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 beautiful
Sculpted seat comes with a cowl to cover the pillion seat and restore the café racer look