After getting oriented with riding on the wrong side of the road, the Street Triple R didn't take long to get used to. Though the seat height is a tad taller, it was hardly noticeable in the saddle. What was noticeable was the sweet joy that bellowed out the exhaust-the sound that comes from the inline triple could make Pavarotti cry. The six cogs in the gearbox, while maybe not as smooth as some Japanese bikes, was definitely smoother and more positive than the Daytona 675 I rode in our 600cc shootout, as well as the standard Street Triple we rode a few months back ("Altenative Twins", May '08).
As mentioned earlier, the main complaint with the standard model was its lack of adjustability and its inconsistent damping. It seems like Triumph's rather simple solution of retaining the Daytona's suspension was all that was needed to remedy the problem. While I've never had an issue with the front end of any of the Triumphs, the rear would be put to the test along the TT circuit. Whereas the standard model would have been overwhelmed with the many bumps and dips around the course, the R model's upgraded pieces proved just what the doctor ordered. After having to adjust both ends for a slightly softer setting than stock, the new bits proved themselves around the course. On the standard bike, hitting a bump, especially while leaned over, was met with a harsh initial reaction from the rear shock, followed by a gradual progression in the spring and a slow rebound. It was a rather unpleasant feeling that made spirited riding difficult, especially on the local twisty roads in the Los Angeles area as we'd have to wait for the rear to settle before soldiering on.
The rear shock is also the...
The rear shock is also the same unit from the Daytona, again adjustable for preload, compression and rebound. And again with slightly softer spring rates. The swingarm pivot point (not shown) has also been raised 10mm thanks to an eccentric insert.
Not so with the R. The many imperfections on the road surface of the TT course were absorbed rather plushly with this bike, making it easier to give it the berries sooner without upsetting the chassis. It should be noted that the swingarm pivot has been raised 10mm (like the Daytona) by way of eccentric inserts. Having had bad experiences with the rear suspension on the Daytona and not the Street Triple R, this would lead me to believe that the spring rate (and possibly linkage) on the former would be the cause of my plight. Back to the current and the action at the front of the bike was rather nonexistent. The 41mm inverted fork soaked up the bumps without any fuss, while the standard Dunlop Qualifiers provided neutral turn-in and pretty good grip from a street tire. They even did a pretty good job during the wet Manx morning ride. Later in the day when the roads started drying off and the pace picked up, the R, like its Speed Triple sibling, proved to be extremely agile from side to side, yet a little light on the front end when pushed-despite its almost 24 degrees of rake. No matter, however. Like the Speed Triple, the Street Triple R benefits from a slight shift in body positioning to place more weight on the front tire. While coming to a stop was never an issue with the standard model, having the use of the radially mounted, four-piston Nissins was nice. The TT circuit makes very little use of the binders, but on those rare occasions when they are needed the lever provides firm feedback, thanks to standard steel braided lines. Initial bite is just a touch on the soft side, though it doesn't detract from the bike's strong stopping power.
Just Shy Of A Ton Up Lap
Riding the Street Triple R around the TT circuit, it's amazing to think just how crazy the superbike riders are to be wide open during a considerable part of the lap. (And no, we didn't come anywhere close to averaging a 100-mph lap). What's also amazing is to think why anyone would skimp on the extra $700 to grab the Street Triple R at $8999 and get the standard model instead. The middleweight naked-bike segment might be short of contenders, but there's no denying that Triumph's Street Triple R is staking its claim to the top. We'll just have to wait and see if it truly delivers once we get our grubby little paws on one stateside. Stay tuned.
Triumph Street Triple R
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC inline three-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 74.0 x 52.3 mm
Induction: Keihin EFI, 44mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier
Rake/trail: 23.9 deg/3.6 in. (92mm)
Wheelbase: 54.7 in. (1390mm)
Claimed dry weight: 367 lb.
Seat height: 31.6 in. (803mm)
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.4L)