Street Savy: Triumph Street Cup
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While the Thruxton is the benchmark cafe racer not only in the Triumph line-up but arguably in the class, the new Triumph Street Cup offers Kiwi riders something a little different.
Since the rebirth of Triumph in 1984, the brand is doing well to leverage its long heritage, while also catering to the demands of modern consumers.
The latest addition to the classic range is no different, with the Street Cup not only taking its styling cues from yesteryear, but also being a truly usable modern motorcycle.
Casual bike aficionados will immediately look at the cafe racer styling and think the Street Cup is just a smaller capacity version of the bike that cemented the factory cafe racer segment in our collective psyche, the Triumph Thruxton.
However, in reality the Street Cup is definitely not a Thruxton offshoot.
While the new Thruxton is a powerful 1200cc machine with
a stonking top-end pull, the Street Cup, as its name suggests, is all about day-to-day usability on the street and as such runs the smaller 900cc High Torque parallel twin that originally debuted in the Street Twin.
That engine was the perfect companion to the Street Twin, offering tons of torque at low RPM and allowing the rider to drag off nearly anyone at the lights.
The same can be said for the Street Cup, which also shares in the Street Twin’s switchable traction control system and ABS as standard, yet when it came to the open road the two models felt distinctly different.
When we tried the Street Twin, we couldn’t help but feel the bike was lacking when it came to the top end, and distinctly remember the bike running out of puff when pulling out to make overtaking manoeuvres.
Considering the Street Cup shares the same engine, we were surprised to find the SOHC 8-valve engine pulling far higher into the rev range while giving it “the beans”.
Once the surge of torque recedes, you glide your way to the redline before clicking up another cog on the five-speed ’box.
While you could take it to the track and have a blast hitting apexes, the Street Cup has only modest suspension and brakes, and while perfectly up to the task of most riders if you start to push, you find the limits.
The rear shocks are both adjustable for pre-load only, while the 41mm front forks are not adjustable.
They provide a perfectly stable platform but aren’t designed for track-style abuse, especially on our more challenging road surfaces.
Out on the highways and byways of the Waikato, the biggest surprise of the Street Cup is how comfortable it is.
Taking a step back and looking at it, it has all the attributes of a head-down, bum-up cafe racer.
But swing a leg over the gorgeous suede seat and it is immediately apparent that this is not a machine that is going to make you suffer for looking so good.
Even with its clip on handlebars, after over an hour in the saddle we both find our wrists free of the ache that seems to be part and parcel of riding this style of machine.
Unlike more race-focused bikes with rear sets, the Street Cup’s pegs are closer to being centre set, meaning more of your weight can be taken by your legs instead of your wrists as you lean forward towards the small bikini screen.
The screen is more than just an aesthetic upgrade (though it is the icing on the cake when it comes to the looks department), and as you lean your helmet closer to the twin clocks the more you notice that the little screen is taking a bit of the wind off you.
Sure, it’s not going to create a full-on bubble like the racers of old, but it doesn’t need to. This is a bike aimed at the average rider, not a track day nut.
That said, with the torquey motor, it’s a fair bet it would be a bit of a giggle to have a play around on one of our more technical race tracks.
But this isn’t a racer, but a master-stroke from Triumph in terms of marketing. You see, as much as we WANT to have a racy bike, not a lot of us are willing to put up with all the shortcomings of such a bike.
If somebody wants a bike that puts the racer in “cafe racer”, they’d buy the bigger, better-specced Thruxton R (with Ohlins suspension).
The Street Cup is for those of us who love the cafe racer styling but want a more mellow bike to enjoy just as much at 3/10ths as 10/10ths.
TRIUMPH STREET CUP
ENGINE: 900cc high torque parallel twin
POWER: 40.5kW @5900rpm / 80Nm @3230rpm
PRO: Comfortable, gorgeous, and cool
CON: Not quite as racy as it looks