First thing you notice looking at the bike is the uncanny resemblance to it\'s big brother the Speed Triple which, depending on whether you like the look of the Speed Triple, can be a good or bad thing. To me the look is stereotypical British quirky, which is not a bad thing by any means as it makes the world less boring. Unless you know motorcycles (which of course you all do, right?) then you may be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Street and the Speed as most of the visuals are the same (right down to the "eyes"). The biggest visual clue comes from the swingarm; single-sided on the Speed and traditional on the Street. The swingarm on the Street is the same as the swingarm on the Daytona 675 but without the adjustable pivot position. The next difference you will see, if you are really sharp, is the brakes. While the Speed wears twin 320mm floating rotors squeezed by 4 piston radial calipers on the front wheel, the Street "only" has twin 308mm rotors being squeezed by 2 piston sliding-pin calipers. While they are certainly not cutting-edge tech they do a great job of bringing the bike to a halt and offer good feel as well.
Triumph took the frame of the Daytona 675, changed the swingarm pivot point and moved the rake out from 23.5 degrees to 24.3 degrees to allow the use of wider handlebars without the bike becoming twitchy. The first time you sit on the bike you notice that the seating position is about perfect for all different types of riding, from highway blasts to commuting on surface roads to strafing your favorite corners. The instrument cluster shows all kinds of information, if you know how to access it that is. Unfortunately, I was never able to figure out how to use some of the features. It took a local computer guru and bike nut just to figure out how to reset the trip-meters (it involves holding in two buttons at the same time for approx 3-5 seconds). I\'m sure that when you buy a Street the owners manual will tell you how to access and change some of the other features but trying to figure them out on your own is not easy.
The one thing that the owners manual won\'t help with is the physical act of pushing the buttons which are located at the bottom of the instrument cluster, uncomfortably close to the handlebars and near the clutch cable as well. I could reach them with no real effort but it wasn\'t the most comfortable of positions to contort my hand into and hold it there for 5 seconds or so.
We all know that naked bikes are NOT meant to be ridden for long-distances on the highways so that is the first thing I did. Yep, I picked up the bike and rode it 250 miles down the interstate to Jennings, FL......at night......in 40 degree (and colder) weather.....without heated gear or even really thick winter gear. I have never been so cold in all my life (or so stupid) and I grew up in the northeast.
The bike was surprisingly comfortable even at speeds of 90+ mph (did I mention I was in a hurry because I was cold?). While not providing a ton of wind protection the little fly-screen did direct some airflow around and over me. The good news is that they make a tinted shield that mounts to the fly-screen to provide even better protection; the bad news is that unless you bought one of the first 50 bikes you\'ll be buying both the fly screen and the additional tinted shield as the fly-screen is an optional accessory on every bike past number 50.
As a matter of fact the bike was so comfortable that even after I spent all day at the Jennings GP racetrack on a different bike, I still rode the Triple another 200 highway miles that evening. Crazy right? You want to know something even crazier? After I got home that night I was still ready to ride some more. You can\'t ask for much more from a standard style bike, especially one that has "only" 675cc\'s.
Having this bike for a month really allowed me to get a good feel for it as I could use it like I would if I owned it. I am a big proponent of having bikes "long-term" compared to only having the bike for a week. Sometimes the manufacturers can be accommodating and everything works out great, and this was one of those times. I knew going into this, that Triumph had "skimped" on the Street\'s suspension in an effort to keep the cost down, so I was expecting some less than stellar performance in the ride department. During the first and second week I had the bike the suspension drove me nuts. High speed compression was way off causing expansion joints and hard edged bumps to transmit a sizable shock through the bars and up my arms. By the second week I was ready to write about how badly Triumph missed the boat by putting non-adjustable front suspension on the bike. In the interest of accurate and fair reporting I decided to get a second opinion about what I felt was a big blunder on Triumph\'s part.
It just so happened that during a Sunday ride with my local group one of the other riders and I had to break-off early for other commitments. We also happened to be heading the same way back so at the first stop sign I looked at him and he looked at me and that was all it took. This other rider is a very good rider who knows bikes and puts a lot of mileage on them, so I felt confident that he would give me an honest answer.
He did, but not the answer that I was expecting. "The suspension is set-up pretty well" was one of the first things he said when he got off the bike. Hmmm....Really? I had just ridden his VFR for all of 20 miles and it, being the first VFR I had ever ridden, had me smitten with it\'s solid ride and unflappable handling, not to mention that beautiful sound from the exhaust (think Ferrari V8). Now I\'m being told that the person who owns this tight, well suspended piece of engineering actually thought the Street\'s suspension was "set-up pretty well"? Something was obviously wrong with this so after swapping bikes again I set out to find out what it was (postponing my other commitment in the process).
After numerous attacks on one particularly nice corner and repeated runs over some not so nice stretches of concrete, I figured out the issue: me. I realized that I was gripping the bars just a hair too tightly. Not only was the suspension fighting the bumps in the road but it was also fighting me. Now before you say "what a bonehead", understand that we are not talking about me having a death-grip on the bars, just a tad more grip than the bike actually liked. Once I adjusted that I no longer felt like the bike was wallowing in the corners nor trying to be a mechanical bull over rough roads.
All better then right? Well, not exactly. You see, the bike still would benefit greatly from a fully adjustable suspension; it\'s just that adjusting the riding style took it from near the middle of my "fun-to-ride/own" list and moved it closer to the top. Hopefully Triumph will add adjustable suspension to the \'09 models as it still is a weak point and the possible cost savings cannot possibly outweigh the loss of adjustability.
