A Triumph Street Triple, a father’s last ride, a memory revisited
I had the opportunity recently to retrace one of the last motorcycle rides I was ever able to make with my father. Neither of us knew it at the time, but within a year of that special day, he would sell his motorcycle and exit riding altogether for health reasons. Within a couple of years after that, I would say my final farewell to him. So the memory of that day trip with my father has become all the more precious to me in the years since.
Triumph Motorcycles North America loaned me a 2023 Triumph Street Triple RS for a few weeks, and I deliberated how best to utilize it for some media content. We’ve published several reviews of the model line and it’s 765 cc triple mill in recent years, and the bike has been quite popular with numerous moto media outlets. So much has been written about it since Triumph bumped up its displacement from 675 cc and upgraded its entire electronics, suspension and braking package.
The 2023 Triumph Street Triple RS. A new beautiful beast.
It dawned on me that the last time I was the test wrist with a Street Triple, I used it on a long day trip with my aging father, who at the time still could ride his ‘03 Harley Heritage Classic rather well. It was a wonderful day of riding north central Georgia lake and dairy country with him, through woods and wide open pasturelands, visiting small Southern towns like Madison, Bostwick, Good Hope and Buckhead.
Time to retrace those tracks, with this new Street Triple RS.
I launched out from my home down to the historic town of Madison, Georgia, dubbed “The City too pretty to burn”. Legend and Georgia lore has it that as General Tecumseh Sherman’s forces were marching, slashing and burning their way from Atlanta to Savannah during the American Civil War, one of Sherman’s army groups approached the outskirts of Madison. The Mayor and community leaders met them and surrendered the city, begging that Madison not be torched like every other city they’d marched through. Sherman himself came to see Madison, and after touring the downtown square and surrounding streets of beautiful homes, decided his forces would spare the lovely town, bypass Madison and continue on their “scorched earth” campaign.
Morgan County Courthouse, downtown Madison, GA.
My father had met me downtown there several years ago, when I rode the first generation of the new 765 Street Triple R for review. I remember his reaction, walking around admiring it and declaring, “Certainly not the Triumphs I rode in my younger years!” I asked him, “You want to ride it for a few miles?” He chuckled his response, “Nah, that’s a young buck’s bike. I’ll let you enjoy it. Let’s go ride.” So we took off out of town, and pointed our motorbikes deep into the largely deserted county roads out through old Georgia.
We made wide arcs on roads my dad had memorized, having ridden nearly every inch of blacktop in this part of the state at one time or another, often with my mom on the pillion. We made a stop in the tiny town of Buckhead, and ate delicious barbecue sandwiches at the Buckhead Grocery Store. Note: many small towns in the South will have a single store/restaurant combo, where you can buy some gas, a moon pie and Coke, and sit down for a BBQ and fries basket too. It was here I snapped this photo of Dad with our steeds that day-
The Street Triple R, Dad, and his prized ’03 Harley Heritage Classic.
I returned to Buckhead on this new Street Triple RS version, and snapped some photos and footage like I had when Dad and I parked here for lunch that time. It was a hot, humid Georgia summer day back then as well, so a soft drink and brief conversation with the store owners was a welcome respite. Lisa and I almost bought some lakefront property just down the road outside this mostly abandoned town, being on the northernmost end of popular Lake Oconee. Life circumstances would preclude that decision, when Dad fell ill within a few years.
Throttling through the central Georgia countryside on this new Triumph Street Triple RS, I remembered the power specs of its spectacular triple powerplant. The 2023 RS makes 128 hp at 11,500 rpm and puts down 59 ft lbs of torque to the rear wheel, yet pinches on a set of Brembo Stylema brake systems for and aft to bring the beast to a halt. Multiple ride modes also include a “Track” mode, which I don’t think the other two in the model lineup possess. The slipper wet clutch includes clutchless quickshifting up and down, and this tranny is smoother than the big sibling 1200 Speed Triple RS we tested, which I thought couldn’t be beat. Little dude here is even more buttery smooth, seamless when clutching or blip shifting.
Back in mostly deserted Buckhead, GA.
That day Pops and I had also looped north through Bostwick on our ride, in the heart of old cotton country and home to the annual regional Cotton Gin Festival every November. So I rolled up through the town and recalled the times on several occasions Dad, Mom and I would meet in this town for the festival or to just ride to/through. The prominent feature in Bostwick, besides the ancient cotton mill, is the Susan Agnes Hotel, built in 1902, and I still always try to get a photo or two in front of this historic building when I’m here.
I had been riding the 2023 Street Triple mostly in Road mode, so I bumped it to Sport mode while riding some of the more remote routes out this way. One has to be careful out here, as local police officers patrol even these remote roads looking for speeders, a fact I discovered for myself many years ago. As we’ve noted before, Sport mode on most bikes tightens the gear ratios, makes the throttle more jumpy and aggressive, and the handling and braking more touchy and precise. And of course, the fuel gauge expends itself quicker as well. Back to Road mode.
Looks like something out of “Gone With The Wind”.
Another town Dad and I enjoyed riding to and through was the map dot of Good Hope, outside Monroe. The Good Hope General Store is, again, this gas stop, snack and light grocery stop, and sandwich shop in the middle of nowhere, like the Buckhead Grocery Store. A Mountain Dew and a pack of Lance Nekot Peanut Butter Cookies was the order of the day with Dad, so I did the same on my personal memorial ride this time. I remember sitting out front at one of their round stone tables with him, snacking and laughing about something funny he had recently heard and had to tell me. It was likely some middle school-level, slightly off-color humor, knowing my dad.
We swung back toward Madison that day years ago, where we said our goodbyes before he headed back to Mom and their home at the bottom end of Lake Oconee, and I throttled back north to my wife and home in Dacula. Little did either of us know that within a year his health would take a hit and he would have to sell his beloved Harley, never to ride again. For a man who had ridden off and on most of his life, by now in his late 70s, it wasn’t surprising that he sank into a depressed funk for a few months. By September 1, 2021, my dad would depart this stuff of earth, struck down by a stroke that had laid waste to him across ten months.
Time to point the RS toward home. What a wonderful ride down numerous “Memory Lanes”.
A day riding these roads and through these towns on this new Triumph had taken me back to that ride we made several years before, not just physically, but emotionally and maybe even spiritually. I recalled chasing him down countless roads, through majestic forests and peaceful pasturelands, and our conversations at stops in these little towns. Any time with my father was precious time to me, as I loved the man dearly, and I knew he loved me. Our common passion for motorcycles and riding forged our bonds even stronger over the years. He passed on so very much to me. I am proudly my father’s son.
Dad enjoyed his Harley-Davidson 100 Year Anniversary Heritage Softail Classic, but Triumphs always held a special place in his heart. He owned a ’54 Tiger 500 as a teen, owned several Bonnevilles and TRs when my brothers and I were kids, and I’ve owned several over the years myself. Triumphs are in our family’s blood and history. So a day back then with him, riding a modern Triumph, and now on an updated version of that very bike, I’ve once again come full circle. I needed a day out of the office, out on a motorcycle and sparsely traveled country roads, recalling yet another precious memory with my late father. This Street Triple RS was the perfect ride for the journey. Huge thanks to Adam and Eric at Triumph North America for the opportunity.
For more on the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, click here:
*For Rob’s video of his remembrance ride, watch below without ever leaving this page: