Streetfighter with poise

Straits Times reporter Zaihan Mohamed Yusof takes the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS for a spin, putting it through its paces on Singapore's city streets.
The 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS is easy to flick left to right in quick succession, given its grippy track-biased tyres, quick steering traits and roomy seat which allows the rider to shift his body weight while cornering.
The 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS is easy to flick left to right in quick succession, given its grippy track-biased tyres, quick steering traits and roomy seat which allows the rider to shift his body weight while cornering.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS not only rules the streets, but also feels at home on a racetrack

Since its debut in 2007, the Triumph Street Triple has kept to its streetfighter guise and attitude.

A decade later, the 2017 Street Triple RS is still a naked bike with a three-cylinder engine, bug-eyed headlights, a wide dirtbike handlebar and a small plastic cowl over its headlights.

Despite its familiar look, the RS - the top-tier bike above its S and R siblings - has performance "extras" that not only make it adept at ruling the streets, but also feel at home on a racetrack.

With about 122bhp at 11,700rpm and 77Nm of torque at 10,800rpm, the RS is endowed like a middleweight sport bike. But thankfully, the 765cc RS is not a high-revving machine that calls for a knees-in-your-ears and nose- down riding posture.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

The water-cooled RS is actually comfortable to ride. The slight stretch to the handlebar and low footrests ensure your wrists, back and knees do not ache. The adjustable Showa upside-down big-piston forks and rear Ohlins STX40 shock stay pliant even as the pace picks up on bumpy test routes.

But being pleasant to ride does not mean the six-speed RS has strayed far from its roots or has gone soft. Like all performance two-wheelers today, the new-engined RS is tech-smart, boasting five riding modes - Road, Rain, Sport, Track and Rider. The last mode can be tailored to your tastes.

Except for Track and Rider, the remaining modes can can be selected on the fly. Traction control and anti-lock brakes can be disarmed.

The 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS is easy to flick left to right in quick succession, given its grippy track-biased tyres, quick steering traits and roomy seat which allows the rider to shift his body weight while cornering.
The 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS is easy to flick left to right in quick succession, given its grippy track-biased tyres, quick steering traits and roomy seat which allows the rider to shift his body weight while cornering. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

  • SPECS / 2017 TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE RS


    Price: $23,500 without COE

    Engine: 765cc 12-valve inline-3

    Transmission: Six-speed manual, chain-driven

    Power: 122bhp at 11,700rpm

    Torque: 77Nm at 10,800rpm

    0-100kmh: 3 seconds (estimated)

    Top speed: 240kmh (estimated)

    Fuel consumption: 4.7 litres/100km

    Agent: Mah

What helps is that the RS' power is useable and manageable for daily commutes. Riding above 5,500rpm in Road mode will reward you with a lively power delivery that peaks close to the 12,000rpm mark.

At 5,000rpm in sixth gear, its speedometer reads 100kmh. Below this rev range, the RS' engine responds sluggishly.

Equipped with a 17.4-litre fuel tank, the bike has a half-tank range of about 122km.

It comes as no surprise that its streetfighter aggression appears in Sport and Track modes.

In Sport mode, where its 5-inch digital thin-film transistor dashboard depicts a thumbnail of a winding road, the RS builds power lower in the rev range in order to exit turns faster.

In Track mode, first and second gears feel shorter, given that you are likely to attack the circuit in higher gears and in the higher rev ranges. As you work up the gears seamlessly using its quickshifter, the bike's raspy three-cylinder growl sounds angrier and its front wheel begins to lighten up with every upshift.

Equally cool is the RS' digital dashboard, which changes colour depending on ambient light conditions.

Despite being a naked bike, the 166kg (dry weight) RS steers just as quickly into bends as some sportbike rivals. Flicking it from right to left feels natural with the help of grippy track-biased tyres and a spacious rider seat.

When you approach a corner too fast, all it takes is a firm two-finger jab at the front brake lever to get the road view in focus again. The RS' dual 310mm floating front discs and Brembo M50, four-piston radial monobloc callipers offer instant response.

But your pillion passenger might protest on long journeys because of the small rear seat and the lack of a grab rail.

While the RS' riding position will not tire you, riding hard and fast without a tall windscreen for protection against wind blast will inevitably sap your energy in the long run.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Streetfighter with poise'. Print Edition | Subscribe