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 quick­shier and, and…

Noth­ing else looks quite like a Street Triple

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