2017 bike of the year: Triumph Street Triple RS

Published: 24 October 2017

Triumph’s mighty Street Triple has come a long way from the decade-old 675cc original. That 2007 machine was a succes from the moment it hit showrooms and it got better through every revision and update over the years.

A naked Daytona 675 with minimal tweaks, that first Street Triple was a streetfighter at heart. It was fast and swept through corners with supersport precision, but its real party trick was being able to mix all this fizz with calm practicality. You could jump on the old Street Triple as a newbie and gel with it straight away, but it was a hoot for discerning former sportsbike riders, too. And then there was the glorious noise it made. The tortured three-cylinder racket of that gem-like engine, snorting deep on the in-breath and shrieking like a banshee on the exhale was something you’d never tire of as long as you had a pulse.

That old Trumpet won every single middleweight naked group test we ever did and took the scalps of much bigger machines along the way. It was always going to be a tough act to follow. But follow Triumph did with a sleeker new 765cc Street Triple RS, with an even peachier engine and packed with new technology. It was one of the bikes the MCN road test team was looking forward to the most in 2017.

I was the lucky tester to ride it in February at its launch (below). It was obvious as soon as the wheels started turning that the British firm had created another winner. Like its predecessor the new 765cc Street Triple has kicked the rest of its middleweight rivals squarely in the privates in comparison tests this year.

The Triumph’s main rivals have been the updated Yamaha MT-09 triple and Kawasaki’s new four-cylinder Z900. Although the Yamaha’s engine is a gem, it can’t match the Street Triple RS’s formidable chassis and although the Kawasaki surprised us with its silky engine and plush suspension, it doesn’t come close to the Triumph’s playfulness, agility and character.

It’s already a runaway showroom success and comes in a variety of other flavours, including an R, S, low seat height and A2 licence-friendly versions. And how cool is it to know its 765cc motor will be the beating heart of Moto2 in 2019? Can you imagine the sound of a swarm of triples heading sideways into the season opener’s first turn of a Grand Prix?

The new Street Triple RS is MCN’s Best Naked of 2017 and because it’s a bike that will mean so much to so many, it’s won our Bike of the Year, too. Its modified 765cc motor is a gem and compared to the old 675cc unit it hits harder, spins-up faster and belts out its shrieking, bass-laden, acid-infused soundtrack higher up the decibel range, through its (1.7kg) lighter new airbox and exhaust. But despite its extra power, torque and refinement, it’s not actually the new Street Triple RS’s best bit.

What actually makes the new Triumph so spell bindingly brilliant is how light and easy it is to manage. Few bikes offer such balance, composure and completeness. The Street Triple RS has no flaws or built-down-to-a price compromises. Every single component, from the motor to the electronics, tyres and chassis works in perfect harmony, making the new machine as enjoyable pottering around at town speeds, as it is digging deep and scrabbling for grip at full lean madness.

Its new slip-assist clutch has a pleasingly light lever action and the revised gearbox has such a tight, accurate shift, you’d swear it had been lifted from a blueprinted race engine.

There’s a shorter first and second gear, for even more zing and a quickshifter for lightning upshifts, but sadly no autoblipper, which is conspicuous by its absence. If the easy clutch and gearbox don’t make you smile, the light-action, ultra-precise, jerk-free ride-by-wire throttle will.

Then there’s the way the 2kg-lighter Triumph floats from corner to corner with the smallest input from the rider and the litheness of the steering.With its low pegs, wide bars and luxuriously padded stitched seat the Triumph is all-day comfy, too. The RS delivers just the right amount, but not too much, power and torque. Sound familiar? Some of the best balanced sports bikes in history have been 750s, from the RC30 to the OW-01 and GSX-R750.

The new Triumph can be uttered in the same breath as these old greats. Whether you choose to thrash it, or leave the gears alone and take advantage of its extra torque, the new Street Triple RS delivers serious speed, but crucially it’s not brutal. It doesn’t fight you, tie the chassis in knots, or shred its tyres. Someone stick clip-ons and a fairing on this thing

Chassis mods are limited to a new stiffer gullwing swingarm with a revised swingarm pivot position, for extra stability and flex, a new Öhlins rear shock and top spec Showa Big Piston forks. New electronic rider aids add an extra layer of sophistication and safety to the cheeky naked and the new colour screen would look more at home on a top-spec Panigale than a simple naked bike like this. It shows the kind of attention to detail lavished on the new machine.

Here's what we thought when we first rode the bike back in February

After a day spent riding Triumph’s hot new £9900 Street Triple RS at its world launch on the roads near Barcelona and at the Catalunya MotoGP circuit, it’s clear its new 765cc motor is an absolute gem of a thing and has comfortably taken this iconic engine to another, unrivalled level.

Well deserved of our 5-star rating, the new triple hits harder, spins-up faster and belts out its shrieking, bass-laden, acid-infused soundtrack higher up the decibel range, through its lighter new airbox and exhaust.

But despite producing 13% more torque, 16% more power and having some of the 675’s raw edges smoothed-off, but not too many, it’s not actually the new Street Triple RS’s best bit. No, what makes this new Triumph so spellbindingly brilliant is how light and easy it is to manage. I can’t think of a bike – even top-level sportsbikes or super nakeds that offers such balance, composure and completeness.

