Triumph Street triple R: Not so r-rated
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With the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple just months away, it felt fitting to take a closer look at one of the British company’s most highly lauded bikes to date — the 2018 Street Triple 765.
For a long time, the Street Triple played second fiddle to the Triumph Speed Triple — but, at the end of last year, Triumph Motorcycles saw fit to give the baby Triple its biggest upgrade to date, a full year ahead of the hero 1050cc Speed.
Not only did the Street Triple receive an injection of new technologies, it also grew capacity thanks to the increasingly tough European Emissions rules. As a result, the Street Triple jumped from a 675cc, to a larger 765cc capacity inline 3-cylinder engine. Not only is the new engine cleaner running and more powerful, it was recognised as such a fantastic unit it will soon be the heart of the World Championship Moto2 bikes starting from next year.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, there is a huge difference between a fully fledged Grand Prix bike and a naked class road bike. For 2018, the Street Triple range comes in four flavours. From the LAMS-approved Street Triple 660 S, to the new 765 S, all the way to the 765 RS. But it is the R that I’m riding today and I couldn’t imagine a better bike for the task.
Though the R Model Street Triple is no longer top dog in the family, it retains plenty of that special character that set it apart in previous generations of the Street Triple. The red subframe has been retained as an R model-only exclusive, while the adjustable Showa suspension is a big step up from the basic non-adjustable units found on the base model S bikes.
Moving up from the S model, the R injects more cool factor in the form of a crystal clear and angle adjustable TFT display along with LED lighting, which firmly places both wheels in the sharp end of the modern marketplace.
Hardware is also upgraded, with Brembo calipers and master cylinder swapping in for the S’s Nissin units up front, while the switchgear also sees an upgrade to help control the various functions of the new dash.
Even the seat feels more upmarket, and while all that differs is the finishing material, the R feels like it holds the rider in contact with the bike better than the slippery seat of the S.
One thing about the R that felt like a backwards step for me after jumping to the lesser-spec’ed S, was the brake lever.
Sure, the Brembo master cylinder and front calipers work a treat on the R, but I preferred the lever action and easy adjustability on the base bike with its conventional span adjustable levers and sweet feel at my fingertips.
But when it comes to swinging into the R, it is a different riding experience. It all starts as you turn the key and watch that 5-inch TFT come to life before thumbing the starter and revelling in the noise that only a Triumph triple seems to be able to produce.
That the new 765cc Street Triple pumps out basically the same amount of grunt as the original Speed Triple isn’t something that dawns on you until you twist the throttle fully open and surge forward to the legal limit at a blistering pace. Until that point the Street Triple is, well, civilised. That’s not a characteristic you associate with Triumph’s range of hoon-friendly nakeds.
While a colleague found the R a bit too aggressive, preferring the more relaxed S model, I gelled with the Street Triple R almost instantly and loved every second astride it.
Unlike some other bikes out there that don’t seem to make the form and function aspects of their design work together, I had no complaints about the Street
Okay there are some things I’d change, namely the aforementioned brake lever, and I’d swap the mirrors out for the bar ends of the RS, which do offer a little bit more in terms of rear viewing.
But other than that, it’s a gem in factory form. And while you could go one step further to the even higher spec’d Street Triple RS — which also ads Monobloc Brembo brakes, Ohlins rear shock and even more power — when the R model is this good the extra ability and added $3000 asking price seems almost overkill.
Then again, we know that there is always a reason to go for the big dog, don’t we?
2018 Triumph Street Triple R
Engine: 765cc inline 3-cylinder
Pros: Fantastic technology suite, sublime new engine, incredibly fun ride
Cons: No longer the top model