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2009 Most Important...Triumph Street Triple R

The term ‘all-rounder’ is usually associated with the phrase ‘lose the will to live’. But this machine is very different. That’s because it’s very good

Why’s it so important?

Up until very recently, if you didn’t want a fairing and clip-on handlebars and couldn’t afford to take the exotic Italian route then you were pretty much stuck with a de-tuned sports bike motor bolted into a budget chassis with cheap cycle parts to match. Here at Visordown, the Street Triple has been one of our favourites and the choice middleweight naked machine ever since its launch in 2005. And for 2009 they’ve made it even more attractive, bolting fully adjustable inverted forks into the yokes and finishing the job with the same radially-mounted Nissin calipers that grace the hugely successful Supersport racer, the Daytona 675, arguably the bike that put Triumph firmly back on the biking map.

In essence there have only been a few changes made to this bike since its inception four years ago, but those few subtle tweaks have made the Street Triple really stand out from the Japanese competition and totally undercut the Italians when it comes to performance per pound.

It’s made sports bike riders think about what they really want from a motorcycle and it’s offered up a fresh alternative for the track day rider looking for something a little different from the common or garden four-cylinder plastic crotch rocket. It’s good at everything and that’s why the Street Triple makes it into our top five. It’s a pukka slice of Cool Britannia, and a rare reason to feel patriotic.

And what’s it like to ride?

Few sports bike-derived nakeds look as good as the Street Triple R. Fact. When Triumph came up with the idea for the Daytona, it’s no surprise they had the Street Triple in mind, too. It’s the neat little touches like fairing brackets that bolt to the inside of the frame that give away their intent, meaning that when the bike goes naked, that fine looking chassis is free of unsightly scars showing any surgery has taken place. It looks just right.

And it feels just right when you sit on it. Slightly more firmly sprung than the standard model, some of the cosseting friendliness of the original Street Triple has been removed. Replaced instead with a feeling leaning towards the sporty side, a nod to sports bike riders looking for something a little different, without having to sacrifice the bling.

While the chassis is pretty much a direct transplant from the Daytona 675, the motor has been retuned to suit. But before we all breathe a frustrated sigh in recognition of a manufacturer’s trick that’s all but ruined most other naked conversions, the way Triumph has gone about it results in a bike that works exactly how it should, with the midrange shoved a little lower with only the slightest loss of top end power.

The power delivery is as silky smooth as you could wish for with a sizeable midrange that riders of in-line fours of a similar capacity can only dream about. It’s easy to ride at any speed on any kind of road. Excellent, glitch-free fuel injection helps even clumsy throttle hands achieve smooth progress with only transmission whine provoking any criticism.

The chassis works incredibly well despite the upright riding position and on a recent trackday at

Cartagena I had the pleasure of a session on a mate’s bike. The Triumph quickly made me forget that it’s supposed to have limitations and it’s not really a track bike, the superb handling and massive ground clearance just encouraged me to ride faster with every lap.

This was much to my mate’s obvious consternation as he hung over the pit wall, wildly gesturing for me to pull in having seen enthusiastic use of the throttle and kerbs once too often.

There are few bikes on the market that can do what the Street Triple does. People talk about ‘all-rounders’ but it’s seldom a machine comes along and achieves full-on satisfaction in every single circumstance.

I’ve yet to speak to a Street Triple owner – R or otherwise – who wishes they’d bought something else. When you’re a small manufacturer with relatively limited resources going head-to-head with the might of Japan to win over prospective buyers, you’ve got a tough job on your hands.

Triumph has done it, and made it look oh-so-easy with the Street Triple.

Rating: 4/5

  • FOR: Superb chassis, strong engine and unmistakable styling
  • AGAINST: Small, poor colour range and fiddly looks

Triumph Speed Triple R Specs

Top speed: 141mph
Engine: 675cc, 12 valves, liquid-cooled, in-line triple
Bore and stroke: 74mm x 52.3mm
Compression ratio: 12.6:1
Power: 107bhp @ 11,700rpm
Torque: 50ft/lbs @ 9,100rpm
Front suspension: 41mm telescopic fork
Adjustment: Preload, compression and reboud
Rear suspension: Monoshock
Adjustment: Preload, compression and reboud
Front brakes: Four-piston Nissin calipers, 308mm discs
Rear brake: Twin-piston Nissin caliper, 220mm disc
Wet weight: 167kg (368lbs)
Seat height: 805mm
Fuel capacity: 17.4 litres
Colour options: Matt Graphic/Matt Orange