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There are no flaws or built-down-to-a price compromises. Every single component, from the motor to the electronics, tyres and chassis works in perfect harmony, making the new machine as enjoyable pottering around at town speeds, as it is digging deep and scrabbling for grip at full lean madness.

Its new ‘slip-assist’ clutch has an impossibly light lever action and the revised gearbox has such a tight, accurate shift, you\d swear it’d been lifted from a blueprinted race engine. There’s a shorter first and second gear, for even more zing and a quickshifter for lightning upshifts, but sadly no autoblipper, which would’ve been a nice touch.

If the easy clutch and gearbox don’t make you smile, the light-action, ultra-precise, jerk-free ride-by-wire throttle will. Them there’s the way the 2kg-lighter Triumph floats from corner to corner with the smallest input from the rider and the litheness of the steering, which makes every bike you’ve ever ridden before seem like it had flat tyres. With its low pegs, wide bars and luxuriously padded stitched seat the Triumph is all-day comfy, too.

The cherry on top of all this brilliance is, of course, that 765cc engine, which delivers just the right amount, but not too much, power and torque. Sound familiar? Some of the best-balanced sports bikes in history have been 750s, from the RC30 to the OW-01 and GSX-R750. And yes, the new Triumph can be uttered in the same breath as these old greats.

That engine delivers serious speed, but it’s not brutal. It doesn’t fight you, tie the chassis in knots, or shred its tyres. Someone stick clip-ons and a fairing on this thing…

Chassis mods are limited to a new stiffer gullwing swingarm, a new Ohlins rear shock and top spec Showa Big Piston forks. They account for the Street Triple’s plush ride, unflappable stability at speed and sharpness in the corners on the road and track, as do Pirelli’s top-rung Diablo Super Corsa SP fast road/trackday tyres.

ABS-assisted monobloc Brembo M50s are packed with feel and power. They remain unflustered no matter how hard you push them

For the first time the Street Triple gets a full electronics package, including five riding modes (Road, Rain, Sport, Track and a programmable Rider mode) containing different throttle maps and varying levels of traction and ABS intervention. They add an extra layer of sophistication and safety to the cheeky naked, but unless you stop and switch all the aids off, this is the first Street Triple you can’t wheelie, which detracts from the fun a smidge.

Taking centre stage in the cockpit is an innovative new 5” full colour multi-function TFT dash, which would look more at home on a top-spec Panigale than a simple naked bike like this. It shows the kind of attention to detail lavished on the new machine and proof the RS is much more than just a 675 Street Triple with a big engine.

Although the new Street Triple RS is the same physical size as the previous model, new styling gives it a tougher, chunkier ‘big bike’ look and new LED headlamps are not only 28-times brighter than conventional bulbs, they give the Triumph a more sinister-looking face, too.

Triumph has really gone to town in making the new Street Triple a worthy successor to the brilliant original. Not only is the new RS a thing of wonder, that’s not the end of the story. There are also more road-focussed, affordable-spec S and R models, a low seat and 660cc A2 licence-friendly versions. On top of all that there are over 60 official accessories available to make your Street Triple faster, sexier and more practical.

The Hinckley form can’t seem to put a foot wrong at the moment. They’re not just about producing brilliantly executed retros, their modern nakeds are simply astounding, too. The old 675cc Street Triple was always going to be a tough act to follow, but we’re happy to report this new 765 is a very special motorcycle indeed and all for just ten grand.

Specification

Price £9900
Engine 765cc 12v inline triple
Frame Cast aluminium twin spar
Seat height 825mm
Suspension Fully adjustable Showa 41mm forks and single rear Ohlins shock.
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs. Brembo four-piston radial caliper.
Colours Silver, black
Available March
Power 121bhp@11,700rpm
Torque 57ftlb@10,800rpm
Dry weight 166kg
Tank capacity 17.4-litres 

Street Triple roll call

Sitting at the top of the Street Triple tree is the high spec £9900 RS, but there are another four versions to choose from to suit to every budget, leg length and licence.

Street Triple S

  • £8000 available April
  • 111bhp
  • Black subframe
  • Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres
  • Nissin two-piston brakes
  • Showa suspension
  • Basic traction control, ABS and riding modes.
  • Updated analogue/LCD clocks

Street Triple R

  • £8900 available May
  • Engine turned for torque
  • 116bhp
  • Red subframe
  • Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres
  • Brembo M4.32 monobloc calipers
  • Showa shock and Big Piston Forks
  • RS-spec TC, ABS and riding modes (except Track mode)
  • Colour dash and new switchgear 

Street Triple R LRH (Low Ride Height)

  • £8900 available August
  • 780mm seat height
  • Bespoke low suspension and seat 

Street Triple S A2 licence

  • £7700 available June
  • 660cc, 47bhp
  • Can be derestricted to give 94bhp

What we like

  • Harmonious blend of power and handling
  • Smoother, stronger, tougher engine
  • Lightness of steering, controls and gearbox
  • Stonking brakes
  • Angrier soundtrack 

What we don't like

  • No autoblipper 
  • No more easy wheelies 

 

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