Tri­umph street cup

The lo­ca­tion: south­ern Spain. The bike: Tri­umph’s new Street Cup, a par­al­lel twin café racer. Here is how this first ride went off


Your first step to café rac­ing

he six Tri­umph

café rac­ers pulled up be­hind a Lam­bretta at the traf­fic lights, rid­ers lean­ing for­ward to clip-on han­dle­bars, and blip­ping our throt­tles as the lone scooter rider looked round in sur­prise. For a mo­ment it must have re­sem­bled a scene from the Bri­tain of the 1960s — a gang of Rock­ers in­tim­i­dat­ing an un­sus­pect­ing Mod, with trou­ble in mind.

But this was a sleepy vil­lage in south­ern Spain in 2017, the scooter rider was an elderly lo­cal, and our bikes were Tri­umph’s new Street Cup — a par­al­lel twin café racer for sure, but one of the mildest mo­tor­bikes ever to wear Ace bars. When the lights changed, we ac­cel­er­ated away in or­derly fash­ion, en­joy­ing the Cup’s un­spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance and leav­ing the lo­cals ut­terly un­threat­ened.

That lack of ag­gres­sion is a key fea­ture of the Street Cup, which is in­tended not as a hard-and-fast street racer but as a gen­tle, rider-friendly road­ster with a café racer look. Tri­umph’s pub­lic­ity blurb de­scribes the “ur­ban sports Bon­neville” as fun, ac­ces­si­ble and easy to per­son­alise. “It’s in­tended as a sportier ver­sion of the Street Twin, not as a smaller-ca­pac­ity ver­sion of the Thrux­ton,” says Stu­art Wood, the Hinck­ley firm’s de­sign chief.

The Street Twin pro­vides the vast ma­jor­ity of Cup com­po­nents, in­clud­ing its en­gine. The SOHC, 900-cc liq­uid­cooled unit is me­chan­i­cally un­changed, so in a softly tuned state, or “high torque” in Tri­umph speak. The Street Cup’s new pair of shorter, black­fin­ished si­lencers don’t af­fect ei­ther the max­i­mum power fig­ure of 55 PS at 5,900 rpm or the sub­stan­tial peak torque fig­ure of 80 Nm, which is pro­duced at just 3,230 rpm.

The tubu­lar steel frame also re­mains un­changed, as are the triple clamps and Kayaba forks, ex­cept that the Cup’s 41-mm di­am­e­ter legs are fit­ted with small pro­tec­tors, rather than gaiters like the Twin’s. Main chas­sis change is the longer, slightly stiffer rear shocks, which steepen the steer­ing geom­e­try slightly (rake goes from 25.1 to 24.3 de­grees) and in­crease ground clear­ance, in con­junc­tion with new Thrux­ton-style foot-rests.

Bor­rowed Thrux­ton parts in­clude the forged alu­minium mounts for the head­lamp, which sup­ports a fly-screen

that is colour-matched to the Cup’s two-tone paint­work. There’s also a seat hump in the same blend of yel­low or black with grey, clipped above the rear of a dual-seat whose Al­can­tara-ef­fect top adds to the classy look. Other neat de­tails in­clude bar-end mir­rors, bul­let in­di­ca­tors and Thrux­ton-style twin clocks with pol­ished stain­less steel sur­rounds and dig­i­tal in­serts, in place of the Street Twin’s sin­gle speedo.

Per­haps, the key café-racer el­e­ment is that Ace han­dle­bar, which gives a much more ag­gres­sive look than the Twin’s near-flat bar. The grips are only very slightly lower and nar­rower than the road­ster’s, so I hardly had to lean for­ward more after throw­ing a leg over the seat, which is slightly taller than the Twin’s due to the longer shocks, but still low enough to make the bike very man­age­able. The Street Cup still felt com­pact and re­spectably light, which it is at 200 kg dry, a cou­ple of ki­los up on the Street Twin.

This all meant that, as we headed through the out­skirts of Seville to start the launch ride, the new Tri­umph had much the same ami­able feel as the model that launched the new­gen­er­a­tion Bon­neville fam­ily a year ago. The com­pact Cup hardly felt like a 900-cc bike, de­spite its racy look. That softly tuned en­gine has just the one rid­ing mode and didn’t need more. Nor did I re­ally re­quire a rev-counter to con­firm that the mo­tor pulled sweetly al­most from idle.

