If bikes were blades, Triumph’s Street Triple would be a scalpel. Small, precise, razor sharp and super quick at carving up curvy roads. Triumph defined and developed the “street fighter” category some 20 years ago, with the introduction of the vaunted Speed Triple 1050. With its stripped-down, no fairings, bug-eye headlights, upright riding position, and underseat exhaust canisters, the bike was a runaway hit for Triumph, filling the gap between the Bonneville line and their sport/sport touring models. When Triumph introduced the smaller Street Triple 675 in 2007, the little brother instantly rivaled the Speed in popularity and sales. The Street’s DNA is derived from the widely acclaimed Daytona 675 Supersport race bike that has won numerous American, British, and World GP races since its debut in 2006.
Through several model morphs over the decade (low-slung exhaust, oval-shaped headlights, suspension revisions, etc.), in 2017 Triumph seriously bumped up displacement for the Street, from 675cc to 765cc. The Street continues to fly off showrooms across America, and indeed, across the globe. The Hinckley, England brain trust is clearly on to something with this bike, and they know it. Named among Cycle World’s “10 Best Bikes” for 2017 & 2018, the Street Triple quite simply is the “Swiss Army knife” of modern motorcycles: a do-everything, everyday, motorcycle for commuting and canyon-carving.
I had the pleasure of sampling a Street Triple R for a few days last fall, courtesy of Ricky Patterson and his team at Freewheeling Powersports in Douglasville, Georgia.
The Street Triple might be the smallest displacement instrument in the Triumph toolbox, but it’s one of their most high-tech. The model manifests in three distinct iterations- the standard Street Triple S, the up-spec Street Triple R, and the chart-topping Street Triple RS. With each model, the tech, tuning, suspension, brakes and ride modes become more advanced.
The R that Freewheeling loaned me had Showa front forks and Ohlins rear suspension, Brembo brakes, switchable ABS and traction control, as well as three ride modes- Rain, Road, and Sport. There are even settings in the digital display for customizing one’s own set up, called Rider mode. Did I also mention a quickshifter? All of which comes stock on the R, by the way.
That TFT display is very easy to view and navigate, by simply toggling through screens via buttons and switches on the handlebars. The technology, yet ease of use, reminded me of the display on a Motus. I liked it, very much.
After picking up the STR, I launched out for Madison, Georgia, to meet my father for a day of riding. At 78 years old, Pop moves a little slower on two legs, but on two wheels, he can still ride with the best of them. The route from my house to his and mom’s winds down through the rolling hills and pastures of Georgia’s lake and dairy country, some of the most beautiful riding in the southeast. Taking the time to familiarize myself with the Street while en-route, I found the riding position very comfortable. I’m 5’8″, about 155 lbs. wet weight, and felt the rider triangle suited me well. Slightly leaning forward, but not sportbike-like, with my feet fairly below me, not rear set as on many “race-replicas” I’ve ridden. The older I get, the more I appreciate that.
Being a new bike, I tried to keep my shifting between 4-5000rpm, following the break-in guidelines. The 6-speed gearbox is butter smooth and effortless in shifting, and clutch pull can be two-fingered. I tested the Brembos and ABS a couple of times with hard stops, and found braking to be spot-on. Strong, precise stopping power, with no detectable “grip/release” of the ABS, and no loss of rear wheel grip.
After meeting Pop in historic downtown Madison, and after a few minutes of his slack-jawed admiration of the little Triumph, we cracked the highways and byways of north central Georgia. My favorite ride mode was “Road”, with power spread nicely across each gear, yet enough grunt to get frisky with. Pop found us some fun, curvy county roads, and I took the pleasure of diving deep into some cornering with the Street. This bike excels at dicing through corners and curves. As light and nimble as a bicycle, the Street almost throws itself into and out of corners, it’s so flickable.
The displacement jump is very noticeable to me, having ridden the previous generation 675cc before. 90 more cc over the original Street translates to 116 ponies to the pavement, and about 56 ft lbs of torque. While cruising about 75 mph on some longer stretches through rolling pasturelands, I noted the Street R hummed along at approx 5500 rpm, seeming to enjoy the ride as much as the rider. It’s a high-revving engine, and the more roll-on exerted, the more the hungry Triple screams in delight.
And then, there’s Sport mode.
On the way home from the day of riding with Pop, on a long, vacant stretch north of Madison, I switched into Sport, to sample the differences. I must say, the beauty becomes a beast! Gear ratios tighten up, throttle response is much more aggressive, and the Triple feels like it’s taunting you, daring you to open it up. I did, and found myself running XXX almost immediately, rocketing up and down the hills and leaning deep through corners of the wide open Georgia countryside. (Disclaimer: I don’t regularly ride like this, nor do I endorse it.) Sport mode completely changes the character of the Street Triple. Driving hard through each gear, the Street in Sport mode begs to wheelie in each. Having ridden several track days over the years, I can confidently declare that I would LOVE a day at Road Atlanta or Barber on this bike.
Sunday brought rain showers, but as the storms moved out, I took off on the Street to try the Rain mode. Again, entirely different character traits surface. The ABS and traction control smooth and meter out braking and handling, throttle response is more measured, and overall, the “beast” mellows dramatically. This mode breeds considerable confidence in wet conditions.
After four days with the Street Triple, I came away very impressed. Honestly, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Triumph. I absolutely love the Bonneville line, every new model in it. Heck, I own one myself. I’ve always felt the Speed and Street Triples were too refined and precision tuned for my tastes. Yet after spending several days with a new Street, I’ve changed my mind. Bonnevilles are still my faves, but the Street won me over. It is a fantastic motorcycle, worthy of the accolades and awards it has been winning across the moto-journalism world.
Triumph has “hit a grand slam” with the Street Triple, and I predict bikes will continue to fly off Triumph showroom floors. If you have opportunity to test ride one, jump on it. You’ll be impressed, as I was.
*First evaluated for our friends at BorntoRide.com