TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE RX | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it is two fistfuls of fun! Some bikes just make you want to MISBEHAVE!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally a good mannered, clean living, law abiding chap with a sensible disposition and average 21st-century vices. But I also have rapidly diminishing time in which to raise hell on this planet, so I very much appreciate the opportunity when offered in the form of keys to one of my favourite hoon bikes, a photographer, and $10 lunch money from the AMCN cookie jar. The 675cc Triumph Street Triple is a modern classic. There are few in the know who wouldn’t agree that this feisty lightweight is one of the most fun, frisky and universally accessible sportsbikes ever built.
‘Sportsbike?’, you may spit doubtingly. But have no doubt, the original Street Triple was conceived after, and derived directly from Triumph’s leftfield broadside on the supersport class, the Daytona 675.
Subsequent Street Triple updates have followed that same pattern – stripping the Daytona of its modesty and showing off its bare sporting attributes in a more affordable and user friendly package.
Although the engine has always been in a slightly milder state of tune than the Daytona, earlier versions trumped their more glamorous fully faired donor bike thanks to reduced fork offsets. Lack of steering trail and the resulting vagueness at the front end was the original Daytona’s only weak point for many riders.
And the greater control and leverage from the Street Triple’s wide bars and more neutral riding position, together with its increased steering trail thanks to the fork offset change, went some way to countering the Daytona’s fickle front end. Unfortunately, their relatively soft suspension settings limited how hard the early Street Triples could be pushed in standard trim, despite the improved feedback up front.
Following the first and only major update of the Daytona in 2013, the Street Triple again followed in its wheel tracks with a revised chassis and engine design. It also adopted the low-boy silencer, completely changing the bike’s lines and character into something more of its time. What has never changed is the infectious fun on offer from the Street Triple’s lightweight combination of compact and nimble chassis, torquey 675cc triple engine, and neutral riding position with tonnes of leverage available to the rider through both the bars and ’pegs. The Street Triple has always felt almost toy-like to flick around on the road, and it’s this characteristic which promotes such unavoidably playful riding habits.
The special edition Street Triple Rx once again brings this much-loved model a little closer to the most current version of the Daytona 675, and also adds some of the trim that ‘Streeters’ seem to appreciate. Street Triples and bike bling go hand in hand – a sign of just how much their owners love these motorcycles. It’s understandable that riders so enamoured with their machines should want to worship and decorate them with all manner of finery.
Of course, Triumph is only too happy to help owners indulge their moto-fashion fantasies. And besides, Street Triples look the absolute mutt’s nuts with a touch of tasteful tinkering. Which is why we jumped at the chance of testing this Street Triple Rx with the lot. Just take a look at the bike on this page and tell me it doesn’t put a twinkle in your eye!
The Rx is the top of the food chain in the genus of the Street Triple, and as such gets all the features of the R model: quickshifter, uprated suspension with more travel and greater adjustment, sharper steering via geometry tweaks, and Nissin four-piston radial calipers instead of the two-piston standard items. But the Rx also gets a belly pan, flyscreen, and the elegantly chiselled tail section from the Daytona complete with pillion seat and seat cowl, which I think suit the bike far better than the standard rear end. It also gets red wheels on both colour options, which must be worth at least 10 horsepower and 10km/h top speed in Street kudos credits.
In the intro to this yarn I suggested the Street Triple ain’t clever, or at least the shenanigans it makes you get up to ain’t clever. Both claims have some validity. It seems the 675cc models will be the last of Triumph’s range to receive ride-by-wire throttle and all the traction control, riding modes and other rider aids which go with it – if they ever do. But I really wouldn’t let it’s absence put you off. Well-sorted engine calibration and outstanding tractability are two of the Hinckley-bred 675cc triple’s strongest attributes. And who’d want anti-wheelie on one of these beauties anyway? Absolute madness!
Switchable ABS as standard and an optional tyre pressure monitoring system are the big ticket electronics on the Rx. And in truth, you don’t need any more techno tools to get down to doing what this satisfyingly simple bike does best.
Secretly though, I do hope one day we’ll see a ride-by-wire Daytona and Street Triple, because it will mean Triumph has committed to keeping these models alive, and maybe even given them a third major lease of life. Producing a purebred sportsbike has fallen out of favour within the Triumph organisation in the past and, with the steady decline of the middleweight supersport sector worldwide, it could happen again. And without the Daytona, there would be no Street Triple. Let’s hope it never comes
Triumph Australia currently has been given no indication of whether it will be possible to re-order any of the Rx model once current stock has sold out. So if this tickles your fancy, don’t dither.
Now, the total asking price for this ‘ultimate’ Street Triple may well make you gag, and the thick end of 19 grand is a lotta wonga for a middleweight naked. But then it is fairly comparable to other similar exotic European eye candy from the likes of MV Agusta and Ducati. I say, if it’s a keeper, and you are more interested in counting the fun you’ve had per leaf of yer folding … well, okay, it’s still a lot of wonga. But you will have a grin like an upside-down Sydney Harbour Bridge and a bike you’ll never tire of razzing, ogling or buffing.
TEST PAUL YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHY MARK DADSWELL