By : RAHIL SHAIKH
The Bajaj-Triumph alliance has launched a brand new motorcycle, and considering the introductory price tag of INR 2.33 lakhs (ex-showroom), it is nothing short of a steal deal, for the first 10,000 customers. But what is the Speed 400, which rivals other heavyweights in the segment such as the newly launched Harley Davidson X440, Jawa 42, Honda H’ness 350 and a few others like, in terms of performance? We tell you. Read on…
In terms of looks, the retro vibes of the motorcycle really do exude the Triumph essence but with a fresher touch to it. The all LED headlamp features a round DRL and a centered Triumph logo. The modern retro styling of the headlight adds to the charisma of the motorcycle and lights up the road fairly well. The golden USD forks add a bit of premium feel to the front end, and when combined with the round LED headlight, gives a real clean front fascia to the motorcycle. The side profile on one side is dominated by the huge saree guard, however, on the other side, the brushed silver finish of the exhaust also boasts a premium motorcycle feel. The rear, in our opinion, is best described as one that has a ‘minimalist’ styling and could definitely have been more attractive, nevertheless, it serves the purpose of retro styling.
Bring the motorcycle to life and the first thing that strikes you about it is that it has got a very soothing exhaust note. When idling, the exhaust note is very nice but as one goes up the rev range, the prominent screaming of the single cylinder engine is audible. The motorcycle, as you’ll read below, is not without its flaws but overall, it is a jack of all trades. The motorcycle accelerates in tandem with you rather than leaving you feeling like it is leaving you behind, like you do on the KTM Duke 390, which can be quite temperamental.
The Speed 400’s tank is relatively small, making it difficult to hold on to and so your shoulders and legs end up working a little bit harder. The motorcycle dips pretty nicely from side to side when turning, but lack of traction on the tank does not inspire confidence. The seat is well cushioned and riding with a pillion does not feel cramped. The rear set footpegs and raised handlebars provide a relatively comfortable riding triangle for the rider.
The gearing of the baby Triumph is on the shorter side but it delivers linear power throughout. Riding is fairly smooth and instils a sense of calm, however, as you go up the rev range, around 5500rpm and above, the motorcycle starts to vibrate a fair bit. If you snap the throttle and try to squeeze every ounce of power from the motorcycle, the vibration can be felt through the handlebars and foot pegs and consequently the ride reflects it. The clutch is light and you do not need to add a lot of throttle input in order to swerve through traffic and that is a big plus for the motorcycle. If you find yourself getting a little lazy, the motorcycle can still gradually increase speed from 20 km/h in the third gear. Overall, the 398cc, liquid cooled motor does a good job in distributing the 39.5 bhp and 37.5 Nm of torque.
One thing that was noticeable on the highway was that there was no need to pin the throttle to reach highway speeds. Providing easy throttle inputs ensured we reached 100 km/h in no time. Unlike the KTM Duke 390, the motorcycle feels like butter on the highway and just glides through.
The Speed 400 rides on 17-inch alloys and came shod with Apollo’s Alpha H1s. The tires deliver good feedback and their profile adds to the nimble nature of the motorcycle. In terms of adjustability, the motorcycle only comes with rear preload setting and nothing more. The motorcycle is set up on the softer side and deals with potholes with ease. The softness of the suspension does not get in the way until you attack a corner at high speeds and then you feel that the motorcycle does not want to do that. The braking performance is average the brakes do what they’re meant to do. There is no sharp initial bite and they are really progressive in terms of stopping the motorcycle.
Overall, the Speed 400 is a good all-rounder with the British DNA instilled in it. Despite the instrument cluster being a bit too retro and missing out on the basic Bluetooth connectivity offered these days and the switchgear not exactly being bragworthy with its below par finish, the Speed 400, we’ll say, has definitely worked very hard at being an authentic Triumph and has come very close to succeeding too. A good start for anyone who is seeking entry into the haloed Triumph club and that too at a really affordable price tag!