Speaking of windblast, the Street Triple is a warm-weather-only machine. That little cowl above the twin headlights offers no discernable protection against the elements. Rain, cold, bugs – you’ll get the full brunt of them when astride this bike. Which, in conjunction with the seating position, makes it ill-suited for long hauls. It’s not sportbike uncomfortable (handlebars are upright after all), but my knees, shoulders, back, and neck started to ache after an hour or so in the saddle. Add to that the fact the passenger seat is more of an idea than a reality, and there are no bungee pegs for luggage. It’s something of an apples to oranges comparison to say this, but when it comes to sporty all-rounders, I found the Honda CBR650F I rode last year to be far more comfortable over distance.
However, the Street Triple’s magnificent engine makes a person kind of not care about those complaints. Triumph claims 106 horsepower for this “little” bike, whereas other sources suggest a number closer to 98 hp. Either way, it’s more than enough. Smooth, bungee-like acceleration brings you up to and beyond legal highway speeds with no effort. And the bike holds those speeds comfortably with little to no vibration coming through the bars or pegs. The chassis is unflappable at high speed, holding rock-steady on long boring straights and flicking with ease from lane to lane when asked. The Triumph is so good in this sense that I wish there were some sort of sport-touring Daytona (the Street Triple is, after all, effectively a naked and detuned version of the Daytona 675 sportbike). Triumph will never create such a thing, because they’d only sell about eight of them (Sport tourers are dead), but a lad can dream.
Back Road Riding
Where the Street Triple shines most, of course, is on back roads. It’s the sort of machine that makes every corner fun – even when keeping at or close to legal speeds. Everything works so fluidly, so very much as you wish a bike would. I’m not a track bro, and I suspect the standard Street Triple would come up short in that environment (Perhaps the new Street Triple RS would be more to sir’s liking?), but on public roads the bike’s suspension is more than sufficient. ABS-equipped brakes perform well, though they may not offer quite as much bite as some folks would prefer. I thought they were fine.
The soundtrack of the bike’s exhaust is a reason in and of itself to hustle down country lanes. At higher revs you are rewarded with the iconic bark of an inline Triple, ease off and you hear an anticipative burble. Involuntary revving will occur any time you pass through a tunnel, followed by goofy laughing on your part and an overwhelming desire to do wheelies. One of these days I’ll learn how to do those…
|Jenn and I tried to get a cool sunrise shot. We succeeded in annoying people who live on Penarth’s seafront, but didn’t manage the imagery we were hoping for.|
Whether the Street Triple is practical depends on your intended use. As a long-distance machine, no. Along with compact ergonomics, bad mirrors, no luggage points, and a complete lack of weather protection, the bike’s fuel economy leaves something to be desired when run for long stretches at interstate/motorway speeds. London is just 150 miles from Cardiff but I wasn’t able to make it all the way without a fuel stop.
Within the city, at lower speeds, fuel economy improves and – as I say – it is a magical commuting machine. In a heavy-traffic area like London, Los Angeles, or Houston (I’ve seen plenty of dudes lane-splitting there) this would be the ideal motorcycle to own. There is something life-enriching about hearing the sound of that burbling, barking engine bouncing off the doors of cars as you pass by. Obviously, the Street Triple is far more powerful than necessary for just city duty, but that means you don’t need to switch bikes when travelling to those less hectic roads where no one really worries about practical matters.
What Everyone Else Says
It’s a running joke that any time Triumph releases a motorcycle the British press automatically place it on their Best of the Year lists. So, it comes as no surprise that Motorcycle News was gushing in its praise back when the Street Triple was first released – five stars across the board.
“It’s impossible to think of a better engine to power the Triumph Street Triple,” MCN reported. “The 675cc motor lifted from the Daytona 675 offers absolutely everything you need.”
