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"Fast Bikes", January 1, 2013

TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE R

HINCKLEY UNLEASHES YET MORE FUN AND FROLICS FOR THE ST-R

ALASTAIR 'A-FORCE' FAGAN

ALESSIO BARRANTI AND STEFFANO GADDA

There are some things that make us all embarrassed to be British, like Jimmy Saville, overpaid footballers and talentless talent show winners. Gratifyingly, however, since its launch in 2007 Triumph's Street Triple has deserved being mentioned in the same breath as other British greats like the Spitfire and Winston Churchill. When the R model was released a little later, it just added fuel to the already frenzied fire. There isn’t a bike on the market that supplies such universal shits and giggles – and all on a relative budget.

Triumph’s ethos isn’t a Byzantine approach, simply taking the Daytona 675 and stripping the fairings. The Japanese manufacturers try to mimic such trickery but only end up completely screwing a decent motor by ‘detuning’ it, then mysteriously add weight. The end result is a bike with as much character as Tim Henman. Other Euro makers often spoil us with niche, overcomplicated metal that costs twice as much as the Street Trip’. We can’t comprehend why no-one has clicked with the proven formula. Let’s hope Triumph hasn’t buggered it...

The launch was held on the mountain roads around Almeria, Spain, and we were testing the R model (which outsells the standard bike 60/40 during the 50,000 units sold since 2007). We didn’t have access to the new ABS system, which is an option for 2013.

Next year’s bike isn’t a light dusting from Hinckley. The design brief involved sharpened handling, giving the ST-R a diet and improving handling and the overall fun-factor, so we’ve got an all-new frame, radically different geometry, a 6kg weight loss and a horde of other refinements.

But let’s start with the looks. The sharper, Euro style lines caused a minor pandemonium when we released pics on MyFace – some loved it, some hated it. But I can assure you that the 2013 bike looks dapper in the flesh, with its mix of Japanese and Italian genes while still keeping its intrinsic Hinckley DNA. What wasn’t mentioned was Triumph raiding Honda’s parts bin for Fireblade exhausts...

It doesn’t take long to unearth the recent diet. Even at mediocre speeds plodding through towns, the ST-R feels lighter on its wheels, more eager to be bossed and dragged around the countryside. That trademark riding position, combining comfort and aggression, saturates you into the ride. As we traverse the mountains before hitting God’s county (the only thing that’s missing from these idyllic roads are naked ladies who put out...) what’s blatantly obvious is the slow speed aptitude, and just how fluid and intuitive the 2013 Street Triple R is. Even the horrendous steering lock issues have been remedied. This thing is smooth – but it’s also a raging hooligan.

Before you know it, the launch etiquette goes down the shitter and there are second-gear mingers all over the shop. A whiff of clutch and, pow. But the new model doesn’t loft as eagerly. I’m questioning the altitude and lack of oxygen starving the bang, yet we’re at nigh-on sea level and Triumph hasn’t detuned the 675. Nope, it’s that pesky Fireblade exhaust again. With the iconic arse-exit 'zorsts gone, along with 6 kilos, the weight distribution has changed to balance the, er, balance. The front is loaded with another 2 per cent bias meaning 52/48 in favour of the nose.

You barely have to look through a corner and the Street Triple R dishes out the skills needed, almost on autopilot without sacrificing any involvement. There’s little effort required to make any apex and just as little to carve arcs and hold a line. With a 7 per cent reduction in unsprung weight, it’ll piss the agility contest at Crufts. There isn’t another naked bike that dances with such athleticism whilst maintaining perfect precision and stability. Its balls are big enough not to carry a steering damper.

Sometimes, a naked bike gets buggered via input through the wider bars – even the old Street Trip’ did. There’s still a little urge to shift your weight forward by a few inches during tighter bends, just to gain some added front-end assurance, but I’m bordering on being pedantic, really.

Whereas the old model would protest at big lean and trackday heroics when nailed, the 2013 bike remains utterly poised. Changes of direction have been tightened up and everything flows more. The suspension feels perfectly polished in its updates with supreme damping and stroke control. We didn’t have many complaints over the previous kit, but the 2013 bouncers make the old gear seem inferior. The whole stroke is supernaturally controlled, absorbing bumps with sublime ability, yet maintaining the pitch control to ride like a complete twat. There’s no squat on hard gas, or dive when taking the piss on the brakes. It feels like it’s been ripped off some £20k exotic machine. Really.

It’s safe to say we were cornering with decisive commitment and the R, along with the Pirelli Rosso Corsas, were providing oodles of mechanical grip for liberty taking.

Aside from a taller first gear and new throttle bodies, the engine hasn’t been touched, which is a good thing. Triumph has also added more induction bark to compliment the soundtrack, which is subtle but noticeable all the same. Hinckley looks after all your senses, you know.

