Having just reviewed two retro-style standards, including the Triumph Bonneville and Moto Guzzi V7 Stone, it was an interesting contrast to hop aboard one of the most thoroughly modern standard-style motorcycles currently available, the redesigned 2013 Triumph Street Triple.
The new bike is lighter with revised steering geometry, and it has improved mass centralization, largely due to the new muffler placement (the old bike had underseat exhaust). The engine is essentially unchanged, but that can hardly be a point of criticism given the universal praise heaped on this 675cc triple by the press and owners alike.
As you will see below, we found an awful lot of things to like about the new Street Triple, but its low weight, in particular, deserves some careful analysis. For 2013, an entirely new frame and swingarm saved 3 pounds, the new low-slung exhaust saves 7.9 pounds and the rear wheel another 2 pounds. All together, Triumph claims a roughly 13 pound reduction in weight versus comparable 2012 models. The two models are the standard Street Triple (the model we tested) and the Street Triple R. The R model retails for $9,999 ($600.00 more than the standard model) and includes a fully adjustable fork, rear shock with adjustable preload and rebound damping, anti-lock brakes, and radial mount, four-piston front brake calipers.
This is an extraordinarly lightweight motorcycle given its engine performance. Think about this. Our test bike has a claimed wet (fully fueled) weight of 400 pounds. Given equivalent gas loads, this is nearly 40 pounds lighter than Ducati’s new Hypermotard! Indeed, it is lighter than several single-cylinder motorcycles. One reason is that the platform is derived from the Daytona 675, a sport bike that slugs it out with Japanese 600s in a category obsessed with low weight.
The standard model has suspension which is non-adjustable except for rear shock spring preload. It also has simpler, two-piston brake calipers up front and has optional ABS in most markets (apparently, all US models will have ABS).
Riding the new Street Triple feels like piloting a dirt bike on steroids. The low weight is quite evident, as is the low inertia associated with the light crank and other engine internals. With 105 hp at the crank, this lithe machine has nearly twice the power of a modern 450cc motocross bike, for instance.
It is the way that power is delivered, however, that makes the Street Triple so special. When you hear journalists drone on and on about this engine, including its huge powerband and righteous sound, don’t discount it. This engine is the real deal. Simply fabulous.
The intake and exhaust noise by themselves are worth the price of admission, but the surprising thrust delivered down low in the rev range combined with a glorious and powerful high-end shriek close the deal.
The new chassis combines both a nimble feeling and very solid high speed stability. While the old Street Triple could get a little twitchy, the new steering geometry (including increased trail) seems to solve that without taking away from the entertainment value. The seating position is comfortable, and the seat height is reasonable even for most short riders. The bar position has you leaning slightly into the wind.
The brakes on the standard Street Triple are adequate, but down on both power and feel when compared with modern supersport machinery. Presumably, the uprated front brakes on the Street Triple R remedy this criticism. While the rear shock with one click of preload seemed just about right, the non-adjustable front fork could benefit from quicker rebound. This made for a somewhat choppy ride over bad pavement.
The six-speed transmission and clutch worked flawlessly during our test, and the gear ratios seemed to complement the engine performance.
Instrumentation is both legible and useful, including digital speedometer, fuel gauge, trip meter, analogue tach, lap timer, gear position indicator, etc.
Years ago, a large number of experienced journalists fell in love with an inexpensive, lightweight standard motorcycle . . . the Suzuki SV650. It was a relatively unassuming machine that made you grin ear-to-ear inside your helmet much more often than many other bikes. It delivered the essence of motorcycling in an unfiltered manner. Triumph’s 2013 Street Triple takes this a couple steps further. It feels even lighter and more nimble than the old SV with gobs more engine performance and character. At $9,399, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple is a bargain, but its $600 more expensive sibling, the Street Triple R, is arguably more so with its uprated suspension and brakes. For additional details and specifications visit Triumph’s web site.