5 Of The Most Underrated Triumph Motorcycles Ever Made

Triumph motorcycles are some of the most widely recognized in the entire world. Steve McQueen famously piloted one during the iconic chase sequence in "The Great Escape," as well as Elvis and Evel Knievel have been some of the brand's legendary owners throughout the years. Today, superstars like Ryan Reynolds include Triumph bikes in their garages, maintaining a long history of celebrity ownership across the decades.

The story of Triumph motorcycles began in 1902, when the company's founder Siegfried Bettmann introduced an engine to his bicycle design. In the post-war years, Triumph saw continuing financial pressure and ultimately receded into the background of the motorcycle marketplace until John Bloor revived the brand. In 1987, a "new Triumph" motor is tested, and shortly after, the Triumph name is resurrected. 

Today, both vintage and new model year Triumphs have become a hot commodity for collectors and enthusiasts. Still, many Triumph models remain underappreciated by the masses for one reason or another. Whether it be a subsection of the truly "Triumphant" Bonneville line, or a Daytona make that just didn't cut it for consumers, these are the most underrated motorcycles to leave the Triumph factory floor.

Triumph Daytona T595

Introduced in 1997, the Daytona T595 was a departure from the prototypical Triumph aesthetic. Since reintroducing the Triumph lineup to the marketplace in 1990, Triumph had been building motorcycles that all revolved around the same basic chassis design, with modular components that were assembled to create the different model and power options. The Daytona isn't this, which was a big departure from Triumph's motorcycle past.

While the T595 did sell well — notably in the United Kingdom where the brand originates — it never matched the performance standards or sales of competitors' ranges within the sporting motorcycle sector. One problem Triumph seemingly faced was the fact that the internal naming convention was held over in the final design, leading to confusion over the engine size (a 595cc bike versus the 955cc reality). 

This early Daytona model only remained in production for a few years before being replaced by a newer offering, but it still made itself known in the motorcycle world for a short time. The bike's 955cc engine was a four stroke, three cylinder affair that produced 130 horsepower and 73.8 foot-pounds of torque. Paired with a six-speed transmission, the bike weighed 424.6 pounds dry and 471.7 pounds wet. 

Producing a top speed of 157.8 miles per hour, the Daytona T595 marks a turning point in the contemporary life of the Triumph motorcycle brand itself, despite flying under the radar.

Speed Triple R

The Speed Triple R is another bike that offers quality performance to the rider, yet just didn't garner the attention and excitement it deserved. This motorcycle is a classic streetfighter, but it doesn't quite hold up to the performance of competitors in its class. Even the "higher-spec and sportier R is not to be the KTM 1290 SuperDuke, BMW S1000R, and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR challenger we may have expected," writes Michael Mann for Bennetts, who rode and reviewed a 2016 model. 

In comparison, the Triumph option produces 138 brake horsepower and 83 foot-pounds of torque alongside a 467 pounds curb weight. The Ducati Monster 1200 S weighs slightly less, and boasts slightly greater power figures in horsepower and torque. However, the Speed Triple R comes in at a lower price point than all three of these comparable bikes, making it a more budget-friendly option that still produces substantial and respectable power and handling performance. 

Underpinning the R is a 1,050cc Inline-3 engine benefitting from liquid cooling. The gearbox offers a six-speed transmission, and the bike also provides a 52 mile per gallon fuel economy rating. While it may not be a race day winner very often, the Speed Triple R remains a great motorcycle that offers racing DNA in a manageable and fun bike.

Bonneville T100

The Bonneville namesake might come as a shock to Triumph die hards as "underrated." However, Bonnevilles come in a range of configurations, and the well-known T120 takes the limelight when it comes to discussions of the iconic bike. As a result, the T100 model is often left underappreciated.

The 2023 T100 model is powered by a 900cc engine that produces 64 horsepower and 59 foot-pounds of torque. In contrast, the larger T120 model gets its power from a 1,200cc engine that produces an improved 79 horsepower and 77.4 foot-pounds of torque.

Both motorcycles utilize a parallel twin engine, and the aesthetics of the vehicle remain virtually carbon copies of one another. However, when it comes to performance standards, the T100 can't match its older brother on the road or track. It's for this reason that the Bonneville T100 has gone underappreciated, while the larger and more well-known T120 has had its day in the sun. 

Even so, the Bonneville T100 is a great option for riders looking to bag a discounted price on a contemporary classic (with starting prices of $10,995 and $12,695 of both models, respectively).

Bonneville Speedmaster

Similar to the Bonneville T100, the Bonneville Speedmaster suffers from a comparison to the tried-and-true T120 model. The Speedmaster costs more, starting at $13,795 for the 2022 model year, and $14,595 for the Chrome Edition. For the money, riders will get the same 1,200cc parallel twin engine that sits in the T120. However, the bike weighs a bit more, weighing in at 580 pounds (60 pounds heavier than the T120). The motorcycle produces 76 peak horsepower (just under the T120's 79 horsepower), along with virtually identical 78 foot-pounds of torque.

The seat dips down to provide a comfortable, low riding position, alongside wide handlebar placement, which makes it ideal for cruising. The seat pad itself includes an additional lumbar-supporting pad and contoured sides. This creates a wonderful and comfortable driving experience for anyone saddling up on a Speedmaster, especially when it sips gas with a 60 miles per gallon fuel economy rating.

Daytona 955i

The Daytona 995i is yet another motorcycle listed here that doesn't quite stand up to the competition within its category. "While we felt it was a fine machine, it wasn't a better motorcycle than the GSX-R750, Zx-9R, CBR900RR, or YZF-R1," Motorcycle.com said of the bike in 2000.

The Daytona range debuted in 1997, and quickly caught the eye of motorcycle enthusiasts — particularly British riders who were interested in a home brand, while preferring the style of Japanese racers. Upon release, this range and the 955i in particular underwhelmed riders in comparison to other competitors. Motorcycle.com notes that while the bike was speedy around the track, shifting was hit or miss at times, causing pause for riders seeking to extract every ounce of performance from the vehicle.

Even so, reviewers are quick to point out that while this motorcycle has long been underrated, it doesn't deserve the minimal attention that it's received. The bike is powered by a 955cc inline-three engine, paired with a six-speed gearbox. The bike is light with a weight of roughly 420 pounds, and produces 147 brake horsepower, 74 foot-pounds of torque, and can reach a rapid top speed of 165 miles per hour. This motorcycle was introduced in 1999 to replace the earlier Daytona T595, and was eventually discontinued in 2006.

[Featured image by Dédélembrouille via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.5]