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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Triumph Street Triple review revisited....

 Bye bye Blackbird, the Gentleman's Express!

A while back, I made some posts on the reasons for changing from my much-loved Honda CBR 1100XX Blackbird after 8 years of ownership to a Street Triple and the initial comparison after 2500 km from new or thereabouts.  Those initial impressions are here but having now covered over 8000 km over a wide range of  riding conditions, I thought it might be interesting to quickly review some of them and add a few further thoughts.  Having over 40 years of riding experience and dropping in capacity might give me a slightly different viewpoint to that of a relatively recent rider going the other way .  We'll see.....

The "fitness for purpose" of any bike completely depends on what individual owners are looking for at the time. The criteria for replacing the Blackbird were not straightforward.  I turned 62 in October 2009 and at only 5' 8" tall, the Blackbird with its raised rear ride height, 250 kg wet weight and high C of G was becoming more noticeable (and risky) at low speeds and parking.  This was exacerbated by moving permanently to our beach property which is on the side of a hill and has lots of off-cambers and slopes - had some close calls with the 'bird!  Therefore, any replacement had to be lower and lighter and it came as a surprise just how many bikes ruled themselves out due to these aspects alone.  I didn't want another faired sports bike as there wasn't sufficient differentiation compared with the 'bird but it still had to have plenty of performance as my riding partners (who are all younger than me) like to "press on a bit" on occasions and come to that, so do I!  However, I wasn't overly concerned with an insane top speed as much of my riding is now on twisty coastal roads; so torque and handling is more of a consideration. Two-up riding for any distance wasn't a factor any more as Jennie prefers the comfort of her tricked-up MX-5 nowadays.

A shortlist was drawn up, dealers visited and bikes tested.  I was nostalgically leaning towards Triumphs anyway as that was my brand of choice over 40 years ago but seeing the Street Triple in the flesh, let alone test riding it made that oh-so-important emotional connection which is critical for a lasting relationship.  The test ride merely confirmed it so that was that and a Street Triple graced the shed in double-quick time!

More than capable of  holding its own with the big capacity bikes


Pure sex, or what??

Anyway, here's some more thoughts about owning a Triple nearly a year on, not in any particular order of importance.

Ergonomics.  Within 5 minutes of getting on a Triple for the first time, it became clear that it was the most comfortable bike I'd ever ridden, excepting speeds well above the open road legal limit. Hands and feet instinctively went to where the controls were positioned and that gave instant confidence. That doesn't mean it's going to be perfect for everyone but suggests that unless you're at the extreme ends of the human dimension bell-curve; you're going to be pretty pleased. The positioning of the bars means that the wrists are lightly loaded, perfect for a long haul. The reasonably upright stance gives great all-round visibility which considerably aids situational awareness - a worthwhile safety bonus. I tried a Ducati Monster as part of the selection process and whilst I didn't bother with specific measurements, looking at the instrument cluster on the Monster seemed to require a deliberate downward movement of the head from the normal riding position as opposed to the quick flick of eyes on the Triple.  Instrumentation is easy to see and excellent at night although changing the display on the run takes a lot of care.  Resetting the trips can only be done whilst parked up, which is when you'd normally want to do them anyway.  Oh, and a small black mark on the report card. A corner of of the instrument cluster mists up very slightly after having been on the road for half an hour or so.  It's not intrusive so I haven't complained but this issue has also been reported on Triple forums.

The stock seat is actually more comfortable than the standard Blackbird seat and that curve seems to allow you to move about sufficiently to vary any pressure points.  700 km days have been achieved with no discomfort so far but for our October 1600 km in 24 hours endurance ride, some prior experimentation using large cell bubble wrap to temporarily change the profile is likely to be on the cards.  Seat (dis)comfort is often discussed on Triple forums but an individual's weight, shape and personal padding is likely to have just as much influence as the seat design itself.  Update: The Airhawk pneumatic pad is the best comfort aid ever. See HERE for more info and the report on the 1000 mile/1600 km in 24 hours endurance ride is here: The Grand Challenge 2010

On the periphery of ergonomics, the light weight of the bike lessens fatigue on twistier roads and the relatively low seat height provides a bit more security for people with short legs like me when manoeuvring at low speeds, especially on roadside steep cambers.

The lack of a screen, or having a minimalist one can mean increased fatigue at speed on a long haul compared with a faired bike but the excellent riding position doesn't make it as bad as you might first think.  The wind blast on the body is nowhere near as fatiguing as the load on my wrists and forearms was when riding the Blackbird over seriously long distances.  In fact, the wind blast is almost a positive thing in lessening load on the wrists and arms.

Two up?  Well, the height of the rear pegs are hardly designed for pillion comfort over long distances but that wasn't a criterion for me anyway.  However, a pillion passenger is unlikely to thank you without regular stops.  Being two-up is getting away from the fundamental purpose of the Triple though.

 The perfect day for a run...

