Triumph Street Triple RS
Britain’s go-to B-road brawler has never before been faced with such accomplished competition
THE STREET TRIPLE RS is a ‘flawless’ bike. Design: clean, sculpted, flawless. Engine: pert, powerful, flawless. Handling: assured, neutral, flawless. So why did Bike’s super experienced, fast and demanding road tester Mike Armitage only award it 8/10 on its launch back in 2017? It was because the RS version of the Street Triple is tuned for track work rather than road performance. Where the £1000 cheaper R boasts a spirit level-flat torque curve, the RS drops off twice – at 6500rpm and 8000rpm. This is Triumph exposing the natural harmonics of the engine to boost peak power. The RS biffs the R by 5bhp at the top end, which is good news on a race track, but not so fantastic on your local twisty B-road. Which makes it a bit unfortunate that Triumph could only give us an RS, rather than the B-road friendly Street Triple R, for this test. Drag race the competition, and you’ll see the Triumph’s triumvirate competitors pull away. Where Yamaha’s bulging threecylinder squirts the MT-09 SP out of tight corners, the RS bogs down slightly. The same is true when riding with the KTM or MV: they leave the RS confounded in their wake. Unless, of course, you keep your corner speed up. This is where the Street RS really impresses. For the £10,200 entry fee you get well-damped and fullyadjustable suspenders front and rear. Like the Yamaha there’s an Öhlins shock (this one’s an STX40 instead of the softer-sprung YA535 on the MT) paired with a fork from a different manufacturer. But unlike the Yamaha, the Street’s Showa Big Piston Fork balances the Öhlins rear perfectly. The set-up’s softer than the Brutale 800’s Marzocchi units and copes better with bruised and broken British road surfaces. Ride faster through corners and you’ll be higher up the Triumph’s rev range on the exit, ready to squeeze that peak power from the triple’s high-tune. Get it just right, and the thrust is a marvel. ‘Ooh, that soundtrack,’ gushes Paul Lang after getting it just right. ‘You know when you hear the 20th Century Fox theme, then the ‘DAAH! Dadladaaa’ of Star Wars? The Street Triple at full power gives me just as many goosebumps as that. Did John Williams design that exhaust and airbox noise?’ The characteristic Street Triple whine is as evident as ever on this current iteration.
‘Squeeze peak power from the triple and the thrust is a marvel’
It’s a high harmonic that rises and falls with engine revs, tracking the exhaust’s bassy pitch while adding a scalpel edge to the sound. Especially addictive when you crack open the throttle and charge to 12,500rpm in first, second and third gear. This puts you over but unlike Yamaha’s MT-09 SP the Street is still as composed as a Victorian family portrait. Considering the severe 23.9° rake, 100mm trail and a wheelbase that measures just 1410mm, that’s bewildering. I can only imagine that Triumph’s engineering boffins sleep really rather well at night. Perfectionist Paul Lang thinks the Street Triple is the best bike on this test. ‘It looks well-designed. It’s a complete package and everything’s been thought about,’ he says, before continuing. ‘The bar-end mirrors, the clocks, the fact all the stickers are lined-up. I like Italian design – I own a Ducati M900 Monster – but I can’t get on with the way the MV Brutale looks. Not at all. And the same goes for the KTM which looks like the love child of a praying mantis and a motocross bike. It’s all jagged lines and lairy colours. Next to these two, the RS looks purposeful, yet refined. And the lovely engine and noise back up those looks. I love it.’ Steve Herbert, Bike’s digital art man, and a brisk, high-mileage rider, is also happy to bestow plentiful appreciation on Hinckley’s contender. ‘This bike is sort-of perfect. The seat is comfortable for a sporty bike, the TFT dashboard is ace, as is the quickshifter, the switchgear, the ergonomics. It’s very hard to criticise, yet I find myself wanting to do it anyway. I feel far more alive riding the admittedly inferior Brutale. But the MV can’t be better. Surely?’ So if the Triumph has a fault, apart from the fact we’d like a bit more in the mid-range, it’s that it feels too proficient. Too wellmannered. You miss the aggressive fuelling of the KTM, the second-gear power wheelies of the Yamaha and the edgy airbox growl of the MV. When it boils down to it Triumph’s Street Triple RS is so well-rounded it misses the one thing we crave from riding bikes: a character that we can be awed by, inspired by and be respectful of. And given that the original Street Triple had character in abundance, that’s a bit odd. But if you’re looking for a flawless motorcycle the Street Triple RS will deliver.
(Above) There’s no arguing over the spec. It is high (Below) TFT dash is a gem, as is the rest ofthe tech including quickshier and, and…
Nothing else looks quite like a Street Triple