The broad torque spread, com­bined with typ­i­cally crisp fu­elling, en­sured there was al­ways ac­cel­er­a­tion avail­able. The Tri­umph rum­bled for­wards, sound­ing re­spectably throaty through those Euro 4-com­pli­ant si­lencers. Its 270-de­gree crank­shaft en­gine stayed smooth even when revved hard, but it felt pretty flat at the top end so I gen­er­ally short-shifted through the

light five-speed box.

When we reached the high­way head­ing west to­wards Huelva, the Tri­umph sat at about 120 km/h, feel­ing very ef­fort­less, while I crouched down, glad that the fly-screen at least took some of the wind off my chest on a cold day. Min­gling with the cars on the A-49, it snapped for­ward to over­take when re­quested. With clear road ahead the Tri­umph picked up its skirt and rum­bled up to just over an in­di­cated 160 km/h, close to its true top speed, while I at­tempted an oc­ca­sional glance in the sur­pris­ingly use­ful bar-end mir­rors.

That speed won’t im­press many for­mer Rock­ers, given that their bikes topped the “ton” more than half a cen­tury ago, but at least the Street Cup could doubt­less keep it up re­li­ably un­til its 12-litre tank ran dry. In some ways the racy-look­ing Cup is a bit of a fraud but it ar­guably de­serves a tro­phy for econ­omy. Thrash­ing it failed to bring con­sump­tion be­low an im­pres­sive 4.7 litres/100 km (ac­cord­ing to the in­stru­ment panel), and 4.0 litres/100 km is pos­si­ble, mean­ing re­al­is­tic range is get­ting on for 250 km, if not the 320 claimed by Tri­umph.

If straight-line per­for­mance is ad­e­quate rather than ex­cit­ing, the Cup can cer­tainly pro­vide fun in the bends, as it proved when we reached a fab­u­lous road in the hills west of Seville. For much of the 30-km stretch be­tween La Palma del Con­dado and Ber­ro­cal the tar­mac roughly fol­lows the river Rio Tinto, twist­ing so vi­ciously and thrillingly that, with Tri­umph test rider David Lopez set­ting a brisk pace up ahead, there was barely time for a glance at the aptly-named dark red water along­side.

The Tri­umph at­tacked it, feel­ing en­joy­ably ag­ile and con­trol­lable for what is essen­tially a sim­ple twin-shock bike. Its Ace bars shift weight for­ward slightly, in com­bi­na­tion with the longer shocks which use­fully sharpen the steer­ing feel. I still needed a fairly firm nudge of the bars to get the 18-inch front wheel chang­ing di­rec­tion in a hurry, and when the pace hot­ted up the non-ad­justable front forks felt slightly soft and un­der-damped.

But the shocks, which have dual-rate springs and, like the forks, give 120 mm of travel, were re­spectably firm and very well con­trolled. Sta­bil­ity was ex­cel­lent, and there was plenty of ground clear­ance with which to en­joy the

pe­riod-look Pirelli Phan­tom Sport­sComp tyres’ very de­cent grip as the Tri­umph carved up the HU-4103 to­wards Ber­ro­cal. As with the Street Twin, there’s trac­tion con­trol too, al­beit a ba­sic sys­tem that shouldn’t be re­lied on when cor­ner­ing hard.

I thought brak­ing power was up to the job, too, although some rid­ers seemed less im­pressed. The Cup up­grades the Street Twin’s sys­tem slightly with a dif­fer­ent twin-pot Nissin cal­liper and float­ing sin­gle disc. Hard stop­ping re­quired a fairly firm squeeze, es­pe­cially for those with small hands (though the lever is ad­justable) but there was rea­son­able feel, the ABS worked well, and over­all the sys­tem felt about right for the rest of the bike.

The value of the Tri­umph’s rel­a­tively soft front end and less-than-rad­i­cal rid­ing po­si­tion be­came clear to­wards the end of the ride, when we headed back to­wards Seville on the high­way. On plenty of café rac­ers, the low clipons and stiff sus­pen­sion that would have helped by giv­ing a tauter, sharper ride in the hills would have be­come a pain by now.

By con­trast, the Street Cup purred back feel­ing as rider-friendly as ever. I found the seat and rid­ing po­si­tion

Lend­ing the Street Cup some “Rocker” au­then­tic­ity are these Ace Bars

Forged alu­minium head lamp mounts are from the Thrux­ton, but the fly­screen is new

New si­lencers, which are shorter and fin­ished in black, haven’t af­fected the out­put The Street Cup fea­tures the same 41-mm Kayaba front fork that is set slightly on the softer side Beau­ti­fully colour-coded fuel tank looks breath­tak­ingly...

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