PerformanceWossit do mister?  This is the question that all kids seem to ask motorcyclists and to be fair, quoted top speed is something which more than a few mainly male riders use as an important selection factor too.  I know - I've been there!  Jennie rolls her eyes and accuses me of having a small willy when bike top speeds get discussed.  However, top speed is only a small part of overall performance.  I have a confession.  In the 8 years of owning the Blackbird, it's never been flat out.  It's been in the indicated 280's (km/hr) just a handful of times and for a few seconds per occasion and just once showing a shade above the next magic number but that's it.  I adored the deceptively brutal acceleration of the 'bird which is akin to going into warp drive but again, the number of times that the throttle has been pinned against the stop for long through the gears was pretty infrequent because of the roads I mainly travel on.  I think that it was the great Kenny Roberts who said that he preferred the GSX-R 750 on the road to the GSX-R 1000 because he could use more of its capability.  If he said that, then big bikes are pretty much overkill for the the rest of us mere mortals.  However, in answer to the "wossit do" question, magazine road tests suggest around 230 km/hr (~140 mph) for the Street Triple.

That previous paragraph is a fitting prelude to some of my thoughts about selling the 1135cc Blackbird and getting the 675cc Street Triple.  As already mentioned, the Triple actually sold itself to me but at the back of the mind, there was a nagging worry that dropping capacity was somehow unmanly.  Ridiculous, but at least I'm being honest!  Guess that my regular riding partners all having litre + bikes may have also influenced this thought. 

Reality is that I haven't missed the insane top end of the Blackbird because equal, if not more satisfaction has been gained from carrying higher speeds in the tight stuff and the generally better agility of the Triple.  It's also good fun to occasionally hunt down bigger, heavier bikes in the twisties (errr...spoken like a 20 year old rather than someone over 60)!  In the original comparison with the Blackbird, I tabled a comparison of power to weight ratios which were amazingly close.  The comment was that until aerodynamics at higher speeds made their presence felt, any performance difference between them could be largely measured in tiny percentages; which is negligible under normal road conditions.  Top speed is still more than sufficient for instant license loss in most countries anyway!

When first owning the Triple, the revs at a given road speed were higher than the Blackbird and this was slightly disconcerting - kept trying to hook a higher gear.  However, within a few weeks of ownership it seemed perfectly natural and no big deal. If I was riding long distances mainly on open highways, then a Blackbird may still be first choice but the Triple fits my current needs perfectly.

Big holes for a small(ish) motor!

Flexibility.  Unlike "race replica" 600's which by comparison only deliver strong power higher in the rev range, the Triple starts delivering big lumps of torque not far off idle (around 85% of max torque at 3000 rpm if I remember correctly).  For road riding in particular, this gives a huge advantage.  Firstly, it means that you're unlikely to get caught out in the wrong gear when wanting to make a rapid overtake. Secondly, the low-down torque means that it is very comfortable pootling along in traffic at low revs, but will respond instantly if need be.  The flexibility of the motor makes it the perfect bike for experienced riders and less-experienced ones alike.  The only negative aspect from my perspective was a pronounced snatch when opening up from a trailing throttle during early ownership.  Interestingly, this has significantly reduced over time.  Part of it may be due to the motor bedding in, part of it may be due to a more sensitive right wrist but in any event; it's no longer particularly intrusive.

Handling. In a word, exceptional!  The light weight, fairly aggressive steering geometry, short wheelbase and fantastic riding position adds up to a bike which can change line almost by thought alone and if you make a balls-up of a corner entry, it's sufficiently forgiving to give you leeway to put it right.  The Blackbird with its greater mass was far less forgiving of rapid corrections in the tight stuff  with entry and exit requiring greater precision and planning.  Corner speed in the tight stuff on the local roads I know intimately is noticeably higher than on the Blackbird.  On rougher surfaces when cornering, the Blackbird was definitely more planted due to a more conservative geometry but in particular, top of the line aftermarket suspension.  The Triple tends to jump around a bit more, but not in a really disconcerting way.  Clearly, the stock suspension is built to a price and damping is pretty average but there is no intention to replace it with a more upmarket option until performance noticeably declines. When that time comes, it may be with a Penske unit as the outstanding damping transformed my Blackbird. Under really heavy braking, the rear tyre has a tendency to unload when riding solo but as most of the braking effort is through the front wheel, it's not a big deal although it can be slightly disconcerting the first time the rear tyre leaves the ground!  A little more care is also required with heavy braking in wet conditions as it's comparatively easy to lock up the rear, not that this causes any real problems.  If you do get into trouble as I did when unexpectedly encountering a road surface that had been dug up, you're more likely to get away with it on a light, responsive bike like the Triple than with the mass of something like the Blackbird swinging about.  I've had 2 serious tank-slappers on the 'bird under adverse road conditions and they're not something I prefer to experience again!

Penske rear shock for the Blackbird - a work of art

Tyres are part of the overall handling equation and it would probably be fair to say that among the top brands at least, there isn't a tyre currently made which doesn't exceed the needs of the average road rider despite all the hot air and bulls*it generated on bike forums throughout the world!  They're increasingly improving too. However, the character of each tyre will vary according to where its strength characteristics lie in both wet and dry conditions, wear characteristics and that elusive but oh-so-important "feel".  The type of riding that an individual does will also have a big impact.  Without going into detail again, tyre performance is discussed in this post: Tyres .

