What do Steve Bond and Angeline Jolie have in common?. No, not breasts, it begins with Street, ends in R and has Triple in the middle …
It’s hard to believe, but Angelina Jolie and I have something in common — other than a disdain for Billy Bob Thornton.
And I’m not talking about the same make and model either. The Triumph Street Triple R provided to me for testing had Ms. Jolie’s luscious buns firmly affixed to the seat during filming of the yet-to-be-released movie, Salt, in New York City.
A mere two days after her gluteus maximus warmed the seat, the bike was shipped to Canada where I effectively ruined any chance of an eBay windfall by sullying said seat with my aging, pale-white ass.
Triumph’s litre-class Speed Triple was cause for salivation among naked bike enthusiasts for years. However, the drool-mongers at Triumph felt more naked-bike fetishists would be aroused if a more accessible version of the Speed Triple were conceived. Hence, the Hinckley design crew disrobed the Street Triple, a roadster based on a denuded Daytona 675.
With styling strongly reminiscent of its big-brother Speed Triple (including the bug-eyed headlights and double, high-mounted stubby mufflers), the Street Triple is available in two sets of pyjamas — the standard and the higher-spec R model.
The standard is nice enough, and with its 2010 list price of $9,999 it is certainly competitive with other middleweights.
However, potential Street Triple owners would be fools not to consider the R version, with Nissin radial-mount front brake calipers (they’re the same items found on the sportier Daytona 675), gorgeous Magura tapered aluminum handlebar, gel seat, special paint and fully adjustable suspension — all for just $1,200 more than the standard one.
Any time fully adjustable suspension is offered as an option for less than two grand, I’d be all over it like brass on a doorknob.
A good quality aftermarket shock would set you back that kind of cheese, never mind the adjustable fork and the other goodies.
A PERFECT THREESOME?
The Triple’s first mission would be to consume an hour’s worth of superslab starting from my place, located just east of Toronto, to Belleville where I’d be meeting up with CMG regulars Larry Tate, Ellen Foster(Betty Boop), former CMG Soapbox regular Harry (a.k.a. BigBearded Biker), and my buddy Tony Vinent on his well-used V-Strom 650.
Climbing aboard the Street Triple is easy, thanks to its 805 mm (31.7in.) seat height.
Once seated the first impression is of a fairlynarrow and light motorcycle. With a wet weight of 189 kg (416 lbs), the Street Triple is a whopping 28 kilos lighter than the Speed Triple, though it feels even lighter than that, especially when riding around town or at slower speeds.
The low-rise handlebar is a comfortable reach and footpegs are neither too high nor too low (even for my 37-inch inseams) and are placed directly under the rider, which is where they should be, making it one of the best set-ups I’ve tried — and I’ve just about tried ’em all.
This position proved quite comfortable at superslab speeds, the handlebar keeping me a few degrees forward of vertical so the “human spinnaker” factor wouldn’t kick in.
I didn’t even mind the lack of wind protection (sadly, it appears that Ms Jolie took the optional accessory flyscreen with her) as the twin bug-eyed headlights forged their way east.
After meeting in Belleville we hit some wonderful twisty roads through local vineyards and farm country. The compliant suspension easily absorbed the potholes, craters, frost heaves and patches that were abundant on the myriad secondary roads we discovered.
The Street Triple was very confidence inspiring with a light turn-in, yet it was steady as a rock once committed and the chassis was taut under all conditions. The suspension is firm, with spring and damping rates set between the softer standard Street Triple and the firmer Daytona 675.
Even with its rather quick steering (and this despite the slightly oversize 180-section rear bun), I never felt the same hint of nervousness that I detected on Triumph’s bigger naked triple.
One area where the Street Triple could use some improvement is in its limited steering lock, which will sometimes make you back up if you attempt a U-turn on a narrow road.
The 675 cc three-cylinder engine is an absolute gem. Aside from emitting an alluring growl due to its 120-degree crankpin throws, it produces a claimed 106 hp and a peak of 51 lb-ft of torque. It has a super-flat torque curve, producing more than 44 lb-ft of torque from 4,000 rpm to past 12,000.
It’s docile enough at low speeds to make a novice rider feel at home riding around town, yet a more experienced rider will love it for its flexibility.
That broad spread of torque helps the Street Triple pull out of the corners with the low-end grunt of a twin, and then absolutely rip through the upper rev range like an inline four — it’s definitely the best of both worlds.
Thankfully, the brakes required two fingers at most and provided wonderful feel and feedback.
The slick shifting six-speed box is a delight to use, and the sound the engine makes isn’t too shabby either; sort of a mix of growl and bark with a slight, ever-present whine coming from the straight-cut primary gears in the background.
It even got reasonable fuel economy — as long as I exercised some restraint with the right wrist. I averaged 5.3L/100 km (53 mpg) while maintaining an exuberant pace.
That’s good enough to squeeze about 325 km from a tank of gas — not too shabby at all.
THE DEVIL AND Ms JOLIE
The Street Triple R was a perfect companion for a day trip and it handled the freeway drone, stop-and-go traffic in Kingston, as well as the two-lane swervery with ease.
Problem is, it’s just so much damn fun to ride that you have to keep a good eye on the speedometer. It’s like there’s a little devil perched on your right shoulder, egging you on.
“C’mon Bondo, run ‘er up to nine grand.”
“Come on ya pussy, crack it in second — get that front wheel up.”
“Let it rip. What’re ya afraid of?”
It’s one of a very few motorcycles that make it onto my “Bikes I’d Spend My Own Money On” list. At the end of my 540-km day, I wasn’t fatigued or sore, probably due to the seat so ably broken-in by Ms. Jolie.
There’s not much of a downside to the bike either. There’s a rather pointless array of randomly blinking shift lights arranged around the tachometer, but they’re carryovers from the Daytona 675, from which the instrument panel originates. And the handlebar mounts are so polished, the glare causes the speedometer to be unreadable under most conditions. But that’s about it.
When I reluctantly returned the bike to Triumph Canada’s Chris Ellis, I told him that if Triumph outfitted the Street Triple with the bodywork and bags from the Tiger, I might just have to cash in some RRSPs and get one.
Oh, and could he possibly get Angelina to break it in for me first?
|Bike||Triumph Street Triple R|
|Engine type||Four-stroke dohc inline triple, liquid-cooled
|Power (crank – claimed)||106 hp @ 11,700 rpm|
|Torque (claimed)||51 lb-ft @ 9,200 rpm|
|Tank Capacity||17.4 litres|
|Final drive||Six speed, chain drive|
|Brakes, front||Dual 308 mm discs with radial-mount four-piston caliper|
|Brakes, rear||Single 220 mm disc with single-piston caliper|
|Seat height||805 mm (31.7″)|
|Wheelbase||1,385 mm (54.5″)|
|Wet weight (claimed)||189 kg (416 lb)|
|Colours||Matt graphite, matte orange|
|Warranty||One year, unlimited mileage|