Wed, 09 May 2018

A weekend fling with Triumphs Street Triple RS

James spent the weekend with Triumph's Street Triple RS, and now his bank balance is regretting it...

By James Archibald

Triumph’s Street Triple RS is a fantastic machine, and even became MCN’s overall bike of the year in 2017. I’ve ridden it before and loved it, but forgot just how spectacular it was, until I had the chance to spend the weekend with one.

A glorious Bank Holiday provided the perfect setting to explore some of the finest roads that Devon has to offer. The bike was primed and ready, all it needed was an overly enthusiastic oaf with a heavy-handed approach to the throttle to really make the most of the bike, and that’s where I entered the equation.

Now, I ride a lot, and this is the sort of bike that I would use every day, and absolutely love it. I have a commute that’s a round trip of between 80 to 100 miles, depending on the route I choose, and can see me taking in some mightily fine roads and also some dual-carriageways in the process.

It means that whatever bike I use needs to be fairly versatile – delivering big fun in the twisties, but also comfortable and capable on longer, more monotonous stints in the saddle.

Thanks to the beautifully smooth yet torquey 765cc triple however, this bike delivers on all fronts and then some. It provides the best of everything, with loads of linear torque and upwards of 120bhp at the rear wheel – more than enough for the roads, and plenty to keep all but the very quickest of the fast group satisfied on track.

"It's as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel through the corners."

Handling is fantastic, the Ohlins rear and Showa fork combination that feature on the RS make the bike as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel through the corners. The riding position, with its sporty-styled seat and wide bars make it feel nimble, yet comfortable and keep the wrists from bearing too much weight, as you would associate with a sportsbike.

There are also 5 programmable riding modes on the RS that make the bike better suited to where it’s ridden; two ‘road’ modes, a ‘rain’ mode, ‘sport’ and ‘track’. Each affects how the throttle responds, as well as adjusting how soon the ABS and traction control system intervene, or can turn them off altogether, if you’re feeling fruity.

The road and rain modes make perfect sense for city commuting. By using a map that softens the throttle response at lower revs, it makes the bike feel a little less snatchy than the track or sport modes and makes filtering through slow moving traffic much easier and the bike more manageable.

Triumph Street Triple RS

The track and sport modes really bring the RS to life. Traction control and ABS are turned down to allow for some lairy, loutish fun on the backroads and on circuit. I had an absolute blast on a clear A377 towards Barnstaple, grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time. The Street Triple was primed in track mode, with both the ABS and traction both switched off. And, I had the time of my life carving the RS through twisty backroads for hours before I was finally forced to head home - apparently we all need to sleep at some point.

As important as the thing that makes it go are the things that also make it stop. The Street Triple RS comes loaded with Brembo M50 monobloc front calipers with a radially-mounted master cylinder. It’s a trick bit of kit, the lever can be adjusted for both span and ratio, meaning that you can get the feedback and feel that you want from the front brakes, and they’re very good at getting the thing stopped, as you’d expect.

Ambient temperatures throughout the whole weekend were in the high teens to mid-twenties; absolutely spot-on for the Pirelli Supercorsas that the Street RS is shod with. They’re an absolutely astonishing tyre for fast road riding on warm days, or on track, providing plenty of feedback and grip to allow you to make the most of the brilliant suspension package.

That said, for everyday use and for more road-oriented use, I’d fit a slightly less focussed tyre to make the bike that little bit more useable in colder or wetter weather. Something like Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 or Pirelli’s Rosso III would suit me slightly better for most of the time as I would be more likely to use the bike in all conditions and temperatures. If all you’ll ever do is take the bike out on dry, sunny days though, the Supercorsa is an exceptionally good tyre.

Tyres aside, there really isn’t much I’d do to the RS to make it perfect for me. A small screen would help deflect winds and reduce neck fatigue on longer journeys, on dual-carriageways or motorways. Thankfully, Triumph offer one as an accessory though, which would be on my personal wish-list.

Triumph Street Triple RS

I honestly think that for sporty road riding and occasional track use the Street Triple RS is a fantastic tool, it’s all you’d ever really need in most situations. And, at £10,060 for the top-of-the-range RS model, it also offers great value for money. The closest competitor to it would be Yamaha’s MT-09 SP. While it’s an exceptionally good bike for the money, it still isn’t quite as refined as the Triumph Street Triple RS, nor does it have quite the same finish, or a TFT screen either. You do get what you pay for with the Triumph.

It’s a fantastic package, with a motor that’s an engineering masterpiece. The Street Triple has been a class leader for years and it’s not hard to understand why. With the 765 RS, the bar has been raised higher again and there’s honestly not much I’d fault at all. The biggest downside to this weekend though; now I need to find a way to finance one of my own.