First ride: Triumph Street Cup review

Want some accessible café racer cool in your life? This could be just your Cup of tea.

THE TRIUMPH Street Twin has been with us for a year now. In fact, it was the first of the new Bonnevilles to get launched, with the T120 and Thruxton swiftly following and since then we’ve seen the Bonneville range grow with the addition of the T100 and Bobber.

They go a long way to making the family complete – with the T100 sitting nicely between the Street Twin and T120, and the Bobber injecting a shot of swagger. But the new Street Cup is the bike that promises to bring the greatest sense of cohesion - to forge a direct link between the entry level Street Twin (which is available restricted for A2 licence holders) on which it’s heavily based, and the classy-but-more-expensive range-topping Thruxton.

Point your eyeballs at the Street Cup and it’s easy to see the Thruxton’s café racer good looks have trickled down and worked wonders – the sleek bullet tail unit, fly screen, dropped bars and bar-end mirrors all make the Street Cup look like a smaller Thruxton. From where I’m standing that’s perfect – the Thruxton was is one of the most gorgeous bikes of recent years and the Street Cup looks similarly excellent.

It’s a shrewd move by Triumph because it means the same aesthetic and feeling offered by the Thruxton is now accessible to riders that might have dissuaded from adding one to their garage because of it power, physical size, their licence restrictions (there’s an A2 restrictor kit available for the Street Cup) or price.

And speaking of price, the Street Cup costs £8,600 irrespective of colour and it should be available in dealers… now. In my opinion that’s still a fair bit of wedge for the power (see below) and 200kg dry weight.

Essentially this is a sexed-up Street Twin that draws inspiration from the Thruxton, although Triumph doesn’t seem that keen about it being labelled a mini Thruxton. I don’t see why - doing so compliments the Thruxton and infers some of its DNA has trickled down to the most accessible Bonneville. This bike also has a higher level of finish to the Street Twin.

Being based on the Street Twin, it should come as no surprise that the Street Cup is powered by the same 900cc liquid-cooled, SOHC, eight-valve parallel-twin ‘high-torque’ engine, which puts out 55hp and 59lb/ft torque and exhales its combustion gasses out of a new pair of satin black stainless steel exhausts.

Those new exhausts are unique to the Street Cup. They’re shorter and wider than the plumbing on the Street Twin and Triumph claims they’re lighter too. But forget all that, what’s most important is that they sound great thanks to a rich, deep, wholesome burble when you crack the ride-by-wire throttle.

The engine’s performance is the same as the Street Twin’s, and the torque is available as soon as you tease the twistgrip back. It fuels impeccably and will see you right up to about 100mph, with a bit more to be eeked out if you’re slight of built and willing to get tucked in behind the surprisingly effective fly screen. And of course, you are willing to do that because you're a stylish, badass mofo who doesn't play by the rules, sometimes.

The motor boasts more torque than horsepower, so the pounds-foot is definitely the star of the show. On the phenomenally twisty roads of the launch, that suited me fine as I rode the easily accessible wave of torque in (mostly) second and third gear, with fourth only being hooked when I bumped into the limiter for more than three seconds. However, most of the meaningful torque lies between 3,000 and 5,000rpm, with peak torque landing at just over 3,000rpm. Although it’s there from pretty much nothing, getting a lick on means staying in the sweet spot, otherwise you risk feeling like the party is over too soon. Having said that, I’m not sure how many Street Cup owners are going to wring the life out of their bikes and in a more sedate riding arena, it’s the punchy, fun, and useable ‘urban sports motorcycle’ that Triumph says it is.

First ride: Triumph Street Cup review - page two

ALONG with the engine, the Street Twin’s electronics still remain too – which means you get a ride-by-wire throttle I’ve already mentioned, along with traction control, a slip assist clutch (with a light action) and a USB port under the seat. Electronics are easily controlled via ‘i’ switch on the left side of the bar and information is clearly displayed on the dual face clocks that come straight off the… Thruxton. Coincidence? Er… no.

