Clicking through the gears, I’m flanked by the Italian countryside. After a thorough rain shower the night before, the roads are clean, albeit a little slick in the shady portions. The comfortable, yet somewhat aggressive ergos of the bike I’m riding help make quick work of the long, sweeping turns along the route. The three cylinders down below create pure melodic joy as they sing their song in full tune. Up ahead, a tight hairpin turn awaits. A firm squeeze on the brake lever and bike and rider are scrubbing speed rapidly. One final jab of the toe and we’re attacking the tight left turn in first gear. Round the corner, get back hard on the gas and the next thing I know I’m looking at the sky. When wheel meets tarmac again a castle dating back hundreds of years diverts my attention; its aura, history and beauty couldn’t be missed. My focus quickly back on the road, the path now leads to a right hairpin. Not wanting to tempt fate a second time, I click it up a gear, round the bend and throttle out. Both wheels stay on the ground this time, but the brutal acceleration pushes me back on my seat. This is one serious motorcycle.
Judging by the pictures on these pages it would be easy to assume this experience occurred on a Triumph Speed Triple, but look closer. While the headlights and overall shape are the same, this is definitely not the Speed Triple. What you see here is Triumph’s new contender in the naked middleweight category–the new-for-2008 Street Triple. It’s essentially a stripped-down version of the widely acclaimed Daytona 675, combined with streetfighter styling cues from the Speed Triple (the new bike actually shares the same round dual headlights as its older brother). From the start of the 675’s design process, steps were taken to make the bike look attractive with and without the bodywork. Engine and bodywork mounts were all kept internal, and are out of sight to the casual observer. In fact, the Street Triple uses the same frame and swingarm as the 675 (although the latter is mounted 2mm lower on the Street Triple, thanks to adjustable pivot points on the 675 frame).
The Daytona’s 675cc engine is also at the heart of the Street Triple. For the most part the internals are the same except for slightly revised camshafts for greater midrange power. I know what you’re thinking–the whole “greater midrange” spiel usually amounts to lackluster performance when the revs start to climb, but in true three-cylinder fashion no matter where the needle on the tach is pointed the Street Triple will giddy-up and go. According to Triumph, the Street Triple pumps out 106 horsepower and 51 lb-ft of torque at 11,700 and 9,100 rpm, respectively. One of the things we love about three cylinders is their remarkably flat torque curve that delivers plenty of grunt no matter what gear you’re in. Triumph claims the Street Triple produces as much as 44 lb-ft of torque from as low as 3,500 rpm. For comparison’s sake, the Yamaha FZ6 we tested in July of this year tops out at just below 41.
At $7,999, Triumph is positioning the Street Triple as an entry-level motorcycle for those looking to break into the company’s “Urban Sports” category, comprised of the Tiger 1050, Sprint ST, Speed Triple and Daytona 675. While it shares many components with the 675, the Street Triple differs from its cousin in the suspension department. For the sake of affordability, a non-adjustable, 41mm male-slider fork sits up front, while a preload-adjustable shock takes care of the bumps in the back. Rake and trail numbers differ slightly as well, due to the swingarm being mounted two millimeters lower. Despite the Street Triple having 24.3 degrees of rake and 3.75 inches of trail (vs. the 675’s 23.9 degrees and 3.51 inches, respectively), handling is still lightning quick and ultra predictable. The Dunlop Qualifiers that were mounted on our test bike in Italy never ceased to impress, either (Pirelli Supercorsa Pros and Bridgestone BT014s are optional).
Stopping the Street Triple are two-piston Nissin pin-slide calipers outfitted with sintered pads that bite down on 308mm rotors. A single-piston caliper and 220mm rotor sit out back. Stainless steel lines are fitted front and rear. While the combo may not be as flashy as the four-piston radially mounted units on the 675, the combination of the stainless lines and sintered pads do an impressive job of bringing everything to a halt and can loft the rear wheel in the air if you’re not careful.
As for the ergonomics, the Street Triple’s low seat height of 31.4 inches, higher handlebars and low footpegs give it a nice, comfortable ride, although the stock seat is a little on the firm side (a padded gel seat is an option). With such a low reach to the ground, flat-footing at stops was no problem, and with a claimed dry weight of 367 pounds, this bike is a breeze to maneuver no matter what your size.
The Street Triple is a bike that the inner hooligan in all of us wishes we could have. Its proven engine, light weight and surprisingly capable suspension can inspire confidence in even the most timid rider. If there is one qualm, it’s the lack of wind protection. Riding at anything over 70 miles per hour transforms the rider into a wind sail, but then again, what do you expect from a naked bike?
With such a weak dollar compared to the strong Euro and British pound, it’s even more of a surprise to see the Street Triple priced as it is. Historically, naked bikes in this category haven’t been strong sellers in this country (although our friends across the pond snatch them up like hot cakes). The one exception we have here is the larger Triumph Speed Triple. If its cult success is any indication, then its little brother, the Street Triple, is set to be another winner.
2008 Triumph Street Triple Review Specifications Chart
Base Price: $7,999
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, in-line triple, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 74.0 x 52.3mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 54.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.3 degrees/3.75 in.
Seat Height: 31.4 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 367 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gals.
Average mpg: N/A