2009 Triumph Street Triple R launch – If Triple R isn’t enough...
Last year’s Street Triple based on the Daytona 675 was already a good bike. Triumph have just made a good bike better and added an R in the name to emphasize. I had the privilege of taking it for a spin around the Isle of Man TT circuit.
Words: Tor Sagen/Photography: Jason Critchell & Paul Bryant
In the UK only footballers and slugs prosper this time of the year. Still I feel like I’m a very privileged individual myself today riding the TT course for the first time on a British motorcycle. The Isle of Man is the foremost road racing place in the world. After being introduced to the course in a coach guided by Manx madman Richard “Milky” Quayle, I can testify that this Island and its inhabitants truly live and breathemotorcycle racing.
Triumph had planned to launch the Street Triple R at some new Spanish short circuit. Luckily for me that never came through as the Spaniards didn’t have their licences and paperwork in order yet. Yes, I know that this is trivial information, but I want to set the scene and at the same time tell you that the Isle of Man is pretty much the best place in the world to test any motorcycle. We’re riding on public roads that are also a road racing circuit, a real road racing circuit!
“The Street Triple has exceeded all our expectations”, Simon Warburton said at the press conference. Simon went on and told us that Triumph has sold more than 7.500 Street Triple’s in the 12 months after its launch in 2007. “It’s only a few years ago that we didn’t sell more than 5.000 of anything”, Simon said. Simon also apologised to all that are still waiting for their Street Triple and explained that the bottleneck lies at the manufacturing of cylinder heads and crank cases. Warburton also proudly stated that 2008 will be a big year for Triumph, possibly the biggest ever as the figure of 47.000 units produced and sold in 1967 is due to be beaten by the modern Triumph organisation anno 2008.
The Street Triple and Street Triple R along with the Daytona 675 have enabled this record braking pace at the Hinckley factory. Almost as a celebration, the Triumph engineers were given the green light to optimise the Street Triple and the result is the Street Triple R. It’s very simple; Triumph has added the more powerful radial Nissin brake callipers (20% more power, 40% more bite!) from the Daytona 675, changed the stock suspension for fully adjustable (preload, rebound and compression) items not unlike the D675 and added a Magura tapered aluminium handlebar. The 41mm USD fork has more travel than the D675, but is pretty much identical apart from that. The rear monoshock comes straight from the D675 and have added another 5 mm to the seat height. To distinguish the R model from the standard Street Triple Triumph have added a matt paint finish available in two colours, grey and orange. The grey colours will be available straight away whilst the orange you’ll have to wait until next year should you want one.
I knew that Triumph couldn’t go wrong with the Street Triple R. Pure quality has been added to make a good bike better. So just how good it is on the 37 odd miles of TT tarmac comes next.
I’m firing up the Street Triple R in the Grandstand paddock in Douglas. I’ve picked one of the versions with the Arrow slip-ons as I’ll be carrying an onboard camera for my lap. During all the photography I used the standard model to compare. There’s not much in it, maybe a horse or two but the Arrow’s allow some more of that triple noise to escape despite being road-homologated. The lap record on the Island belongs to John McGuinness that did a flying lap where he averaged 130.354MPH set in the 2007 Senior race. Riding through places like Douglas, Crosby, Kirk Michael and Ramsey that time is mind blowing. Frankly, through those towns and villages I’d rather be on today’s Street Triple R than on a highly tuned superbike. Unlike McGuinness we have to cope with some car traffic and as such it suits our test purposes perfect. I ride the 675cc triple like I would at home and with the upright seat position and wide Magura bars I’m very comfortable around slow moving traffic. The Street Triple R is a lightweight and only weighs in at 167 kilos claimed dry-weight. I can easily feel how light the Street Triple is and with the 08 Speed Triple in mind there’s quite a big weight difference. This immediately gives away the huge city and commuter potential. I have only got one small complaint in regards of the urban abilities and that is that the steering lock is slightly on the sporty side. It’s a compromise of course between high speed stability and slow speed manoeuvrability and further in on my ride I’m happy things are the way they are as I’m speeding up the mountain. There’s no speed limit even in peace times up on the mountain at Isle of Man. There simply isn’t any place like this in the whole wide world! Where else can you pass cars doing more than a 100MPH where it’s actually fun to ride legally? Nowhere, that’s the answer.
So I’m riding up the mountain as fast as the Street Triple R will go. 123MPH the instruments tell me a bit later and the places where you can really pin the throttle are all uphill. The 108 horsepower 675cc triple engine is good for more than that, but there’s no real desire in me to go any faster on a naked motorcycle. Despite damp patches here and there the Dunlop Qualifiers sticks to the tarmac in a way that would have allowed me to go faster pretty much anywhere on the TT course. But I am keeping myself honest and at no point did I think that I should try to challenge this great circuit. Better men than I have died on this Island whilst pursuing road racing glory.
Despite the damp patches there are several places where I can really use the front brakes like they’re meant to. I never complained about the more budget brakes on the standard Street Triple as they are good enough. However, the radial Nissin items do add stopping power and feel particularly at high speed. Triumph has somehow calculated that they are in fact 20% more powerful with pads that are 40% more eager to bite. Accompanied with the triple growl the whole bike bites better than the standard Street. The R version have added more edge and zest and as such it’s a perfect motorcycle to ride the TT circuit for the first time and particularly as it’s not exactly Mad Sunday today. Unforgiving as this piece of tarmac can be, it’s good to be on such a forgiving motorcycle as the Street Triple R. The light chassis is very responsive, but still stable at high speed. Directional changes are very easy and it’s only a matter of placing the front wheel exactly where you want it, which in the Street Triple R’s case is often in the air.
Triumph has indeed made a good bike better. I can’t imagine a better proving ground for any motorcycle than the Isle of Man and it’s all A’s for the small Triumph. It’s such a good motorcycle that only the most fantastic 1000’s tempt me more. Triumph have left me very little to criticise and proven again that the 675 is one of the very finest mid-sized engines around. The Street Triple R is definitely worth the premium as you get fully adjustable quality suspension and top notch brakes in the bargain. The Street Triple R is a gem for a new motorcyclist and fresh for an experienced one. I have no doubts.
Engine with brilliant torque curve
Very light and easy to use in most situations
Serious value for money AND good aftermarket value
Triumph can’t build them quickly enough
Steering lock slightly limiting
20 minute stunt video where Kevin Carmichael thrashes a Speed Triple, a Street Triple and the new 2009 Street Triple R exclusively for us. All at the Grandstand in Douglas, Isle of Man. Enjoy!