Front Dunlop Qualifier after 6000 km

Range. Fuel consumption.... ummm... how long is a bit of string?  All I can say that on longer runs where I can maintain more constant throttle openings but still get along quickly , the trip recorder usually shows around 5.3 litres/100km.This translates to close to 300 km per tankful on a run and not be hanging about.  Having this sort of range is important to me because of the longer runs I do and a dislike of constant stopping to refuel.

Lighting. The standard headlights are the only really disappointing aspect of owning a Street Triple.  If your night riding is restricted to riding around town or maybe on well-lit major roads, it might just be adequate.  For unlit, twisty open road riding, it most certainly isn't. For starters, the lights are set way too low but properly adjusting them only takes a few moments.  The spread of light is fine for covering the roadside verges as well but the actual level of illumination is poor.

There are a few options such as changing the headlights (including HID which is not a perfect solution either) or upgrading bulbs.  I went for 100W bulb replacements on the Blackbird but thought that with the lower headlight volume on the Triple, a big wattage increase might cause overheating damage.  Because the quality of identical wattage bulbs vary enormously, I retained the standard wattage but fitted Osram Nightbreaker bulbs instead and what a difference!  It's a pity (and penny-pinching) that Triumph don't fit these as standard.  The following daylight photo shows the difference between the yellow-ish standard bulb on the left and the whiter, more intense Nightbreaker on the right.  In the dark, the difference is even more pronounced.    The upgrade has made night riding on twisty, unlit roads acceptable.  Not outstanding, but acceptable.  Oh, and it pays to give the inside of the headlamp shell where the mounting brackets are affixed a squirt with chain wax.  The design is a rust-trap if ever I've seen one!

Standard bulb on left, Nightbreaker on right

Addendum:  There has been a further upgrade to the lighting.  See the more recent post HERE

Farkles (extras).  Since taking ownership, I haven't added a huge number of extras, preferring instead to get to know the bike properly first.  From the dealer, the only extras supplied as part of the purchase were:

A 3M clearfilm kit to protect various areas of paintwork from scuffing and stone chips.  This is virtually invisible and really does the job.  The other extra was a Ventura rack to take the soft luggage transferred from the Blackbird. Since then, my Escort 8500 radar detector and screamer have also been transferred and a quickly detachable headstock mount manufactured for the Garmin GPS.

In terms of extras after purchase, a Triumph hugger has been added which does a reasonable job of keeping crap off the suspension.  The radiator core was showing a few small dings after a comparatively short distance and not wishing to hole it miles from anywhere, a guard was purchased from Cox Racing Products.  Beautifully manufactured, only took a few minutes to fit and the communications and service from Andrew Cox in Portland OR, to New Zealand was outstanding.

 Cox Racing Products guard

The final addition is a Barracuda Italian screen.  It does offer more protection from wind blast than the completely naked Triple but not hugely so unless leaning well forward. However, it was purchased on grounds of looks alone.  Good protection would have required a pig-ugly big screen and that's getting away from the principle of a naked bike. As an aside, the purchase price of the screen at 99 Euros wasn't too bad in the scheme of things, but the manufacturers showed that Italian extortion isn't restricted to the Mafia by wanting an almost identical amount for shipping it to NZ.  Fortunately, the world-renowned purveyor of Blackbird parts and accessories, John Smith (Jaws Motorcycles) from the UK; was able to lay his hands on one for me and the postage was only 22 Euros, bless his heart.  Every other automotive/motorcycle parts dealer in the universe should learn from John's consistently flawless service.

 Barracuda Aerosport screen

Servicing.  Being a naked bike, routine servicing is easy and pretty fast.  As the bike is still under warranty, I've let the dealer do the servicing so far and although the cost will depend on the prevailing labour rates of individual countries, I've been pleasantly surprised.  It's certainly cheaper than the Blackbird, principally because of ease of access.

The grin factor. The Triumph Street Triple has won numerous international Bike of the Year awards since its launch and continues to do so.  Owners and journalists everywhere talk about it being a larrikin of a bike with a fu*k you attitude.   Even at over 60 years of age, I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments but what do those phrases really mean in more definable terms?  After thinking long and hard, it might be a combination of several things.  The engine delivers instant power across the rev range and combined with the bike's light weight, this means that it's a seriously potent weapon.  Add the sublime handling to the mix and you've got something which is utterly confidence-inspiring and can keep you out of trouble where some other bikes will bite back.  This means that the rider might go just that bit harder!  I guess it's these features more than anything which allows the rider to have a lot of fun with a fair degree of safety.

Then there's the growl from the airbox when the throttle is tweaked.  The sound is not obvious to bystanders but guaranteed to get the rider's hormones sloshing around, even for an old fart like me.  If it could be bottled, Viagra would lose all sales to it overnight! 

Let's not forget the less-experienced rider though.  Those very same features and flexibility of the motor give you a comfortable and safe ride even if using a sizeable percentage of its performance is not currently your thing.

Pillion-carrying limitations and below-par lighting aside, it must be close to the ideal bike for an awful lot of riders!  Doubt that I'll be selling it anytime soon.  It wouldn't be stretching the truth to say that the Street Triple has revitalised my riding enjoyment!

Hope that this personal viewpoint has been of interest but use the blog search facility for more Street Triple or tyre info as there are many more posts about this excellent machine!

