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triumph speed quattro

Speed Quattro

by Guy 'Guido' Allen, Jan 2021

The 1200 cafe racer the Triumph factory never made. Potentially the simplest of projects and perhaps the most fun


triumph speed quattro

One of the risks of having a few spare moments in a day is you get time to think back on the projects you had so far missed, but should maybe revisit. One is an all-time favourite of mine and the idea has been largely forgotten over the last couple of decades.

I'm talking a Triumph 1200 Speed Quattro. These emerged in the mid to late 1990s when the T300 series Daytona 1200 and the Speed Triple 900 for very much alive and well in the showrooms. The idea was dead simple on the face of it: get a crash-damaged 1200, strip off the fairing and replace the cosmetics with simpler Speed Triple components. That way you got the claimed 147 horses from the bigger engine, with the Speed Triple's looks. Perfect!

Triumph's modular approach to motorcycle design at the time in theory made this not only possible but very easy.

triumph speed quattro

Was it? I did know someone way back then who had done it and gave me a quick ride. It was fast, a little awe-inspiring and needed firm hand at the tiller. He reported the project was a little more fiddly than appearaces might first suggest, but the end result was stunning and looked absolutely factory. Unfortunately I no longer have shots of that bike, but there are a few others getting about on the web.

This still might be a viable project given Daytona 1200s are still ridiculously cheap – or have been in recent months. It might even be cheaper to build than getting a Speed Triple in equivalent shape.

It's not everyone's cup of tea – a bigger and heavier cafe racer – but the grunt they produce is impressive and would probably wipe the floor with the majority of cafe racers out there.

triumph speed quattro

A little hunting around reveals there is a Facebook group out there for them (of course there is!) with 61 members. That's their cover photo, above.

triumph speed four

The factory of course built a Speed Four, but that was in 2002-06, based on the TT600.

vfr400-750 hybrid

In the meantime I'm working on another obvious hybrid, which is a VFR750 turned into an RC30 replica. That's a much bigger challenge, depending on how you tackle it. Some people have just applied an RC30 paint job, some have fitted a VFR750 engine to a VFR400 (probably the smartest move – above), while others have built something indistinguishable from the real thing, probably at greater cost.

I'm shooting for somewhere in the middle. So far I've spent about $1100 on the bike, a running last-gen VFR750 with shot bodywork, and another $1200 on replica RC30 panels from the USA. Wish us luck.

Maybe I should have gone for the Speed Quattro first...

(Ed's note: Triumph is in the throes of launching a new Speed Triple 1200 – let's hope it looks as good as these Quattros.)


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