Chalk & Cheese, Niall & Whit, Triumph Street Triple R & BMW F800R

Triumph’s riotous Street Triple R is the benchmark middleweight street bike, a bike so alive with character it’s arrival left big street bikes looking a little redundant. How does BMW’s new F800R compare?

Posted: 21 July 2010
by Niall Mackenzie
Moody sky (Jim Moody not pictured)
Knockhill visor sticker must mean this is Niall
Right hand chain drive a peculiarity of Rotax engines

I realised a long time ago that, when it comes to motorbikes, spending more money doesn’t always mean you’ll get more fun in return. In fact, one of the most hilarious days in the history of this magazine was last year’s £200 Scrapheap Challenge. We were in stitches all day long abusing shagged bikes that simply refused to die.

Which is why, after a glut of expensive, big-capacity streetbikes on the preceeding pages, we needed a lightweight antidote in the form of BMW’s affordable and much-hyped new BMW F800R (£5925) and Triumph’s Street Triple R (£6229). Just as 600s offer an alternative to 1000cc superbikes, so street bikes like these can be more fun than their bigger siblings (more of which on p56), but can the BMW really overshadow the awesome Street Triple?

Until this test I was one of the few journalists that hadn’t spent a great deal of time with a Street Triple R but I must say I’d only ever heard and read enthusiastic reports. I’m also told that, even if you have the money, they’re as difficult to find as a Yorkshireman buying a round, so that can only be good for job security at Hinckley. I have however spent a fair bit of time on BMW’s F800-series bikes, having ridden the F800S and ST on their original launch in South Africa back in 2006.

I’ve also also thrashed them both around Donington Park and Cadwell here in the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the F800S, so when I had my first look round the new naked R version I anticipated even more fun. I’ve never been a big GS or K-series fan so any BMW with a chain and a normal indicator switch is a result in my book. Yes, it does have heated grips, but then so should every new bike. Especially if it lives in Scotland.

The brief was for James and I to have some fun with these Rs, to explore their characters and to push them to the limit – same as any other test, then. And it goes without saying this was all done in a legal and safe location with risk assessments filed and medical staff in attendance.

Triumph describe the Street Triple R as being ‘harder’ than the standard model, though I must say I never thought the original was soft. To the 675-based original the R brings fully adjustable suspension and four-piston radially-mounted calipers. Both are welcome additions to a bike with this sort of engine performance – the 675 engine is re-worked for the Street Triple, with slightly less power, but it’s still a really strong motor – and the trick Magura handlebars and ‘R’ graphics help set this very minimalist bike off nicely. The bulging chrome headlights give the appearance of back-to-front 36DDs, but who’s complaining? Often simple is best so the uncomplicated appearance of this machine would suggest it’s built to do a job, rather than having lots of bells and whistles that may not be that useful on a mid-sized streetbike.

A few years ago I spent a most enjoyable year with a 675 Daytona and loved every minute. The best bit of that bike was unquestionably the sound and feel of the brilliant three-cylinder motor, so the summer of 2006 came flooding back the second the Street Triple sprung into life. Without having one alongside it’s impossible to tell if the twin pipe set-up on the Street Triple R sounds much different to the Daytona, but who cares when they both sound this good?

Read more of Niall and James on the Triumph Street Triple R and BMW F800R

Triumph Street Triple R Specifications

Buy one

Price: £6999
Top speed:
675cc, 12-valve, liquid-cooled, in-line triple
Bore x stroke:
74mm x 52.3mm Compression ratio: 12.65:1
107bhp @ 11,700rpm Torque: 51 lb/ft @ 9100rpm
Front suspension:
41mm inverted forks, compression, preload and rebound adjustment
Rear suspension:
Monoshock, compression, preload and rebound adjustment
Front brakes:
Radially mounted four-piston Nissin calipers, 308mm discs
Rear brake:
Single-piston Nissin caliper, 220mm disc
Dry weight:
167kg (367lbs) Seat height: 805mm Fuel capacity: 17.4 litres
Colour options:
Orange, Grey

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james whitham, triumph street triple r, niall mackenzie, bmw f800r, road test

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What's the verdict compared to a Honda Hornet? I have one and am considering this as an upgrade so that longer trips and pillion riding are a bit better served. What do you think?

Posted: 21/07/2010 at 23:21

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