2011 Triumph Street Triple R Review
Go to the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple R Overview Page
The $8,899 (with ABS $9,599) Triumph Street Triple R filled a relatively narrow niche when it debuted in 2008, its exposed mechanicals and 675cc engine distinguishing it in a sea of fully-faired sportbikes equipped with either smallish 600cc powerplants, or a go-for-broke 1,000cc engine displacements.
Now that a profusion of naked middleweight motorcycles have flooded the market, how does the Triumph Street Triple R hold up? First, let’s peruse the equipment list: In contrast to the standard Street Triple, the R version offers higher spec, fully adjustable suspension and upmarket Nissin brakes, while sharing the same inline 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected 675cc engine that produces 105 horsepower at 11,700 rpm and 50 lb-ft of torque at 9,200 rpm. Exhaust gases are routed through three-into-one-into-two pipes that divert into two mufflers resting on either side of the saddle, which sits at a relatively tall 31.7 inches. Dual-disc, 4 piston 308mm front brakes provide stopping power, while a single-disc 2 piston 220mm unit at the rear aids the effort. The engine mates to a six-speed transmission, and final drive is delivered in typical sportbike fashion, via a chain.
It takes a relatively high leg swing to mount the R, and once aboard it’s a snug fit on the saddle, due to its narrow front section that merges with the rather steep rear portion of the fuel tank. Most male riders might require a bit of, ahem, adjustment in order to settle in to the perch.
The three-cylinder engine fires to life with a visceral whir, and a shove of the left foot lever reveals a nicely weighted shifter that engages first gear with a light but positive action. Slowly release the clutch, and the R moves forward with torquey pull off the line, its 416 pound wet weight assisting the bike’s effortless manner. Twist the throttle harder, and the triple forces some rather exotic notes out of the mufflers, sounds resembling ripping canvas.
The Street Triple R launches with intense, front wheel lifting urgency. It may lack some the accelerative oomph of the torqueier Speed Triple—which is equipped with 1,050 cc powerplant—but counterpunches with a curb weight that’s 55 pounds lighter, enabling easy turn-in and nimble handling that makes it a hoot to ride on twisty roads. Live in the flatlands? You’ll still find this Triumph entertaining to turn on city thoroughfares. Its low effort yet responsive steering requires accurate input to direct it exactly where you want it to go. Brakes are similarly capable, offering excellent feel and strong stopping power.
So the Triumph Street Triple R’s gutsy triple and turn-on-a-dime handling is sharp enough to entertain most sport-oriented riders, but how does it fit in with its ever-stiffening competition? The BMW F800R ($9,950) is a worthy opponent that packs a gutsy 779cc engine, with plenty of options like anti-lock brakes and heated grips. But the Beemer’s parallel-twin engine’s character is a bit more utilitarian than the Triumph’s ballsy triple, offering a powerful yet less sporty alternative to the feisty R. The Yamaha FZ8 ($8,490) is a strong value proposition, with a quick-revving 779cc inline-4 that’s more turbine-smooth than the Triumph. But while the Japanese bike is all about refinement and approachability, the contrast begs the question whether you’re looking for an accommodating, do-everything bike (like the Yamaha), or a more “character” oriented offering that cedes ergonomic perfection in favor of personality. The Ducati Monster 796 ($9,995) has no shortage of character and a similarly lightweight chassis that enables great handling. But the Monster isn’t as monstruous a revver as the Triumph, and its air-cooled 796 cc L-twin produces 87 horsepower, 18 fewer ponies than the British bike. It does produce 8 lb-ft more torque, however, lending it thick oomph from lower rpms. Finally, the $8,999 Aprilia Shiver is another Italian middleweight with more quirky gusto than the BMW or Yamaha, and a 95 horsepower, 750cc twin to boot. More akin to the Triumph in terms of nichey appeal, the Aprilia has enjoyed considerable mechanical improvements for the 2011 model year, though it still lags behind in the area of suspension refinement.
It may not be as new or improved as its competitors, but the Triumph Street Triple R holds its own with its wheelie triggering powerplant, stirring exhaust note, and light-footed handling. After piloting the tried-and-true standard through Los Angeles streets and freeways, we’re happy to report that Triumph still has its finger on the pulse of what red-blooded hooligans crave in a naked motorcycle.
It may not be a literbike, but that doesn’t stop the Triumph Street Triple R from producing serious horsepower which, combined with its light weight, makes it far too potent for beginner riders.
Intermediate riders might be exposing themselves to a bit too much bike by swinging a leg over the Street Triple R; this is a seductive motorcycle that begs to be ridden fast, and unless you’ve been blessed with an overabundance of self-control, the R makes it easy for a rider with less-than-advanced skills to get in over his or her head.
Riders with many knee-dragging miles under their belt will appreciate the Street Triple R’s personality traits, and be best able to maximize everything this sharp-edged bike has to offer. In fact, it’s often the most experienced motorcyclists who skip the literbikes and go straight for the lighter, nimbler middleweights; on a canyon road or a local track, it’s hard not to push the Street Triple R close to its considerable limits, and climb off without a smile on your face.
Go to the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple R Overview Page