Living with a 2008 Triumph Street Triple

Jon Urry is a lovely chap and he's quite tidy on a motorcycle y'know? He reviews this Street Triple for a year for your delectation

April 2008

It’s only taken a few months but me and Dave (my Street Triple) have had our first falling out. It wasn’t either of our faults, but on a cold winter day in my garage we were close to blows.

It all started as a good idea. Having seen a few pictures of ‘pimped’ up Street Triples I decided to treat Dave to a nice natty new look. A call to Triumph and I had a whole range of accessorises to add. So I stuck him on a stand, rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
First up was the hugger. A piece of piss to fit, four Allen bolts screwed into the neatly pre-drilled holes (only pre-drilled because the Daytona 675 comes with a hugger as standard I might add) and job done. Flushed with success I moved onto the front fairing. This proved a bit tricker, although mainly because I didn’t bother to read the instructions. But 10 minutes later he was looking good. Time for the Arrow exhaust system, which is where the problems started.

Taking a look at the job I reckoned I would have to remove the indicators and radiator cowls to allow access to the radiator mounting bolts. Not a problem, I tried following the indicator cable back, only to find it disappeared under the tank. So I tried to simply loosen the header pipes. Not a chance, no room. Could I get near the radiator mounts? Nope, although by this time my enthusiasm was rapidly diminishing. So I did the only thing a real man could, I gave up and went to the pub.

The next day I called up Triumph to ask for advice. ‘How do I fit the pipe?’ I bleated, ‘any tips?’ There was a slight pause as the man at Triumph consulted with the technical department. ‘Have you read the instructions that are in the box?’ was the reply. Bugger, I confessed to not even opening the box. The Triumph man laughed.

So, the next weekend I decided to give it another shot. Two bolts allowed the radiator to be moved out the way and a knuckle socket made getting the header pipe nuts possible. All going well so far. Seat off and the end cans involved loosening a few bolts, easy, the headers came off without a problem and I was left with the link pipe, which runs through the swingarm next to the shock. Could I get this out? Could I hell. After 10 minutes of trying every angle I felt like I was trying to do battle with one of those impossible puzzles. Nothing else for it, I had to loosen the sub-frame bolts and pivot it up to get the pipe out. Old system all clear, time to put the new one on.

The new Arrow system comes with all the gaskets etc required, which is great, but getting the header pipes on was a total bastard. They are held on with springs (looks a lot flasher) but locating the pipe ends in the manifolds was nightmare and took me a good hour of swearing and skinned knuckles. But once on it’s well worth the effort.

All the work I’ve done (which took about four hours in total) has made the Triumph look a million times moodier, meaner and more aggressive. The instructions (when I read them) were excellent and the only problem now is an electrical one. I must have knocked something because every time I put on the left hand indicator it blows a fuse. Time to call the man at Triumph again, hopefully he has forgotten about the instructions incident.

Costs so far:

Arrow exhaust system with carbon tip  (non-road legal) - £749.99
Belly pan - £144.99
Nose cowl - £119.99
Pillion seat cover - £89.99
Rear hugger - £39.99
LED rear light - £59.99

Total cost: £1,204.94

All of these parts came directly from Triumph, contact your local dealer or

Miles covered: 3,199

July 2008

Last year Triumph’s Daytona 675 came in for a bit of criticism from some areas of the press about the engine using oil. Now, I own a Triumph Spitfire car, so I know a few things about engines that drink oil almost as fast as they do petrol so I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the Street Triple’s level. So far I’ve covered just over 5,000 miles on the Triumph (bike, not car) and I’ve not had any concerns over the level. A quick dip last week (the Triumph has a dip stick, how quaint) revealed it was at the bottom of the scale, but only about 100cc was needed to bring it back in line. Not exactly a worry.

Unlike most other longtermers I have run my Street Triple through the winter. On Triumphs of old this would have resulted in a small pool of furry nuts and bolts in the corner of my garage as the bike merrily disintegrated due to corrosion and terrible finish. But the Street Triple is very impressive. The paint on the swingarm, frame and engine remains factory fresh, the callipers still look gold and shiny and most of the fasteners are perfect, especially the stainless steel ones. The only slightly poor areas are the rear axel nut and chain adjusters. Not exactly terrible news and I really hope this bike is an indication Triumph has started to take build quality seriously.

A few months ago I fitted Metzeler M3 Sportec tyres and I’ve been very impressed with them, offering excellent wet and dry weather grip. I’ve done close to 4,000 miles with them on and there’s plenty left, which bodes well. Although I love the sound of the race can I’m going to stick a road legal pipe on for summer. It will be a sad day to lose the glorious triple growl, but I want to trackday the bike and it’s getting silly now when it comes to noise regulations.