Pinned wide open in the fourth of five gears and fleeing Seville in search of empty and deserted roads, I soon allowed myself to play out a vivid café racer fantasy in my head - something about a lowlife stealing my girl and me winning her back with my charm, wit, expertly slicked-back hair and the irresistible throbbing mystery of my crotch. Mostly, I won the day because I was riding the new Street Cup. Riding it past shop windows (or anywhere you can glimpse your reflection) does that to you and with a bike like this, that’s important.

I’m getting ahead of myself with that fantasy – I’m married, have shit hair and all the allure of a potato, so it was soon time to slow things down and come back to reality. Tasked with scrubbing off speed at the front is a new two-piston Nissin sliding caliper and 310mm floating disc (with ABS, obviously). It’s an averagely capable setup. The first time I asked for anything meaningful from the front brake, I quickly found myself pulling the lever hard. The brakes are OK, but lack decent feel. Replicating the disc and caliper on the other side of the front wheel, or using a single four-pot caliper on would easily add some extra retardation and potentially a bit more feel too.

Speaking of feel, the Street Cup’s riding position is different to the Street Twin’s, but not radically so. A set of ace dropped bars with some messy welding putting me in a similar kind of focused (for a modern retro bike) riding position served up by the Thruxton. Part of that is down to the new Alcantara-effect seat too, which at 780mm high is taller than the Street Twin’s and comfortable enough, though from memory, the Street Twin’s felt a bit more plump against my rump. Once on the bike, I sat a little further away from the tank, making for a slightly longer stretch to the bars. It works well enough though, creating a more engaging, sporty riding position that encouraged me to carry a bit more corner speed, get closer to the bike and embrace the promise of café racer glory.

Suspension performance is consistent at the front and coped well with the endless direction changes and occasional hard braking.  At the rear, the new twin shocks are unique to this bike and give similarly consistent performance but they could be flustered by big dips in the road surface or speed humps, which caused them to compress a bit too much for my liking but, but that was the only time I noted that I might want to adjust the spring preload. The suspension feels like it’s on the money for this bike and managed everything I asked of it.

Handling-wise, the Street Cup is agile and neutral, hiding its 200kg weight well. Being so closely related to the Street Twin, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that the Street Cup has a very similar overall feel – it’s well balanced at slow speed, and just as manageable and friendly, while the adjusted riding position really does present you with a more sitrring riding experience.

‘And what else?’, I hear you say. Well, the bar end mirrors are really good, the LED rear light is highly visible, even in bright sun light and it looks great. The Pirelli Phantom Sport tires took all I threw at them (with occasional help from the traction control) and after a day of unashamedly uneconomical riding, the dash told me I got 57.7mpg, meaning a potential 182 miles from the 12-litre tank. Triumph’s claimed 75.5mpg doesn’t seem too outrageous either. Oh, and it’s got all the nice details that make the Street Twin so attractive, so there’s the same finned cylinder heads plus gorgeous paintwork which includes hand-drawn coach lines, and smart gold coloured engine badges. The only fault I can find with the look of the Street Cup is that, when viewed from the back, the ends of the subframe are visible below the bottom of the sleek, removable seat cowl.

The new Street Cup is a smart addition to the Bonneville range because it makes the gorgeous aesthetic and of the Thruxton accessible to a wider range of people. It’s the Street Twin made debonair and sportier, and it feels that way to ride. 

Model tested: Triumph Street Cup

Price: £8,600

Engine: 900cc liquid-cooled eight-valve SOHC parallel-twin

Power: 55hp at 5,900rpm

Torque: 59lbft at 3,230rpm

Suspension: Front – Non-adjustable KYB fork / Rear – Preload adjustable KTB twin shocks

Brakes: Front – Two-piston Nissin floating caliper and 310 mm floating disc / rear – Nissin two-piston floating caliper and 255mm disc

Wheels: Cast alloy - 18 inch front, 17 inch rear

Tyres: Pirelli Phantom SportsComp

Weight: 200kg dry weight

Fuel tank capacity: 12 litres

Seat height: 780mm

Colours: ‘Racing Yellow / Silver Ice’ and ‘Jet Black / Silver Ice’

Availability: In dealers now

Photos: Alessio Barbanti and Matteo Cavadini

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