The SF 848’s ergonomics don’t help matters and are best described as aggressive, despite the bike having a 20mm-taller handlebar than the larger Streetfighters. The 33-inch-tall seat feels about as comfortable as a two-by-four come day’s end, and the one-piece handlebar (which is narrow and leaves you clinching the grip ends) bows at the ends, which puts an unfavorable amount of weight on your wrists. The problems trickle down to the footrests, which are poorly knurled and become extremely slippery in the wet. In the Ducati’s defense, the gap between the seat and footrests is some 18mm longer than the same gap on the Triumph, meaning that the Streetfighter is more comfortable for taller riders over the course of a longer ride.
The Ducati’s surplus of low-end torque means that you have to continually remind yourself of how nice it is to have a motorcycle license. Let your guard down for just a second and the bike will burst off the line in a one-wheel portrayal of a good time. It’s not all fun and games around town, however. We grew weary of the bike’s stiff clutch lever for instance, and also of the Streetfighter’s imperfect fueling at low rpm, which literally halts all forward momentum unless you drive the engine past 3500 rpm with absolute aggression. The Brembo brakes have plenty of power, so getting slowed down for the next stoplight isn’t a problem, but the front brake lever is equally as stiff as the clutch and frays your forearm well before the Triumph’s Nissin binders do.
The mini fighter is palatable in the canyons, not only because you’re using the levers less, but also because its softer, 75 N/mm spring (the 1098 ran an 85 N/mm spring) absorbs bumps with aplomb, plus the bike’s 1.1-degree-steeper rake (compared to the 1098) means steering is light enough to keep you from working too hard through a right-left-right transition. At full lean, the Streetfighter feels a bit less composed than the Triumph, but still settled enough to keep expert riders satisfied at a heightened pace.
As far as rider aids go, we prefer the Triumph’s switchable ABS over the Ducati’s eight-level traction control system. The Ducati’s system works well, mind you, but in the many conditions that we rode, we simply found ourselves relying on the Street Triple’s anti-lock brakes more than the Ducati’s traction control. The rocker switch on the left side of the handlebar, which is used to manipulate the system’s settings, takes more time to figure out than is offered by a normal stoplight, meaning we typically just gave up on the system and rode the bike in whatever setting it was in. In most cases that meant the system was off. Lo and behold, we survived to tell you the story.
It’s difficult to find two people who agree on the Street Triple R’s looks; some like the styling while others despise it. There’s a reason why Triumph has sold over 50,000 Street Triples to date, however. Red accents are specific to the R model.
The R model’s four-piston...
The R model’s four-piston Nissin front brakes provided all the braking performance we needed around town and in the canyons, plus the lever has a forearm-favoring pull. Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires come standard and perform well, although they do start to squirm when they get hot.
2013 Triumph Street Triple R
|+ Spotless fueling at all rpm
|+ Faultless, short-throw transmission
|+ Clutch and brake lever have a light pull
|– Suspension feels stiff, even at its softest settings
|– Neutral switch went bad within miles
|– Info on display is poorly laid out
|x Versatile enough to play the role of three bikes
|Suggested Suspension Settings
|Front: Spring preload — 4 lines showing on adjuster; rebound damping — 14 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping — 17 clicks out from full stiff; ride height — 6mm showing above top triple clamp
|Rear: Spring preload — 10mm thread showing; rebound damping — 8 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping — 7 clicks out from full stiff
New mirrors look similar to...
New mirrors look similar to the Ducati’s pieces but provide a very poor view of who’s in tow. Our testers also felt that the information on the Triumph’s digital display was poorly laid out.
Although we wrote about the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R’s updates in a previous issue of the magazine (Late Braking, January ’13), we’d yet to throw a leg over the motorcycle prior to this test. As a recap, the Triumph features a lighter, all-new frame that’s constructed from eight pieces rather than eleven; a high-pressure die-cast rear subframe that’s lighter and narrower; a low-mount exhaust, which lowers the bike’s center of gravity; a lighter rear wheel; one-piece cast aluminum (rather than steel) swingarm; and adjustable swingarm pivot. In addition to these changes, the bike also has a steeper 23.4 degrees of rake, longer 95mm of trail and 52/48-percent weight bias, which is more front-end partial than last year’s 49/51-percent weight bias.
The Street Triple’s engine is mostly the same, hold for new throttle bodies and recalibrated EFI settings. When strapped to our SuperFlow dyno, the mill produced 94.4 horsepower at 12,000 rpm and 44.6 foot-pounds of torque at 9300 rpm. And while that gives the Triumph an 18.5-horsepower disadvantage in this comparison, it’s impossible to ignore the bike’s perfectly straight power curve, which puts the Ducati’s potholed curve to absolute shame at all rpm. Power in any number of environments isn’t described as overwhelming, but Kento notes that, “I was never really left wanting more,” which says a thing or two about the Triumph’s engine performance.
The Street Triple R’s ergonomics are characterized by a reasonably shaped seat that’s also more comfortable than the Ducati’s saddle. The reach to the handlebar is 24mm shorter than the reach to the Fighter’s bar, which leaves a nice bend in your arms and promotes all-day comfort. One of the only flaws in the Triumph’s ergonomics and controls in fact (aside from the aforementioned footpeg-to-seat distance), is a pair of useless mirrors, which remain stable at higher speeds thanks in part to the bike’s smooth-running engine but have little to no adjustment. This could be the first — and only — time a pair of Ducati mirrors outshines another bike’s, as the Italian pieces are still far from perfect.