Motorcycle road test

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Triumph Street Triple R road test, by Wes Smith

I don’t mind admitting that I was a little apprehensive about taking Triumph’s highly-regarded Street Triple R out.

It was the R that did it. All I can think about when I see a bike with an R somewhere in its name is Race spec. And race spec, to me, means scarily fast.

Not that I’m averse to going fast. Far from it. I’m just very wary about anything with race specifications because, when it comes down to it, I’m still very wet behind the ears when it comes to this biking malarkey.

It wasn’t helped when I found out that the bike I’d be taking out was as good as fresh from the factory, tyres only just scrubbed in and little more than 100 miles on the clock.

As well as that, my instructions just before I rode off into the sunset included try to keep it to the running-in rev limits where possible and not to thrash it too hard, oh, and no popping wheelies!

As it turned out, it would seem that I don’t know my Rs from my elbow – after barely ten minutes on the Street I had absolutely fallen in love with it. To be fair, it didn’t even take that long. From the moment you fire her up and hear the distinctive growl of Triumph’s three-cylinder engine, to being able to really push it on the back roads just a few minutes later, everything about it is just incredible.

The Street Triple R comes fitted with Pirelli Diablo Corso tyres, which are, quite simply, outstanding. They warm up pretty rapidly, but even when the roads were wet and slippy and grip wasn’t what it could have been, I had absolute faith in their ability to keep me the right side up.

In the absence of a track, it was on those back roads that the Speed Triple R excelled. It has a phenomenal amount of power for a 675cc engine, with 105bhp and maximum torque of 50ft/lb at 9,200rpm.

Combine that with a lightweight frame, fully adjustable front and rear Kayaba shocks, and a wet weight of just 189kg, and you have a machine that is up to pretty much any task you care to send its way.

The throttle is amazingly responsive. The slightest twist of the wrist is enough to propel you forward – and it is more than capable of doing so no matter what gear you’re in.

But by the same token, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience to work the close ratio gearbox as you make your way through the twisties, made all the more fun by the incredible suspension. No matter what you throw at it, or rather, how much you throw it around the bends, it soaks it all up with no complaint. In fact, the standard factory setting is so perfect that you question the need for a fully-adjustable shock at all.

But you can’t ride forever and eventually you’re going to have to bring the bike to a stop. The R is fitted with twin floating discs and Nissin four-piston radial calipers on the front, and a single disc, Nissin single piston caliper on the rear, providing good, sharp stopping power, with excellent feel, in all weathers.

The bike is also extremely adept over long distances, however, with it being a naked, it does begin to take its toll on longer motorway blasts. Similarly, the seat, begins to get slightly uncomfortable after 90 minutes or so.

Keeping the throttle pinned at higher speeds was also slightly vibey. But it was only slightly and not something that proved uncomfortable or a distraction.

Overall, though, it’s a very comfortable bike. The rider position is upright but pitched ever so slightly forward to give just a hint of a more aggressive position.

The mirrors offer a pretty good view, and there are a host of nice touches that show a lot of thought has gone into it, from heel guards to the lap timer on the instrument panel and the gear indicator lights that flash relentlessly at you when you’re revving it too hard.

Handling at low speeds is excellent – its light weight and agility make it the ideal traffic-busting commuter. If I was to make one complaint about it, it’s that the steering lock isn’t as wide as other naked bikes, making U-turns a bit wider than I’d like. But that really is a minor quibble. There really is nothing else on this bike that anyone can complain about.

Elsewhere, two-up capacity is pretty good and fairly roomy, although pillions may need to have fairly flexible legs as the footpegs do seem quite high up. And, of course, it’s a stunning looking bike, which comes in three great colours – crystal white, phantom black and Diablo red.

It really is an outstanding machine, offering all the smoothness of a four-cylinder bike but with the grunt and torque of a V-twin.

It’s no understatement to say that it is absolutely incredible, capable of pretty much everything, and the ideal bike for everyone from those looking for something to take on track, and even as a first big bike for a novice rider.

It may have big, sharp teeth, but it won’t bite, so get your Rs into gear and hit the Street!

Many thanks to Palmers Motorcycles for the loan of the Triumph Street Triple R. Find them at Pennine Way, off Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7AZ. Call 01442 289033 or visit the Palmers website

Tech specs:

Model: Triumph Street Triple R

Engine size: 675cc

Engine spec: Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder

Power: 105bhp

Torque: 50ftlb@9,200rpm

Fuel capacity: 17.4 litres

Range: 150 miles

Seat height: 805mm

Weight: 189kg

Prices: Street Triple: From £6,899, Triple R: From £7,599

www.hertstriumph.co.uk