Words: Aninda Sardar Photography: Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
I said this in April. I’m saying it again. I didn’t think that anyone would be able to create a bike that offered more as an overall package than Triumph’s old Street Triple 675. Least of all Triumph itself. Then along came the Street Triple 765 RS and blew me away when I rode it around the hills near Barcelona and on the Circuit de Catalunya. I waited eagerly for the bike to come to India. Sure, I got to whet my appetite on the Street Triple S for a while but that is 11bhp down on peak output and is missing a few essential pieces of kit like the Ohlins suspension and, more critically, the Brembo M50 stopping power. Naturally, I was keen to find out what it would be like to ride the RS in our Indian environment.
An engine fit for Moto2
Well, that isn’t a secret really with Triumph having practically cried out from on top of rooftops around the world that the liquid-cooled 765cc triple is the base for the engine that will power Moto2 bikes starting 2019. And anyone who’s ridden this motorcycle will reaffirm that this engine is super sweet and special. It’ll rev smoothly and quickly all the way upto 11,700rpm on the tacho where the engine puts out its 121bhp. But here’s the part that I still find shocking and difficult to digest – even at just 3,000 revs, the RS produces more torque – 77Nm at 10,800rpm – than the peak twist force of the old 675 engine!
Among the other updates, there’s ride by wire technology at work here for more precise response to throttle inputs. Not to mention the slip and assist clutch that allows for aggressive downshifting without wheel hop when on track. And with a new exhaust unit, the Triple 765 sounds richer than ever. And so will Moto2 in season 2019 we hope.
A chassis fit for the road
If the 765cc triple is new, then the chassis of the Street Triple is even more so. Its new gullwing swingarm is designed for more torsional rigidity but at the same time offering lateral flex. As a result, it is more stable than before (if that is possible) when you wind the taps open, charging forward with barely a shake of its bug-eyed head. Unlike in the case of the entry-level S and the R-spec bike that never made it to our shores, the RS gets top drawer kit, including those 41mm upside-down Showa Big Piston Forks up front and the Ohlins monoshock with a piggyback reservoir for the butt end of things. Both suspension units are fully adjustable of course.
With that kind of kit at its disposal, the Street Triple RS is an ace when it comes to dynamics. Agility on switchbacks like Lavasa is the stuff of legend. Power delivery from that all new engine is crisp and linear, which means you’ve got the go when you want the go and you’ve only got as much go as you want. No nasty surprises with a sudden arrival of power to catch the rider unaware.
Despite the extra power and the larger lump in the frame, the motorcycle is actually two kilos lighter than the earlier model. This results in sublime rider confidence. At every turn she feels so manageable and unintimidating that you will ride her much faster than you think. There isn’t a moment when she feels nervous or skittish. It’s abso-bloody-lutely brilliant!
But, since there is no such thing as perfect, this bike too has a flaw. At least in the Indian context. That top notch suspension that serves you so well on those well surfaced fast roads and around a race track – something I had ample opportunity to experience at the Circuit de Catalunya – becomes a pain over bad roads. Quite frankly, even on those excellent Spanish roads she had felt firm and I remember Triumph engineers assuring us that the set up was highly adjustable and they had no doubt that riders would be able to find a comfortable setting. Perhaps their faith in our civil engineers and public works department is higher than those offices merit but on patchy surfaces or over rutted roads the bike can be jarring if you’ve forgotten to soften the suspension up. Even on its softest setting the bike remains stiff and this certainly detracts some part of the riding pleasure.
Redemption however is to be found in those Brembo M50s and the Pirelli SuperCorsa tyres. Spot that bump ahead and use just one finger – yes, a single finger – to tug gently on the right lever and the urgency with which she will shedspeed will pleasantly surprise you. And again, there’s no suddenness in the stopping power. It all happens so progressively that even on gravelly roads there were no heart stopping ABS-saves-the-day moments. Yet another aspect of the bike that inspires you to ride harder because you know that you will be able to stop on a dime. Virtually all the time.
The Final Word
There is always some trepidation surrounding a bike’s launch. Especially when there is so much of a jump in equipment between the previous and the new generations as in the case of the Triumph Street Triple. One almost expects a hefty premium that one will be asked to shell out for the new machine. Yet Triumph has defied conventional (and might I add cynical) thinking to price the Street Triple RS at a very attractive `10.55 lakh. And at that price the company will find it easy to convince a whole crop of riders to adjust to the pains of a sore butt in exchange for the sublime motorcycle that the Street Triple RS truly is.