Triumph Street Triple 660- BIKE THREE LAMS ADVENTURE SPECIAL | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
A road warrior, that’s what I was, according to Youngy. As I studied the map I contemplated what looked like a pleasant three-and-a-bit-hour run from Warburton to Kevington, although a couple of sections seemed to ‘bulge’. I zoomed in, and that’s when I saw them – the twisties. The sections over the Reefton Spur, and especially around Lake Eildon, looked like the lines on a scribbly gum.
It’s the kind of thing that fills experienced riders with glee, but for a learner who goes around the sum total of two proper bends on his trip to work, it also spells trepidation. ‘Road worrier’ might have been a better name for my half of the team.
But as the sun came up at Warburton, excitement began to get the upper hand. We were at the local bakery, getting brekky and a dose of caffeine. There was a chill in the air, but no rain, and I realised what a difference it makes riding with food and coffee in the tummy, good adventure gear on, and good adventure buddies around you. Oh, and a good adventure bike under you.
My ride was the Triumph Street Triple 660. Talk about feeling spoilt. At $13,990 (+ ORC) it’s the most expensive LAMS bike on the market, and many would say the best. Thanks Youngy – I never believed those things they said about you.
Out of Warburton we wound our way over the Reefton Spur. At this point the sky was darkening, the temperature was falling, and I wasn’t sure if the little ‘tinks’ on the helmet were raindrops or hailstones. I focused on the road and managed to get into an encouraging rhythm.
Then it was time for the teams to split up, but first …photos! The only bit of the trip I didn’t like was having to turn the bike around in different parts of the road for the photos. Whether it was tight twisty bits, uneven gravelly bits or wet muddy bits, my learner’s lack of confidence, my anxiety about putting the bike down and the Street Triple’s rather limited steeering lock conspired to make life hell for those minutes. I was happy to hit the road again.
While the other teams took to the trails, the Road Warriors powered on to Marysville through more twisties. As a beginner I would definitely recommend riding with a buddy. Even though Dazzla rode his own pace through the twisties, eventually I’d find him and his Boulevard waiting for me around a bend, and that was reassuring.
Out of Marysville, the landscape and the road widened out, and we were treated to a section of faster straights and high-speed sweeping bends. It was a chance to open the throttle on the Triple and to appreciate the scenery – lush pastures and the bare poplars flanking the road. There was even a bit of wildlife. Dazzla passed a flock of grazing galahs that scattered into flight as I came through at about 100km/h. The thought of swerving (or doing an Iannone) didn’t even enter my head – I just powered on and was grateful that all I got was a whack against my knee. Hopefully the little fella lived to fly another day.
At Lake Eildon those straight roads ended and we entered the hardcore twisties of the Eildon-Jamieson Road. Unlike the ones over the Reefton Spur, these were not marked with recommended speeds, which at least indicate whether you’re approaching a gentle curve or a hairpin. Here, signage was limited to “Twisting Road 5km”, then after five kays, “Twisting Road 5km”, and then, just to mix it up a bit, “Twisting Road 13km”.
One early excursion onto the wrong side of the road was enough to temper my throttle hand, which by this stage was getting so numb I wasn’t sure it would respond if I needed to squeeze the brake – and there was enough tree and rock debris on the road to suggest that at some point I might. I was cold, wet and on the edge of my senses.
And then, somewhat magically, my world was reduced to the next couple of hundred metres. Left, left, right, left. Gear up, gear down, gear up again. Lean. Mindfulness is all the rage now, but I reckon motorcyclists have known about it for a while.
When we rolled into Kevington I was on a high. I’ve got a soft spot for old pubs, no matter the circumstances, but after our ride, to arrive at this little gem was something special. Getting there is half the fun, but arriving is pretty awesome too.
Why do this?
LEARNERS READING THIS know how important it is to practice. And sure, the regular trip to work or uni is excellent, but more often than not you’ll be riding the same roads and similar conditions. It’s when you step further out of your comfort zone that your skills really get a boost. And escaping the ‘same old, same old’ also makes the learnings sink in more. To top it all off, we are really blessed in this country with great roads and incredible destinations – seems a shame not to take advantage of them. After doing this ride I’ve started thinking of other locations in Oz and wondering, could I ride there?
My only advice would be to rope some more experienced friends into going with you, and definitely to ride at your own pace. It’s tempting to try and keep up with the gang, but after all it’s about getting a feel for what you can do.
Why this bike?
TAKE A STREETFIGHTER out of the city, and how does it go? Pretty bloody well, as I found out.
The engine in the LAMS Street Triple is basically the same as the donk on the full-strength version, but with a 1.2mm shorter stroke figure on its three cylinders, bringing the capacity down from 675cc to 660cc and producing 40.6kW and 54.6Nm – right on the LAMS limit.
So I never wanted for power on this trip. The super-smooth ’box was also a godsend. There was no harsh engine braking, which was vital on these roads. And the riding position let me take on the twisties without leaving me feeling twisted myself.
Proof that urban nakedbikes can make great adventurers too.