When the term ‘literbike’ comes into the conversation, the last thing most people imagine is a vintage-styled sportbike. From one viewpoint, the modes of yesteryear seem downright regressive in the face of today’s bleeding-edge technology. On the other end of the spectrum, the aggressive lines and performance-driven engineering that dominate modern sportbikes practically thumb their nose at classic motorcycle design.
Many manufacturers attempt to reconcile these differences with modern-classic roadsters, but only Triumph and MV Agusta are bold enough to venture into the uncharted territory of retro literbikes. Hinckley cast the first stone with its Speed Triple 1200 RR. Scantily clad in a bikini fairing, the triple-powered supernaked-turned-superbike drops the hammer and jaws.
MV Agusta is no rookie in the space, though. The Superveloce 800’s success in the middleweight class only emboldened the Schiranna factory to go bigger. It did just that by unveiling the Superveloce 1000 Serie Oro in November, 2022. Whereas the Speed Triple 1200 RR opts for a skimpy outfit, MV Agusta draws on its rich Grand Prix history, dressing the Superveloce 1000 in a full fairing complete with winglets inspired by the 1972 MV500.
Though both bikes go easy on the eyes, we know that true beauty is on the inside. To determine which retro literbike is the real catch, we turn to the spec sheet.
|2023 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR
|2023 MV Agusta Superveloce 1000 Serie Oro
|Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 1,160cc Inline-Triple
|Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 998cc Inline-Four
|Bore and Stroke:
|90mm x 60.8mm
|79mm x 50.9mm
|177 hp/ 92 lb-ft
|208 hp/ 86 lb-ft
|438 pounds (wet)
|428 pounds (dry)
Both Triumph and MV build their stylish super-retros on existing naked bike platforms. Hinckley went with the Speed Triple 1200 RS’s 1,160cc inline triple. The Italians went a different route, however, employing the Brutale 1000 RR’s 998cc inline-four engine. Those divergent paths show up on paper too, with the Speed Triple RR whipping up 177 horsepower while the Superveloce outpaces its opponent with 208 face-melting ponies.
The MV's legs may go the distance, but the Triumph still packs a punch in the form of 92 lb-ft of torque. The Superveloce can’t quite match that off-corner grunt with 86 lb-ft of torque to its name. Heavyweights they may be, but both bikes take their footwork seriously as well.
For the Serie Oro, that includes a Chromoly steel trellis frame and a single-sided aluminum swingarm handed down from the Brutale 1000 RR as well. MV suspends that borrowed package with a fully-adjustable Öhlins Nix EC fork (with TiN coating) and an electronically-adjusted Öhlins EC TTX rear shock.
Triumph doesn’t do part-time when it comes to the RR, though. Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension governs both the front end of the twin-spar aluminum frame and the single-sided swingarm at the rear. The Speed Triple may squeak out a narrow victory with its suspension package, but the two only continue to go blow-for-blow.
The MV claims a round with its 55.71-inch wheelbase and 3.82-inch trail lending slightly more agility than the Triumph’s 56.65-inch wheelbase and 4.12-inch trail. Still, it’s a draw regarding stopping power, with both literbikes employing Brembo’s top-of-the-line Stylema calipers and 320mm discs at the fore. This slugfest could go all 12 rounds based on brawn alone, but both need big brains to harness all that power.
MV Agusta spares no expense when it comes to the Superveloce 1000’s electronic suite. That includes hallmarks like cornering ABS, traction control, and wheelie control along with track-ready features such as launch control, rear-wheel lift mitigation, and an electronically-assisted Shift Up & Down gearbox. Users fine-tune the high-tech system through a 5.5-inch color display that offers iPhone and Android connectivity via the MV Ride app.
Not to be outdone, Triumph brings its own bag of rider aids to the party. We’re talking lean-sensitive ABS and traction control, front wheel lift control, cruise control, and a bi-direction quickshifter. Only slightly smaller at 5 inches, the Speed Triple’s TFT panel also promotes smartphone pairing with the My Triumph Connectivity System. The RR’s five ride modes (Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and Rider) also adapt the faired naked bike to different conditions and environments.
Even with all that flashy tech, the Triumph can’t quite match the Superveloce’s innovative edge: winglets. Sure, the aerodynamic accouterments don’t truly serve a purpose on the road, but they provide the slightest advantage on the track. MV reports that the winglets not only produce downforce on the front end but also optimize cooling efficiency. The Italian firm may have given in to the latest superbike trend, but that’s what also separates the Superveloce 1000 from the Speed Triple 1200 RR.
There’s no doubt about it; the neo-retro category has exploded in popularity over the past few years. However, Triumph and MV Agusta have pushed the segment to its limit with the Speed Triple 1200 RR and Superveloce 1000. We could argue that the Serie Oro journeys beyond those boundaries with its 208-horsepower mill, aerodynamic winglets, and carbon fiber components. Therein lies the rub, though. With such a performance-based build, what could the Superveloce possibly cost?
MV Agusta has yet to reveal the Serie Oro’s availability or MSRP. However, we have a sneaking feeling it’ll easily eclipse the Brutale 1000 RR’s $37,998 price tag. At such a premium, it’s hard to envision many Superveloce 1000 owners putting its capabilities to full use. With that in mind, the customer’s purse strings and heartstrings will ultimately determine which retro superbike they choose. Beauty may be on the inside, but it’s also in the eye of the beholder.