Two near-iden­ti­cal twins top Tri­umph’s 2019 retro range. Alan Cath­cart gets to grips with them both and re­ports back…

Real Classic - - What Lies Within - Pho­tos by Alessio Bar­banti, Mat­teo Cava­dini and Francesc Mon­tero

Two near-iden­ti­cal twins top Tri­umph’s 2019 retro range. Alan Cath­cart gets to grips with them both and re­ports back…

Three years ago Tri­umph rein­vented its en­tire Bon­neville range of twin-cylin­der retro-in­spired mod­els, by pre­sent­ing five new mo­tor­cy­cles pow­ered by all-new liq­uid-cooled par­al­lel-twin en­gines, the 900cc Street Twin, and four 1200cc big twins. These were joined a year later by a re­vamped ver­sion of its ex­ist­ing Street Scram­bler, as the se­cond model in its 900cc en­try-level line-up.

Now Tri­umph has com­mem­o­rated the 60th an­niver­sary of its first-ever Bon­neville road bike’s de­but at the 1958 Earls Court Show, in be­lated recog­ni­tion of Johnny Allen’s Septem­ber 1956 feat of set­ting a new World Land Speed Record for mo­tor­cy­cles at 214.40mph on the Bon­neville Salt Flats, by in­tro­duc­ing upgraded ver­sions of both the Street Twin and Street Scram­bler, which are es­sen­tially the en­trylevel mod­els to its en­tire range. 17,500 ex­am­ples of the Street Twin alone have been built and sold in the past three years, mak­ing it the British firm’s best-sell­ing sin­gle model, and a hit with both novice and ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers alike.

The chance to spend a 140-mile day rid­ing both new Tri­umphs along the shores of the At­lantic Ocean from the re­sort of Cas­cais west of Lis­bon, be­fore div­ing in­land to the hills and val­leys of the Por­tuguese coun­try­side fur­ther north, re­vealed the no­tice­able step for­ward which the new bikes rep­re­sent over what was al­ready a pretty good dy­namic pack­age. But even be­fore that, the sub­tle up­dates to the styling, es­pe­cially on the Street Twin, de­serve at­ten­tion.

Tri­umph likes to use the word ‘pre­mium’ a lot in its sales pitch for these bikes, but that’s ac­tu­ally fairly jus­ti­fied. Though a mass-pro­duced prod­uct made in its trio of fac­to­ries in Thai­land, the 2019 Street Twin seem­ingly has an ex­tra level of re­fine­ment in its looks that’s wor­thy of a more be­spoke model, es­pe­cially when viewed in the test bike’s classy look­ing Matt Iron­stone colour. The new de­sign of 10-spoke cast alu­minium wheels look like they came from the costlier end of the af­ter­mar­ket, and the new du­alseat is equally classy, with con­trast­ing vinyls that look like leather, and prom­i­nent stitch­ing. That seat has also been re­shaped, and its height raised 10mm to 760mm via thicker foam pad­ding aimed at in­creas­ing com­fort and long-dis­tance ride­abil­ity. But be­cause the frame rails are pulled in and waisted just be­hind the 12-litre fuel tank, it still feels low and thus ac­ces­si­ble for shorter rid­ers and/ or new­bies, many of them fe­male, who will wel­come be­ing able to place both feet flat on the floor at stop­lights.

Yet at 5’10” tall I didn’t feel at all cramped, be­cause there’s lots of room to move around the Street Twin. Sit­ting on it is a nice place to be, with an easy reach for­ward to the short, flat, one-piece steel han­dle­bar mounted on 60mm ris­ers, with ad­justable brake and clutch levers. The rid­ing po­si­tion is rel­a­tively close-cou­pled without be­ing cramped, and the slightly pulled-back han­dle­bar de­liv­ers a very re­laxed rid­ing stance. The footrests’ lo­ca­tion en­cour­ages you to ride with your toes parked on the pegs, and knees tucked in tight to the flanks of the tank. You feel very much a part of the Street Twin, and it’s an un­tir­ing ride thanks to the com­plete lack of vi­bra­tion at any revs from the re­vamped par­al­lel-twin mo­tor with 270º crank and dual coun­ter­bal­ancers, right up to the 7500rpm red­line, 500 revs higher than be­fore. The retro-look­ing round mir­rors give a good view, and don’t vi­brate ei­ther.

Thumb the clever com­bined kill­switch and starter but­ton to send the liq­uid­cooled en­gine into life, and as it set­tles to a 1000rpm idle speed you can rel­ish again the glo­ri­ous lilt­ing note of the stock Street Twin ex­haust. Just as three years ago when it was launched, it seems im­prob­a­ble that Stu­art Wood, Tri­umph’s head of en­gi­neer­ing and his men could get such a good-sound­ing ex­haust through Euro 4 com­pli­ance. But they did. Next, savour the ex­tremely light and ul­tra­con­trol­lable lever ac­tion of the ca­ble-op­er­ated oil-bath slip/as­sist clutch, which makes rid­ing in traf­fic or city streets com­pletely un­tir­ing, with no un­due wear and tear on your left hand ow­ing to an un­rea­son­ably stiff clutch ac­tion. Nice.

