Home CAR & BIKES How a Triumph Speed 400 replaced my Duke 200: From search to...

How a Triumph Speed 400 replaced my Duke 200: From search to ownership

While parting, the Duke gave me a taste that is hard to forget and I for one cannot be satisfied with something not being as intoxicating.

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Hello everyone! Please welcome our newest member fee bleue in this forum.

Isn’t she beautiful!!

Background:

My search for new bike began during January this year after undergoing and recovering from a surgery.

I have learnt riding bikes while studying in class VII on a Bajaj M80 which belonged to a relative. Although my father used to ride a Yezdi, but I was not allowed. Later he sold the Yezdi and bought himself a Bajaj Chetak. I occasionally ride it for about 6 years. Then when I was in college, he gifted me a Discover 125. That was my first!! I rode it with my hearts out. Then after college, when I got a job, I got a Pulsar 150 (Pulsars were the craze then in two / three tier cities). Although I wanted the 200 one, but father agreed to only 150.

Fast forward 8 years, got married, got another job and it was time for an upgrade. After much research and availability in my area, I zeroed in Duke 390 (the first gen, second gen was yet to be launched). Surprisingly the dealership guy convinced my better half that Duke 200 was a better choice for me. I was ready to shell out the full amount for 390 but came home saving about 60 thousand rupees and a Duke 200. I was not unhappy as I was never a top speed or acceleration guy. I was more of a cruiser kind of guy who loved occasional speed bursts for a few minutes in open road.

But the Duke fulfilled my desire. It has superb handling, occasional adrenaline rushing and good mileage for my use cases. And it spoiled me. The grin when revving out was an addictive one. She was rough, she was angry and moody. She whispers things in your ears, she makes you do things you didn’t know you were capable of. She keeps you on the edge. But when she rides, she makes a connection which nothing can emulate.

But not all was rosy with it. The seat was extremely hard, there was engine vibes and unmistakably stiff suspension. I could feel the smallest of rumbles in my spine while on it. My wife also started to complain against its’ ride quality. Two up was manageable but even thinking of carrying our little one for a long ride was impossible. So the Duke had to go. But while parting, she gave me a taste that is hard to forget and I for one cannot be satisfied with something not being as intoxicating.

Search:

After selling the Duke, a few things happened in quick succession. I had to undergo a surgery, it took considerable time to recover from it. During that time, I was riding my wife’s Suzuki Swish 125 for daily office commutes. She even bought herself an Electric Scooty for her daily chores. All our road journeys were in our Nexon. But the longing for a bike was always at the back of my mind. So the search for the new one started again. But as the age advances, so are our priorities. This time my priorities were a little more practical:

  • It will be a one bike garage. Keeping the Swish alongside the bike is not an option.
  • The bike should offer very good comfort.
  • It should not be a heavy bike. My garage has a sloped entrance. And I am not allowed to put pressure on my left hand.
  • The seat height should be in the range of 800 mm. 10-15 mm on both sides are not dealbreakers either.
  • Styling should not be very aggressive or attraction grabbing. As during office hours I’ll be keeping it in a public parking, it should not attract much attention. Not a fan of loud exhaust either.
  • There should be some exclusiveness, not something that everyone else is riding.
  • This one is the most critical, it should remind me of my Duke to some extent.

Other bikes considered:

  • Duke 390: again!! But this time it was rejected on point 2 and 5. The Duke, whatever generation it may be, still grabs eyeballs. It is a looker which also attracts all sorts of gaze.
  • Honda CB300R: I somehow could not justify the earlier asking price. Also the bike felt very small even for two persons. A married man’s nightmare!! Also the horrors of parts availability at Honda Bigwing.
  • Honda CB350: No. 3, 5 and 7. Also did not find it exciting enough but was in consideration till finalisation.
  • RE Classic: No. 6, 7 and 3. It is at the extreme opposite end of Duke (and the Duke has spoiled me enough). Everyone is riding a classic these days, there is no exclusivity.
  • RE Meteor 350: Same as Classic. I even booked one, but they failed to deliver within the time and I cancelled my booking. I am thankful to RE for that.
  • Harley 440: 3, 5 and 7. Also not a fan of how it looked in pictures. Did not go for any test ride either.
  • Scrambler 400: I was more inclined towards this, but after watching the Revzilla video and considering my use case and price difference, finalised the speed.

