triumph, as is the Tiger with its intoxicating triple soundtrack.
Triumph’s portfolio has a little something for everyone from the speed freak to the adventure rider, well, so long as you have some cash in your pockets. Right now, the smallest Triumph is the Trident 660, a 660cc triple-powered roadster with a starting price of $8,595. For the past 40 years, Triumph’s success has come on the backs of duos, trios, and quartets of cylinders, but the brand didn’t have anything under 500cc or even a single cylinder.
That is finally changing as part of Triumph’s grand plan of expansion. Triumph has taken off the wraps from the first phase of its plan, the Triumph Speed 400 And Scrambler 400 X.
These two bikes, while new, are an expected development. Back in 2017, Triumph and Bajaj Auto of India announced a partnership to develop middleweight motorcycles. The pair noted that this relationship is a “non-equity partnership,” or a deal where the firms work together, but don’t form a joint venture and don’t invest in each other. Both Triumph and Bajaj remain their own companies, but they teamed up to make new products. As Motorcycle.com notes, this is exactly how the BMW G 310 GS and G 310 R came into life with help from TVS Motor, another Indian firm.
Since the announcement of the partnership, the motorcycle world has been abuzz with spy shots, speculation, and updates, with riders holding their breath for the official reveal. Now we can finally see Triumph’s first stage of its master plan, which the brand will follow up with 250cc motocross and enduro models to be revealed later this year and 450cc models to come even later.
The Heart Of Triumph’s Expansion
Triumph and Bajaj have spent more than five years working on the bikes you see here today and the “TR” single-cylinder platform that powers them. While Bajaj isn’t a household name here in America, the company is a pretty big deal, from Triumph:
A flagship company of the Bajaj Group was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956, and having its registered office at Mumbai – Pune Road, Akurdi, Pune – 411 035. The Bajaj Group is amongst the top 10 business houses in India. Founded in 1926, at the height of India’s movement for independence from the British, the Group has an illustrious history. The integrity, dedication, resourcefulness and determination to succeed which are characteristics of the Group today, are often traced back to its birth during those days of relentless devotion to a common cause. The Late Shri Jamnalal Bajaj, founder of the Group, was a close confidant and disciple of the Mahatma Gandhi. The Company is the world’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer, India’s second largest manufacturer of motorcycles and world’s largest manufacturer of three-wheelers.
For Americans, you might know Bajaj best for the Bajaj Chetak (above), a scooter that started life as a license-built Vespa Sprint and was imported into this country. Its nearest competitor was the LML Star, a license-built Vespa PX 150 constructed by Lohia Machinery Limited in India and also sold in America as the Stella by Chicago-based Genuine Scooter Company.
At the heart of these new machines is the TR-Series engine. Named after Triumph’s race-winning singles of the early 20th century, specifically the singles that ran in the Six Day Trial off-road competition, these engines look decidedly retro, but they’re packed with modern engineering.
The TR-Series engines are fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 398.2cc singles claimed to produce 39.5 HP at 8,000 rpm and 27.7 lb-ft torque at 6,500 rpm. Power reaches the rear wheel through a six-speed transmission with a slipper clutch and chain drive. These engines have a dual overhead cam design, four valves, and counterrotating balancer shaft designed to allow higher revs. The TR-Series engines also have a lightweight finger-follower valve train and a crankshaft that’s weighted and balanced for low-speed rideability.
As a result of this modern technology, these engines are only slightly larger than the 349cc unit found in my Royal Enfield Classic 350, but crank out about twice the horsepower. My Enfield engine might as well be from an old tractor in comparison to the TR-Series. The TR’s specs put it into some interesting competition. It makes more power than the BMW G 310 R’s 34 HP single while nipping at the heels of the KTM 390 Duke’s 44 HP single. The KTM is notable for being another Bajaj partnership.
Technically, smaller Triumphs have been a decade in the making. At the 2013 EICMA Motor Show, Triumph showed off a Daytona 250 sportbike. Spy shots of prototypes of the entry-level bike even circulated around the internet and it was speculated that the Daytona 250, along with a Speed Single, would be unveiled in 2015. That didn’t happen and in 2017, after partnering up with Bajaj, Triumph confirmed the cancellation of the little 250s. With that in mind, the TR-Series can in theory allow Triumph to create a portfolio of entry-level motorcycles.
