2017 Triumph Street Triple RS Review | Road and Track Tested
There are few things in life that are immediately satisfying and, while it might be a grandiose claim to make, the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS is just that. It has all the power I could want, with agility that is unmatched for its class. It’s rare opportunity to test a motorcycle on the street, in the wet, and on the track in quick succession, but that’s exactly what I did.The Street Triple RS is the flagship of the Triumph’s 2017 Street Triple lineup, which includes the lower-spec S and R versions. Triumph didn’t merely bestow lesser suspension, and braking components on the S and R in order to differentiate them. Triumph altered ride heights, suspension tuning and, more importantly, engine performance to fit a specific scope of work.
In short, each version of the new Street Triple is a unique motorcycle that offers a unique experience within in the same family. The RS is a track-ready canyon carver that will happily pop down to the corner shop for milk, if only to get a couple wheelies in.Aesthetically, the designers at Hinckley took out their scalpels and went to work on making the RS’s appearance reflect one particular dimension of its personality—pure, unfiltered aggression. Now sporting a revised headlight, sharper bodywork, and a svelte 4.6-gallon fuel tank, the RS has a sneering charm to it and wears an endearing perpetual scowl, which I happen to enjoy.In their work, Triumph designers have leaned out the profile of the Street Triple RS, making it slimmer overall, and subsequently lightened the package by four pounds, and that’s in the face a larger engine, and added electronics.[Subscribe to Ultimate Motorcycling Magazine, Free]Although it looks like the Street Triple RS grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, it is incredibly accommodating. The seat height is set at an amicable 32.5 inches; at my height of 5’ 10’’, and a 32-inch inseam, it worked quite well. At stops, I was able to flat-foot on the ground thanks to the narrow chassis, and I can’t say that for many sport bikes on the market.Handlebar width measures a sliver less than 29 inches, and it accepts a neutral riding position or going full chat without any hindrance. Thankfully, and though this bike is certainly sporty, it doesn’t have abnormally high rear-sets meaning that my legs were not folded uncomfortably. Even riders who push into the six-foot range don’t seem to have comfort issues.Still, tucking down the front straight at Catalunya did present a few problems for tall rider, but that’s what you get for being an abnormally large human. Thank your parents for being genetic outliers and making motorcycles awkward for you.Now, onto the important bit—the 765cc three-cylinder powerplant. While not a completely new engine, and still based upon the Daytona 675’s motor, Triumph engineers went through it. Leaving no stone unturned, they came up with 80 new components.Receiving a healthy increase in bore and stroke, the 765 has a new crankshaft, pistons, con-rods, balancer shaft, and opted for Nikasil-coated aluminum barrels. Additionally, the airbox and intake are redesigned to accommodate more efficient fuel mapping. Aside from the reliability enhancement, more low-end and mid-range power has been found in the famous triple platform.Firing up the 2017 Street Triple RS is grin inducing, and not just because of the tone being spat from new the 3-into-1 exhaust—you’re being compelled to charge headlong into the nearest set of twisties. The engine, which is claimed to produce peaks of 121 horsepower at 11,750 rpm and 57 ft/lbs of torque 900 rpm earlier, purrs along as if it were a Savannah feline—not your average house cat.One twist of the RS’s throttle, and you’ll become gluttonous. The revised airbox provides a beautiful cacophonous soundtrack that will goad even the most reserved pilot to drive out of every corner.Despite the torque peak occurring fairly high in the rev range, substantial foot-pounds are felt low in the powerband. This allows riders to tackle urban environments and zip around traffic with ease. Rolling on in sixth gear, while the rpm needle is buried into the depths isn’t a cause for concern, the RS strides through your poor choice of gear and never flinches—but that isn’t the whole story.The 765cc triple spools up with urgency, all the way to the redline, without falter, all the while remaining tractable. There isn’t a single indication of stumbling throughout the entire range.Throttle delivery is progressive and predictable, no matter the power mode you’ve chosen. There is a seeming 1:1 ratio between the ride-by-wire throttle and the expected return from the engine.On the street, I made use of this spritely engine with glee, never finding the end of its potential. When we pulled into the paddock of Catalunya, it was the same story—the 765cc engine handled Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s luscious corners, as well as the long front straight, wonderfully.In three radically different environments—urban, canyons, and track—the engine proved to be suited for each setting. Because of these qualities, it makes for a versatile machine that is accommodating for riders with a wide range of skill levels.The boys at Hinckley didn’t forget the transmission. The silky-smooth six-speed transmission had its first and second gears shortened, which gives the gearing a natural feel. At no point did I feel I needed to shift prematurely, or was I put in a position where I couldn’t find the “right” gear, whether I was on track or hitting the fine Spanish twisties.Unlike its brothers, the RS has a