August 2008

It’s always the bloody same. Last month I happily wrote that my Street Triple was performing faultlessly, nothing had gone wrong and all was well in its three cylinder world. The day the magazine returned from the printers I found myself stranded in the middle of rather a large set of traffic lights just outside Croydon with a dead motor. After pushing it to the side of the road I tried the starter. At which point the rev counter went ape-shit and decided that 7,000rpm was going to be its new starting point rather than 0rpm. But at least the engine was running and we limped home, stuttering and miss-firing with the needle pointing at the sky.

The next day the bike was scheduled for its 6,000 mile service so I dropped it to Carl Rosner Motorcycles, my local Triumph dealer. Returning later in the day I was informed by the mechanic, who I should point out has had to deal with my mechanical ineptitude before, that the bike would run better if the lead to the positive terminal of the battery was attached. Now, I don’t remember loosening it, but I’m perfectly prepared to assume I did! More worrying was when he pointed out that I had half a bungee net wrapped around my rear axle, stuck between the sprocket and swingarm.

Strangely enough no one in the office has admitted to having a little ‘accident’ with a bungee and my bike.

At the same time as the service I had a set of Maxxis Supermaxx Sport tyres fitted. When it comes to tyres my first choice would ordinarily be a more ‘established’ brand such as Bridgestone or Pirelli, I tend to get a bit nervous about straying outside known quantities, but I believe in giving everyone a fair shout. If you’ve never heard of them before Maxxis is a Taiwanese tyre manufacturer who is well known in the supermoto and motocross world. The Supermaxx Sport is its first ‘performance’ road tyre, they certainly seem like a bargain so I’m quite intrigued to see how they work. My only slight concern is that, apparently, Maxxis tyres are the choice for most Drift Car drivers, a manoeuvre I don’t plan on replicating!

• Maxxis Supermaxx tyres - £175 (pair) -
• 6,000 mile service - £117 inc parts and labour
•Front brake pads - £88
• Arrow exhaust - £749.99
• Belly pan - £144.99
• Nose cowl - £119.99
• Pillion seat cover - £89.99
• Rear hugger - £39.99
•    LED rear light - £59.99

MILES: 6231

September 2008

Have you have one of those days when you get spooked for no real reason? You wake up and feel that something horrible will happen and it plays on your mind. The other week I had one of those days.
I had a slot booked to take the Triple on a trackday at Brands Hatch on the full circuit, but the Triumph was on Maxxis Supermaxx tyres, which I have never used on circuit before, and I was wearing a new set of leathers. Being a slightly superstitious type this was playing on my mind.

During the first session I teetered around, convinced that the tyres would have the grip level of Teflon, the low stubby can would deck out at every right-hander and my new leathers would spontaneously throw themselves at the tarmac. None of which proved the case.

Second session out and as I started to push a bit more and discovered a number of things. Firstly (and in my paranoid state I asked about ten other riders about this) the stubby can isn’t actually anywhere near the floor. And secondly, the Maxxis are very good.

If you have ever ridden the full track you will know how bloody fast it is out the back, so you will understand my caution. But the Maxxis provided more than enough grip through the fast stuff and were also excellent at the slower, more angle corners such as Druids. With the Street Triple ground clearance is considerably less than on a sportsbike, but I was still able to get enough lean to touch the tips of my toes as well as my knee, which is about as far over as I wanted to go.

The only slight question mark I have on the Supermaxxs is their stability. Having not ridden the Triumph on track before I don’t know if it’s the suspension getting over-worked, the tyres or just a character of the Street Triple’s handling but when pushed hard but it did start to feel a bit loose. I reckon the budget suspension was operating out of its comfort level, especially the forks which are unadjustable, so improving this area is my next target.

• Maxxis Supermaxx tyres - £175 (pair) -
• 6,000 mile service - £117 inc parts and labour
• Front brake pads - £88
• Arrow exhaust - £749.99
• Belly pan - £144.99
• Nose cowl - £119.99
• Pillion seat cover - £89.99
• Rear hugger - £39.99
•    LED rear light - £59.99

MILES: 6231

November 2008

I got the Street Triple last November to replace my previous Tiger 1050, which John Cantlie generously decided to smash down the road. Having already ridden a Street Triple I was happy to accept the swap. Which was a fairly selfish move on my part because in my excitement I neglected to remember that the other half quite often goes pillion, especially in summer. On the face of it the Triple appears to be a fairly terrible pillion machine, both in size and engine capacity, but it isn’t actually that bad.

