Triumph Triple is streets ahead

TRIUMPH’S Street Triple is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting bikes I’ve ever ridden. I love it, both for its performance and very competitive price tag. But with only small improvements having been made since the bike’s launch, is it worth upgrading?
Changes to 2013's Triumph Street Triple, right, are subtle but effective changesChanges to 2013's Triumph Street Triple, right, are subtle but effective changes
Changes to 2013's Triumph Street Triple, right, are subtle but effective changes

There’s no denying that the 2013 model is far more modern with its reshaped rear lights, new shoulders and low-slung exhaust. But where some bikes tend to date easily, the Street Triple’s bug-eyes and rounded under-seat pipes are timeless. It’s a future classic, and classics are worth keeping.

The triple-cylinder engine is a miracle of flexibility. It can nurture a novice within their comfort zone before gently encouraging them to step it up a notch. That’s true magic of the bike; its ability to charm just about everyone, no matter how much or little experience they have.

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Then there’s the noise. The sound that erupts from the twin exhausts is almost worth recording to play to yourself on rainy, bike-free days. Its raw, animalistic howl is intoxicating, and there’s plenty of wheelie-based fun on tap should you wish for it. It’s malleable, eager to please, very encouraging and ridiculously good fun.

I know the 2008 bike like an old friend. I recognise its strengths and its weaknesses and, although it has few of the latter, they were worth improving. Triumph has done just that by freeing the original model’s restrictive steering lock. On the ’08 bike, U-turns can throw up problems, but a finger’s width difference in the steering angle is now plenty to get the bike turned and pointing in the opposite direction without having to run into a gutter, up a kerb, or finding yourself stuck, unable to push it backwards up a steep camber.

Six kilos have been cut from the 2013 Street Triple’s weight and a considerable proportion of that has come off the rear. As a result, the bike now has a forward weight bias which gives it a more direct front end. The older bike needs a little extra push to drop into turns, whereas the 2013 bike falls more readily. It has a light, almost telepathic feel without being too eager. The new bike’s Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber and its older sibling’s more worn Conti Sport Attack tyres undoubtedly have an influence too.

Slow speeds are more manageable on the 2013 machine thanks to the longer first gear, which feels more controlled than of old. Pottering along at little more than walking pace is now much more relaxed, and the change has moved the first two ratios closer together. The 2013 Triple is tractable and easier to ride, but it doesn’t feel like it’s ready to pounce with quite the same intensity as the older bike. It behaves less like a hooligan and sounds more refined, too. The distinctive growl is still there, but it’s marginally less visceral. The focus on the intake noise gives it a whirring undertone, so it has lost a hint of character.

You can’t describe the 2008 Street Triple as better, because it’s not. It pours character and raw energy into your veins every single time you ride it. The new one does too, but it’s more polished and refined. So the question is not which bike is better, but which bike is better for you. A newbie would benefit from the 2013’s easier rideability but it comes with a £6,999 price tag.

A quick internet search shows you can find a 2008 Street Triple for around £4,000 depending on mileage and accessories. That could leave enough for a suspension upgrade, for example. Plus, it’s not a bad idea to buy a second-hand bike if it’s your first, so that those inevitable scratches and paint chips are less painful. But as a brand new first all-rounder, the 2013 Street Triple is so finished it might well be the only bike you’ll ever buy.


BIKE 2013 Triumph Street Triple

PRICE £6,999 on the road.

ENGINE 675cc liquid-cooled three-cylinder

POWER 104bhp @ 11,700rpm

TORQUE 50lb ft @ 9,100rpm