What’s nicer still is the re­ally no­tice­able ex­tra punch from the re­vamped 900cc 2019 Street Twin mo­tor, not only in terms of ex­tra power, but the broader spread of torque which ac­com­pa­nies this. The main disappointment with the 2016 ver­sion of this bike was that, in ob­tain­ing Euro 4 com­pli­ance, Wood & Co. had ef­fec­tively de­tuned the mo­tor, with power out­put down ver­sus the out­go­ing 865cc Euro 3 T100 Bonnie which pro­duced 67bhp at 7250rpm, against peak power of 54bhp from the new 900 mo­tor at 5900rpm – so the 900cc Street Twin mo­tor had just three-quar­ters of the horse­power of the out­go­ing model. The fact that they’d de­liv­ered 18% more torque than the T100, peak­ing as low as 3230rpm when 59ft-lb was avail­able, went some way to­wards com­pen­sat­ing for that. But still… Well, that was then and this is now, and Tri­umph has re­stored the sta­tus quo by ex­tract­ing 64bhp at

7500rpm from the 2019

model – but in do­ing so has also main­tained the peak torque fig­ure, while spread­ing it out right across the power band. This it­self is broad­ened, too, with an ex­tra 500 revs at the top end thanks to lighter en­gine in­ter­nals and re­vised cam tim­ing, says Wood, with the soft ini­tial rev-lim­iter on the ride-by-wire throt­tle now ac­ti­vated at 7500rpm. How­ever, in real world rid­ing you’re un­likely ever to rev it that high, and will in­stead surf the HT mo­tor’s flat torque curve be­tween 3000 and 5500rpm all day long. You can hold third or fourth gear for long stretches of wind­ing coun­try roads, then hit top gear on the five-speed gear­box (with its evenly spaced ra­tios) when you get to a straight sec­tion. The Street Twin will pull wide open in top gear from as low as 2000rpm with zero trans­mis­sion snatch, mak­ing this the next best thing to an au­to­matic for novice rid­ers, and even some more ex­pe­ri­enced ones. At the other end of the scale, cruis­ing at 80mph with the tacho read­out show­ing 4200rpm makes this a very re­laxed real world ride. 70-80 mph top gear cruis­ing is where it’s most at home.

Five speeds in the gear­box is quite suf­fi­cient for some­thing this torquey, by the way. I never caught my­self look­ing for an­other ra­tio, though it’s bet­ter to use the clutch at all times since, as on the pre­vi­ous Street Twin, it’s quite hard to con­sis­tently shift up­wards smoothly without do­ing so. That’s no real hard­ship since the clutch ac­tion is so light and pre­cise, which also makes it very easy to make smart get­aways from traf­fic lights or stop signs, while the com­pre­hen­sive remap­ping of the fu­elling that Tri­umph has un­der­taken has re­moved the slightly jerky pick-up from a closed throt­tle in se­cond gear that I com­plained about three years ago. De­spite the ex­tra zip out of cor­ners ob­tained via the in­creased com­pres­sion ra­tio, the 2019 Street Twin is ide­ally mapped, with a smooth throt­tle re­sponse at all times that’ll make it ideal for new­bies. The leg­endary di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween your right hand and the rear tyre is all present and cor­rect on the new Street Twin. Job done.

Hav­ing a choice of two dif­fer­ent rid­ing modes – Road and Rain – on the 2019 bike is a wel­come added safety fea­ture that came in use­ful dur­ing the morn­ing of my ride, be­fore the sun dried roads left damp af­ter 24 hours of solid rain. Each mode de­liv­ers full power, but with dif­fer­ent throt­tle and fuel maps, and fea­tures vary­ing de­grees of ABS and TC in­ter­ven­tion – I could feel both those rider aids cut­ting in nice and early in Rain mode on the su­per-slip­pery damp Por­tuguese tar­mac. You can eas­ily switch be­tween modes on the move by thumb­ing the Mode but­ton on the left con­trol pod, and there is in­deed quite a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence be­tween the two. How­ever, you have to re­ally peer at the small mark­ing in the speedo’s dig­i­tal panel to de­ci­pher which mode you’re in – and, yes, I had my glasses on! Make it big­ger please,

Tri­umph. As against that, the warn­ing lights sur­round­ing the speedo are now at last re­ally bright, and eas­ily vis­i­ble in sun­light.