That’s not to say the untouched inline triple is a disappointment. What more could we ask for from the Daytona-derived motor? Don’t get me wrong, I love scaring myself senseless, laying darkies with 200bhp, but after a thrash on the Trip’ it makes you wonder why anyone would want more. The Frenchies moan about the 100bhp horsepower legislations, but I’d happily not wash and emigrate – so long as I was armed with a Street Triple R.

It’s no surprise, if true, that Yamaha is conjuring triple configurations. Triumph’s version continues to impress in its smoothened attitude. The throttle pick-up is now glitch free, as is the gearbox. That just leaves the silky surge of delivery, with power available at any part of the range. It punches hard on corner exit and continues to rush through the revs, allied by Triumph’s all-new seamless quickshifter. Sub-100bhp has never been so enthralling.

It’s not just the ride that’s been enhanced. The previous shabby build quality and finish has been treated to a seismic rise in quality. Every nut and bolt, and its existence, has been thought about. The fork tops and bodywork fittings are machined beautifully. The Street Triple R now rolls with the best of the Europeans, and Triumph has now added massive ownership appeal. There are also little trinkets, like an easy-to-remove number plate hanger (just four bolts) for ‘occasional’ track riding, plus you get an adjustable swingarm pivot. An adjustable swingarm pivot? Such delicacies are usually reserved for superbikes. You can tell the factory was straight on the drawing board after the original was launched.

There isn’t a bike on the market that caters for such a wide riding parameter of talent, without forfeiting in any area. Its talent works like a manually controlled thermostat – you turn it on like a Morphy Richards, decide how hot the ride is, and the Street Trip’ irons out any imperfections.

It’d be discourteous to Triumph to claim the Street Triple had any true rivals, such is its ability. Nothing from Japan gets anywhere near the levels of thrills, and unless we’re talking £15k big bore monsters that often fall apart, there’s nowt from Euroland, either. Its grouptest competitors are going to be there merely as a token gesture.

There are no boundaries. There are no negatives to the Street Triple R. It’ll match everything a fully-faired supersports bike can muster – and throw in some versatility as its trump card. The competition hasn’t worried Triumph for six years, and it doesn’t look like anything's about to change. If my job ended tomorrow, and I had to actually buy a real bike with real money, the 2013 Street Triple R is the bike I’d buy. As the kids would say #ProudToBeBritish!

ENGINE There are no major changes to the inside of the inline triple treat, aside from a taller first gear, so that means we’re treated to the original Daytona 675 lump in all its glory. New throttle bodies and fuel injection settings not only smooth-out the delivery at lower revs but also improve fuel economy by up to 30 per cent. A new intake system adds induction bark to the already awesome soundtrack, and Triumph has jumped on the mass centralisation bandwagon – slinging the exhaust under the motor and saving nearly 4kg in the process. Time will tell if Honda asks for it back...

CHASSIS The focus for 2013 is the frame and weight distribution (now front baised by 2 per cent). 6kg has been ditched from the previous bike. The frame is all-new, as is the swingarm with an adjustable pivot. There are also big changes to the geometry – rake is dropped by 0.5mm to 23.4mm, trail is now 95mm (from 92.4mm). The steering angle has been upped from 28 degrees to 31, equalling a 10 per cent improvement. Suspension is also new, with revised damping in the front to suit the same spring, and the rear has a softer spring rate to suit new balance. New wheels look dapper. look dapper.

TECHNICAL TRIUMPHS STREET TRIPLE R

ENGINE

Type | 675cc, liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple

Bore x Stroke | 74.0 x 52.3mm

Compression | 12.9:1

Fuelling | Electronic fuel injection

Claimed Power | 105bhp @ 11,850rpm

Claimed Torque | 68Nm @ 9,750rpm

CHASSIS

Frame | Aluminium beam twin-spar

F Suspension | KYB, 41mm inverted fork, fully adjustable

R Suspension | KYB, Monoshock, fully adjustable

Front Brakes | Four-piston radial calipers, 310mm discs

Rear Brakes | One-piston caliper, 220mm disc

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase | 1,410mm

Seat Height | 800mm

Dry Weight | 183kg (wet)

Fuel Capacity | 17.4L

PRICE

Price | £7,699 / ABS – £8,049

From | Triumph UK www.triumph.co.uk 01455 251700

Highlights

All-new for 2013

Ultimate fun

6kg lost

ABS option

183kg (kerb)

105bhp (claimed)

£7,699

TRACK 9

Not a lot wrong here

FAST ROAD 9

See above

HOOLIGAN 10

Does its own stunts

NEW RIDER 7

Can be as lame as you like

DESIRABILITY 10

Ticks all boxes

Verdict 10/10

I like my bikes like I like my gals – easy, tight and love to get a lick-on. One of the best motorcycles ever created? Go and try one, and tell me otherwise...

+ MOTOR, SOUND, HANDLING, BALANCE, VERSATILITY, STUNTS, BUILD/FINISH

- JOG ON...

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