Addendum: Since this post was written, there have been many more posts written about the Street Triple - laser wheel alignment, other farkles, experiences with different tyres and so on.  To find these, simply type Street Triple into the search bar immediately below the main blog header photo, or something more specific such as tyres.  The link to the Michelin PR3 tyre review is HERE . As of April 2015, the Street Triple has now covered over 62,000 km.  The rectifier has been replaced as part of a no-cost recall, the mirror stalks replaced under warranty due to rusting and that's it other than replacing the OEM rear shock with a higher spec Nitron one at 55,000 km.  Would I buy another one?  Absolutely, it fills everything I currently want in a bike!  It will be replaced at the end of 2015 with an "R" or "RX" version.
 
Summer riding in NZ

48 comments:

  1. A good and thoughtful piece which gives a view of the Striple which I entirely recognise-I would only differ in one significant respect. I have upgraded to a Nitron shock and find it so much better. Why deny yourself such a reasonably priced enhancement?

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  2. Geoff:

    Okay, you've sold me, now where is my closest Triumph dealer ? I am not proud, I could accept a belated Birthday present if you were so motivated. The added benefit of course would be that you could use it on your Cowichan Bay 2012 tour.

    As for "enhancements" I don't think you need any for if you did you would have gone the other way .

    I too struggled with not purchasing the larger engine when I was looking at Wees last year. I thought I would never use the additional power anyway plus you could get into trouble faster, plus higher insurance and lower petrol kilometerage. Only the young and foolish go for speed.

    I'm straining my eyes on the first photo trying to make out what kind of car that is. It looks like a performance car of some sort.

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  3. Hey Geoff, another great post! Thanks for the down-the-road review.
    I too went from a 1200 (Kawasaki ZRX) to the Street Triple, and do not regret at all the willy shrinking... oops, meant the engine downsizing.
    The Street is a wonderful bike.

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  4. JCP:
    Thanks. A new shock and fork internals would be nice but my Chief Executive would probably withdraw certain rights for a long time, given the relative recency of the larger purchase :-).

    Bob:
    When I win Lotto, I would gladly add to your multitude of toys but fear you'd never have time to play with them all! Oh, and the old and foolish go for speed too ;-).

    The car is an Australian Holden HSV Clubsport, 6.2 litre V8. Enormously fast and having driven it, the braking is out of this world. There are some nice clips of Clubsports on YouTube. Belongs to my neighbour. We photographed them together because the colours are even closer than the photo shows.

    Steven:
    Thank you! The ZRX, especially the Eddie Lawson version is a true willy-waving machine, but the Triple is a wolf in sheep's clothing!

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  5. I'll start by declaring that I've never ridden a Triple. However, I've had a Blackbird for the last 5 years on which my wife and I had done many luggage laden touring miles around the UK and Europe. I couldn't see the Triple coping with that. I'm getting on now but I'm not yet ready to give up my BB. I'm kinda fond of it. It will be interesting to see how durable the Triple is?

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  6. Anonymous:

    Yep, it's that "fitness for purpose" factor. I couldn't see my wife on the back of the Triple for a tour round NZ's south island, but that's not what it's for. The 'bird was the best bike I've ever owned but my neds changed as you will have seen.

    Cheers,

    Geoff

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  7. Geoff:

    Ever since your review I see that My needs have changed too. Now I need a Striple. I don't know, perhaps I should go sit on one first to see how it fits. If I were retired like you I could hitch a free ride over on a freighter and relax in your shed while I take your Striple out for a tour around the Coromandel and have that scallop burger you wrote about recently.

    I'm going to have to take lessons on how to ride on the WRONG side of the road.

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  8. Very convincing report. Wow, you got me hooked. If I were to own a second bike I would gladly take the Striple. Alas, there can only be one bike at a time. And for now I am deeply in love with my little beemer.

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  9. Thanks Sonja - maybe you can ride it on the Coromandel Loop!!!

    Ahh.... to have the time and money to have a second bike. Not actually sure what my second bike would be - probably a cruiser as that would be the only way to get Jennie pillioning again!

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  10. Currently drive a retro-styled Honda 400-four. Love it to bits for it's sturdiness and it's head-turning style but it's no speed demon, top speed, going down hill with the wind at your back, about 160 km/h. Last week I was wandering around a Dublin bike store whilst the sales assistant tried to find me a chain breaker. I happened upon a Street Triple, threw my eye on it and then threw my leg over it. WOW!! I was/am smitten. I want one so badly. Contemplated selling on of my sons to raise the cash but there wasn't a hope anybody would take on one of my boys for more than an hour or so :-) Really don't want to end my affair with my 400-four but I'm gonna have to do something to satisfy my desire for one of these machines. If I had any niggling doubts or reasons not to get one, your post has now blown them out of the water. Maybe it's because you said everything I wanted to hear in order to justify my own lust but I'm now 100% committed to the purchase of one of these beautiful machines.

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  11. Well done Johnny, even if it might mean matrimonial disharmony!

    You might like to know that I've just got in the door from completing the NZ Grand Challenge 1000 miles/1600 km ride in 21 1/4 hours, all on back roads. Absolute proof that the Triple is a serious mile muncher, as well as for the round-town posers.