    Compared to the Speed Triple 1050, which up until 2008 had a pillion seat verging on the suicidal due to its small size, the Street Triple’s is fairly roomy. The benefit of street bikes is that the pillion and rider seat is one unit, which my pillion assures me feels far safer than being perched somewhere up in the stratosphere, although it does lack a pillion grab rail. As for comfort the Triumph’s seat has receives a partial thumbs up. Up to about an hour the seat is fine, and the pillion pegs are set in a very comfortable position and not cramped at all, but over an hour the her bum starts to complain. I’ve just got hold of a pillion grab rail from Triumph (£94), which should go some way to pacifying the gentle whine from the rear. I did consider getting Triumph’s gel seat, but at £135 I decided a set of earplugs was a cheaper option.

    From a rider’s point of view the Triumph handles a pillion fairly well. The 675 engine has enough torque to mean you aren’t continually changing gear, which often results in a clash of heads due to the slightly clunky gearbox, and the handling is secure enough. In truth I seldom go fast with a pillion, but for a decentish pace the suspension isn’t overwhelmed by the extra weight. While I wouldn’t embark on a marathon touring holiday, trips of 100 miles or so are certainly on the cards.

    Recently I’ve got a terrible feeling of impending doom with my poor little Street Triple. And it’s down to two factors, both of which are just beyond the limits of my control. Number one factor is of my own doing. I was flicking through a magazine the other day when I spotted a new race class that is being run as part of the Thundersport GB Club. The Streetfighter class is split into two capacities, up to 1200cc and 130bhp maximum and up to 600cc with 95bhp maximum. But 675cc triples are allowed in! I’ve just sent of my entry to the round at Donington Park on 18th October, come and have a laugh at me if you want. Next month I’ll be running through how to prepare the Triumph for racing. The month after how to fix crash damage!

    The other factor is the afore mentioned pillion. Having been on the back of a bike she has decided taking her test would be a good idea. Great stuff, I found an old Honda CB100-N and let her lose on the road. Unfortunately with this newfound two-wheeled confidence also comes an interest in my Street Triple. A few tentative first gear wobbles into my drive have had my heart in my mouth while images of an upside down Triple, wedged into my garage door, have filled my mind. So far I’ve found that the best dissuasion for destroying my bike is ensuring her own pride and joy (car, strangely not the CB) is also parked in my drive, which seems to put a restrictor on overly enthusiastic throttle movements! But these measures are only a stopgap, her full test is scheduled for later this month, so I might have to start hiding the key. Well, unless I write the bike off first that is!

    Finally Niall has mentioned the fact his Maxxis tyre has split in his longterm GSX-R750 piece. Since reading it I’ve had a good inspection of my tyre and although it hasn’t split like Niall’s there is a small flap of rubber on what looks like a join line. It doesn’t look that worrying, but I’m certainly going to keep a wary eye on it for the next few weeks.

MILES: 7857

December 2008

Right now I am officially cacking it. Actually scrap that, by the point you read this I will have finished cacking it and will either be: (a) desperate to race again. (b) Trying to avoid any calls to
Triumph due to the fact their street Triple is bent beyond recognition. (c) Taking deliveries of grapes from a packed ward full of people with MRSA.

For the last month I’ve been busy preparing my Street Triple for its race debut at Donington Park in the Streetfighter class on 18th October. As a bit of a point of principle I’m not going the whole hog, ordering new Ohlins suspension, tuning the engine, or any of that malarkey, nope I’m doing the bare minimal to get it through scrutineering. Which basically involved drilling bits, wiring other parts and removing any bits I can. Sounds a simple task, doesn’t it?

Not a chance. The drilling went okay, well all apart from the sump plug which I had to get done by an adult (thanks Simon at Carbontek), but then I decided to swap the exhaust cans to the original underseat placement for better ground clearance. What a nightmare. Undoing the header studs resulted in every single one unscrewing from the cylinder due to being rusted solid. A trip to my local Triumph dealer and £10 later I had 6 new studs, which went in no problems, but then the oxygen sensor unscrewed with its insert from the race system and I had to ruin the insert separating them. Then I had the fight getting the link pipe up through the swingarm (I went the pivoting sub-frame route again) and finally fought like hell to get the blinking pipes on semi-level. Which I achieved with only partial success.

Next up was protecting the bike with a set of R&G crash bungs, which fitted perfectly with minimal hassle once I gave up being a man and actually read the instructions after I fitted them wrongly initially. True quality kit that actually look good as well.

Now came the hard part. I checked with the ACU and folding pegs are allowed, but the front brake must run separate lines. Venhill supplied me with a lovely set of lines, which I failed miserably to fit despite thoroughly reading Whitham’s Workshop telling me how. Then I completely screwed up my Triumph belly pan bodging it into an oil catch tank with the help of a £10 from halfords fibreglass repair kit. Quite a neat job, I think you’ll agree. And that’s it. Apart from fitting some of Bridgestone’s new BT-003 race tyres for the, err, race the bike is all set to go. Unfortunately I’m not. because I let my ACU licence slip for over three years I have to spend £50 and travel up to Rugby to attend a training course before I can be relieved of another £43 to get my licence after I’ve passed a £24 eyesight test. It’s bloody expensive this racing lark, even before you crash the bike!

