Triumph Speed 400 test ride: Few key observations by a 390 Duke owner

Easily has the best-sounding exhaust in this segment IMO.

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I finally have test-ridden the most talked about kid on the block. I have some observations to share, which might be repeated but here they go:

The bike is a very desirable kinda motorcycle. It has a universal appeal to it, and it doesn’t have any special defining character to it. Don’t get me wrong, what I’m trying to say is it will appeal to everyone. There will not be a single person who would say that he doesn’t like this bike after a test ride. I was under the impression that all of the media houses and auto journos were going crazy because of the mind-numbing introductory price (that’s how I feel these journos are portraying it). One test ride later, I know why this bike has received so much praise.

I did try to find negatives to this bike but couldn’t really spot any. I felt the brakes had a little more play than required and another area was the switchgear modules. They were moving around a little bit when you accelerate to the max or press the buttons a little harder than usual.

One odd thing I noticed (which might be specific to that one bike) is that the chain was rusted on a display bike in the showroom. Upon closer observation, I spotted the chain to have the same “R” mark on the links as my 390 Duke. My mechanic told me the Duke uses a Rolon chain, so I’m assuming even this is a Rolon chain.

Build quality is fab for the price however I would rate the TVS-made BMW G310 twins (excluding the 310RR as I assume even that bike will squeak because of the panels) higher than this Bharatiya British machine. The paint quality is fab and easily the best I’ve seen in this segment. Switchgear feels sufficiently premium although not Triumph premium. There was a Trident in the showroom and the switchgear quality on that was something else. Bar end mirrors looked premium but I realised later that they were useless. The fuel cap design and feel are something else, it felt really good to touch and flip. The key of the motorcycle, well, typical Triumph and it felt premium too.

Coming to the test ride, this bike has a good low-end and mid-range. The top end felt flat to me. Nothing beats a KTM in this single-cylinder category in top-end performance but since this Triumph is not about that, I feel this little lack of top-end can be ignored. The bike can reach triple digits pretty fast, but it doesn’t feel as fun as a KTM at high revs. With that said, the low-end and mid-range are beautiful. Leave half the clutch and the bike jumps forward. Mid-range feels punchy and that exhaust note is still in my mind. Easily the best-sounding exhaust in this segment IMO. The bike is pretty flick-able, and I believe part of this is because of the beautiful Apollos that the bike comes with. The brakes are sure-footed with good stopping power. But the poor bike that I test rode had squeaking brakes, pretty understandable as the bike was being thrashed around by every guy who went for a test ride. Heck, even I did a good amount of thrashing to get a good feel of the bike. I couldn’t really judge the suspension as the roads I rode on were pretty good. It wasn’t as thrashy as my Duke for sure, nor was it as soft as an Interceptor so think of it to be on the neutral side. Weight is nicely masked and you don’t feel it at all, mostly because of the accessible seat height(not aware of the numbers). The mileage claim is 30kpl from the showroom and I feel one can easily achieve it if ridden sanely. The gearbox somehow felt very clunky and hard, very similar to that of a BMW G310R. The throttle response was crisp and not shattery like that on my Duke. The speedometer felt useless to my eyes. The speed font is too small and with the vibes at higher rpm and higher speeds, you can barely see what speed you’re doing. The rpm gauge is equally useless. The rpm and speedometer gauges should’ve been swapped i.e, a digital speedometer and an analogue rpm gauge should’ve been provided instead. The bar end mirrors are useless. I hope there is some other better conventional mirror setup available as an accessory, maybe something like the mirrors on the Trident.

I hope I have covered everything that I noticed. Special props to Syed (I hope I’m not wrong with his name) at the newly opened Triumph Gachibowli showroom. My Duke got stuck right in front of their showroom due to some gravel and this guy immediately came out and helped me with my bike. I told him I was a casual visitor and not a prospective buyer with an active booking and he was completely fine with it to give me a test ride. Some showroom guys are hellbent on bookings, so yeah this definitely felt better.

One huge piece of advice I would like to give to Bajaj as a Bajaj customer is don’t dilute the brand for god sake. I mean, achieving volumes is fine but NOT at the cost of diluting your brand. Please educate your customers on how to ride, how to behave when you’re on a motorcycle, basic motorcycling gear, riding etiquette etc. I’m pretty sure Triumph owners will be pissed after this Speed 400 is exploited by the undesirable squids of society (which will eventually happen, if Bajaj takes no steps in preventing it from happening). KTM could’ve been as premium as Triumph if Bajaj marketed it properly. Heck, maybe we would’ve had a chance to experience KTM’s tasty big bikes. So Bajaj please do look into such stuff and try educating your customers.

I agree no one comes up with mouth-watering launches better than Rajiv Bajaj (looking at your 2013 KTM 390 Duke) but then no one can dilute a brand better than you as well.

And yes, I am in love with the blue shade on the motorcycle. The shine and glitter on it are unreal, I can’t take it off my mind.

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