The new Street Triple has big tyre treads to fill. The most rigourous and demanding test in motorcycling reveals whether or not it’s up to the challenge…
A rigorous 5200-miles on Triumph’s astonishing Street Triple R.
IT’S EVERYTHING YOU’D want it to be,’ says Mike Armitage from Bike’s first ride of the 2007 Triumph Street Triple 675. ‘You could shut your eyes and direct the agile chassis with thought alone. And the motor: smooth, flexible power from tickover.’ A very impressive machine, it seems. But ten years later, that smooth and flexible 675 engine has finally been superseded. And given the spectacular success of the first machine 2017’s Street Triple certainly has its work cut out. A root and branch rework is always a risk when the bike in question is as celebrated as the Street Triple. But Triumph took that risk with a new engine – the same 765cc triple destined for Moto2 – and sharp and controlled handling. Triumph re-imagined the Street Triple into a very different kind of motorcycle. 150 hours and 5200 miles riding will get to the bottom of whether or not Hinckley’s work, has worked out…
Engine and transmission
The starting point for the new 765 was the engine from the outgoing Daytona 675 and not the previous Street Triple. Choosing that engine meant Triumph could Siamese the liners – cast all three as a single unit – inside the Daytona’s lightweight aluminium block to maximize bore. It’s also stroked, creating 90cc extra for more power and torque across the graph. There’s a definite increase in thrust, the featherlight throttle propelling you forward with a more dedicated and serious bent than the 675. More focused and keen than Yamaha’s MT-09 and Kawasaki’s Z900, too. This, the ‘R’, sits in the middle of 2017’s three-bike Street Triple range. The ‘S’ keeps the entry price to a respectable £8200, the ‘RS’ has its eye much more on racetrack enthusiasts and commands a £1900 premium due to uprated parts. Meanwhile the R rings the tills at £9100 on the road. There’s a different engine tune for each model: soft 111bhp peak for the S, 121bhp for the RS, and our R disturbs the dyno at 118bhp as tested – that’s 2bhp more than official figures. The various tunes are achieved by intake, exhaust and camshaft tweaking. Take a close look at the torque curve to see the R running straight and clear above both the S and the RS between 6000 and 7750rpm. That means more torque where you need it for road riding. Splendid. A tall first gear splits opinion. ‘It doesn’t have the immediate on-road zap you expect from a Street Triple,’ complains Mike. ‘The Daytona’s long first gear and 150mph potential make it feel revvy and long-legged, with a big rush at the top of the rev range.’ Editor Wilson, however, is more forgiving. ‘Shorter gearing would make the bike more aggressive, but for ordinary riders taller gears help it to be ridden on the road in a controlled way. They also help keep fatigue away on longer fast rides. Get to the next corner and tip the thing in without too much shifting.’ The aggressive engine note, however, sends adjective generators into overdrive. ‘It’s a glorious tearing noise,’ offers Hugo. ‘Like ripping a cloth every time you accelerate.’ Twist back the throttle and the noise becomes meatier thanks to a redesigned airbox, giving a richer noise than the 675 it replaces. Combine racket and thrust with the beautifully clean gearbox, and acceleration becomes thoroughly addictive. Clicking into the next ratio feels tight and accurate, even more so when clutchless shifting. When you’ve perfected dipping the throttle, clutchless upshifts are smoother than using the quickshifter on Yamaha’s MT-09.
Handling and ride
Out on technical Welsh B-roads the Street Triple R is initially resistant at very slow speeds due to its front-end weight bias, but a faster pace soon has it diving into corners. Precision turn-in is helped by the handlebar’s neutral placement which is not as high or as far forward as the MT-09’S. The
‘You eye‘‘ you could shut your eyescould shut your eyes and direct the agile chassis with thought alone’
perch tilts you ever so slightly forward over the front - you feel like you are commanding from above, rather than riding from within like, say, Kawasaki’s Z900. Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres may be OE fitment, but work well on surfaces as diverse as damp Belgian B-roads and a bone-dry Rockingham Motor Speedway. However, the springs are harsh enough to warrant pained criticism from Mike. ‘It’s like a naked sportsbike – firm and focused rather than supple and forgiving.’ An extra half-degree rake and 5mm trail over 2013’s R model help keep the Street’s front wheel touching tarmac. Even at full throttle in second gear. This straight-laced obedience is very unlike the preceding Street, and is enough to make Mike look elsewhere for his adrenaline fix. ‘I know it’s the R version, and R means sporty-fast-whizzbang. But I think the focus spoils its ability to function as a road bike.’ Ride harder, turn faster, and the nimble focus is complemented by the firm resistance of well-damped fork and shock. The support builds confidence and tempts extra speed. Suspension is balanced front-to-back, too. There’s none of the single-ended sagging that happens at fast lean on an original MT-09. Less preload than stock suits my weight, while navigating the twisting valley roads of Wallonia called for softer damping, although turning the adjusters is a pain without removing the handlebar. Two turns and two clicks down at the front, two turns at the rear – tweaks that help soften the R’s ‘focus’ issues. Everyone agrees the R tackles road test routes in Wales, the back roads of the Nene Valley and the Belgian Ardennes with veteran expertise. ‘It’s the perfect speed for a road bike,’ muses Hugo. ‘It’s fast enough to go really, really fast. I can’t see the point of a Speed Triple over a Street.’ Bike’s art bloke Paul Lang agrees. ‘It’s almost too quick for the road. I wouldn’t ever need anything faster.’
