2020 Triumph Street Triple RS Review: Street and Track Tested
It has been a few short years since the 765cc inline-three made its debut to the public. Now, the 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS is hot off the workbench with a handful of refinements that haven’t upset the Street Triple’s sweet spot for power, agility, or its striking appearance.
Spurred by Euro 5 emissions standards and with a tool bag full of new tricks learned from the 765’s involvement in Moto2, the Hinckley lads have imbued the revamped Street Triple RS with several choice updates.
The 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS features greater mid-range power, an autoblipper, and an aesthetic refresh that has only improved one of my favorite machines on the market.
I packed my bags and headed off to Cartagena on Spain’s south coast to sample the British marque’s latest rendition of the Street Triple RS in some Spanish canyons and at Circuito Cartagena. Without further ado, here are the Fast Facts!
- Euro 5 be damned! The 765cc inline-three has even more mid-range puff, without losing any top-end strength. Typically, motorcyclists lament the involvement of emissions standards, but Triumph saw the looming Euro 5 requirements as both a challenge and an opportunity. A new exhaust cam and a revised intake duct are just a few pieces of the puzzle that facilitates a refined fuel map, claiming to produce a nine percent boost in horsepower and torque between 6k and 10k, giving riders grunt where they need it most. This year, the 2020 Triumph 765 RS claims the same peak horsepower of 121 horsepower at 11,750 rpm and 58 ft/lbs of torque—two points greater than last year—at 9350 rpm. The extra mid-range oomph is definitely noticed.
- The 765cc powerplant is one of the premier middleweight engines in the sport category. Adding greater versatility and practicality to the package, the 2020 Street Triple RS pulled a page from the middle-spec R model, which features a state of tune focused on delivering a streetable mid-range-centric experience, without sacrificing any of the RS’ top-end stink. The Striple is astoundingly smooth, regardless of rpm, and is ready to rip just off idle, spooling up with urgency anywhere above 4k. Riders will take advantage of its newfound midrange ability, working the faultless ride-by-wire throttle in the wide sweet spot between 6-10k rpm on the road. On the track, you can stretch the legs of the RS and see her true colors—a ferocious middleweight with remarkable top-end bark capable of shaming Superbikes on a tight circuit such as Cartagena with its controllable, useable power.
- If variety is the spice of life, then the multiple riding modes make the Street Triple RS flavorful. Featuring four preset riding modes, including Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and a customizable Rider mode, the RS’s personality is noticeably altered thanks to different throttle maps, as well as electronic intervention, which we’ll get to later. Rain has a subdued throttle response and also cuts power to 99 horsepower, making it perfect for low grip situations. Road features a casual throttle response that is great for urban riding. Sport gives the RS athleticism and direct throttle connection, without ever being choppy. Track uses the Sport throttle map; however, in track mode, any combination of ABS, TC, or throttle maps can be used.
- Advanced machining processes have resulted in a seven percent decrease in rotational inertia and improved throttle response. For those threatened by sciencey-sounding words, the previous sentence can be translated thusly—lighter spinning stuff means less work for the motor and more pep. Triumph tightened up its machining processes on the crankshaft, clutch, and counter-balancer, relieving rotating mass from the package. This year, those same tightly controlled machining processes are extended to the gearbox, allowing Triumph to get rid of anti-backlash gearing thanks to tighter tolerances in the gearbox and revised gear shapes. It’s a tough claim to verify without back-to-back testing, but the gearbox is wickedly precise, and the engine is properly perky.
- A completely new twin-catalyst 3-into-1 exhaust system is cleaner and meaner. The Hinckley lads have managed to do what many see as the impossible— the revised exhaust system lowers carbon emissions while improving performance and tone. Here’s your cake—now, eat. The 765cc triple’s screaming howl is heard proudly, though not obnoxiously, thanks to an all-new muffler that now boasts an eye-catching carbon end cap and Triumph branding. While the riders are certainly pleased as it flows more freely, governing bodies are, too, due to additional fume-scrubbing catalyst material. New headers featuring a cross-pipe have optimized the exhaust flow, while helping the bump in power take place.