    Enjoy!

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  12. You're my hero!!! I just 'upgraded' from my old Honda CBR 600 to the new Street Triple R. I just turned 50 last November and wanted to treat myself to a new bike, and from reading your account of this superb machine was convinced to take one for a test. It only took five minutes and I was sold. I opted for the latest 'R' model with uprated brakes and adjustable suspension. I did it more for the brakes than the adjustable shocks...I'm big on safety and the preservation of life, so there's no compromise when it comes to good braking. I'm yet to go out on a long trip, but for now, all I can say is that this machine seems to love being ridden as much as I love riding it. Thank you for your exceptionally well written account of your motorcycling life.

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  13. Hi Deena - thanks so much for the kind comments!

    Riding the Striple for the first time was certainly a delightful voyage of discovery for me! I'm sure it's a decision that you'll never regret. I did consider the "R"version but wanted black. Also, based on my experience with Penske suspension on my Blackbird, that's what's going on the Triumph when the time comes to replace it.

    Enjoy your new riding experience!

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  14. After looking (drooling) at the Aprilia Shiver for a few months I finally got the chance to throw my leg over one. The feel wasn't quite right and I was left wondering what would fill the 'dream bike' void.

    The Striple seemed to win out in every head to head review it was in so it had to be added to the list of potential bikes. However, I am coming from my first 250 and the 'hooligan' nature of it was scaring me away. I didn't want something I wouldn't be able to properly keep control of.

    After a little more research, and thanks in no small part to your reviews of the bike, I finally located a low mileage used '08, took a test ride, and will be picking it up later this week.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the very well written review. It was the nudge I needed to make what looks to be great choice.

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  15. Thanks for the kind words Justin. I've now done 16000km and wouldn't change a word of the review. The Aprilia is a good machine but the Triple is a class above it.

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  16. Street Triple R:
    Anonymous Review with Zero agenda. I don't sell'em. Just my personal experience.
    -Fun to Ride. Get on the throttle, dare you not to grin. Warning: Wheelie will occur.
    -Fun to Stop. On a dime! Be light on levers.
    -Regulator/Rectifier sucks. Replaced twice.
    -Parts from Triumph slow and expensive.
    -Stock seat sucks. Will replace ASAP.
    -Rev range is perfect for street use. Not too tight or high. Plenty of power and then some. More cc's not needed. Bigger is not better.
    -Street Triple R, is light, nimble, agile, quick, fast,responsive, stops on a dime. You will smile.
    -Turn radius when going slow in the lot and parking SUCKS. Turns in the lot like a bus.
    -A little wound up high rev over 70 mph. Top gear could be better. But you can live with it as is.
    -Buy this bike ONLY If you are experienced and have some measure of self control. This bike is too fun. Will get you in jail or injured or killed if you don't excercise common sense and self control. Not a first bike.
    Like everything else that is fun, Street Triple will likely be outlawed in the future by a politician. So buy one and enjoy it while you can.
    Final Thoughts:
    I absolutely love this bike. This bike has ruined me on cruisers and custom chopper lead sleds. For myself, I can't see ever going back. No offense to you cruiser types. To each his/her own. But the ride is more important to me than looking cool. Yes the customs and cruisers look cool. But the street triple is a dream ride. Again, I love the bike.

    But be careful and stay out of congested traffic until you are used to the bike. I'd say several Months riding in low threat/light or no traffic, just to get used to the Street Triple. Take your time becoming acquainted. Have it trailered home. Don't get on it and hit the freeway to get it home. Just my opinion.
    Macho and arrogant attitude will often end badly if you push too hard too early.
    Keep your ego in check, wear helmet and other road gear. Don't be a squid. Enjoy the Street Triple. It is a great ride. Yes you will be 18 again.

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  17. Hi Anonymous:
    Thanks very much for dropping by and your detailed thoughts. I've had no problems with the rectifier at all on mine although I think that Triumph have made some improvements to it recently.

    You're absolutely right about arrogance and riders who don't do any on-going re-skilling or upskilling training are among the worst!

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  18. Hi.I recently upgraded from the Ninja 250 to the Street Triple 675, it has been brilliant so far. No problems with keeping the throttle in check. Initially I was a bit apprehensive about the power but now have adjusted to it. Was comparing this to the Ducati Monster 696,796,1100 and all of em' fell short.

    This bike goes like stink. I just have to point it to something and it'll take off. Very rarely have I gotten off this without smiling like an idiot. It looks mean too, compared to the Ducati Monster lineup the Triple looks a lot more "monstrous".

    Also there is the exclusive factor, not many ppl here in Phoenix,AZ ride a Triumph much less a Street Triple.

    Thanks for all the info, the comments above made the decision easier.

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  19. Hi abhi-shrek and thanks for dropping by!

    I tested a Monster when I was looking around. Great bike but just didn't "feel" as good as the Triple, especially ergonomically.

    Even though my Blackbird had more grunt, the type of roads I ride on now makes the Triple a far better bike to ride.

    Long may you enjoy riding it!

