Opening the curtains and seeing rain drops cascading down my window meant the last thing I wanted to do was take a bike to the track and put in some laps. But this was the first real opportunity I’d had where I could really open up the taps on the RS unrestricted and with nothing coming the other way. Kitted up I aimed for Rockingham circuit for a photoshoot and track test of the RS. Soon after arriving the rain subsided, but the track was waterlogged and as slick as ice. The shoot allowed some time for the water to drain somewhat which I took full advantage of.
Only a few weeks previous I’d been hooning the latest 1000cc Superbikes around Rockingham in near identical conditions before eventually drying out and allowing the full 200hp experience. What impressed me most were the electronics and agility of the litre bikes. They were so customizable in their digital aids and fancy electronic suspension that they took care of any slide or wobble you had. But after many laps on each machine I found their biggest downside were the brakes. Most of them had ABS that kicked in incredibly early increasing the breaking distance, and some had ABS which couldn’t be disabled. I’ve never experienced a real want for disabling ABS before other than for shits and giggles sliding around, but this was my biggest gripe with the big machines.
Photo shoot done I hooked my leg over the RS for some tentative laps around the Northamptonshire circuit. My fear leading up to the day wasn’t the weather, or other riders nor the risk of a spill or embarrassing blunder which happens from time to time, but it was that I was somehow going to be left underwhelmed by the RS after being spoilt with the latest exotica around the exact same circuit and would be left wanting more. Just a handful of wet laps ridden something dawned on me. Mouth dry and eyes wide on the slippery asphalt I realized that whilst riding unnecessarily quicker than one would try first time out I hadn’t stopped grinning from the first bend. The noise, the torque, the wind blast against my body, quick shifter slicing through the gears smooth as silk, it all added up to a ridiculously fun session and naturally in the wet It was hard to decipher much difference between the Superbikes and Street triple. I was simply too busy just riding my bike around in circles trying not to crash. The only thing the RS could benefit from would be an auto blipper coupled with the quick shifter to help on the downshifts. Something that could also aid easier road riding.
The next couple of sessions created a drying line allowing me to play around with the rider modes on the Street Triple. Rain mode had an amber traction light and restricting power delivery from the get go, so it was in to road, sport, track and then custom rider mode where I fiddled around to get the bike to where I was happiest. Once damp patches started turning into dry patches it was traction off and ABS in track mode. I really started to open the taps on the RS, and whilst hanging off like a goon flexing the ultimate A frame to get that knee scraping the bike really started to feel like it was at home. The RS leapt out of the turns and that torquey 3 cylinder barked from twist to turn leaving black lines out of the corners lap after lap. That all too familiar intoxicating induction roar coupled with stellar handling and grip just kept me riding lap after lap.
The brakes are quite simply incredible on this bike. Those radial Brembo M50 calipers and MCS master cylinder providing stopping power lap after lap. And what impressed me more than zero brake fade was that the ABS didn’t intrude once on the front end throughout the whole day. It allowed me to brake as hard as I dared and as late as my balls let me, it just stopped. So much so that I never turned the ABS off. In the corners the suspension was a real surprise. I’d left it completely standard with a more road orientated setup and whilst momentarily feeling soft in certain areas, it soaked up the bumps and just kept the bike planted turn after turn. The bike broke away once earlier on in the day, and whilst it was at throttle to the stop in fourth the traction control picked up on it and got the bike back in line with just a whiff of skid mark in my underwear. I’m almost certain that like any bike the electronics aren’t going to save the big slides, but they were so much better than I expected on a £10k bike. They could be as intrusive or as subtle as you liked at the click of a button and knowing that they’re highly developed and experiencing them first hand gives me massive peace of mind from here on.
So what’s the overall verdict? Honestly? If you hadn’t already have guessed, the Street Triple RS has once again blown my socks off and somewhere that I thought it might struggle to overwhelm me from the treat I’d had just a few weeks previous. Sure, If I was a hardened track day addict I’d almost certainly have some litre bike parked in the corner of the garage, but with what this bike is capable of doing not just on track but on the road as well, why would I want anything else? It’s already proven it’s great for a Sunday blast, commuting, even touring albeit with a few drawbacks, and now great for eating up the laps at the track as well, what more is there to say? Triumph have stepped up the Street Triple where it’s made me once again contemplate the need for a sports bike in my garage.
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