2017 Street Triple RS


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First ride: 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS

Driven June 2017

 First ride: 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS

What’s new with Triumph’s bug-eyed motorcycle?
This is the new Triumph Street Triple, and by new, we mean all-new. It’s almost after a decade that Triumph has thoroughly updated this model and that means along with new-age electronics and features, the 2017 model gets new chassis, new engine and better looks.

It looks the same though...
Yes, styling isn’t a radical departure from the earlier one, but overall the finer details are now closer to that of the Daytona, making the Street Triple much more palatable than before. It also looks a lot sharper and well proportioned now, with even its reprofiled bug eyes getting softer and easier to digest.

Share much with the Daytona?
Of course, the 2017 Street Triple’s powerplant has been derived from the Daytona’s sweet little 675cc motor. With 80 new components, engineers have bumped up the bore and stroke, taking that number to 765 cubes, and in its most powerful ‘RS’ avatar, the one that we’ve sampled in Spain, it gets 121bhp and 77Nm of torque, compared to 77bhp and 53Nm of the current one in India.

I’m sure this ‘RS’ version won’t make it to India.
Just like the Bonneville range, Triumph plans to sell all variants of the 2017 Street Triple in India. And starting this June, you can see the more basic ‘S’ version entering our showrooms, followed by the ‘R’ and finally this, the track ready ‘RS’ variant around September.

How track-ready are we talking about since it’s a street naked at heart?
Ideally, you wouldn’t be comfortable pushing naked motorcycles on race tracks, but with this RS variant, Triumph begs to differ. Like any modern-day big bike, this one too comes loaded with technology and rider aids. There’s some serious stuff in here – ride-by-wire throttle, ‘Track’ mode (one of the five ride modes), switchable ABS and traction control, slipper-clutch, quickshifter and the super-grippy Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP to name a few.

Combine these with a new chassis and the Street Triple gets evolved into a potent track tool. And after pushing ourselves and the motorcycle to the limits at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, we can confirm the British bikemaker isn’t using the term ‘track-ready’ too loosely.

New 765cc motor, any better than the one it’s based on?
Oh, what a sweet little motor we’ve here. Did we say it’s the smoothest sub-800cc motor we’ve ridden lately? Yes, it’s butter smooth, it’s refined and it loves to be revved hard. Triumph has given it a meaty mid-range and things only get better beyond 8000rpm, making it an enjoyable motorcycle out on a race track. The engineers have made some notable changes to its gearbox geometry too and most of it is to improve the motor’s driveability at low engine speeds, making it extremely flexible out on the roads. More on that in a bit.

It’s a mere 121bhp motorcycle and the Catalunya circuit is one of the fastest on the MotoGP calendar. How did that go for you?
It went wonderful, thank you. Yes, a sub-800cc, 121bhp motorcycle would be eaten alive at a race track like the Catalunya with all its fast and flowing corners, but not this one. To our surprise, the Street Triple RS remained unfazed, and that’s down to the superbly tuned chassis. Along with the highest-spec big piston Showa upfront and the best Ohlins in business at the rear, the RS’ chassis is so well tuned that you can simply throw it around corners, lean and then lean some more, only to find out there’s nothing that seems to unsettle the little street naked. Plus, on a hot sunny day, a set of Supercorsa SP standard on the RS is the best you can ask for. With all of these elements put together, the RS feels extremely confident entering and exiting corners, and doing big triple digit speeds isn’t something this little Triumph has to work hard for.

That’s good, but is it really fast?
For the RS, doing 200kph on the main straight at the Catalan circuit was cakewalk. What wasn’t easy though was the fact that at those speeds, without any protection against windblast, life beyond 220kph for any rider is a challenge. And that’s sad because it feels the motor still has some juice left in it. That’s also one of Street Triple’s fundamental drawbacks.

Another aspect of the RS that we like is the brake setup. The range topping Brembo setup – 310mm M50 monobloc callipers upfront and a 220mm single at the back – feels fantastic for track use and not once did the Brembos lacked bite. The only worrisome element here would be the basic quickshifter that doesn’t let you downshift cogs without pulling the clutch lever, which isn’t the best of feelings while braking hard going into corners.

Has the RS lost its charm of being an everyday performer?
Absolutely not! Even in its raciest RS variant, the Street Triple is a motorcycle you wouldn’t mind riding whole day long. It’s nice and compact, ergonomics are spot on, the seat gets better cushioning, and as mentioned before, the newly-developed 765cc motor comes with excellent low-end driveability, which means you can easily ride it at city speeds in higher gears and the motor wouldn’t mind. And to make things easier, this Triumph comes with five ride modes – Road, Rain, Sport, Rider and Track. Being linked to the ride-by-wire system, these modes will alter throttle response, and determine how much the ABS and traction control interferes while riding. The good part, there’s no drop in power in either of these modes; it’s only the throttle maps that adjust initial response.

The only problem we see here is that in order to make it a sharp handler, Triumph has chosen a stiffer setting for its suspension, which is fine for the track. But even on the brilliant Catalan B-roads, we could feel those odd rough edges filter through. Yes, the Showa and Ohlins are fully adjustable, but it remains to be seen how much of that tinkering hampers the overall handling. Mind you, it’s not a pain inducing ride, we’ve been on the saddle for more than five hours and we could still feel our backsides and wrists. It’s just that the stock setting feels too stiff for Indian road conditions.

Is it cumbersome to ride in urban conditions?
Thankfully it isn’t. The 2017 Street Triple weighs less than it did before. Which means it boasts of better power-to-weight ratio and Triumph has found a way to make it nimbler. Darting in and out of gaps is easy and it’s a treat to be riding around a set of twisties. Plus, ride-by-wire offers a crisper, more precise throttle response, with improved on/off throttle transition, thereby giving a hassle free riding experience. In all, a fun motorcycle for the road and track, both.

Anything else you may have missed?
Yes, the new instrument clusters. While the lower ‘S’ version gets an updated analogue-digital panel from the old bike, the ‘R’ and ‘RS’ get new 5inch TFT colour panels with adjustable viewing angles. You can access all sort of information through that screen, personalise the way it looks and it will take care of contrast settings depending on the ambient light. Neat. Also, there’s a newly designed, free-flowing exhaust for the RS that just sounds fantastic at full blast and it’s quite addictive.

So, worth it?
Pricing is something that Triumph is tight-lipped about at the moment, but we expect the 2017 Street Triple RS to be yours for around Rs 11 lakh. And for that money, you get a performance motorcycle that doesn’t throw unnecessary tantrums, it is fun to ride both on and off the race track and comes loaded with technology to make our lives easy. If Triumph could find a way to soften the ride harshness for our roads without hampering its precise handling, the Street Triple has all the ingredients of being the best 800cc performance naked motorcycle in India.

Liquid-cooled, in-line, 3-cylinder, 121bhp, 77Nm, 6M, 166kg, fuel tank: 17.4 litres

Triumph has found a way to further improve its best entry-level sportsbike. It’s agile, it’s precise and could easily be your tool to tackle your regular commute and long trips as well as those weekend trackday sessions.

Devesh Shobha

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