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Triumph Street Twin: Lean, not mean, street machine
By Mathieu Day • 07/08/2016
TRIUMPH'S LATEST OFFERING COMBINES A LIQUID-COOLED ENGINE AND A OLD-SCHOOL COOL VIBE
Based on the new Bonneville, the Street Twin is the funky new addition to Triumph’s modern classic range.
When Triumph announced last year the modern classic range was moving to liquid-cooled engines, like many, I sighed. Due to increasingly tough emissions regulations from the EU, Triumph Motorcycles was forced to move away from its traditional air/oil-cooled 865cc engines to modern water-cooled units to future-proof the brand.
I admit I thought the iconic British motorcycle brand had sold its soul in the move, which also saw the engines for the much-loved Bonneville and Thruxton, grow in size to 1200cc. However, I’m glad to report I was wrong. Judging by the new 900cc high torque unit in the Street Twin, these new liquid-cooled engines are “mint”.
The 900cc 8-valve parallel twin that powers the Street Twin produces 40.5kW at its peak but the real story is the torque figure. Putting out 80Nm at 3230rpm this new 900 makes it a joy to twist the ride-by-wire throttle. The bike just surges forward in such a manner that you can’t help but put a big goofy smile on your face.
As usual, Triumph has been clever in masking the modern touches of the new engine behind detailing that looks classic in style. As in the past, the throttle bodies of the EFI system are disguised as carburettors and the new radiator mounted between the front downpipes is small enough to be mistaken for an oil cooler from certain angles.
By far the sneakiest touch to the Street Twin engine is the location of the radiator tank. Unlike most bikes which have the radiator tank near the fuel tank in a high position, Triumph has expertly hidden it under the swingarm on the Street Twin — which is probably one of the reasons the off-road styled Scrambler retains the 865cc air/oil-cooled motor of yesteryear.
Although many are quick to compare the Scrambler to the legendary Steve McQueen, himself a Triumph fan, I don’t quite think the Street Twin has that old-school cool vibe to it.
It’s full of modern features like ABS braking and switchable traction control, and
has real class with a cheeky side; but most of all it is oodles of fun to ride. I reckon anyone who says it has the vibe of the King of Cool has it wrong. This bike isn’t a rolling likeness to Steve McQueen, but more a Ryan Reynolds (another bigtime Triumph fan). Muscle when you need it, but a grin a minute, especially in the city, when all that matters is that 80Nm of torque.
Suspension is now 41mm front forks supplied by Kayaba (KYB), while in the rear the classic twin-shock layout remains with preload adjustable units also supplied by KYB. The forks, like those on the larger Bonnevilles, have fork gaiters, which not only add style to the conventional front suspenders, but also functional protection for the fork seals.
The ride quality is fantastic in the city centre and on the motorways, soaking up bumps when they arise without jarring your spine. It wasn’t until I really started pushing it out on my favourite back roads that the suspension started to find its limits, and the ride quality lessened.
Triumph New Zealand kitted out our test bike with some of the wide range of accessories available for the Street Twin. The pre-selected pack, one of three viewable on the Triumph NZ website is called the “Brat Tracker” and includes new seat, tail tidy, sump guard, exhaust, and replacement indicators.
The standard exhaust system gets swapped for a pair of Vance & Hines pipes that amplify the rumble of the silky smooth parallel twin engine, enhancing its character. The indicators have all been swapped for smaller, more stylised, LED options. The factory seat has is swapped for a classic-looking unit where leather is stitched instead of moulded, adding to the classic credentials of the Street Twin.
A factory tail-tidy kit also makes the list, removing much of the standard rear plastic mud-guard while an aluminium bash plate also sneaks in under the frame. These added options up the price from $15,990 to an as-tested price of $18,859 (excluding fitment).
Hopping aboard the Street Twin, the first thing I noticed was its size, or lack thereof. Unlike the older Bonnies, the new bike is lighter and shorter with a wheelbase of just 1415mm and is a lightweight 198KG dry. This translates into a nimble street machine able to zig-zag its way through traffic with ease without needing much in the way of input from the rider.
When out riding in the back roads for the pure enjoyment of it, I found the 900 a bit flat when really nailing it at higher rpms, but when it comes down to it, the Street Twin says what it’s about on its side. It’s not about back-road thrashing, it’s all about being the everyday Triumph you can ride on city streets.
The thing is, the Street Twin is possibly one of the best Triumphs I’ve ridden. It not only nails the classic look expected from a bike in the Bonneville family, but also handling and power perfectly suited for the task at hand.