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  20. Geoff,
    Thanks so much for your STR review! Like you I am a bit long in the tooth at age 57. Currently I own a Kawa Ninja EX 500. My biggest complaint is too much weight forward on my hands. The STR sounds like a better fit and your comments on the STR versus Ducati Monsters are valuable. I may buy a 2012 STR next month. My biggest concern is lack of ABS as I live in Houston, TX and it can be pretty wet here. Cheers and good riding!

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  21. Hi Greg and thanks for dropping by!

    Yep, too much forward weight starts to be bothersome - you certainly won't suffer from that on a STR. Didn't think it rained much in Houston - it was hot and dry when I passed through! It can be wet in NZ too but lack of ABS has never been an issue as the STR is so light and responsive, it never seems to get badly out of shape. Stick a pair of Michelin PR3's on it and it will stick like glue!

    Good luck with your choices and safe riding.

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  22. Thanks for the detailed and no fluff blog.

    I'll be picking up my white '08 Street Triple tomorrow night and I cannot wait!

    I am concerned about riding it long distance (about 500km) but based on your experience it looks like it can be done without too much pain. The bike I'm getting has the Triumph wind(fly?)screen.

    The other thing I'm worried about is getting carried away with the handling and speed. There's a lot of low-sided Street Triples around, seemingly more than other bikes. I've been riding for 20 years with no incidents other than when I was learning and would like to keep it that way. Hope I have the self-control.

    Good luck and keep the rubber side down!

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  23. Hi ASoku,
    Thank you for the kind words - you're going to love it! 500 km isn't long distance! With the standard seat, I'm good for 700 km days without any real discomfort. When I did the 1600 km in 21 hour ride which was reported elsewhere in the blog, I used the Airhawk 9" x 11"pad which worked perfectly. My fingers were sore, but my butt was fine.

    Easy to get carried away with such a good bike but as you've been riding for 20 years, you must be able to exercise a bit of self control :-). If not, take some advanced roadcraft courses!!

    Best wishes,

    Geoff

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  24. Anon writes:
    Excellent write up! I test drove the Speed Triple and the Street Triple R yesterday. My pick was the Street. I've been riding for over 30 years , I have had bikes from 50cc to 1000cc and can say that the Street will be my favorite. All that you mentioned in your write up is spot on! It feels like a 750 and handles like its connected to my brain. The Speed was good but the Street was better. The Speeds gear box felt clunky and the throttle was on or off and upset the front end while making adjustments mid corner.The Streets throttle was very smooth and allowed for early pick up coming out of the corners. The handling was very light and precise.
    This is the perfect bike for anyone who knows how to ride and doesn't need the IMAGE. This bike will give fits to those racer boy wannabes who ride in shorts and a t-shirt when the see you hanging on to their tails. The fit and finish of the Triumph was rather good, very clean welds and nice bits. And as for the brakes, they are excellent as good as the brembos on the Speed. After a year long search for a replacement bike I found it. The Triumph Street Triple R.

    Hi Anon and thanks for dropping by!

    Yep, the Triple is almost all things to all people. If I was freeway commuting all the time, then I wouldn't have a Triple or at least, I'd have something else in the shed too! Long may you enjoy yours....

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  25. Hi Geoff
    I intend to try out the Street Triple here in the uk. I went out on the Tiger and Speed In 2008 but liked neither for various reasons. Just loved the look of the Street but the dealer I went to advised against the Triple for me! I bought BMW 1200 GS toured all over Europe got soaked too many times and now decided I want a fun bike. Trouble is maybe I'm too big over 6ft and 18st, but I did go to Spain on a Faser 600 once!!
    Been riding for 30 years and heart set on street, but wondering if too small. As someone else said 1050 was too clunky, mind you was told by my Dr who is also motorcyclist that I ride a Bavarian Tractor.......
    Thanks for the great info on here really enjoyed he info

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon!
      I know exactly how you feel having owned the heavier, less agile Blackbird for many years - swapping it for a nimble bike was, and still is a refreshing experience.

      The only way to find out if it suits is to try it! If you feel cramped with leg room issues, it's not a big issue to have the seat customised. Best wishes in looking for the "grin factor" and thanks for dropping by!

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  26. This was a great review -- better than any professional reviews I've read of it. You certainly hit the "this is a great bike that you will fall in love with" note, but also pointed out what pieces aren't quite perfect, and (even more importantly) what you can do to improve them. And then you posted updates when you found an even better solution. Fantastic!

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  27. That's very kind of you thanks. I guess that a long term owner has the advantage over a motorcycle tester as he or she gets to live with them for a while. I've now owned it for almost exactly 3 years and still love it to bits. Guess that speaks volumes!

    Thanks for dropping by......

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  28. Hi Geoff,

    Enjoyed your well-written musings on the Street Triple.
    I'm coming from a similar direction, but a bit different requirements. Had all sorts of bikes, currently own the original FZS1000 Fazer (FZ1 in some countries) but I want a smaller, lighter bike to deal with the intense city traffic that is central London, England in rush-hour. Was thinking about a KTM Duke 690 but every time I saw a comparison, the Street Triple came up, which I thought slightly odd. Very tempted by the Duke, thought the Street Triple might be too similar to the Fazer but reading your blog makes me seriously wonder whether this would be a better choice. Going to get myself a test ride. Anon of 16 Nov 2011 makes me wonder about the turn radius of these things though, but I need to try one. Yeah, and as I have also been riding since 16 (now 43) I agree with all those who recommend advanced rider training and decent kit. Just come back from a holiday in Croatia and those guys don't even bother with helmets! Thanks for your write-up.
    Cheers,
    Paul.