quickshifter from the factory. It works impeccably, rivaling high-dollar aftermarket solutions, having virtually perfect kill times, and functions properly throughout the entire rev range. Even more, quickshifting from first to second doesn’t cause any issues.Additionally, the Triumph assist-and-slipper clutch is present throughout the Street Triple lineup. That is great for experienced and novice riders, as this markedly reduces the clutch pull, and reduces the amount of rear wheel hop, should you become a bit hasty with your downshifts. The RS encourages hard riding, and this function will surely benefit everyone it graces.Of course, the accessibility of the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS has to be, in part, due of its full suite of electronic aids. This includes ABS, rear wheel lift control, and traction control, plus five adjustable riding modes—Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and Rider. Rider is an open slot that an owner can customize to taste.Each riding mode allows undiminished power. Instead, power delivery is altered to accommodate the chosen setting. So, too, can be said for the ABS and TC controls—Rain obviously being the heaviest intervention, and Track having only minimal intrusion. None of these systems, whether on the street or track, deterred from my ride. Also note that, aside from Track and Off settings, all modes can be switched while riding.When it comes to suspension, Triumph certainly sprung for the top shelf equipment on the RS—Showa BPF (Big Piston Fork) and an Öhlins STX40 piggyback reservoir shock. During my morning on the streets of Barcelona, I found the stock suspension settings to be suited perfectly for casual riding or something much more gracious with the throttle. The suspension is taught, and athletic, but doesn’t compromise comfort either.Aiming directly at potholes and taking hard hits or rolling over cobblestone carriage ways didn’t rattle out any fillings; even better, when I pushed into the Spanish canyons, the bike was remarkably stable. Mid corner stability was particularly strong, and thanks to the well-sorted damping.Under heavy braking on corner entry, the Showa fork never once dove enough to upset the chassis; the reverse compliment can be paid when exiting corners hard on the gas at Catalunya. At no point was there excessive squat that could induce nervousness into the front end. I bumped up the compression and rebound damping at the track to compensate for higher speeds and harder braking, but not by a great deal.From a geometric perspective, the 2017 Street Triple RS isn’t far off from its aggressive predecessor, though the frame has been lightened. It features an almost identical 55.5-inch wheelbase and a touch more rake—23.9 degrees.The result is an astoundingly nimble chassis that allows precise cornering. Tipping in the Street Triple RS is truly effortless—bordering on telepathic—allowing you to hold your lines with ease. Less experienced riders will appreciate the RS’s compliance, as will seasoned riders who will give it a proper thrashing. Perhaps its nimble nature is a testament to its weight, which Triumph claims has a dry weight of 366 pounds—four pounds lighter than the outgoing model.Another important update to the chassis is the addition of the gull-wing swingarm. It alters the pivot point and improves resistance to compression. That means added stability on corner exit and at higher speeds. Catalunya was a perfect place to put Triumph’s claims the test, and it isn’t PR poppycock—it works.Braking is yet another strong point on the RS, and we should expect it to be as it has Brembo M50 monoblock calipers clamping down on dual 310mm floating-rotors, with a matching Brembo radial master cylinder. In the rear, a single Brembo caliper stops a 220mm rotor. Brake feel is extremely confident, progressive; at no point did I feel these brakes were lacking, even when slowing from 140+ mph at Catalunya’s iconic straightaway. For my riding style, and pace, I didn’t need anything more.Another fine aspect of the Street Triple is the Brembo Multiple Click System levers. You have the ability to adjust the span, as usual, but also the ratio, which changes the braking response.If you’d like a sharper attack on the brakes, just turn the knob, and vice versa for those who prefer a softer brake feel at the lever. Usually, you’d have to physically alter componentry to get that; here, it’s just the twist of a knob.Electronic rear wheel lift mitigation is available for those of us who get to aggressive with the front brake lever. Should you be a bit heavy on the brakes, you will feel it respond by reducing braking; at my pace, I experienced this rarely.The finishing touch to the Street Triple RS is the full-color TFT display. Easy to read in direct sunlight, the RS has four different dash styles to choose from. All the information a modern consumer could ask for is available, and my favorite aspect is the bold shift indicator. The interface is relatively intuitive and operated by a five-direction joystick at your left thumb.Commuting, canyons, track—it was at home with whatever I threw at it, even in wet weather. The RS has a brilliant powerplant, and power that can be utilized by a wide variety of riders. Combine that with remarkable handling, as well as suspension, and we’re already describing a formidable product.When looking at what Triumph has achieved with the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS, it’s tough to find a sore spot. In terms of performance, and more importantly thrills, it checks all the boxes.Photography by MilagroRiding Style
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