Showroom Experience:

Back then when Speed was launched, Kolkata had only one Triumph dealership: Speed Triumph. Although the name itself has speed mentioned in it their service was lackluster. I visited after the initial excitement period, the deliveries had started, people were somewhat clear what to expect from the bike. However their attitude towards the customers were pathetic, no one actually came forward to talk or ask what I was looking for. I had described my experience in an earlier post in this forum. I came back disappointed and decided to wait for the unveiling of Himalayan.

The launch and subsequent reviews of the Himalayan made me realise, this is not the bike I am looking for. The Himalayan is too obvious, too much attention grabbing. I prefer stealth over attention.

Then I came to know about another dealership opening, this time OSL Triumph. By that time Scrambler was launched. I contacted over phone, and their representative picked the call. He was very reassuring and ready to provide test ride on the day itself. I visited on 21.11.2023 took the test ride. It was a short one but satisfying. I booked and paid the full amount on the day with a promised delivery on 25.11.2023.

Delivery:

As scheduled, I reached the dealership at about 3 pm. They handed over the documents and the bike after one hour. Two dealership persons just handed over the keys to me and explained the speedo console and its operation. No cake cutting or unveiling. I just asked my friend to take a photo and it was done.

Riding impression:

Oh! My my! The first thing you notice while riding this bike is how easy going it is. Start the bike, slot the gear and pull the throttle a little. It just glides. Gear changes were smooth, and the acceleration was linear. From the dealership I had to ride about 15 kms in stop-go and slow moving traffic. The bike could easily keep 30kmph in 4th gear without any hiccups. It can pull from there in 4th and maintain the poise. Likewise 40kmph in 5th. If the traffic speed is steady the even 6th gear can be slotted while moving at 40kmph.

After that 15 km in traffic, the road opened and I began to accelerate. However I maintained an average speed around 75 kmph with occasional speed burst. 80 is reached just below 4000 RPM. But the speed limiter was set at 90, so could not test higher speed or presence of any vibration. Till 80 it was very smooth.

I rode nearly 110 km (including the city traffic) at single stretch, but the journey was uneventful. Out of 110 km, I was able to ride about 90 km in 6th gear itself. The engine being very much easy going, did not required change of gear while slowing down at diversions, or picking up speeds. Did not check the brake bite, but it was fine in the traffic, so no worries there.

But not all are rosy!! The engine does heat up in traffic. I did feel the heat on my legs in stop-go traffic. But once on open highway I didn’t feel anything. May be the heating will improve after the break-in period.

And the headlight could have been a little brighter. It was just sufficient, but a little more brightness would have been nice. I am not a fan of Aux Lights, will have to find a better solution for night ride.

Final thought:

After I sold the Duke, there was a void. I was riding the scooter and driving the Nexon, but the grin a motorcycle could bring was simply not there. It was like passing the days but without living those. Whenever I saw someone riding a new bike, I would place myself at his position and satiate my desire.

The Duke was like an angry and moody girlfriend. She needed constant attention and patting. But if you can live with that anger, she would reward you with unmatched excitement. Everytime you pull the throttle she never misses to elevate your enthusiasm. She is raw but she is a gem. Just learn to live with her.

And then the Speed 400. She is like the perfect wife you married a few years back. She knows your strength and shortcomings and yet she chooses to be with you in high or low. She still has that anger, but now matured enough to hide it under her smile. She still got that rawness but learned to socialize with grace. Poke her and she will show you her true colour. If you need your life easy, she is glad to accompany you. If you need that grin while riding, you know what to do….

We made a small Youtube videosharing it here.

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