I agree. The engine is absolutely the star of the show, outshining the moto’s horrendous looks and cramped riding position to the point of making you feel a little silly for complaining too much about them. Meanwhile, Blake Conner, writing in Cycle World, said: ”The Street Triple completely redefines what the middleweight naked class is all about.“
He wrote that in 2007, before anyone had even thought about the Yamaha MT-09, but I’d argue the Street Triple still holds its own in the class. It lacks traction control and spiffy riding modes but remains engaging, loads of fun, and easy to ride (though, I’d disagree with anyone suggesting it as a bike for newer riders).
The Little Things
I mentioned that the bike doesn’t seem to have much presence, somehow disappearing from other road users’ view. Exacerbating this is the nature of the bike’s turn signal lights. Rather than the traditional set-up of having a bulb behind a colored cover window (i.e. yellow on the front, red on the rear) the signals use colored bulbs inside a mirrored housing. That’s swell in low-light conditions, but creates a unique problem in bright sunlight. Which I learned about when a Domino’s delivery driver almost ran me over. I caught up with him and offered to insert my boot into his bodily orifices, but he claimed I’d been signalling a right turn. I informed him he was wrong, expressed my displeasure with his actions, and ultimately the two of us parted on unhappy terms. About 20 minutes later, I was walking out of a shop and, in looking at the bike, thought: “Why is my blinker on?”
It wasn’t. It was sunlight reflecting in the mirrored housing. I had unfairly expended a whole lot of negative energy toward that delivery driver, and I felt like a jerk. I also felt nervous riding in sunshine; perhaps Triumph intended this bike for vampire use?
The Best Things
The Street Triple doesn’t look too bad from the rear, and I really dig the underbelly exhaust that – as I say – makes a beautiful sound. Here in Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland there is a special feeling one gets when riding a Triumph, regardless of how ugly it may be. Even little old ladies give you a warm smile when they see the name on the tank. Police officers give a nod of approval when you park on the sidewalk. You’re unlikely to receive such special treatment beyond the shores of this sceptered isle, but there’s still something unique about riding a bike with such an iconic name.
Most importantly, though, there’s that engine. It will make you happy every time.
Would I Buy It?
I can say a lot of good things about the Street Triple, and I’d argue that the bike’s asking price on the second-hand market is mostly fair. But I can’t imagine ever being willing to part with my own hard-earned cash for a bike this ugly. I mean, Lord, is it ugly. That’s a rich statement coming from a guy who likes adventure bikes (every manufacturer makes one, none of them look good), but in those cases the bikes offer more all-round usefulness. Which compensates for the fact they aren’t as fun. Within the Street Triple’s own genre, however – and assuming that I wasn’t living in the UK, where the Triumph name delivers a lot of intangibles – I suppose I’d spend my moola on… uh… well… that’s a tough one.
There are bikes that are cheaper, that look better, that have more techno whizzbangery, but few put everything together as well as the Triumph. So, I guess I’d just learn to live with it, taking solace in the fact I can’t really see the bike when I’m on it. Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some people love the Street Triple. I can’t blame them for doing so.
Rider: Chris Cope
Height: 6 feet 1 inch
Physical build: Thin, lanky
Riding experience: Mostly street
Helmet: BMW System 6 Evo
Jacket: Resurgence Gear Rocker
Gloves: Weise Remulus
Jeans: Resurgence Gear Voyager
Boots: MotoBailey ElBulli
The Three Questions
1) Does the 2016 Triumph Street Triple fit my current lifestyle?
Not really. I tend to use my personal bike as a small car, using it to travel around the country and continent. Riding to London in the cold on this bike was unpleasant, and strapping my trusty Oxford Aqua 50 bag to the back was anything but easy.
2) Does it put a grin on my face?
Hell yes. I loved the engine and in short bursts the cramped ergonomics didn’t bother me too much.
3) Is it better than my current bike – a Triumph Tiger Explorer XRx?
Not really. At least by my own standards, i.e., it does not suit my needs better. But it’s worth noting that my time on the Street Triple is what led to my asking Triumph to loan me a Tiger Sport (review coming), which ultimately led to my getting the Tiger Explorer XRx. Triumph’s triples inline triples deliver nothing but joy, as far as I’m concerned.