words - Mark Fattore
photos - Jeff Crow
The seductive naked has been the class leader since its inception 2007, but instead of taking it easy Triumph has now opted for an extensive makeover

Triumph’s Street Triple and Street Triple R have never been the best looking naked middleweights, dripping with electronics, or even the most powerful. But at close quarters, in the cockpits of these animated and lively little beasts, they have the uncanny knack of letting you fall for their charms in an instant, mixing a tactile chassis with a three-cylinder engine that is just so versatile. Great handling and plenty of fun: isn’t that the ultimate cocktail?

That’s pretty much been the narrative since 2007, and probably why over 50,000 Street Triples have been sold over the past five years. But since the Street Triple’s inception, Triumph has been a company running at full pace, launching a bevy of new bikes including the Thunderbird cruiser, Tiger 800 and Explorer adventure bikes, as well as revamping a number of other models. But the Street Triple and Street Triple R have basically remained untouched, save for new headlights – which in itself created plenty of polarising views as the old circular units were given the heave ho.

But for the 2013 model year Triumph has changed plenty on the 675cc Street Triples, and the Bikesales Network recently got to try out the R version with a road ride and plenty of hot laps around the State Motorcycle Complex in Broadford (Vic) in late December, 2012.

Similar to the updated 1050cc Speed Triple which was launched – at the same race track -- in February, 2011, Triumph has concentrated its energies with the revamped Street Triples on sharpening handling (new frame, altered weight distribution and revised geometry) losing some weight,  “increasing the fun factor”, and revitalising the styling, highlighted by all-new bodywork and fuel tank.

The frame on the Street Triples is now an eight-piece construction instead of 11-piece for the old model (which must be a cost saver), and there’s also an adjustable swingarm pivot position. The rear subframe is now an aluminium die-cast design instead of steel, too.

In total, 6kg has been lopped off the new Street Triple, with a lot of the culling done at the rear end, including the wheel and caliper (1kg), swingarm (0.6kg) and rear end assembly (0.8kg). The exhaust system is now 3.6kg lighter, and the previous twin underseat silencers are no more, moved under the engine to lower the centre of gravity and centralise mass.

Because of all this transfer in weight, the bias on the front end is now a sports bike-like 52 per cent, compared to a 49 on the previous model. The rake on the Street Triple R is now also sharper at 23.4 degrees (compared to 23.9 for the previous model) to facilitate even harder cornering, while trail has been increased from 92.4 to 95mm just to make sure the whole operation remains on a stable footing. The rake and trail on the standard Street Triple are more moderate at 24.1 degrees and 99.6mm, due to suspension differences with the Street Triple R.

The changes to the geometry on the Street Triple R were immediately noticeable on the race track – the same type of seismic shift I felt from making the jump from the old Speed Triple to the new. There’s just a lot more bite at the front end, which not only makes the bike feel more alive and alert, but far more tactile and secure as well – particularly as stability hasn’t seemingly been sacrificed in the pursuit of agility.

Around a track like Broadford, which places a premium on front end feedback, the Street Triple R, with its compact dimensions and 183kg kerb weight, is just so obedient, sublimely easy to chuck around (the Broadford esses a perfect case-in-point) and generally pile on the laps with ridiculous ease.

In fact, the only limiting factor on the warm Broadford day was how long the OEM Pirelli Diablo Rosso rear tyre would last before beginning to lose grip at a rapid rate of knots. No fault of the hoop; it’s a road tyre. I was following one scribe when it nearly all came horribly undone leading onto the back straight, but by sheer luck rather than good management he was able to stay upright.

The retardation on the Street Triple R’s Nissin radial stoppers packs a punch, but it’s stopping power that is controllable and lets you trail into a corner hard on the anchors. In fact, I can’t think of the last time when I trailed a brake so hard into a turn – I reckon the HP4 may have been a certainly, but I was riding at that launch with a nasty bout of gastro, so my bullish instincts were kept in check.

The Street Triple R has KYB suspension, fully adjustable at both ends, while the Street Triple suspension is more basic, with only preload adjustment on the rear and less travel. Other unique touches on the Street Triple R over the standard model are more cosmetic, including the red subframe, radiator panels, wheels stripes and rear hugger.

By the way, if you are a regular track day punter, Triumph has designed the bike for easy removal of the number plate hanger – and reattachment if you want to ride home.

