Hooligan Triumph Street Triple R café racer special
First rides & tests
26 August 2011 12:31
This Street Triple R is the latest in the line of brilliantly-executed specials created by Triumph dealer Jack Lilley.
Designed to mimic the café racer style, it actually looks uncannily like any number of RD350LC and YPVS specials that terrorised the streets in a haze of two-stroke smoke back in the 80s. That bellypan, those low LSL clip-ons and the big round headlight all scream LC.
Riding it around in the urban sprawl near Lilley's dealership near Shepperton studios in Middlesex, it takes me right back to being 17 again on my own LC. Just like my old Yamaha it's light, slim and has a very similar, racy riding position, thanks to those clip-ons, comfy seat and LSL rearsets. There's the familiar acreage of legroom too, which is music to my crumbling old legs.
It has the same hooligan spirit - just swap the banshee wail of Allspeed expansion chambers for the delicious rasp and crackling over-run of the twin underseat Arrow slip-on cans. They're street legal, but only by the skin of their teeth.
Accelerating away from roundabouts and traffic lights, the urge to wheelie is almost impossible to resist and, just like my old LC, it's incredibly nimble and easy to dart through traffic and even out-run the police, which is something I definitely didn't do when I was 17.
Unlike the old 350LC, which hit showrooms in 1980, the Street Triple R Café Racer special enjoys the benefit of 30 years of motorcycle development. Its four-stroke, three-cylinder fuel-injected engine is completely reliable, has a beautifully linear spread of power, superb throttle response and goes like stink.
With its brilliant Daytona 675-derived chassis, fully adjustable Kayaba shock and upside down forks, and fat, sticky, Pirelli Rosso Diablo tyres, it has a plush ride and handles so well you'll only ever find its limits on a racetrack. The racing quickshifter fitted on this bike, which makes riding fast or slow smoother and easier, would have been the stuff of dreams for old Elsie.
There's a mouth-watering array of quality bolt-ons here, which jack the price of this machine up from £7549 to a not inconsiderable £11,000. They include the bellypan, seat cowl, Arrow cans, quickshifter, radiator cowl, LSL brake and clutch lever, crash protection, brake reservoir, bar-end weights, clutch reservoir, black preload adjusters, clip-ons, knurled aluminium grips and fitting.
In this LC/Café Race spec, the Street Triple R couldn't feel more different from the donor bike. The simple shift in riding position from sitting upright, with its flat bars, to adopting a race crouch, completely transforms the experience into something very purposeful, effective and hugely enjoyable.
Eleven grand might sound like a lot for a Street Triple R, but it transported me back to my youth, so as far as time machines go, it's a bargain.