2024 BMW R12 NineT vs Triumph Speed Twin 1200: Which Is Better?

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BMW R12 NineT vs Triumph Speed Twin 1200

This year, BMW made a significant update to their sporty retro, the R nine T, with a new version called the 1290.

But how does it compare to one of the other best naked sporty retros on the market, the Triumph speed twin 1200.


So first up, lets start with the engines And both bikes are powered by 1200 cc twin.

But I think on performance the BMW certainly has the edge with an extra 10 HP top made at pretty much the same point in the rev range.

It is a surprisingly punchy engine for an air cooled twin. And especially in the dynamic riding mode, it really does have a lot of snap to the throttle.

Now, on top of that, you’ve got the shaft drive which gives it that very direct feeling.

And also you Have got that typical boxer side to side kick.

Now, the speed twin is still pretty quick at just under 100 hp, but I think its fair to say the focus is a little more on low end torque with a comparable peak figure made a couple of thousand rpm, lowering the revs perhaps more than the performance figures.

Though the deciding factor here for most riders will be the feel and sound, which couldn’t be more different considering they Are the same capacity and the same number of cylinders.

The R 12 NineT reals has that flat drone in boxer sound and a super smooth feel to it which Will either float your boat or not.

Whereas the triumphs 270 degree crank gives it that v twin sort of growl, which in my opinion is a lot nicer on the ears, although it has become such a common engine configuration over the past few years that it has perhaps started to feel a bit less special.

So, look, both quick bikes, similar ish figures, the same on fuel but vastly different on vibes.


And so i call this one even onto the chassis and handling. And the key difference here is that the R 12 NineT is longer and lower with that boxer twin also feeling like it holds the center of gravity low as well.

This gives the BMW its own handling characteristic, which isn’t necessarily bad. Its a fun bike to ride .

The speed twin, on the other hand, feels a little more nimble to me with a few less kilograms weight and a shorter wheelbase.

And id also say its the bike of the two that feels the more intuitive. As for the componentry, well, both are on Mazochi forks, but the R 12 NineT has a better ride quality, in my opinion, with a chunkier upside down fork at the front and a mono shock at the rear to the relatively budget twin shocks of the speed twin.

On top of that, you’ve got preload, compression and rebound adjustability on the fork and preload and rebound on the shock. But with the triumphs fork, it’s non adjustable.

And you’ve also just got preload on the shocks. So while you can get it set up for carrying a passenger, the BM is the one to go for if you’re keen to get the ride absolutely dialed in to your tastes and dimensions.

From a braking perspective, I’d possibly expect the speed twin to have the better stopping performance with the slightly higher spec Brembo M 50 calipers, and also larger 320 mil disks.

But out on the road, the feel at the lever and the sense of power, is superior on the R 12 NineT. So, like I say, the BMW does take a little learning.

But with all those factors combined, I think it’s the one I’d go for on a good twisty road.


With both of these bikes being retro naked, there’s not a great deal to separate them from a comfort perspective, they’re both pretty simple, with neutral bar positions and ever so slightly sporty pegs.

And also the seat heights don’t have too much to separate them either. The BMW is a little lower at 795 mil.

The speed twin a little more tail up at 809. But it’s not exactly the difference between a monkey bike and a tenere.

Pillions are reasonably well accommodated, as far as you can realistically expect on bikes like these.

And both have heated grips, available in the accessories catalog. Now, the BMW will go a little further on a tank with 16 liters to the 14.5 of the triumph, with official fuel economy figures being exactly the same.

But I would say both are reasonable for this style of bike. So really there isn’t enough to separate them to award a clear point.

And so, again, this one is evens.


Where these two bikes really do diverge, though, is on the technology front. Which is better, I think will depend on exactly what you want from a retro bike.

Is it purely for the looks and you want something actually pretty modern underneath, or do you want something with more of an authentic old school riding experience? I’d say the speed twin delivers more so on the latter.

There are three riding modes, traction control and abs. But everything is administered through a small lcd display set into the twin analog clocks.

And you’ve got a pretty simple switchgear layout too.

So if you wanted to add any modern capabilities to a bike like this you realistically have to go with a foam mount on the bars.

Now the BMW, while the standard kit is a step up with not only the same three riding modes but also their dynamic traction control and ABS probe both of which are lean sensitive.

Then you got many many more options in the accessories catalog with cruise control and a quick shifter both available as part of their 980 pound comfort pack.

Then you can swap out the twin clocks for a mini TFT display for 120 quid and also spec their 280 quid connected ride control feature which allows you to use your smartphone as an extra display and control it with the jog wheel on the left hand switch gear.

Now clearly if you start adding all this stuff it’s going to push the price up significantly, but in terms of technological capabilities, if that’s your sort of thing, the BMW has much more to offer.


Now one of the big updates to the R 12 NineT reals this year is in the styling department with a much neater frame design that makes things look a little more cohesive towards the rear end of the bike.

They also remove the air intake scoop from the side of the tank and move the airbox to the traditional spot under the riders saddle for a more conventional silhouette.

Then you’ve got the new tank shape, the new cylinder head covers and also some new finishing options.

And in my opinion it combines for a great looking bike. within the constraints of what’s possible with this particular engine layout, I think they Have done a bangin job.

As standard it comes in black with aluminum knee areas on the tank, but the bike we Are talking about had their option 719 upgrade pack with the red frame, brushed aluminum tank seat cover, fly screen and the extra bits of billet hardware.

Now sadly it is another 2100 pounds along with the pound 550 quid for the spoke wheels. But it definitely had a special feel to it.

Now, the speed twin, like the R 12 NineT, comes in black for the base price. Although I really do like the ironstone and gray finish for another 350 quid.

800 quid, on the other hand, will get you the stealth edition tank, which is only available for this year.

I’d say this bike is a little bit neater looking still, triumph really do have the whole modern classic thing nailed, with not a single part looking out of place. Everything just looks well finished and considered in its design.

Right down to the smallest parts that other manufacturers might overlook.

But ultimately, both of them are beautiful bikes and so again, this one’s evens.


From a price perspective, though, there can only be one winner and that has to be the triumph.

11,995 pounds puts it much more in line with other sporty retros, like the Kawasaki Z 900 rs and the Yamaha XSR 900.

Whereas the BMW really is a significant step up above.

Then you’ve got the extras it feels like there’s a lot less flexibility with the BMW catalog, because some of the parts are bundled into those packs.

Whereas with the triumph, you can pretty much pick and choose the individual upgrades.

And then also, you know, we’ve talked about how well finished and good looking the BMW can be, and how many techie options you’ve got.

But of course you’re going to have to pay for a lot of those things.

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