While we are on the subject of handling let\'s talk about the tires. From the factory the bike comes with Dunlop Qualifiers, which are pretty good tires. However, I wasn\'t a big fan of them on this bike. I\'m not sure if it was the profile or the compound or what, but the bike felt like it wanted to fall into corners. I didn\'t feel this on the VFR I rode with the same tires so it is almost certainly a tire/bike combo issue. There was no grip issues at any lean angle but I can foresee many owners going aftermarket to find a set that fits them better.
The fuel injection system was calibrated very well, providing no issues with either cold or hot starts. The throttle was very sensitive however, and due to a light spring was difficult to hold in one position over bumps. I also experienced a fair amount of drive chain lash when rolling on the throttle.
Fit and finish was, at least in my eyes, pretty good with some nice touches like the angled valve stems which make tire pressure checks a breeze. Sure there was the odd routing of the left brake line over the fender due to the splitter being on the right caliper, and the clutch cable ran over the ignition switch area and made pushing the instrument cluster buttons even more difficult (see picture page 1), but that is character! This is a British bike and by its very heritage and bloodlines must have more character than a more sterile bike from the other side of the world (I think this might be a law in the U.K.). One thing that I did find bothersome was the mirrors; they made my elbows look fat. Just kidding; my elbows didn\'t look fat, but they did obstruct a large portion of the rear view. I think a nice set of bar-end mirrors would not only look stellar, but improve the rearward vision as well.
The fuel tank holds 4.6 gallons of go juice and the fuel light came on between 140 and 160 miles, depending on how I was riding. The longest I went between fill-ups was 165 miles and the fuel light came on at 159. Every time I filled up the bike took right at 4 gallons giving me between 35 to 39 mpg. Unless you are riding it like a cruiser (for which you should be shot) you can expect to average about 35 mpg giving you approximatley 140 miles until the pretty little yellow light ruins all of your fun (at least until you get more gas).
Speaking of lights, the Street Triple has all the standard lights you would expect and more! The more part comes from the stack of little blue lights on the right side of the tach. Not only do these lights come on when you start the bike but they light up in sequential order as you rev the motor past 10k rpms; basically a fancy shift light set-up.
While we are on the topic of shifting (I do great segues don\'t I?) lets talk about the 6 speed transmission found in the Street Triple. Overall this was a very nice shifting trannmission; not as smooth as some but not nearly as bad as others. In reality the only issue I had was that I found a false neutral a couple of times between 2nd and 3rd gear but, oddly enough, that only happened when short shifting around town and never while I was running it hard. Triumph even put a gear indicator to let you know what gear you are in. I didn\'t realize I even paid attention to it until I after I took the bike back and started riding my FJR again. I started feeling lost because I couldn\'t tell what gear I was in; I felt like such a newbie.
Gearing on the Street was high, or low, depending on how you like to think about it. In 6th gear at 55mph the engine is revving at 4500 rpms. The rpms consistently are "10" lower than the mph so riding along the interstate at 80 mph will see the motor spinning at 7000 rpms. The bike never complained and passing was a breeze, but it just feels odd to see that many rpms showing on the tach while cruising along.
You\'re probably wondering why I haven\'t said anything about the motor yet right? Well this is the page for you because I am going to let you in on a little secret about the 675cc motor found in the Street Triple; it rocks!
I know, I know, "rocks" isn\'t a word that most journalists would use to describe something. They would say something like; "the motor in the Street Triple, due to it\'s linear torque curve, is a visceral reminder of why a triple is......blah, blah, blah..."
That\'s all well and good but the first time you crank the throttle none of that is going to be in your head. The only thing you are going to do is giggle like a school girl while the words "this motor ROCKS!" (followed closey by Yippee! and WooHoo!) go around and around in your head like a carousel on crack.
Those of you who have ridden or own a 675 Daytona know what I\'m talking about while the rest of you will have to use your imagination (or do a demo ride). Even in it\'s "de-tuned" state, the 675cc triple will give you acceleration when you want it from just about anywhere. If you get silly and try to pull 6th gear from 10mph it will remind you that it is a 675cc motor, but for "normal" riding (is there such a thing?) you will very rarely catch the bike flat-footed.
I found myself again and again revving the bike up just to hear the intake howl and the exhaust note; it was a drug and I made sure to get my daily (usually hourly) fix. I\'m sure that my less than stellar fuel mileage was due to keeping the bike up at 7k rpms just to hear the racket when you pinned the throttle. To put it plainly; The Street Triple has aural sex with your eardrum.
The only downside to the motor is that there is a noticeable tapering off of thrust above the 10,000rpm mark. It stills pulls quite strong but you can feel the difference. It actually is weird as the max HP hits at 11,700rpm so one would assume that the power curve wouldn\'t taper off but that doesn\'t seem to be the case. This is something that won\'t affect you for about 95% of your riding and might only be an issue when you are all tucked in looking for that last 5%.
Triumph has once again created a bike that transcends the sum of it parts. The Street Triple has the ability to not only do bad, bad things, but somehow convinces you that you want to do them as well. A bike that is every bit as much a hooligan bike as it\'s big brother is but in a smaller, more manageable, slightly cheaper size. None of which are bad things at all.
So after all is said and done we are left with the question we started with; did Triumph create a bike that speaks to your soul? I believe that unless you happen to have a soul that is deaf, the answer would have to be YES.