Finally, in order to calm my nerves a bit, I booked in at a trackday at Donington to see how the bike felt on track. Armed with a new set of Bridgestone BT-016 tyres fitted I must have exuded a sense of confidence because they stuck me in the ‘gold’ group, with a bunch of racers and a few 1000cc sportsbikes. It’s been a while since I tried to go fast at Donington and apart from confirming the Triumph felt okay through the corners it highlighted the fact racing involves going far faster than I’m used to. And, to be truthful, I’m not 100% I can be that committed. In short I’m crapping it.

While the street Triple may only have a top speed of about 135mph the problem is that you are holding it pinned through a lot of Donington. Once around the first corner (Redgate) it’s wide open through Hollywood and down Craner, which takes some balls. Then from the Old Hairpin it’s again wide through Schwantz’s. On my own I could just about manage this, but with 30 other bikes? I’m not sure. And then I found out the lap times the front runners are doing: under 1 minute 20, I’m told. Oh crap, I need to lose about seven seconds! Never mind, I don’t have any space on my mantle piece for trophies anyway.

Bits and Bobbins

•    Crash Protectors (main ones), £115
•    Spindle Sliders (rear), £29.99 
•    Fork Protectors (front!), £29.99 
•    Engine Case Slider (right), £24.99 (0870 2206 380)
• Venhillbrakelines,twinhoses,£43.48 (01306 885111)
• Bridgestone BT-016, £220 (aprox)
Miles: 8,219

February 2009

It’s only after my little Street Triple had been returned virtually unscathed to Triumph that I calculated the true level of abuse that both myself and various other member of the motorcycling press have subjected it to. Dave, as I named it because I got so fed up typing Street Triple, in his short life has been hammered more times than Jenna Jameson yet has managed to shrug it all off with considerably less dripping.

It all started in July 2007 when having been run in meticulously (I assume) by the Triumph factory Dave was shipped over to Lake Garda in Italy to be abused for two weeks by various journalists at
the world launch of the Street. Every day he was ridden on a very hard road ride through some unbelievably twisty roads and almost certainly wheelied every time the rider was forced to drop into first or second gear. This trauma over he was then stuck back in a van and returned to the UK, which is when I first got my hands on him.

I picked him up and took him to Scotland with Whitham and his mate Shoey who basically went ballistic on their favorite road (the B863 outside Fort William) and proceeded to wheeile, stoppie and jump the poor bastard for almost a whole day.

This over I then used Dave to commute to and from work everyday right through winter before, sometime in late July from what I remember, the sun eventually made an appearance. Taking this as cue I took him on a trackday on the full-circuit at Brands Hatch as well as various weekend trips both one and two-up and even entered him in a ‘run what you brung’ event at Santa Pod, thrashing our designer Barry on his KTM 990SM.

Later in the year he took part in our ‘traffic light grad prix,’ with more cackhanded quarter-mile runs and botched ‘rapid’ getaways, before finally being entered into a race at Donington.

In our short 12-months together we’ve had an eventful time to say the very least. How did Dave stand up? Unbelievably well. Mechanically I didn’t have a single problem with the Triumph. The engine didn’t use any oil between its services and despite all the abuse the chain, sprockets and clutch remained perfect. The finish, which is a traditional Triumph weak-spot, was far better than cynics would let you believe. The brake disc rotas did start to look secondhand quite quickly but
over all the level is up to the lower-order Japanese manufacturers. Some fasteners did start to go manky, but the ones that count (the most visible ones) such as the engine covers are stainless
steel so look as good as new and the back coating on the frame and swingarm kept it looking factory-fresh.

Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Dunlop tyres they did only really get run through winter and come the summer months I swapped them for a set of Maxxis, which gripped well but the rear started to come apart after 1,000 miles and finally Bridgestone BT-016 tyres, which were excellent. At its first service (1,000 miles early at 5,000) I needed a new set of front brake pads, but I often find this as I seem to be a heavy pad user. Or I just follow too close to the cars ahead!

As a day to day bike the Triumph was fantastic. Yes, every so often the lack of steering lock was a pain, but other than that I honestly couldn’t find anything to moan about. If I had to buy a bike to run as my only transport I’d have to think very seriously about owning a Street Triple. The joy of this bike is that it’s a jack of all trades. It can be an easy to live with street bike for new riders, or a track bike, wheelie monster and play thing for the more advanced. What a bike, I’m genuinely gutted to say goodbye to Dave.

MILES: 8,065