The engine in the Street Triple R is basically unchanged, save for the taller first gear. But it’s something – apart from a few more herbs required at take off – that can be accommodated on the Street Triple R, because it has such a flat torque curve and supple clutch. Peak torque of 68Nm is reached at 9750rpm, but it’s already around the 60Nm mark at 3000rpm.

The engine has been given new throttle bodies and the fuel-injection has been calibrated, which has done wonders to improve fuel consumption – that’s according to my colleague, who was one of the first customers in Australia to get their hands on the new model. The press launch didn’t afford us too much time to keep an eye on fuel consumption, and on a race track it’s a pointless exercise anyway.  

Combined with short gearing and the flat torque curve, there’s never really a feeling that you’re in the wrong gear on a Street Triple R, and the power is oh-so controllable and satisfying, even though there’s not a massive kick at the top end. But it just doesn’t matter on this bike. The Street Triple R’s core strength is that delectable bottom to mid-range torque, and that more than satisfies, whether pushing on or riding through the streets.

Actually, the best part of hitting the stops on the Street Triple R is not the power kick per se – it’s the throaty intake snarl. The bike’s always had that, but the sensation appears to be heightened on the latest model.

Triumph also brought along a Speed Triple R to Broadford, and within seconds of me taking it for a spin I had about three Street Triple Rs buzzing around my ears, and they soon had the better of me – my small advantage in power nothing compared to the sheer agility and zestiness of the smaller triples.

The instrumentation, like all Triumphs these days, is comprehensive, and the Street Triple R has also added a fuel gauge for the first time, which sits alongside two trip meters, a gear position indicator, clock, service indicator, programmable shift lights and a lap timer. There’s also an ABS control and tyre pressure display – if both are fitted. ABS is an option in Australia, and a quickshifter is part of the accessories catalogue.
The 2013 Street Triple R retails for $13,490, and you can add another $500 for ABS (the Street Triple is $12,490). For that dosh you get a bike that just comes together so beautifully, in so many satisfying and seductive ways. It’s compact, easy to ride, muscular, versatile, corners with purpose and is so easy to ride fast. I think Triumph has done more than enough to keep it ahead of the pack.
Type: Water-cooled, DOHC, in-line, 12-valve triple
Capacity: 675cc
Bore x stroke: 74mm x 52.3mm
Compression ratio: 12.65:1
Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI and 44mm throttle body
Emissions: Euro 3

Claimed maximum power: 106hp (78kW) at 11,850rpm
Claimed maximum torque: 68Nm at 9750rpm

Type: Six-speed, close ratio
Final drive: 'O' ring chain
Clutch: Wet multiplate

Frame type: Aluminium beam twin spar 
Front suspension: Kayaba 41mm USD forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression, 115mm travel
Rear suspension: Kayaba monoshock with adjustable preload, rebound and compression, 135mm travel
Front brakes: Twin 308mm floating discs with Nissin four-piston radial calipers (switchable ABS available)
Rear brakes: Single 220mm disc with Nissin single-piston caliper (switchable ABS available)
Wheel construction: Five-spoke cast aluminium, 3.5 x 17 front, 5.5 x 17 rear
Tyres: Pirelli Diablo Rosso -- Front 120/70-17, rear 180/55-17

Rake: 23.4 degrees
Trail: 95mm
Claimed wet weight: 182kg
Seat height: 820mm
Wheelbase: 1410mm
Fuel capacity: 17.4 litres

Price: $13,490 ($13,990 ABS)
Colour: Matt Graphite, Crystal White or Phantom Black
Bike supplied by: Triumph Australia, www.triumphmotorcycles.com.au
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres

Read the latest Bikesales Network news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at the Bikesales Network's mobile site. Or download the all-new App.

Published : Tuesday, 8 January 2013
In most cases, the Carsales Network attends new vehicle launches at the invitation and expense of vehicle manufacturers and/or distributors.

Editorial prices shown are a "price guide" only, based on information provided to us by the manufacturer. Pricing current at the time of writing editorial. Pricing prior to editorial dated 25 May 2009 may refer to RRP. Due to Clarity on Pricing legislation, RRP for those editorials now means "price guide". When purchasing a bike, always confirm the single figure price with the seller of an actual motorbike or accessory. Click here for further information about our Terms & Conditions.