Why is three the magic num­ber?

Tri­umph gets Joe pon­der­ing what makes the per­fect en­gine set-up

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - joe.dick@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

I’ve chewed through over 2000 twisty miles on the Tri­umph Street Triple 765 RS and I’m lov­ing ev­ery minute. From its beau­ti­ful han­dling to the re­fined looks, I just can’t get enough.

An­other as­pect of the bike that I’m re­ally en­joy­ing is the en­gine. Up un­til now, I’d only ever rid­den one triple in my sev­eral years of road rid­ing, iron­i­cally a Speed Triple a few years back. It’s been sin­gles, twins and four­cylin­der ma­chines for me and un­til re­cently I’ve not had a chance to get my hands on an­other triple.

It’s a cu­ri­ous con­fig­u­ra­tion but one that re­ally works. Many rid­ers find a triple is the per­fect balance be­tween a twin and a four; it’s got the char­ac­ter and low-down torque of a V-twin, mean­ing it’s ef­fort­less punch­ing out of corners and gives you plenty of flex­i­bil­ity with gear se­lec­tion. But, un­like a V-twin, a triple has a much-reduced ten­dency to vi­brate. In fact, the cur­rent Street Triple 765 is stun­ning in its smooth­ness, in ev­ery­thing from its low rpm/high gear pulling abil­ity to its per­fectly cal­i­brated throt­tle re­sponse and fu­elling – it’s one su­per-smooth ma­chine.

Four-cylin­der bikes are smooth too, but some ac­cuse them of be­ing a bit soul­less, and all that comes down to the fir­ing or­der. A con­ven­tional in­line-four has an even fir­ing or­der where com­bus­tion hap­pens ev­ery 180-de­gree ro­ta­tion of the crank­shaft, which spreads the power pulses out equally for max­i­mum balance and per­for­mance. My Tri­umph may need a bal­ancer shaft to help gen­er­ate some of its smooth­ness, but the trade off is that it’s got amaz­ing char­ac­ter – and makes a bril­liant sound, too.

But, even though the Tri­umph triple has re­ally im­pressed me, it’s not quite my all-time favourite en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion. That honour is be­stowed upon V4s, which al­ways re-ig­nite child­hood mem­o­ries of watch­ing Aaron Slight blast around on a Cas­trol Honda RC45 when­ever I ride them.

‘It’s got amaz­ing char­ac­ter – and makes a bril­liant sound too’

If the ground was a lit­tle closer Joe would have got his knee down

Three cylin­ders of pure rid­ing ge­nius

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