I have the desire to own a 'Heritage Classic Style' motorbike. The Triumph 1200 HT Bonneville Speedmaster Motorcycle certainly fits that desire.

Note: I have included some video reviews at the foot of this overview.

The idea of taking it easy (for a bit) and cruising along country lanes to the next cafe, appeals to me - I do love a bacon roll, or two, with a mug of tea. Perhaps a cruiser would make for a nice change of pace with a 1960s style throaty exhaust burbling behind me, as I ride along.


The image below is of the stock 2021 Speedmaster with its forward foot controls and swept back handlebars -



Its may seem strange but in my old age, I prefer to sit on a motorcycle slightly leaning forward with my feet mid centre, knees slightly tucked in or even better, in sports position. The stock Speedmaster (image above) would just not do for me, the upright seating position in relation to the handlebars and the leg stretch to the pegs would prove unsuitable for my back.

Recently, I visited the Edinburgh Triumph Dealer and sat on the stock 2021 Speedmaster and the stock Triumph Bobber which are virtually the same bikes but with a few aesthetic changes on the seats, the foot controls and the handlebars. The Triumph Bobber would be the ideal solution with its straight handlebars and mid positioned pegs but I prefer the look of the Speedmaster.

I found the rear suspension on both bikes had plenty of spring travel and should absorb most of the bumps in the road, although the Speedmaster's rear suspension is slightly harder but that may be because it is setup to carry a pillion passenger - one more question at the Triumph Dealers requiring an answer. In any case, with mid foot controls, it should be relatively easy to raise the old bum of the seat, should an unavoidable pothole loom into view. Mind you, the country roads are fairly pothole free, it is in Edinburgh, Scotland where the potholes lurk, but I steer clear of the city, its no fun riding at 20 mph. If I have to go into town, I take the bus or if in a hurry, a taxi.

Triumph in their wisdom offer a straight black handlebar (above image) with a cable kit and mid range foot pegs/controls as options - as shown in the bike image below. The mid foot pegs deliver a greater ground clearance with less peg scraping on the road when cornering. Having checked out the Bobber, which has a straight black handlebar - I guess it is the same as offered as an option for the Speedmaster. However, the option of smaller teardrop mirrors will not fit. Triumph also offer a fantastic top handlebar clamp in aluminium with black ends (see image above) which would greatly enhance the black handlebar look.

Replacing the stalky mirrors for bar end mirrors with a more subtle look should not be a problem but they are not offered as an option with the straight black handlebar.

I like the idea of removing the pillion seat and replacing it with a 'Rear Mudguard Finisher' which is offered in the Triumph options. The black Finisher is shown above and you can see it fitted to the bike in the second video reviews below.


The 2021 model has some nice upgrades to the traction control and power delivery for road and rain modes. The seating is now plumped up with more foam and a lumber support for more comfort on longer trips. The rear suspension has been improved for travel and now comes with pre-load adjustment. The seat height is 705mm which, for my long legs, is high enough to avoid me looking like a spider when sitting at the traffic lights. Cruise control is fitted as standard which is most welcome, although heated grips are an option. These improvements should make the Speedmaster safer to ride and more comfortable for longer journeys.

There are a few comments on the internet that mention the rear suspension of the Speedmaster often bottoms out and jars the spine. I never carry a pillion passenger and I am fairly sure that tweaking the pre-load on the rear suspension will assist in softening the ride over potholes and reduce bottoming out. However, it is a fine balance of adjustment, as it can also make the bike twitchy in the corners. I guess it will require an expert to setup the rear suspension properly for the maximum comfort vs travel vs handling?

There is also a black or brown quilted seat that offers more comfort and raises the seat height from 705mm to 712mm. It should help to soften any pothole thumps. I have shown the brown one but I think black would be a better match for the black/white two tone Speedmaster?

I guess if I really liked the Speedmaster but the rear suspension required even more comfort, then an
AirHawk which is an air cushion, could be fitted on top of the existing seat or the optional Triumph black quilted seat. It would also further improve the seat height. It can be purchased in the UK through Amazon -

The AirHawk R is specifically designed for men and relieves pressure on the tail bone, the scrotum and the prostate areas of your rear - 

Rear bobbins would also be a necessity along with a rear paddock stand to lift up the rear wheel in the garage. The Triumph website configuration options list is impressive, especially the side leather pannier cases as shown in the image below -


Video Reviews

I have decided to pass on the Triumph Speedmaster. After researching the internet for reviews and checking the Triumph Forum, it is obvious that the Speedmaster's rear suspension has limited travel and can easily bottom out on harsher roads. The reports of peoples' spines being jarred as a result of riding the bike are too many for my liking and it reminds me of a bad experience with a Yamaha Bobber back in 2015 which damaged the base of my spine. Rear end discomfort 'numb bumb' is totally different from serious spine jarring, you can overcome 'numb bum' which usually occurs after a hour or two riding (on most bikes) by stopping for a rest - it can take months to overcome lower spinal damage, in my case with the Yamaha, it took a year.

I am uncomfortable with the idea that the preload can be adjusted to provide more comfort. In the reviews, any pre-load adjustment to limit the suspension bottoming out, seems to herald instability in the handling, especially at higher speeds. The bike is expensive enough without having to change the rear suspension which in most cases, I have read, improves the handling at higher speeds but cannot overcome bottoming out, due to the same limited suspension travel as the original rear suspension. The idea of having to lift my rear every time I cannot avoid a pothole has become less appealing; been there and done that with the Yamaha and in the end a deep pothole caught me out.

It is important to remember that I am in my 70s and the damage caused by the Yamaha to my spine happened in my late 60s. Therefore, a younger man or woman will probably be okay with the Speedmaster's rear suspension.

Richard Lawrence
United Kingdom


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