Triumph Street Triple
Creating a potential ultimate "little" street brawler
With the continued sales success of its recently upgraded (with bigger 1050cc engine) Speed Triple, many figured it was only a matter of time before Triumph took the 675cc three-cylinder powerplant from its Daytona 675 model and created a smaller, less expensive version of its iconic naked bike. Triumph quickly answered that call for 2008 with its new $7999 Street Triple.
At first glance the Street Triple simply appears to be a Daytona 675 with the bodywork stripped off and a high-pipe exhaust with different tailsection and the distinctive dual round headlights, but there are some substantial differences. Internally the 675cc three-cylinder engine sports milder cams with less lift and duration, along with cast pistons instead of the forged units found in the Daytona. While the airbox volume is the same, the intake funnel is smaller on the Street Triple, and the retuned engine meant that the exhaust valve used on the Daytona could be jettisoned. The milder state of tune also meant revised ignition and fueling curves, with a 1000-rpm lower redline on the Street Triple.
Befitting its less hardcore sporting intentions, the Street Triple's steering geometry is a bit more relaxed than the Daytona, with a 24.3-degree/95.3mm rake/trail measurement resulting in an incrementally longer (0.1 inch) wheelbase of 54.9 inches. The frame's rear subsection is much different to support the dual high-pipe mufflers and stubby seat/tailsection, with seat height dropping a full inch from the Daytona's 32.5-inch setting. Fuel tank capacity is the same as the Daytona at 4.6 gallons.
It's in the details where Triumph made some shortcuts to attain the Street Triple's low price tag. The 41mm inverted fork is nonadjustable, and the single rear shock only sports spring preload adjustability. The Nissin calipers biting on 308mm rotors appear to be the same four-piston units from the older Daytona but in fact are even older two-piston slider components. Triumph definitely didn't chintz out on the rubber, however; the five-spoke cast aluminum wheels come shod with Dunlop's superb Sportmax Qualifier rubber in 120/70ZR-17 and 180/55ZR-17 sizes.
Scaling in at only 423 pounds fully fueled, the Street Triple's light weight and diminutive size deliver an agile-handling package that the slightly detuned three-cylinder has no problem hauling around in haste. Zipping through traffic requires only a twist of the wrist with the little Triumph's linear powerband, although the midrange is actually weaker than the Daytona, so a bit more rpm are required for serious steam. The upright handlebars allow plenty of leverage, so flicking the Street Triple around takes little effort, and steering with the Dunlop Qualifiers is scalpel-sharp and precise.
The only problem is that if you begin to flick the bike even just a little too aggressively the flaccid suspension rates quickly become overpowered and the previously enjoyable handling goes out the window. Even at the moderately aggressive pace the other four bikes involved in this test handled without complaint, the Triumph was bottoming both ends and wallowing excessively enough to signal the rider that the limit was definitely reached. Complicating matters is excessive driveline lash exacerbated by a jerky throttle response that upsets the handling even more in the corners.
Surprisingly, the Triumph's cut-rate calipers deliver good braking power and feel, enabling you to controllably bleed off speed if necessary. Some testers found the seat a little stiff and confining and the pegs a bit too high and tight for their liking. Still, the overall package is that close to being spot-on, and other than the suspension and driveline lash complaints there was little to hate with the Street Triple and a lot to like. We figure trying to retrofit some Daytona suspension bits on the Street Triple would easily turn it into the serious bang-for-the-buck street brawler the Triumph engineers originally intended.
'08 Triumph Street Triple
Bore x stroke: 74 x 52.3mm
Compression ratio: 12.7:1
Induction: Keihin EFI, 44mm throttle bodies
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier
Rake/trail: 24.3 deg./3.75 in. (95.3mm)
Wheelbase: 54.9 in. (1395mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.4L)
Fuel economy: 39-43 mpg, 42 mpg avg.
Quarter-mile: 11.11 sec. @ 121.3 mph
Roll-ons: 60-80 mph/3.43 sec.; 80-100 mph/3.97 sec.
Top speed: 136.1 mph