The Street Triple boasts four riding modes: sport, road, rain, and rider. However, unlike Yamaha’s MT-09 it needs just one. Fly-by-wire throttle response is so clean and subtle that all required adjustment can be made at the twistgrip. On top of that, the Bike office is unanimous that any difference between the four modes is negligible. Mike again: ‘There’s not a lot of difference between
them in terms of what they do, and even less in what you feel.’ So that’s that… Throttle pinned on a sunny August trackday, traction control level two interrupts forward thrust. Waggle the joystick, select the lower setting, and acceleration is now uninhibited. The warning light only flashes on the most ragged of corner exits. ABS skulks in the background, allowing the front Pirelli to slide slightly under heavy braking. A sharp foil for Rockingham’s national circuit. The only thing missing for intermediate track work is a quickshifter, although clutchless shifting feels precise.
‘It’s almost too quick for the road. I wouldn’t ever need anything faster’
‘Don’t expect the youthful strut of the original Street – today’s Triple is a classy, do-it-all naked sportsbike’
Trust in the traction control wanes somewhat after I manage to spin the rear in cold and salty conditions. Even on its most intrusive setting the TC waits a full second before cutting ignition. The system undoubtedly takes measurements milliseconds apart, but that doesn’t matter if it then takes too long to act on the data. A second is plenty of time to reach lowside point of no return.
Controls and comfort
Navigating the menu befuddles some of the more sage Bike staffers and unsurprisingly leads to much disagreement. ‘It takes a while for using the joystick dash control to become second nature,’ admits Mike. ‘The dash is very of-the-moment and has a bewildering amount of information, not to mention loads of display options.’ As the token youth-of-today on the Bike team, I can happily tap and click around without losing my oily rag – make of that what you will. A changing screen layout doesn’t have to grate. True, the option is there. But like the settings on a smartphone, it can be ignored without issue. Initiate a deep dive into the menu system with a stab at the home button on the left switchgear. It’s here that settings for each of the four riding modes can be modified. The chosen riding mode is remembered when the bike is switched off, unless it has been modified to switch off TC or ABS. A frustrating little warning pops up every time you select the offending settings. No doubt thanks to an over-zealous legal department. nd LED running lights form slim wings that run through the centre of each headlight. They’re only suitable for daytime running and are woefully dim at night. Flick a switch with your left thumb to swap them for the main beam headlight, then tap the pass trigger for full beam. It’s a little superfluous, and running lights never seem to be pressed into action as nights grow longer. The seat’s firm, and as we said before it angles down slightly towards the tank. Long journeys are certainly possible, but the pillion situation is more severe – to be frank it wouldn’t look out of place bolted to the back of a supersports bike.
Avoid rain. Avoid cold. Why? Because there’s a distinct lack of weather protection. And don’t expect bungee points under the subframe or under the seat. Kriega packs can be lashed to the subframe, but wobble back and forth without any proper mounting points. On the plus side the seat has clips for two helmets – handy for security on urban errands. Alas, that’s where practicality stalls. The Street is the most focused middleweight naked, and its lack of utility reflects this. Fuel level is well presented. A bar to the left of the display screen rises and falls between full and empty. Or at least it should. Ours packed up at 1800 miles and hasn’t worked since. It’s allowed us to run the Street Triple dry on multiple occasions – always in the name of science, mind. Never on the side of the M25. Expect 180 motorway miles or 145 fast B-road miles from a full 17.4-litre tank. Numbers crunched, that means a conservative 47mpg or an exuberant 37.9mpg. Thirsty, then.
Five days of Belgian rainstorms and motorway mist failed to dent the Street’s shiny image, with the slight exception of a rusting collector box. Curvaceous tank and subframe cowling lines lend the blinding performance a sense of class that elevates the bike’s image above its substantial list price.
A storming naked sportsbike, as adept at rush hour commuting as an evening raid on the local racetrack. It’s both fast and obedient, with chassis geometry that encourages intense forward thrust rather than opportunistic wheelies. That’s not to say it doesn’t balance well on one wheel, but you now have to ask it to misbehave. Pricey, sure, but similar in cost to an Öhlinsequipped 2018 Yamaha MT-09 SP. And with a better finish. Don’t expect the youthful strut of the original Street – today’s Triple is a classy, do-it-all naked sportsbike.
Street Triple is a legend in its own lifetime, and the new ‘R’ certainly keeps its end up
The leafy Belgian Ardennesexposes Triple’s lack of bad-weather preparedness
No need for hlins. Stock Showa set-up allows track tomfoolery
Press Home on the right switchgear for in-depth options
Note delicious sculpted swingarm LED day running lights in action Fast road riding is what the R does best