2012 Triumph 675 Street Triple R | First Ride

On a Roll

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Kyoichi Nakamura

They say: "Punches above its weight."
We say: "It's a knockout!"

Triumph's Street Triple has been an amazing showroom success. It combines the looks of the big 1050cc Speed Triple with the size and handling of the Daytona 675, making it an incredibly capable and entertaining motorcycle. More than 40,000 examples of this middleweight naked bike have been sold worldwide since 2007, with sales holding steady despite the economic recession.

For 2012 the legendary streetfighter has undergone a pronounced visual update, plus many subtle, unannounced mechanical refinements. The bike has been "de-chromed," with brushed-steel exhaust headers, heel guards and silencers replacing the previous polished items. The cockpit now houses a new dash as well as the tapered handlebar used on the new Speed Triple. The smaller bike also gets its bigger brother's pentagonal headlights, much to many riders' chagrin. "Originally we planned to keep the same lights as before on both models," admits Triumph's Product Manager Simon Warburton. "Some will like them, others won't. But it's the bike underneath that counts."

The opportunity to borrow one of the first Street Triple Rs reinforced Warburton's point. There's no getting away from it: This is one of the most practical yet spectacular motorcycles on the market today. It's amazingly fun to ride and packs a far bigger punch than one would expect. The bike is built on the Daytona 675 sportbike's frame and employs the same engine, although cam profiles and fueling have been altered to increase the motor's already broad spread of power. Preload-only adjustment on the fork and shock and two-piston front brake calipers help keep the price down on the base Street Triple, while the R-model I rode comes equipped with the same fully adjustable Kayaba dampers and four-piston Nissin calipers employed on the Daytona.

The Street Triple's motor has the same exhilarating acceleration as the Daytona's, but with even more torque coming online even earlier. This means that on curvy country roads you can hold a single gear and work the throttle, although it's far more enjoyable to work the gearbox and revel in the three-cylinder motor's glorious muted howl, expressed via those great-sounding twin underseat cans.

Familiar as the triple's performance is, the bike exhibited greater refinement in shifting and throttle response, which I mentioned to Warburton. "All our bikes are subject to continuous improvement, so any existing Triumph model you ride this year will be subtly different from last year's," he says. "We identified a problem with the gearbox detent spring, and that's been remedied on this bike." What a difference a simple spring makes! Changing gears is smoother, slicker and more precise while fueling feels as good as it gets. In regards to the improved throttle response (ideal is the appropriate word), Warburton revealed that the bike employs a whole new EFI strategy that selects from different ignition maps based on throttle application rather than position. "It's like having separate Sport and Leisure riding maps that are applied automatically depending on how aggressive you are with the throttle," he explains. "The end result is calibration that's much smoother when riding slowly, but still lively and responsive on the open road." This strategy is being applied to all of Triumph's models, but don't expect them to brag about it!

Other covert improvements include a switch from Dunlop tires to World Supersport-developed dual-compound Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa Pros, which offer quicker warm-up as well as more grip. The Pirellis are also lighter, as is the Street Triple's rear wheel, which lost several pounds back in '09. Less unsprung weight means the suspension works better and handling is sharper, and indeed the Street Triple is one flickable and fast streetbike. Completing the list of improvements are the thinner-section exhaust headers and a magnesium cam cover that saves a little weight, as well as new cylinder liners that reduce engine noise. The brakes work amazingly well, but given the bike's claimed 416-lb. wet weight, those Nissin pinchers don't have a whole lot to stop!

We already knew the Street Triple was a great bike, but this revamped version is subtly better. Maneuverable and agile, it's an ideal tool for the urban jungle, with great leverage from that one-piece handlebar. Surprisingly, it seems to fit riders of all statures and both sexes, although the sidestand is sometimes awkward to find and the lack of bungee hooks is inconvenient. Still, the fresh restyling retains the perky posture of the original Street Triple while suitably refreshing it. Triumph has indeed made the best better, again raising the bar for the rest of the class-and that's not the Union Jack on my helmet talking! And since the 2012 models are priced the same as the 2011s ($8899 for the base model and $9599 for the R), the success of Triumph's middleweight streetfighter is sure to continue.

tech SPEC

EVOLUTION
Triumph's unabashed stripper trades her round librarian's glasses for more stylish eyewear and a few choice mechanical upgrades.

RIVALS
Aprilia Shiver 750, BMW F800R, Ducati Monster 796, Yamaha FZ8.

TECH

Price $9599
Engine type l-c inline-triple
Valve train DOHC, 12v
Displacement 675cc
Bore x stroke 74.0 x 52.3mm
Compression 12.7:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 106 bhp @ 11,700 rpm
Claimed torque 50 lb.-ft. @ 9200 rpm
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension Kayaba 41mm fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Kayaba shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake Dual Nissin four-piston calipers, 308mm discs
Rear brake Nissin single-piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa Pro
Rear tire 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa Pro
Rake/trail 23.9°/3.6 in.
Seat height 32.5 in.
Wheelbase 55.5 in.
Fuel capacity 4.6 gal.
Claimed curb weight 416 lbs.
Colors Red, white, black
Available Now
Warranty 24 mo., unlimited mi.
Contact Triumph Motorcycles of America, Ltd.
385 Walt Sanders Memorial Dr. #100
Newman, GA 30265
678.854.2010
www.triumphmotorcycles.com

VERDICT 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Stellar in every respect, but we liked the round headlights better!

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