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  29. Hi Paul and thanks for stopping by!

    The KTM is a great machine too but after all the analysis and test rides, it's the one with emotional appeal which needs listening to! With regards to turn radius, what Anon of Nov 16th says is true in that the lock is a little more restricted than other bikes, but it also shows he has a lot to learn about riding bikes. A combination of clutch, throttle and rear brake at slow speeds together with a bit of lean and you can turn anything - just watch the US cops doing gymkhanas on YouTube. Really recommend doing some advanced roadcraft such as IAM or RoSPA - I've loved every minute of it.

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  30. Hi Geoff,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your Street Triple review. I purchased a 2011 model new in August this year. What a beautiful and competent bike. I've had my eye on them for many years and have been saving hard for the same time, knowing eventually the deal will happen. A bit of a late starter - although always wanted a bike, I started with a GN250 in about 2003. I'm now 54 and I've spent the last 6 years honing skills on a naked Suzuki SV650. Also a brilliant bike for the money. I eventually knew the time was right and after about 50,000km all over NZ - including the Coro roads, Forgotten Highway, lots of West Coast (Nth Island)- back roads around Raglan, Kawhia, Te Anga, Dargaville, Taranaki as well as the Sth Island, I now look forward to a more refined and crisper ride on the Striple. It's 'run-in' at last and now that I'm doing more of what it is capable of I've decided the three sounds it creates are Bumble Bee, Honey Bee and Mosquito - I'm enjoying mosquito :-)
    I enjoyed blasting past a big cruiser on Mt Messenger today and like you, bikes are for whoever likes them, but I like the crisp purposeful brilliant handling needed for the windies and the coastal or car-free back roads. The Street Triple does it brilliantly.
    Very best wishes for some of your best rides yet.
    Cheers,
    Paul L. Adams
    New Plymouth.

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  31. Hi Paul and thanks for dropping by!

    I'm certain you'll never regret the purchase. They do everything well apart from carrying passengers very far, which I'm sure is fine for most owners ;-).

    I LOVE Mt Messenger! In fact, you have some fabulous roads for the Triple down that way. In the November 2011 section of the blog, you'll find a 3 part story of a trip across the Forgotten Highway and Gentle Annie on the Triple.

    Safe riding...

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  32. Geoff,

    A great review of the Street Triple. I have a '08 Triumph Sprint ST and I enjoy riding it and now my wife is looking for her first bike! She likes the 2010 Street Triple as well as the 2010 Yamaha FZ6. I'm looking for a bike that will be kind to her and not have a strong desire to leave her behind. She has taken a motorcyle class to learn to ride properly and I'm sure she will do fine. She's a responsible 4* year old mother of two.. and wife to one goofy husband. I will be riding with her for a while on the side streets before she gets cut loose on the highway. It seems from your review that the Street Triple has a good power range that will not shoot her from a cannon when she lets off the clutch, unless she grabs a fist full of throttle.. but that would be expected from many 600cc bikes... as well as plenty 'o power to accelerate when needed. I am going to set up a test ride before I let my bride straddle this beast. She really does not want to start out with a 250cc scooter and I can't say I blame her. I learned on a 600cc Ninja after just reading the owners manual and putting on a helmet. I dropped it once during a slow turn and it stalled out, tossing me off the side. She's already done that one in school! And I don't want to buy one bike only to turn around and sell it a few weeks later so that she can drive on the highway without getting run over from behind. Am I letting her go in the wrong direction? With so much experience I value your opinion.

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  33. Hi Anon and many thanks for the kind words. One of my good mates has a Sprint ST and they're a fine bike.

    Kudos for your wife taking lessons. It's beyond me why formal training isn't mandatory!! It's true that the Triple has an extremely flexible engine and is very forgiving in its handling characteristics but it also has a lot of power that will get you into trouble with a moment's panic or incautious use of the throttle. I actually prefer someone starting on a less powerful bike to build confidence and skills but freely admit that I'm biased because I grew up with that system.

    I take it you're from the USA and I know that some dealers are ok with test rides and some are not (free test rides are the norm down this way). Before any decision is made, a test ride is a "must" for ergonomics, general "feel" and that oh so important emotional connection with the bike.

    Best wishes whatever you decide.

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  34. It has been some time since I visited website with such high quality information. Thank you so much for providing such helpful information. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks.
    Street bike parts California

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stevan,
      Thanks very much - I try and be as factual as possible as I hate the ra-ra reviews on a lot of websites and magazines.

      Delete
  35. hi Geoff,

    do you rely on your Streety like on the Honda?

    Are the Costs still less?

    I drve 15000-20000 km a year ...

    What do you think about the BMW R 800r?

    Greetings from Germany
    Beate

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  36. Hi Beate!