- The six-speed gearbox featured an up-only quickshifter last year, and now it is bi-directional. Tight, precise shifting is felt in each gear, along with a well-sorted up/down quickshifter. With varying kill-times that will accommodate shifts at virtually any rpm or throttle position, the clutchless shifting is clean and tidy.
- The previous Triumph Street Triple RS’s chassis recipe hasn’t been spoiled, with suspension ready for the city, canyons, and circuit. A fully adjustable 41mm Showa Big Piston Fork and fully adjustable Öhlins STX40 piggyback-reservoir shock are the same suspension components that keep the RS in perfect shape since 2017. In practice, they prop up the bike superbly with wonderful damping and actuation, not to mention a decent range of adjustment. Soften it up for some comfortable yet spirited canyon riding, or turn the screws and see a chassis fit for duty under the hard-driving and hard-braking work of the track.
- Handling and front-end feel are some of the standout features on the Street Triple RS. Middleweight bikes often need to do more with less—they don’t have the grunt that their liter-bike big brothers do, but what they lack in brute force is made up in agility. Handling has always been a strong-suit and hallmark of the Street Triple line, while the current generation is the pinnacle of that. The svelte 55.3-inch wheelbase and steep 23.9 degrees of rake make the Striple quick on its feet; it wants a bit of direction, with superb front-end confidence being felt through the chassis. When attacking the canyons, it gives all the assurance I could ask. It’s the same story on track, even when trail braking deep into eye-widening sections of Cartagena. Getting on the gas hard is done with the utmost faith, as the whole chassis is extremely communicative.
- Non-IMU supported traction control left me impressed on and off track. The Street Triple needs to maintain an affordable MSRP, so we do not see the IMU-supported ABS, traction control, and wheelie control as we do on the costlier Speed Triple RS. However, these aren’t your average rudimentary safety packages relying only on wheel-speed sensors. While that is one input variable, Triumph makes each level of intervention nuanced, and the engineers are tight-lipped as to how it’s done. Moving from Rain to Track sees the chains of traction-control shed incrementally. Turn 16, features a blind crest with negative camber on a hard-driving exit, triggers TC aggressively in Road and a bit less in Sport, whereas in Track it was less apparent. In Rider mode, TC can be disabled. Hooligans will appreciate the ability to wheelie in Track mode, though you can oft the wheel over crests in other settings.
- An all-Brembo braking package delivers the goods. Featuring a radial Brembo MCS master cylinder with an adjustable ratio, riders can adjust the actual brake feel at the lever. If you want a bit more bite, crank it up. Want a softer feel? Bump it down. Following the steel-braided lines, we find Brembo M50 monoblock calipers with 310mm floating rotors that get you stopped in a hurry. With a bike weighing around 400 pounds in running order—it is the kind of performance-minded overkill that I love.
- Euro 5 ABS intervention can be heavy-handed when on track. Part of Euro 5 compliance is conforming to preset ABS testing parameters. Legislative bodies do not differentiate between common road riding and performance track riding, so ABS cannot be disabled due to Euro 5 standards. If anyone wants to sell motorcycles in Europe, they must to abide by the rules, and costs prohibit market-specific electronic packages. When riding at track paces, dropping anchor into turn 1 after the long straight can be hair-raising if you trigger ABS and the lever goes stiff. The solution to excessive nannying is to be smooth. As I got faster on an unfamiliar track and began braking harder, I also did so far more smoothly. It’s a Band-Aid to overcome intervention that can be entirely too premature. On the street, it’s never an issue.
- Comfortable ergonomics will have you in the saddle all day. Featuring a sporty 32.5-inch seat height, my 5’ 10” frame and 32-inch inseam can reach terra firma quite easily. Overall, the Striple has a lean chassis, thanks to the narrow motor. A comfy, stitched seat and sculpted tank make for pleasurable accommodations, as well as a great bracing point when leaned over, while pairing well with wide handlebars that still allow you to dip your head and get sporty.
- Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V3 tires are standard kit. Need we say more? The beloved Supercorsa SP is one of the grippiest street tires available—better yet, they’re plenty capable on the track. The latest iteration features a slightly revised tread pattern and optimized profile. In common sizes of 120/70 and 180/55, you have many options if they aren’t to your liking, although you might want to get your head checked if that’s the case.
- The gorgeous TFT display received a visual update and has accessory capabilities. The 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS’s TFT displays have multiple graphic options available, plus a few color options within each one. It’s something that requires a bit of exploring, but each theme is displayed perfectly, whether you’re in direct sunlight or not. If you fancy Bluetooth connectivity, you’ll have to spring for the additional module that also unlocks GoPro connections, turn-by-turn navigation, and phone pairing to listen to your tunes or take calls, all of which can be operated at a left-thumb control. Thanks to the joystick controls, digging through the various menus is simple as can be, though you will have to set aside a half-hour or so to explore all the possibilities.
- A more aggressive styling stance waits on the 2020 Striple. There are some subtle visual differences between the previous generation and this one, mainly in the headlight, which has retained the bug-eyed headlight cluster. All lighting is LED and far brighter. The most obvious styling change is the furrowed-eyebrow daytime running headlight, but each piece of bodywork has also been updated with graphics and sculpting changes. In all, it’s an even more pointed take on what is already a very brash platform.
- When it comes to overall fit and finish, I don’t think anyone holds a candle to Triumph at the moment. Minute details such as swingarm bolts have machined accents, satin finishes are found on heel guards, and the muffler even has a carbon fiber tip. Luxuries in the middleweight naked segment are often curtailed by price, so it’s nice to see the 765 RS getting the star treatment. The designers at Triumph know how to make a guy or gal feel special.
- The 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS is downright impressive—the middleweight naked bike class has a lot to live up to. This review is short of negative observations for a specific reason—there are precious few that I can think of, and they’re listed here—none of them begin to spoil the bike for me. The updates are crucial in making this motorcycle better-rounded for average street riding, as well as track use. If you want a middleweight naked sportbike that has the front-end confidence and stout chassis of your average Supersport, a brilliant motor with solid mid-range punch and beyond, plus a competent electronics package, as well as fit and finishes that the Queen herself would take a gander at, then the 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS needs to be on your short list. Oh, and it’s still $12,550.
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Jacket: Alpinestars Missile Ignition Airflow
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Pro V3
- Jeans: Alpinestars Crank
- Boots: Alpinestars Faster 3
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Suit: Alpinestars NdS custom suit
- Baselayers: VnM Sport Compression Top and Pant
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Pro V3
- Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R Randy Mamola Legends Series
2020 Triumph Street Triple RS Specs
- Type: Inline-3
- Displacement: 765cc
- Bore x stroke: 78.0 x 53.4mm
- Maximum power: 121 horsepower @ 11,750 rpm
- Maximum torque: 58 ft/lbs @ 9350 rpm
- Compression ratio: 12.5:1
- Valvetrain: DOHC, 4vpc
- Fueling: EFI
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ bi-directional quickshifter
- Clutch: Slipper
- Frame: Twin-spar aluminum
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Showa big piston 41mm inverted fork; 4.5 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback shock; 5.2 inches
- Wheels: 5-spoke cast aluminum alloy
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.5
- Rear wheel: 17 x 5.5
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP v3
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 310mm floating discs w/ Brembo M50 4-piston monoblock calipers
- Rear brake: 220mm disc w/ Brembo single-piston sliding caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.3 inches
- Rake: 23.9 degrees
- Trail: 3.9 inches
- Seat height: 33.1 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 4.6 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 45 mpg
- Curb weight: TBA
- Matte Jet Black with Aluminum Silver and Yellow decals
- Silver Ice with Diablo Red and Aluminum Silver decals
2020 Triumph Street Triple RS Price:
- $12,550 MSRP