The Street Twin’s han­dling is ca­pa­ble and con­fi­dence in­spir­ing, thanks to its rel­a­tively tight steer­ing ge­om­e­try, and short 1415mm wheel­base. The low cee of gee helps it ride bumps well on the an­gle, and it’s re­ally ag­ile in flick­ing from side to side in a suc­ces­sion of turns, aided by the good lever­age from that rel­a­tively wide han­dle­bar. But best of all in terms of han­dling is that it now stops re­ally well – not by adding a se­cond 310mm front disc, but in­stead re­tir­ing the pre­vi­ous twin-pis­ton Nissin front caliper in favour of a four-pot Brembo with con­sid­er­ably added bite, al­beit not at the ex­pense of a grabby or snatchy re­sponse. In­stead, the Ital­ian brake now does the job of stop­ping a bike weigh­ing 198kg dry from rel­a­tively high speed with some mar­gin to spare, whereas the pre­vi­ous set-up was def­i­nitely mar­ginal when called upon to stop in panic mode. Re­tain­ing the sin­gle disc not only re­duces cost and speeds up the steer­ing thanks to a re­duced gy­ro­scopic ef­fect, it also en­hances sus­pen­sion re­sponse, be­cause of the re­duc­tion in un­sprung weight. It’s a win-win all round thanks to Brembo. And click­ing back through the gears when stop­ping hard showed there’s still quite a bit of en­gine brak­ing left di­alled in to the slip as­sist clutch’s set­tings. Very re­as­sur­ing. The big­gest dy­namic

im­prove­ment in han­dling terms of the 2016 Street Twin over the old Bon­neville T100 was in many ways in the sus­pen­sion, where Tri­umph’s chas­sis devel­op­ment guru David Lopez had done a su­perb job in team­ing with Kayaba’s tech­ni­cians to pro­duce a twin-shock mo­tor­cy­cle with non-ad­justable sus­pen­sion damp­ing front and rear which had a level of com­pli­ance wor­thy of a more ex­pen­sive vari­able-rate monoshock bike. That’s main­tained on the 2019 Street Twin, and is even bet­ter thanks to the new high­er­spec­i­fi­ca­tion 41mm car­tridge fork fit­ted, with the same rear end set-up. While still non-ad­justable, the fork is more com­pli­ant, as con­firmed by look­ing for man­hole cov­ers on the streets of Cas­cais to test the damp­ing. I was even more im­pressed than be­fore by the way the up­rated Tri­umph ate up the bumps.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to ride the lat­est ver­sion of the Tri­umph Street Twin without com­ing away im­pressed at how easy it is to ride, yet how sat­is­fy­ing it is to be aboard it. Its en­hanced styling, dis­tinc­tive sound, and dy­namic rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence aug­mented by the ad­di­tion of elec­tronic rid­ing aids in­clud­ing ABS and switch­able trac­tion con­trol, plus the choice of modes now of­fered via the ride-by-wire throt­tle, makes it a nice up­date of the mod­ern rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of Tri­umph’s most iconic model, now with the miss­ing power re­stored and la­dles of ex­tra torque all through the rev band.

The re­vised 2019 900cc Street Twin re­tails at £8100 in the UK in­clud­ing a two-year un­lim­ited mileage war­ranty, and now comes in a choice of three colour schemes, al­beit just a sin­gle Jet Black shade – the pre­vi­ous Matt Black and Phan­tom Black op­tions have been deleted. It also comes in the Matt Iron­stone of the test bike and Korosi Red, both of which cost £150 ex­tra. It’ll be on deal­ers’ floors in the UK in late Jan­uary, when it’ll be dead-heat­ing with two po­ten­tial ri­vals in the shape of the In­dian-made 650cc Royal En­field Con­ti­nen­tal GT and Interceptor par­al­lel-twins at prices start­ing at £5499 on the road, in­clud­ing a three-year un­lim­ited mileage war­ranty. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see whether the near-50% pre­mium for the big­ger-en­gined, higher per­for­mance Thaibuilt Tri­umph will de­ter cus­tomers from buy­ing this much im­proved ver­sion of what was al­ready a very good in­tro­duc­tory model

to the Tri­umph range.

Tri­umph have man­aged – fi­nally – to pro­duce an en­gine which lives up to their twin’s vast rep­u­ta­tion It’s hard to avoid feel­ing sur­prise that Tri­umph con­sider a 900cc twin to be ‘en­try-level’, but they do No one will be con­fused by the ar­ray of clock and di­als on of­fer. Prob­a­bly…

If there’s one sin­gle bike which is un­mis­take­ably Tri­umph, this is surely it

The bike bris­tles with clever de­tail­ing. The ex­hausts are catal­ysed and quite com­plex, but the over­all line is that fa­mil­iar Tri­umph sweep The slip/as­sist clutch is light and a de­light to op­er­ate

Clever touch: An an­gled tyre valve makes con­nec­tion easy

The light is bright … and badged, too

Right: Re­tar­da­tion is much im­proved by the adop­tion of a Brembo brak­ing sys­tem. Of course it has ABS too

Above: There are also ap­par­ently ‘cus­tom kits’ for the new ma­chines. Here’s one now!

Great qual­ity syn­thet­ics pro­vide both a de­cent level of com­fort and an al­most con­vinc­ing suede im­pres­sion

Great roads for a great mo­tor­cy­cle. This would be Por­tu­gal, not the UK in De­cem­ber…

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