Wednesday, August 10, 2011


TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE knew from the very beginning of the Daytona 675 project that they were going to build a Speed Triple-style variant. So while the world’s motorcycle press was at the Daytona’s Sepang launch in Malaysia, Triumph engineers were already road testing the mockup of what would become the Street Triple. This foresight—knowing that the fully faired Daytona would eventually be stripped of its trousers—prompted designers to hide fairing mounting hardware inside the frame, so there are no unsightly brackets cluttering the frame’s external surfaces. This allows the Daytona and the Street Triple to share the exact same frame and swingarm. Altering the swingarm mounting point (for which the frame is designed to accommodate) and tweaked offset on the tripleclamps make for handling a little more stable than the Daytona’s (rake is up one degree to 24.3 degrees, trail is 95 mm from 87 mm and wheelbase remains 1,395 mm).

One of the few criticisms of the Daytona 675 was for its tall seat, so the Street Triple has a new rear subframe that lowers the perch 25 mm to a more reasonable 800 mm (31.5 inches). Easing the leg’s reach to the ground is the narrowness of the machine (photographs do not entirely do justice to its slim profile) and from the saddle, it scarcely feels wider than a V-twin. Each millimetre that can be carved from seat height makes a motorcycle more appealing to the short legged, but Triumph pruned a little too much foam from the Street Triple’s seat. After spending the morning on a tester with a gel seat (a $288 accessory), the switch to a machine with a stock seat left me squirming miserably within 20 kilometres. Other hacks had similar complaints, and Triumph officials vowed to return to the factory to find out who pinched the stuffing.

Suspension up front is a 41 mm Kayaba fork with 120 mm of travel, while the Kayaba rear shock has marginally greater travel. Settings are a good compromise between firm and supple, and even at elevated speeds, the Street Triple doesn’t wallow in corners. Brakes up front are paired 308 mm floating rotors with Nissin two-piston sliding calipers. A single 220 mm rotor with single-piston caliper handles the rear. They are strong but not supersport sensitive, and a good compromise for the street. Perhaps the only real trouble with the Street Triple is how to position it for sensitive North American buyers. It is svelte enough (at 167 kg/368 lb) and the controls are supple enough for riders of modest experience, but it is also a powerful, track-day capable machine, directly descended from one of the best thoroughbred sport bikes (the 2006 Bike of the Year award-winning Daytona 675). The Street Triple transcends its modest displacement and embodies a characteristic rare in motorcycling: a bike that can be many different things to many different people.

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