At first glance the 2013 Triumph Street Triple looks like the latest version of the Daytona with its clothes off. It has a new, simpler frame for 2013 with fewer welds, while a brushed-stainless-steel exhaust tucked away on the right side of the bike replaces the previous underseat plumbing, shaving 6kg off the bike’s all-up weight.
It also has the prettiest and most stylish mirrors yet seen on a Triumph; they look like they belong on an Italian machine and, in true Italian style, they show you nothing more than a close-up of your own elbows.
The R105 600 675R version reviewed here has fully-adjustable Kayaba suspension and top-drawer Nissin radial-mount brakes, while our test bike had also been fitted with a neat little flyscreen, billet brake reservoirs and LED indicators, all from the official Triumph aftermarket catalogue.
But dig a little deeper, and it becomes apparent that the Street Triple is very much its own bike, with a distinctive character that’s impossible to ignore.
To start with, the Street Triple’s pistons, while displacing the same 675cc as its sports sibling, are 2mm smaller in diameter and their stroke almost 3mm longer. Power is down from 94kw at 12 500rpm to 78kW at 11 850 - but it’s the way the power is delivered that makes all the difference.
This torquey, remarkably compact little triple will pull without complaint from about 3600rpm, buzzing around suburbia to the accompaniment of a weird range of whooshes, whizzes, hums and whistles. It not only doesn’t sound like a gutsy mid-range hooligan tool, it doesn’t sound like a motorcycle at all!
ATTITUDE KICKS IN
But at around 6000rpm (earlier on full throttle) the attitude kicks in and it starts to howl menacingly through the airbox, the front wheel gets light and you start using a lot of road very quickly.
From just under 8000rpm until the power signs off at 12 000, 300rpm before the rev-limiter chimes in, it goes absolutely barking mad. Even short-shifting at 10 500rpm it will go through the crisp, short-throw, six-speed ‘box from walking pace in second to 175km/h in top, in the length of a freeway onramp, spurred on by what sounds like five identically pitched blasts on Gabriel’s horn.
On our third (and best) top-end run we started our six-kilometre test straight at about 165km/h, and hit 202 before we reached the 500m marker. After that it built up slowly, with the rider draped over the 17.4-litre fuel tank like melted cheese, to an indicated 216, right on the power peak at 11 850rpm.
Afterwards, a look at the GPS revealed a true top speed of 210km/h, for a speedometer error of less than three percent. Fuel consumption, including performance testing and a week of honing around town, worked out to 6.1 litres per 100km.
PURE HOOLIGAN TOOL
A conservative right hand could almost certainly better that figure but, believe me, you won’t. From its shoulders-forward, elbows-out seating position and striking-cobra throttle response, to its lightning-quick steering (thanks to low, straight handlebars, 740mm from grip to grip) hair-trigger brakes and phenomenal mid-range, the Street Triple is pure hooligan tool.
Where its Daytona sibling feels almost stuck to the road, sucking you into corners and holding its line like a fundamentalist preacher, the spiky-haired urban version shakes its head on full-bore upshifts, its slightly too-firm (even on the factory’s median settings) rear suspension induces slight patter, hard on the throttle out of corners, and huge wheelies and equally kick-ass stoppies are just a twitch of the right hand away.
The quick-action throttle can be choppy on poor surfaces, not helped by the bike’s short (1410mm) wheelbase, stiff suspension and firm saddle, but it all comes together in a sequence of fast twisties, as you blast from one corner to the next, placing the bike exactly where you need it to be for the latest possible braking and throwing it on its ear for maximum mid-corner speed.
Thanks to its sports ancestry, ground clearance isn’t an issue, and the Street Triple carved up our ride and handling section at a average of 134km/h where 120 is good for a sports bike, demanding (and getting) the rider’s full attention all the time.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
And that is possibly both its strongest and weakest point. Nobody in their right mind would go touring on it, but the Triumph Street Triple 675R is a Sunday morning canyon carver arguably without peer, and a superlative, take-no-prisoners commuter, narrow enough to shoot gaps most scooters can’t, and responsive enough to grab them before the car drivers realise they’re there.
But its hair-trigger responses may more than you need on a cold, wet winter’s morning. To paraphrase a Star Trek quote: Resistance is futile; you will ride this thing like you stole it. If you have the attitude to match it, the Street Triple will spoil you for any other bike on the planet.
Price: R106 500.
Bike from: Mike Hopkins Motorcycles, Cape Town.
Engine: 675cc liquid-cooled transverse triple.
Bore x stroke: 74.0 x 52.3 mm.
Compression ratio: 12.7:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 78kW at 11 850rpm.
Torque: 68Nm at 9750rpm.
Induction: Keihin multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with secondary air injection and three 44mm throttle bodies.
Ignition: Digital electronic.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: Kayaba 41mm inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Kayaba gas-charged monoshock adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 310mm discs with Nissin four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers.
Rear brake: 220mm disc with Brembo single-piston floating calliper.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 180/55 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 820mm.
Kerb weight: 182kg.
Fuel tank: 17.4 litres.
Top speed (measured): 210km/h.
Fuel consumption (measured): 6.1 litres per 100km.
Price: R106 500.