Feature image credit: Alessio Barbanti and Mateo Cavadini
Very rarely have I had to travel back and forth to Europe twice within the same week, and it’s even more rare that it’s to the exact same location, in this case Valencia, Spain. Last week I rode an Italian supersport at the famed racetrack just outside the city; this week I ride one of the most anticipated new bikes to come out of the U.K. in several years.
Yesterday we took a look at the mechanics behind the new Street Twin. Today I’m going to tell you about how it was to ride through the streets of Valencia and the mountain roads beyond. It was well worth spending all those hours in airplanes.
There is one thing I notice immediately upon seeing the Street Twin; that it’s styling instantly captures the essence of what a classic Brit bike has always been in my eyes: simple, slender, and if not outright elegant, at least quite charming. Add to that a mechanical simplicity; the folks at Hinckley haven’t tried to wow riders with bedazzling paint schemes or flashy chrome — it is instead refreshingly understated.
I swing a leg over the bike and it feels light and surprisingly narrow, especially at the knees, where the gas tank is deeply scalloped. The riding position is very relaxed and upright, and there’s a modest amount of legroom for my six-foot frame. It’s an easy reach to the ground, as the bike has been reworked for this purpose.
When seated, all that’s ahead of me is a single, large analogue speedometer and the key dangling below it. I hit the red starter button and the engine emits a classic, deep rumble out the tailpipes, and a more contemporary whirring of balancer chains. (The 270-degree engine — piston pins slightly offset — has two of them.)
Pulling the clutch takes no more effort than grabbing the handle of my well-travelled carry-on bag; it’s beginner-bike light. As is the gearbox, though I find myself riding the clutch a bit to get moving, noticing that the first of five gears is surprisingly tall — the bike’s big torque, however, makes launching it a breeze. Each successive gear change requires a very short and light tap on the shift lever.
We meander through the streets of Valencia on our way to the mountains west of the city, offering me a chance to try out the Street Twin’s urban manners. Its light, neutral steering makes for an effortless ride as we zigzag from one roundabout to the next, and its bountiful bottom-end torque gets the bike up to speed in an instant as I follow our ride guide, Triumph test rider and chassis engineer David Lopez, who blasts off from traffic lights as if they were staging lights.
The mountain roads present a mixture of long, smooth sweepers and tight switchbacks, and the Street Twin is an absolute delight here, easily flicking through esses, while displaying uninterrupted stability on the straight bits.
The suspension is plush, tuned more for comfort than for speed, but it doesn’t hamper the modestly spirited pace. My 220-lb body only causes the soft rear end to rebound more than once as the bike leans into fast sweepers, otherwise the bike follows through turns confidently and with little effort at the handlebar.
The engine, which is tuned for low-end torque, pulls with gusto through the low to mid rev range, but power flattens as the engine approaches its rev limit, which we’re told is at 7,000 rpm. The counterbalanced twin is rigidly mounted in the frame, but the Street Twin is among the smoothest motorcycles I’ve ridden — even the mirrors remain almost perfectly clear at highway cruising speeds.
The day ends all too soon, and is about as far as you can get from my track ride a week earlier on the adrenaline-fuelled Ducati 959 Panigale. The Street Twin is an easy and relaxed ride, and bound to get more seat time than any supersport machine. A post-ride chat with my fellow journalists left us all hard pressed to find something we didn’t like about the bike.
Some riders note that the suspension is too soft for a fast pace, to which I reminded them that this isn’t a supersport and is unlikely to be ridden as such by almost anyone who buys it. After all, the bike never bottomed and the pegs never touched the ground, at least for me, proving it is certainly capable of handling a faster pace.
But then, if you want a sportier ride, you can either take the old-school route and modify it (easily done), or spend some extra cash on the Thruxton R, which we’re told is almost sold out in some markets before pricing has even been released.
And maybe the traction control is a little redundant on a bike with such an easily manageable powerband, but it just might save your ass on that wet, late-night ride as you round a corner and grab a handful of throttle. I doubt if I triggered it on this ride, and if I did it’s completely invisible.
Finally, how does it compare to the other bikes in our comparo chart in the pre-ride preamble? I’ve had the good fortune to have ridden the Ducati Scrambler, the Sportster Iron 883, and the Yamaha Bolt, in the last year. It feels much lighter and steers easier than the Iron and Bolt, and it accelerates harder from a stop too, as it weighs considerably less, but the distinction is less evident when it comes to the Ducati Scrambler.
The Scrambler’s bottom end didn’t seem as strong as the Street Twin’s, but the Italian bike has the horsepower figures, and it has the edge as the revs pick up. Both bikes have soft suspension, though the Bonnie is more stable, the Scrambler exhibiting a bit of handlebar-induced weaving at higher speeds. In reality, choosing between the two will probably come down to which you think looks better — I’d have a tough time at it.
Pricing for the new Street Twins can be found here.