Speed Read, September 19, 2021


The latest motorcycle news and customs
Triumph’s new Speed Triple 1200 RR got the internet fizzing this week, so we’ve added our thoughts. We’ve also stumbled across a cute SYM Wolf custom from Taiwan, a gorgeous Colorado Norton Works Commando on eBay, and a Tonka-tough electric utility bike that’s just gone on sale in the US.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR Hinckley has just whipped the covers off a new Speed Triple variant, due to go on sale at the end of this year. Pricing will start at $20,950 in the USA, which is $2,450 more than the RS ‘super naked’—and a mere $50 less than the MV Agusta Superveloce 800.

Why mention the Superveloce? Because there’s a lot of online chatter about how much the front end of the 1200 RR resembles the much-lauded and very pretty Italian supermodel. Both machines have a single round headlight, which is unusual for a modern-day sportbike, and the shape of the fairing is vaguely similar.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
They’re also both triples and if you run the figures, despite the MV having 147 hp compared to the Triumph’s whopping 180 hp, the power-to-weight ratios are close.

We don’t think this is as big a deal as some folks are making out, though. After all, many conventional sportbikes look similar from a distance, and many big ADV bikes have ‘beaks.’

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
Once you’re in the saddle, the biggest changes between the RS and RR will be the suspension and the ergos. Notably, the RR gets the ‘S-EC 2.0 OBTi’ suspension launched by Öhlins a couple of years ago (and similar to that used on the Yamaha R1M). The forks are electronically controlled, can adjust the damping on the fly, and give the Triumph a one-up over MV.

The RR’s ergos are much sportier than the RS too, with clip-on rather than flat bars. They’re more than five inches lower.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
Although the publicity material shows the 1200 RR at a race circuit, in reality the Daytona 765 Moto2 is the Triumph for trackday junkies. We reckon the 1200 RR has the makings of a very good fast road bike, and Triumph is probably onto a winner here. [More]

Custom SYM Wolf 125
SYM Wolf 125 by Twentytwo Custom and Tough Tracker We don’t see many in the West, but SYM produces over half a million motorcycles a year. The company isn’t one of those Honda knock-off operations, either—one of its subsidiaries builds cars for Hyundai.

The Wolf is the mainstay of the Taiwanese motorcycle range, and this elegant little Japanese-style custom is collaboration between two local workshops—Twentytwo Custom and Tough Tracker. It was built for Taipei lifestyle store Persist Motorcycles and the donor bike was a tired 2002 model, with a carburetor.

Custom SYM Wolf 125
Aside from the engine and front end, the rest of this Wolf has been reconstructed or redesigned by the two custom shops. There’s a new subframe at the back, a plush seat big enough for two, numbered side plates and a simple new swingarm.

The forks have been rebuilt and shortened, and custom-specc’d, locally made MJR shocks fitted to level out the stance. New aluminum wheel rims (F19/R18) with stainless spokes add a timeless vibe, along with Duro tires and custom rolled fenders.

Custom SYM Wolf 125
Twentytwo’s own handlebars clean up the front end, with a Daytona speedo offset to the left side via a triple tree bracket. A lightweight exhaust system with peashooter muffler completes the ultra-classic look, along with lustrous Cement Grey paint—one of the coolest colors we’ve seen on a custom lately.

Proof that an everyday donor bike, simple style and moderate budget can still look a million dollars. [Persist Motorcycles]

Norton 850 Commando by Colorado Norton Works
Norton 850 Commando by Colorado Norton Works Everyone who owns an older Norton knows about (or eventually hears of) Matt Rambow’s Colorado Norton Works. He’s one of the go-to guys in the USA for Commando owners, and specializes in jaw-dropping restomods that retain the charm of the original but hide dozens of smart upgrades.

CNW builds don’t often come up for sale on the open market, but a 1973 Commando 850 has popped up on eBay, in an auction that closes in a few hours.

Norton 850 Commando by Colorado Norton Works
CNW completed a full restoration on this machine in 2002, including an engine rebuild, but the bike returned to the shop recently for a further round of mods including Keihin FCR35 flatslide carbs—“as close as fuel injection as you can get with carbs.”

Other goodies include a new primary belt drive, hydraulic clutch, and a Tri-Spark electronic ignition module and three-phase alternator/regulator. There’s also a crankcase breather assembly from NYC Norton, which frees up horsepower and reduces oil leaks.

Norton 850 Commando by Colorado Norton Works
According to the eBay listing, the condition is show-quality. “The current owner (50 years of building and tuning flat trackers, drag bikes and national show winners) has gone over every nut, bolt and washer of the bike.”

If you love older Nortons but not the endless maintenance and fiddling that usually goes with them, this one is probably a good buy. The current bid is just $15,000 at the time of writing, but you’ll have to be quick. [Via]

Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle
The Volcon Grunt is shipping Last year we reported on Volcon’s prototype Grunt electric utility bike, which is kinda like a Rokon Trail-Breaker without the fumes. After hearing nothing for a while, we suspected that Volcon had hit difficulties—but no, the Grunt is now on sale. The production line is in a factory near Austin, Texas, and the bike is reportedly being delivered to customers.

Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle
In less good news, the specs have been downgraded slightly, but for farm and off-road use, they’re still acceptable. Top speed is 40 mph (64 kph), and range is between 32 and 75 miles.

Charge time is 2.5 hours and the entire bike is IP67 rated—which means it’s impervious to dirt and dust, and can handle full immersion in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle
Given the volume of rain we’ve had lately in the north island of New Zealand, where I’m writing this from, that weather resistance is a useful attribute. The chunky 26-inch tires would also be handy in the mud on the EXIF farm.

Pricing is $7,995, which is Triumph Trident 660 money. On the other hand, it’s nearly $500 less than the cheapest Rokon, which is a 63 year-old design. We know what we’d choose. [Via]





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