The Triumph Speed 400
The least expensive motorcycle to ride on this fresh platform is the Triumph Speed 400. Designed to slot into the marque’s Modern Classics lineup, the Speed 400 takes inspiration from its larger Speed Twin 900 and Speed Twin 1200 siblings. Here’s a Speed Twin 900 so you can see what I’m talking about:
The Speed 400 is a standard sporting the aforementioned TR-Series engine and some modern technology, You get standard Bosch dual-channel ABS, ride-by-wire throttle, as well as traction control that can be switched off. The engine feeds from a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, but range hasn’t been published just yet.
For suspension, there’s a 43mm inverted fork up front with 5.5 inches of travel and a remote-reservoir monoshock out back with 5.1 inches of travel. Braking is handled by a 300mm rotor up front clamped down on by a ByBre four-piston, radial-mount caliper. The rear wheel gets a 230mm rotor chomped on by a single-piston floating caliper.
The Speed 400 rides on a 54.2-inch wheelbase and sports a 24.6-degree rake. The seat sits 31.1 inches high, which would normally be somewhat tall for short riders. However, Triumph says it worked to keep the motorcycle as narrow as possible, even going as far as to narrow the clutch assembly so that shorter riders can flat-foot the machine.
The Speed 400 rides on 17-inch wheels and Triumph says the motorcycle is tuned for a roadster-style experience: “Giving an engaging and intuitive ride along with a comfortable, neutral riding position that inspires confidence for riders of all sizes and skill levels.”
In terms of equipment, Triumph says the Speed 400 has LED lighting all-around, an immobilizer system, and a hybrid analog and digital instrument cluster.
Triumph keeps the rider tech somewhat simple as you get a digital tachometer, a gear indicator, and an indicator for the optional heated grips. You also get a USB-C charging port, but the bike lacks any integration with your devices. You get all of this in a package that weighs just 375 pounds.
The Triumph Scrambler 400 X
The other new steed in Triumph’s upcoming middleweight lineup is the Scrambler 400 X. This one will also fall into that Modern Classics lineup. Like the Speed 400, the Scrambler 400 X borrows some styling from the larger Scrambler 900 and Scrambler 1200. I’ll toss the Scrambler 900 in here for comparison:
The Scrambler 400 X is a smidge less faithful to its siblings as it doesn’t get a high-mounted exhaust, instead getting the same low-slung unit from the Speed 400.
Now, you might assume that the Scrambler 400 X is just the Speed 400 with different styling, but that’s not the case. Yes, they share common parts like that engine and the instrument cluster, but Triumph says both bikes get their own distinct chassis. Both machines get their own new hybrid spine/perimeter frames, which feature a bolt-on rear subframe and a cast aluminum swingarm. In the case of the Scrambler 400 X, the frame is stretched about an inch.
The Scrambler 400 X gets a longer 55.8-inch wheelbase, a 23.2 degree rake, and a larger 320mm brake rotor up front, it also scores a taller 19-inch front wheel and a wide handlebar. Triumph notes that Scrambler 400 X riders will have a more upright seating position, a 32.9 inch seat height, and your feet will work with a larger cast steel brake pedal, plus high-grip pegs that sit lower than the Speed 400 standard. In comparison, the Speed 400’s pegs are aluminum.
Adding to those changes, the Scrambler 400 X nets 5.9 inches of suspension travel both front and rear. These changes are supposed to make the Scrambler 400 X easier to ride off-road.
In terms of protection, the Scrambler 400 X gets hand guards, a headlight grille, an engine bash guard, and a radiator guard. Adding those off-road bits and the stretched frame means a weight gain of 20 pounds to 395 pounds, which isn’t bad. Another bonus that comes with the Scrambler 400 X is the fact that the ABS can be switched off, which you cannot do with the Speed 400.
Built To Get You On A Triumph
Both of these bikes, as well as the motorcycles that will be unveiled later on, are a part of Triumph’s effort to get more riders on the company’s fare. Triumph is targeting young and new riders in the United States and Europe. Offering inexpensive motorcycles has been a winning formula for the likes of Royal Enfield, so it’s no surprise to see Triumph joining the list of manufacturers doing similar. Here in America, these will serve as retro-style alternatives to the BMW G 310 GS and the G 310 R while offering far more capability than Royal Enfield’s 350s.
The Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X will also be sold in India and Asia, where the firm will be selling these to experienced riders as daily rider machines.
Triumph says to expect these to hit American shores early next year. They’ll be built in Triumph’s factories in Thailand and Brazil as well as Bajaj’s factories in India. Buyers in the Indian market will get the motorcycles first in August before the bikes make their worldwide debut. At this time, Triumph hasn’t released pricing. Seeing that these are supposed to compete with the likes of BMW, I wouldn’t be surprised to see pricing in the range of $5,000 to $6,000 or so.
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