- Published: Thursday, 03 August 2017 14:33
Triumph’s new Street Triple RS is a real ripper, and almost everything a middleweight naked bike owner could want
The Triumph Street Triple, which first appeared in 2008, set the template for a less expensive, middleweight roadster with plenty of sport capabilities. As the years rolled on, the top-flight models (such as the R and Rx) gained premium chassis components and even deeper ability to bring the Street Triple from sporty roadster to a real all-round force to be reckoned with.
2017 sees the Street Triple receive lots of attention and updates, and this is the top-of-the-line RS model. It’s pretty much the best Street Triple Triumph has ever made, and given how accomplished its predecessors were, that’s saying quite a bit.
There’s new bodywork and headlights (with LED daytime running lights) though some of it is still familiar: The frame and sub-frame look identical, while there are new gills and fins on the tail unit, the tank and taillight are recognisable from the Daytona 675R.
That bike is a key point of reference though, because while it made more power from a higher-revving engine, the RS has been bored out to 765cc, and makes almost as much power, and a smidgen more torque.
You won’t feel any of that at first, though. The RS looks quality, and Triumph has outdone itself here with top-notch bits everywhere you look, from ‘T’ badges, to smoked Brembo reservoirs to tidy cabling and the new full-colour 5.0-inch TFT display. It brings a sparkle to the RS that previous Triumphs lacked and should help keep resale value good in comparison to its forebears.
The advanced screen is easy to use and very clear even in bright daylight, and its layout is customisable as well. Its presence reflects the new electronics on board - traction control, wheelie control, switchable ride modes. The modes feed the behaviour of the electronics, including the ABS, and all five modes (Rider, Rain, Road, Sport, Track) have the same peak power but different delivery and settings.
In classic Street Triple fashion, the RS is easy on the rider, with lots of legroom and wide, flat handlebars that give a sporty but not soreful riding position. It feels narrow, as a triple should, is even lighter than before at 166kg dry, which is something of a minor miracle.
Around town and at low speeds, there’s no hint of the bike’s go-fast potential as the clutch is feather-light (though vague on biting point) the fuelling sweet, and there’s plenty of steering lock.
The heart of the Triple experience is still very much alive in the bike’s nimble think-it-and-you’re-there handling, the effortless transitions, but there’s a level of capability above what existed before. As speeds go from crawling to crazy, the RS never loses composure, the screaming 765cc triple simply gives more power gear after gear through the seamless quickshifter. There’s less vibration and more refinement, and a little of the rough nature of the older bikes is lost, but in its place is a huge reserve of capability: It feels like a bike that can do everything without pause, from commute to tour to track days.
Its top-drawer set of components are responsible, including Showa Big Piston Forks, Ohlins NTX40 rear shock, Brembo M50 calipers with the latest MCS 19 master cylinder, but that’s only part of the story.
The caveat is that we hardly scratched the surface of the Street Triple RS experience.
Because the test ride came at a particularly busy time, and because the test unit was fresh out of the box, we didn’t have time to set the suspension up properly and neither did we rev the daylights out of the engine due to the run-in period.
The point is, even at half-mast, the RS is a staggering piece of work. There are some quibbles but they’re all resoundingly minor: The inherent bumpiness of the ST family is still there, although toned down, the bar-end mirrors better than inboard-mount units but limit lane-splitting a little, and there’s nothing on the sleek tail unit for a passenger to grab or a rider to push the bike backwards.
Subjectively, we prefer the underseat exhaust and round headlights of the iconic first-gen Street Triple, and the current RS doesn’t have the visual oomph of its bigger brother the Speed Triple or more exotic offerings. But if you’re not bothered by that, nor by engine size overcompensation, the Street Triple is a stunningly complete bike that rips up the rulebook on what middleweight roadsters can do.
Triumph Street Triple RS
Engine type 765cc, 12V, inline 3
Bore X Stroke 77.9 x 53.4mm
Gearbox type 6-speed manual
Max power 121hp at 11,700rpm
Max torque 77Nm at 10,800rpm
0 to 100km/h Not stated
Top speed Not stated
Dry Weight 166kg (Dry)
Seat Height 825mm
Price $32,000 (OTR)
Having once owned the 2008 Street Triple R and 2013 Street Triple R — essentially the outgoing model — I was drawn to take the 2017 Street Triple RS for a test ride, like a fly is drawn to UV light.
What I noticed immediately was that Triumph has clearly gone out of its way to up the ante in the spec and quality, with beefy controls, the new dashboard and bar-end mirrors.
The new engine is possibly the sweetest yet on any Triumph triple.
It shares 50 percent of its parts with the Daytona 675R - as compared to only 10 percent with the previous ST - and the recipe has worked well, combining the refinement of the 765 much improved without the mechanical coarseness of the 675.
It’s an engine that loves revs, coming alive past 5,000rpm, with high-lift cams coming into play at 8,250rpm. This is a step change in power delivery compared with the old engine, which felt breathless past 10,000rpm.
Engine mapping is spot on. However, perhaps a result of Euro 4 strangulation, throttle response from roll-on is a tad delayed, and coupled with power tuned at the upper end of the rev-range, feels akin to turbo lag.
Riding with TC turned off seemed to improve throttle response.
The clutch and gearshifts are light, buttery smooth and precise, while the new Brembo M50 calipers and MCS19 master cylinder provide superb feel, modulation and almost excessive stopping power.
Lean angles were easily increased, without the "falling-over" sensation of a poor setup. Really so good, that we'd say the ride and handling of the RS is its pièce de résistance.
The Street Triple RS comes in as a middle-weight naked bike that's balanced and nearly faultless. On account of its spec and performance alone, we’d say the Street Triple RS is a class-leading machine.