2016 Triumph Street Twin Review | Riding the 900HT In Spain
Several teams of designers and engineers took the bit between their teeth to create a new Triumph Bonneville lineup for 2016. The new Bonneville line pays homage to the old while being more beautiful, powerful and capable than ever. The goal was to uplift the existing icon and at the same time create a machine that was true to the old design cues yet allow the new bike to integrate with a new generation of urban buyers and riders who resonate with the “authentic character of a real modern classic.”
I joined Triumph for the street test ride unveiling of this beauty in Valencia, Spain, and as a lifelong Bonneville fan, I was not disappointed. Hinckley has chosen to release the 2016 Triumph Street Twin 900HT now, and plans to release the 1200cc Bonneville T120, Bonneville T120 Black, as well as the sportier Thruxton and Thruxton-R, soon.
After a day in the saddle I can report that Triumph has achieved its goal. From the newly designed seat, with 25-percent thicker foam and the 20-percent increase in rear wheel travel to the silky and flawless 5-speed gearbox, it just feels right.
The passion of the genuine icon has not been diminished at all. I’m looking forward to the 1200s that will be unveiled soon, but the new 900 is the largest displacement Bonneville to date, and delivers an experience and ride that satisfies Triumph’s design edicts and my need for speed and grace. The new Triumph 900 will be the direct replacement for the cast-wheel 865, and the Street Twin includes minimal bodywork, black/raw metal finishes, a single clock and smaller 3.2-gallon fuel tank.
The Street Twin’s HT engine is optimized for down-low power, and the redline of 7000 rpm is quite a bit lower than the prior model, but that’s a good thing. There’s no tachometer on this bike, yet I found that I didn’t need to wring its neck in putting several hundred spirited miles on the odometer. It powers quickly and smoothly off the line and has a can-do attitude that easily sends the speedo past the ton.
Engine architecture is built on a 270-degree crankshaft running twin balancers with the engine hard mounted to the frame. No rubber mounts are required and the engine is smooth with little to no vibration whether at speed or at idle.
The exhaust appears to be straight-through, as Triumph has cleverly hidden the catalytic converter; a single throttle body helps produce the claimed 54 hp and 59 ft/lbs of torque, up 18-percent from the old air-cooled mill. The throttle is ride-by-wire for added precision and controllability, while fuel economy is claimed to have increased by 36-percent to an average of over 75 mpg, thus the smaller fuel tank. Your results may vary, of course. All of this comes in a package with a 56.6-inch wheelbase and 437 pounds (claimed dry weight).
As for the ride, there are no disappointments. The motor fires up easily and pulls strongly. Clutch and gear selector action are both easy and smooth, with no play or notchiness whatsoever. The 2016 Triumph Streeet Twin accelerates smoothly off the line and simply charges through the gears with little effort.
Whether ridden easily or quickly the Street Twin doesn’t seem to care. It just delivers exactly what the pilot dials in, all day long. I rode fast highways and many miles of back roads, tight switchbacks and fast curves and this new Bonneville just kept delivering. It is happy to lean as far as is required and felt planted throughout.
Ride feel during the twisty bits as well as fast highways is supple, comfortable, and made for relaxed travel.
Even after covering the first 70, or so, miles I was surprised that the Street Twin’s fuel gauge hardly moved. I did no formal mpg calculations, yet the claimed consumption figure seemed accurate, even when riding hard.
ABS is standard, as is traction control (on/off). There is even a “slip assist” clutch designed to help keep the crankcase narrow and reduce clutch lever effort; it delivers smooth, seamless downshifts like many slipper clutches I’ve tried.
Hinckley has spent no time resting on its prodigious laurels. There’s a new headlight, new LED taillight, new ergonomics, new key and lift seat, as well as an underseat USB port (with an optional kit to add USB to the headstock).
As befits a machine with so many improvements, the new instrumentation has changed dramatically. The look is classic yet all new and incorporates many desirable functions like gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty, average and instant fuel consumption, clock, two trip odometers, service indicator, TC on/off, heated grips (when installed) and tire pressure monitor (optional).
Seat height is just under 30 inches for easy standover by riders of almost any height, yet the rider triangle and ergonomics were just right for this six-footer. The Street Twin has a nice, comfortable reach to the bars, knees not too high and good ground clearance for the footpegs, although aggressive riders can make them scrape.
The foregoing contains much detail and many specifications but I know Triumph aficionados will want the details.
As seems customary nowadays with many lifestyle brands, Triumph has released a complete lineup of customization parts and kits that can be added by the buyer or installed by the dealer to make things easy. Triumph employed a cohort of engineers for just this purpose, and will offer a catalog of about 150 hard-part accessories, luggage, seats and clothing for buyers.
Vance & Hines has built replacement exhaust systems in both low and high, scrambler styles. Separate parts are available to mix and match and, utilizing these, there are three Inspiration kits — the Scrambler, Brat Tracker and Urban — offered to make customization even easier. Add to all this two fly screens, tail tidy kits and heated grips, too, with the on/off switch integrated into the grip.
Triumph has gone to great lengths to accommodate the looming deadline to comply with the strict Euro 4 emissions standards. They have added two water-cooled motors — 900cc and 1200cc — to the complete Bonneville range, and they have done so with exceptional style and engineering. The high-efficiency radiator Triumph has added isn’t much bigger than the existing model’s oil cooler, and is visually barely noticeable. Fins are used on the cylinders to assist in keeping temperatures down and power and fuel mileage up, as well as to preserve the traditional look of an air-cooled motor.
So while many decades have gone by and so very many changes and refinements have been made in displacement, chassis, brakes and virtually every component on the machines, it might now be said that the introduction of water-cooling to these big parallel twins may be the biggest step ever taken for the marque. As a bonus, the service interval has been extended from 6,000 to 10,000 miles.
Before seeing the new Triumph Street Twin 900HT in person, riding it, and hearing all the details, I thought that liquid cooling would be the noteworthy detail, but I was wrong. In fact, this is a whole new bike completely steeped in the old, yet forward facing and executed for 2016 without trying to over-think the future. The people at Hinckley have done a splendid and comprehensive job.
Triumph states that these new models have achieved the largest number of advance orders ever for them, and they have had to go through some extra planning to make sure they don’t disappoint any potential buyers. The current T100 will continue to be sold throughout this year and then it will be gone.
I’ve been riding Triumph motorcycles since the late 1960s when we shifted with the right foot. They were always the bikes I pined for and 650cc never felt so wicked. They were among the baddest, most inspirational bikes available and, although there were many nice Japanese machines, riding a Bonneville was just about as good as it got, and many others felt the same way that I did. Usually unruly, uber cool, always exciting, often hard to start and keep running, it was a love/hate relationship that I never wanted to end. Things have sure changed over more than 50 years, and the all-new 2016 Triumph Street Twin 900HT is a perfect example of that.
The new Triumph Bonnevilles will all be built in Thailand and delivery of the 900 will commence in January 2016. The 2016 Triumph Street Twin will be priced from $8700 and both T120s will start at $11,500.
Photography by Alessio Barbanti and Matteo Cavedini
- Helmet: Shoei GT-Air
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Classic 92
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Classic
- Pants: Joe Rocket Blue Denim 3.0
- Boots: Chippewa Rally