2009 Triumph Street Triple R Review
Isle of 'R'
Last year Triumph followed up the tremendous success of the Daytona 675 supersport machine by creating a naked standard based on the Daytona called the Street Triple 675. Triumph knocked one out of the park with that brilliant little hooligan, and now in 2009, the Daytona 675 and Street Triple 675 come closer together in the form of the new Street Triple R. In a nutshell, it has the Daytona's brakes and virtually identical suspension.
Yes, it is the Street Triple we all hoped for long ago when the Daytona first hit the scene. But Triumph knew ahead of time that riders would want this “R” version, so they planned for it at the same time they made the standard Street Triple 675. Sneaky geezers.
The R's radial-mount Nissan brake calipers and radial-pump master cylinder are lifted, unadulterated, straight off the Daytona. Carrying that new master cylinder is a new aluminum, tapered handlebar from Magura. It looks the business and is a good complement to the styling and improved quality of the R. The KYB shock with piggyback reservoir and the fork also come from the Daytona, but on the Street Triple R spring rates and valves have been re-calibrated, and the fork tubes are slightly longer than those on the Daytona.
'Thank heavens Triumph knows not to mess with a good thing when it comes to the frame and absolutely brilliant in-line Triple'
Suspension action is somewhere between the standard Street and the Daytona, though closer to the Daytona in terms of overall performance. In essence, the R sees full adjustability for the fork and shock, yet it carries slightly lighter spring rates.
Dimensionally the R sees nominal changes to steering geometry (the most notable is 3mm less trail than the standard), and a nearly imperceptible rise in seat height (5mm), all of this coming from the new suspension. Finally, two new colors are available for the R: Matte Graphite and Matte Blazing Orange. The orange will be the hot ticket (because it looks great!), as far fewer will be produced. Also, the seat, though still with the same thin padding near the nose, now comes in a two-tone gray and black.
Accessories-a-plenty are available for the Street, like the sublime-sounding Arrow exhaust, available in either full system or twin high-mount slip-ons. One new accessory for this year is a smoked flyscreen "visor" that attaches to the accessory color matched flyscreens that are available as accessories. This new item adds further to the unique look of the Triple and proves functional as well: it noticeably deflected the wind without generating unnecessary buffeting during my ride.
So there we have it; those are the items that separate the R from the standard model. It has the same incredibly linear, ultra-tractable engine, the same stout frame and swingarm that the standard model has, and rolls on Dunlop’s Sportmax Qualifiers. Thank heavens Triumph knows not to mess with a good thing when it comes to the frame and absolutely brilliant in-line Triple.
Let's see, if I were Triumph where would I want to introduce an even better version of one of my best-selling bikes of all-time? Hmm... I've got it! How about the Mecca of true roadracing, the Isle of Man! Yes, envious reader, I'm here to tell you that in fact this is exactly where Triumph brought the world to ride its latest soon-to-be top seller.
Times are good
From July ’07 to June ’08, the Street Triple 675 was at the top of the heap of the five best selling machines for the company, as it total sales of 7,531 outpaced the venerable Speed Triple by more than 900 units, according to Triumph materials. Simon Warburton, Product Manager for Triumph, told Motorcycle.com that world wide demand has been such that Triumph has had a difficult time keeping pace with orders for the middleweight naked.
After riding the R model we can safely presume that demand for the Street will continue to swell, possibly pressuring Triumph with more supply and demand issues. The company is projecting a 2009 production figure, for both the standard and R models combined, of well over 16,000 units, a 145% increase over the first batch of Street Triples built in early ’08. Blimey!
Considering Triumph had a banner month of U.S. sales in June of this year in the face of a dodgey economy, having trouble meeting demand is an enviable position to be in, no matter what you’re selling.
The press was first given a guided bus tour of the Isle with running commentary from former TT winner and IoM native, Richard "Milky" Quayle, before being turned loose on the second day. Milky knows every bump, jump, tree, manhole cover, telephone pole, etc on the course, so that if he needed to run it blind I'm certain he could.
Listening to this excitable fellow give us a complete break down on how to tackle each bend, jump or straightaway (from a racer's point of view!) as we drove along the 37 mile mountain course had me exhausted in the end, as if I had just raced the circuit myself. Although, I'll only ever be able to guess what careening through the pastoral settings of the Isle at 170mph – or more! – must be like. The TT is called a mountain course because the route runs up to Brandywell, the island’s highest point, or mountain, at 1,400 ft.
Friends, realizing where I was and that I, too, would soon be rushing down the same narrow, tree- and stonewall-lined road made me misty as I bit my lip to hold back the tearful wave of pure joy. God bless the Isle!
Unfortunately, our ride time the next day gave us a chance to experience "Manx weather." The miserable gray and blowing winds made wet from continual drizzle that so many of us Yanks imagine being the everyday in the U.K. is what greeted us. Thankfully, midday saw drier weather if not clear skies.
Riding the new R was exactly what I had hoped it would be and had wished Triumph would have done with the Street Triple in the first place. The extra feel and power is now there from the Daytona's radial-mount calipers, allowing for very easy modulation of the more powerful brakes.
Triumph techs put suspensions settings to create a more-forgiving-than-usual ride in light of the rather rough and bumpy nature of the roads on the island. Ride quality still seemed a tad on the harsh side with respect to rear compression damping; of course there's a wide range of adjustment so this is a thing to be worked out by each rider for themselves.
Warburton emphasized to us that one of the attributes of the upgrade in suspension is to make the Street Triple a quicker, sharper handling machine. And in that much it is, as the stiffer spring rates as compared to the Standard's springs allow more aggressive cornering. The R doesn't protest as much when transitioning quickly between turns, thereby leading to a more confident, if not more efficient, path through the turn.
Quit yer blubberin’, mate!
If you’re a little chafed by the R’s U.S. retail being identical to that of the Daytona, a bike with more bodywork (at a minimum), understand that the R is one of, if not the first, ’09 model(s) to be unveiled in full by Triumph, so we can expect that the Daytona will likely go up in 2009. Also note that late spring of this year saw a price increase of $300 for the standard Street, a reflection of rising production costs due to a rise in raw materials costs. According to Warburton, Triumph suffered about a 7% increase in overall production costs, but he quickly explained that only a small percentage of that rise gets passed on to the customer in terms of bike prices.
I got something of an education on bike prices in terms of U.S. versus Europe figures when I chatted with some Triumph staff over a hearty meal of lamb shank and a pint of OKells Bitter at the famous Creg Ny Baa. It seems my lamenting these past few months of the closeness in prices between the Street models and the Daytona from which those machines are derived is justified whining, or not, depending on how you look at it. I told the Triumph lads how hard it was for me to swallow the cost of a Street Triple 675 compared to the Daytona (only $700 less), and in some respects, I think I’m right to whinge, especially when considering all the extra bodywork, windscreen, better brakes and suspenders, etc on the Daytona.
On the other hand, consider this: They informed me that price gap is roughly three grand less (their best guess at the time over dinner) for them because the Daytona, and all supersports for that matter, are substantially costlier than they are in the U.S. A 2008 Street Triple 675 runs 5,720 GBP, or about $10,300. A 2008 Daytona 675 in the U.K. retails at 7,320 GBP “out the door,” or around $13K U.S. Oi!
When I told them that the Daytona 675, at $8999, was the least expensive of the major brand middleweights, they nearly choked with envy on their lamb.
According to Warburton, of the production of the Street Triple for total world wide distribution, roughly 30% will be the R model. And Triumph USA's marketing manager, Jim Callahan, says that the U.S. should expect to see somewhere around 1,000 Street Triples with the majority being the R version. Hurray for America! The Street Triple 675 R should hit stateside Thanksgiving-ish and is expected to retail at $8,999.
'...the Street Triple is a bike more Americans should be on...'
In my not-so-humble opinion 1,000 units just isn't enough for us. Not only have I said before that the Street Triple is a bike more Americans should be on, now with the R and its very good brakes and fully adjustable suspenders there's little not to like about what I think is one of the best things in recent years to happen to motorcycling.