Street Triple 675 R
My introductory ride on the Triumph Street Triple R was a blind date, of sorts. At the end of a Hollywood photoshoot for another bike, I found myself racing up a ramp onto the San Diego Freeway sometime around midnight, astride a bike I had just met. Wow, the Triumph 675cc Street Triple R could really move! Still on the uphill ramp, the speed limit had quickly been exceeded.
I slipped into the late night rush of cars with the R’s distinctively sexy dual headlights illuminating the way, and enthusiastically tried to shift past 6th gear before I rolled the throttle back. By the time I exited the freeway 20 minutes later, I felt like a teenager with a crush.
Our next get-together was less of a whirlwind affair. The harsh light of Monday morning traffic would certainly show me whether the slick, smooth Triple could handle the donkeywork of commuting, or if it was purely a good-time evening and weekend date.
My commute takes me across one of the city’s most consistently congested thoroughfares-the Ventura Freeway-where I always feel like I am doing the Star Wars Trench Run when splitting lanes. I quickly discovered the Triumph Street Triple R makes an excellent starfighter; the bike’s narrow physique allows easy maneuvering between the SUVs, Priuses, and dualies with super-sized mirrors. The clutch pull is smooth and the shifter has a satisfyingly precise click. The Triumph rear brake has a light but effective touch, perfect for finessing speed in this fluid drill. There is ample usable torque from idle to 7000 rpm, making it very manageable in close quarters. From 7000 rpm up to the 13k redline, it is time to hold on and an open road is needed.
After several weeks of the morning and evening commuter runs, it was time to ride one of those open roads. An hour of fast freeway riding to get down to a favorite scenic-not to mention twisty-road showed off the Triumph Triple’s solid character on the uncharacteristically drizzly morning. The Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tires were secure at speed on the damp road and, surprisingly, despite the steep 23.9-degree rake (almost a half-degree steeper than the standard Street Triple), the bike is steady on grooved pavement. While there is no hint of a windscreen to take the edge off of a fast ride, unless one is riding over 80 mph, there is no hurricane-force blast.
Exiting the freeway, I ignored the light rivulets of water sliding down my visor at the stoplight and attempted to reset my trip meter. The Triumph’s LCD computer monitors all kinds of data (max/average speed, fuel consumption, lap timer, ad infinitum) and I wanted to track the route. The light turned green, however, before I could coordinate this two-handed, non-intuitive, task.
I quickly clicked through the well-spaced gears to a comfortable fast pace up a canyon with every sort of turn-sweepers, hairpins, decreasing radius, double-apex. The Triumph is smooth as silk and responds to my lean or shift of weight effortlessly. When the road becomes tighter, the taut suspension really shines. There is no uncertainty diving into turns; as the bike faithfully holds it line, it gives me the confidence needed to blitz through as fast as I choose. However, it is not inflexible; mid-turn direction changes are graciously accommodated. Cornering clearance is more than adequate, and the Dunlops adhere to the road faultlessly. Riding hard, I could not shake the feeling that the bike and I could do no wrong.
The flip side to this firm suspension is that it makes for an uncomfortable ride on poorly maintained roads. I had to lift my posterior above the seat to avoid being bounced around on an old cracked and tar-snaked stretch. I will trade this inconvenience for the ability to twist the throttle wide open and still feel safe. Across a straight stretch of desolate highway, I tucked in and ran the Triumph Triple R up to 123 mph. Only the muted roar of the hot wind rushing past me on the unfaired bike gave away the extreme speed. The bike was rock steady, not even thinking of breaking a sweat on the 100-degree day.
The front brakes, borrowed from the track-going Triumph Daytona 675, handle the task of bringing the R back down to sensible speeds extremely quickly. Both the calipers and master cylinder are radially mounted, reducing flex on the calipers and providing direct action at the brake lever. The progressive front brakes are mild mannered around town, but grab a big handful at speed and the rear wheel lifts off gracefully.
Keeping a low profile is achievable when the speedometer is well positioned for quick viewing. The large analog tachometer is easy to read, but the inset digital speedometer suffers from bothersome glare during the day. The gear indicator on the left side of the dash is appreciated, as my instinct to shift up by sound initially had me short shifting.
Off the sparsely traveled mountain road and back into population, the bike handled comfortably at reduced speeds, and it is much less of a handful than its big brother, the 1050cc Speed Triple. Maneuvering around a confusing small-town parade street closure exercised the Triple’s U-turn abilities. The steering stops are reasonably wide, and tight quarters are no cause for concern.
Balanced and light (367 pounds, claimed dry), the Triumph Street Triple R is never overwhelming, despite its high-performance status. The ergonomics are compact and the pegs are high-my legs did need the occasional stretch during dawn-to-dusk excursions-while the bar bend and positioning is perfect. At a long-inseam 5’6", I never found the 31.5-inch seat height to be a problem at stops.
Sunday-driving speeds in town offer some advantages-besides allowing time for longer looks at the local architecture and boutiques, one gets to enjoy the head-turning feedback that the flat-black Triumph Street Triple R elicits. Pure streetfighter, from the unadorned twin headlights to the fat, underseat pipes, there is no denying the bike’s intentions. Its aggressively mechanical appearance and fine finish take it into the realm of industrial art. Even non-motorcyclists are impressed; known as "the girl who shows up to yoga on a motorcycle," my cred jumped a notch the first time I arrived on the Speed Triple R.
Whether making a night run through the unpredictable streets of downtown Los Angeles for street tacos or taking a 400-mile high-speed romp through various California mountain ranges, the Triumph Speed Triple R is a joy to ride. That the bike can be exhilarating, practical, and pure fun on any given day is a true triumph. This blind date is a keeper. Photography by Don Williams
Street Triple 675 R Specifications
- Liquid-cooled, 12
valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
- 74 x 52.3 mm
- Compression Ratio
- Fuel System
sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI