The Street Triple has been a huge success for Triumph. I don’t have the latest sales figures, but for quite a while (if not still) it was the biggest-selling naked on the market. But there was a market it was missing out on. At 675cc it was just 15cc too big for the learner market (plus a lot too powerful, of course!). So with the Learner-Legal market currently enjoying a bit of a boom in sales, Triumph could see potential for even greater success: take 15cc out of the engine (shouldn’t be too hard to do!), throttle back the power (how hard could that be?), and voila – a whole new market of riders to sell to! Easy money! So that is what they did. It’s still impressive though, when you consider that they did this just for us Aussies. You hear of bikes being “modified to suit local conditions,” but that doesn’t usually run to creating a special, different capacity, version of the engine. The way they did this was to reduce the stroke by just 1.2mm, bringing capacity down to exactly 660cc. There were changes to the fuel-injection system, as well as putting in a different camshaft and re-programming the ECU. (As I said, pretty impressive stuff, considering they were doing it just for the Aussie market!). All of that resulted in a very substantial cut in engine output, to allow the power-to-weight ratio to fall into the Learner-Legal allowable range. Like, almost cutting it in half! (From 77kW down to just over 40kW). But with most of the loss being at higher revs and wider throttle openings, it’s not as bad as you might think. (And in modifying the ECU, Triumph tweaked it to give more torque at lower revs, to make up for some of that loss of power). In any case, it’s a matter of doing what had to be done to capture a piece of that market. And once they’ve got young bums on Triumph seats (or old learner bums for that matter!), they obviously hope they’ll continue on with the Triumph brand when they throw away the P-plates and step up to larger more powerful machinery. It’s all about capturing that market when they first get on a bike and bringing more riders to the brand. But don’t write the 660 off as a “beginners-only” machine, it’s much better than that! And that’s because, apart from the nobbled engine, this is exactly the same bike as the normal Street Triple; so you get all the other good stuff that the normal bike has. (Although, at just $500 less than the normal one, you'd probably buy the full-power job if you were able to).
IN THE DRIVEWAY
The Street Triple has undergone some changes since the original version I rode in 2008 (click here for the report on that). And I think it looks all the better for it. There’s still that custom-café-racer look about it, of course, but the headlights look more like they’re meant to be there, rather than a couple of old lights the owner found in the back of the shed and bolted on. There’s a matching angular theme in the shape of the mirrors and the instrument binnacle too. I think it looks good! Still individual and purposeful, but better. The riding-position feels very natural. It’s fairly upright, with just a gentle lean forward to the wide bars. That gives good control for young learners, but also makes it a pleasant place to be for old blokes who are long past trying to contort their bodies into a racer’s crouch. The seat is quite comfortable; not plush, but comfortable. On the test ride I encountered a lot of very bumpy roads, but my back and bum were still okay when I pulled into the driveway at the end. That says a lot! Tipping the scales at just 181kg (plus fluids), the bike is certainly no heavy-weight (which is why they had to cut the power back to get it into the allowable power-to-weight ratio), and this makes it very easy to ride. Also making it easy to ride are the controls, which are all light and easy to use. My only gripe was with the back brake-lever which seems tucked-in and awkward to get at, but you’d get used to this easily if you owned the bike. The instrument binnacle is dominated by the analogue tacho, with the usual LCD panel off to the left. In that panel is the digital read-out for speed, along with fuel level, engine temperature, trip-meter and the ever-useful gear-number. It’s all easy to read, and there’s more information available at the press of the buttons – which I didn’t go into, so I don’t know what’s there. (Probably more trip-meters, fuel consumption, distance to the nearest Triumph dealer … as I said, I didn’t bother going into that: too much information just confuses us oldies!). Along the top of the binnacle, on the outside edge, is a row of blue LEDs that flash on when it’s time to change gear. (Again, this is good for young learners who aren’t used to the sound of bike engines, and also for oldies with poor hearing who can’t hear when it’s time to change!). On the test bike the lights flashed on at 6,500rpm, which is only about half way to the red-line. When I quizzed one of the staff about this, he said that it can be adjusted – by pressing those buttons and going into the set-up menu – and he adjusted it to a much more reasonable (considering the red-line) 8,500rpm.
OUT ON THE ROAD
Hitting the Start button fires the engine up easily, and you don’t need to rev it much beyond that to take off – all very easy. The steering is very light and pretty quick. At first meeting you think it might be flighty, but it’s not. Turning into corners is easy and the bike responds equally well to counter-steering or just leaning in. It’s a bike that you could throw around very easily and accurately – once you got used to it anyway. For me, the light steering had me approaching corners a bit more tentatively than I normally would, but that was just me; the bike was fine, and capable of being cornered hard and placed just where you wanted it. The performance is more than adequate, even for experienced riders. Sure, you’ve got to give the throttle a good twist to really get it going, and even then you don’t have to worry about the front wheel lifting off the deck, but remember this only has 40kW. And, as some riding-friends were commenting afterwards, you can’t use all the performance available on more powerful bikes anyway, without running foul of the law and risking your licence. This was a group-ride from a dealer, and the test-route they’d selected included some urban running, a bit of highway, and also a winding mountain pass; and at no time did it lack power, on the mountain – or on the highway for that matter. Although, obviously, there wasn’t the same rush of acceleration you’d get with the non-LAMS version. The spread of power is quite wide, allowing it to pull away well from around 2,000rpm, especially in the lower gears. It seemed happiest between about 4,000rpm and 6,000rpm, although it was still happy to rev towards that 13,000rpm red-line. I saw the shift lights come on several times (set at 6,500rpm when I rode it, remember), but unless you were wanting maximum sporty-type power there was no need to rev it any higher. Change up at those revs and there was plenty of power to pull away in the next gear, even on the mountain section. The test route also included a very narrow, very rough back-road through some bushland; and even the mountain pass, which was really only a back-road, was choppy in places. This provided a good test of suspension and ride quality: and the Street Triple handled these rough sections well. (Remember I said that I had no aches or pains when I got back after the ride). Sure, there was a firmness in the suspension, (and if I owned it I’d be trying to soften it a bit), but it did ride well. The bumps didn’t unsettle it either; and there were plenty that could’ve done. For example, there was one section that had humps and bumps running across the road at an angle; another section had lots of pot-holes, and there was one vicious bump that felt like you’d just ridden off a cliff and bumped up the other side! On that last one there was a massive drop and then thump that threw me off the seat, but it was cushioned enough that my dodgy old back wasn’t affected: and the bike just continued on straight and true, with not the slightest hint of waver or tank-slapping. The gearing is a bit on the low side, running at about 19kph per 1,000rpm. So at 80kph it’s just nudging over 4,000rpm, and at 100kph it’s pulling just over 5,000rpm. That’s not high revs for the Brit triple, but neither is it exactly laid-back cruising when it gets to the highway either. Gear-changes are slick and easy. You can change up without the clutch quite easily and smoothly, especially if you button off just as you click the lever. But even if you’re a bit ham-fisted (“ham-footed”?) with it, it still changes well. I even tried a couple of clutch-less down-changes, and while there was a bit of a jerk, it still handled it okay. The brakes are entirely adequate, although they don’t feel overly powerful. I suppose that makes it more suitable for the learner: you don’t want an inexperienced rider grabbing a handful of brake and tipping the thing on its nose! ABS is available as an option. So there it is: it’s a very impressive bike! It’s a great bike for a learner, but even experienced riders could be kept happy, unless they wanted to play boy-racer hoon: for them, there’s the normal un-restricted 675 version. SNAPSHOT A Learner-Legal bike that has everything that’s good about the normal Street Triple, except the power. But even the power is more than adequate, even for experienced riders if they're not too demanding. Being so under-stressed it will probably last for years; and provide heaps of fun along the way.
Engine: 3-cylinder, 660cc. Power: 40.6kW at 9,300rpm. Torque: 54.6Nm at 5,150rpm.
Suspension: Front: Upside-down fork, 110mm travel. Rear: monoshock, 124mm travel.
Fuel capacity: 17.4litres.
Weight: 181kg (dry).
Seat height: 800mm.
Wheels / Tyres: Front: 120 X 17, Rear: 180 X 17
Brakes: Front: Twin 310mm discs, Rear: Single 220mm disc.
Price: $12,490 (+ORC).
Test Bike From: Triumph Test Fleet. City Coast Motorcycles.
Click here to go to the front page. Click your BACK button to return to the previous page.