    Yes, after 38,000km, the Triple has been completely reliable. I have some corrosion on the front of the mirror stalks and a small amount of corrosion on the ends of the radiator but neither are really bad. Apart from that, the bike is still great.

    Maintenance costs are lower than for my Blackbird, simply because it's a naked bike and easy to work on. My 10,000 km major service costs average around NZ$550 which is lower than the Blackbird was. Being a light bike, the tyres last well, especially the Michelin PR3's I use. The rear lasted for 14,000 km and the front 17,000 km (and the bike gets used hard!)

    The BMW is a nice bike but it has much less horsepower than the Triple and equivalents from Yamaha and MV - more of a sport tourer than a sport bike. It really does depend on what you want from a motorcycle. The other important consideration is after test riding several bikes, which one gives you the greatest emotional appeal?

    Hope this helps and best wishes!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Geoff,

      yes, it helps.


      The Streety is one of my favorite bikes to buy.
      But here in Germany most people say that BMW or japonese bikes are more fiable...
      Well, most people in Germany ride 2000 km a year...

      The liquidcooling system of my Kawasaki makes trouble now....so it is maybe "time to change" .

      greetings and thank you very much
      Beate



      PS: I will tell you if I buy a bike....


      Delete
  37. Beate,

    Best wishes with whatever you choose. Incidentally, the German woman who writes this blog: http://magersineurope.blogspot.ca/ has actually ridden my Street Triple. You can find the account in her old blog when she was visiting NZ here: http://2wheelersrevisited.blogspot.de/2012/05/embracing-my-inner-hooligan.html and here: http://2wheelersrevisited.blogspot.de/2012/05/triple-fun-beaches-bikes-and-scenic.html

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi Geoff
    I'm 71 and have your blackbird problem with my GSX 1250, I like the street triple but no centre stand means difficult to oil chain, clean chain and do tyres how do you manage?
    Cheers Barry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barry,
      Paddock stand - type it in the search box and you'll find a photo. Best of luck, Geoff

      Delete
  39. Hi Geoff. Nice article. I too have a group of 1000cc pals, one of whom also owns a Blackbird, and I managed to keep up (just) on my VeeStrom 650, but it has gone now ready for the next bike. I want a nimble machine that will keep up but that I can change lines on mid corner if I have to. I'm not the biggest at 5'7 (and a half!) and 66kg, so reading your reasoning re the Blackbird's weight struck chords with me.The Veestrom is troublesome too with it's higher ride height. I always have issues with the side stand, as my heel is not on the ground until there is already too much bike angle, and weight to support. A moment of faith required every time I flick the stand down!
    Anyway, I've decided to go for a Street Triple, over an Aprilia Shiver or a Ducati S2R 800 - I'm looking in the 2007 - 2010 era. I was wondering if you've sold your Triple for a newer one yet, or if not did you want to sell it?
    My Veestrom was at 64,000 miles (US import) and still going great when I sold it. I think the mileage v price trade off is OK on these bikes.
    Kind Regards, Brent

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  40. Hi Brent and thanks for writing!

    You might have seen in my other posts on weekend trips with my mates that the Triple has no problems in keeping up. It's clearly not as suitable on open highways such as motorways but that's not what motorcycling is about! Good choice compared with the Shiver and Ducati, particularly in terms of reliability, let alone performance. I still have the Triple which is now approaching 67,000 km and it's still running perfectly. In all that time, it's had one complete replacement of brake pads, one recent chain and sprocket set and a better quality rear shock. I have recently had permission from my Chief Financial Officer *grin* to replace it. In no particular hurry though although its replacement will be a new one, almost certainly the "R" or "RX" sport model.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Excellent review. I'm 68 next week and got back into biking last year with a Moto Guzzi Breva 750 - but soon wanted a bit more. I wanted luggage, so changed to a BMW R850R, which I liked but found it a bit too tall (29" inside leg!) and heavier than I would like at about 240kg wet. I've focused my search on my two most important criteria - height and weight - and have a shortlist of half a dozen bikes, including a Monster 696, which I liked. However, the Street triple seemed right immediately I sat on it, and your review (the best I've read) has confirmed what I was thinking - a Street Triple is my next bike.
    Thank you - David

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    Replies
    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for the comments and happy birthday for next week - I turned 69 a couple of weeks ago. I hope you enjoy the love affair with the Triple. You may be interested to know that for my type of riding, I still believe that the Triple is a better bike than the GSX-S 1000 which I currently ride. I'm watching with interest with respect to the launch of the 800 Triple. Although heavier, the low seat height of the 1200 T120 Bonneville (not Thruxton) also interests me. Happy travels!

      Delete
  42. I've just started my well deserved retirement a few months ago and an old itch came back into mind (MOTO). Having convinced my wife (financial advisor and minister)that a motorcycle was in my eagle eye, I then confirm that a purchase was made last Monday. Best time to buy a bike, but the next 3 months are going to be painful.

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    Replies
    1. Congrats on retirement and planning to have a lot of fun! I would like to sell my Suzuki GSX-S 1000 and buy the newly announced 765 Street Triple. However, my Chief Financial Officer is likely to turn my request down on account of a planned big overseas trip this year :-( . Enjoy your riding - hope you plan to do a riding refresher course! Be safe......

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