2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 Launch Test: Cubed Up

Triumph claims this to be a game-changer model – which it very possibly might be

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 – First test in the countryside around Barcelona – including lapping the Catalunya GP circuit – of the new heavily revamped version of Triumph’s best-selling middleweight Naked bike, with over 50,000 examples sold since its 2007 launch in 675cc guise

The Triumph Street Triple has been the British marque’s best-selling single model under John Bloor’s ownership, with over 50,000 such bikes built and sold since its 2007 launch as a stripped-off streetfighter derived from its Supersport counterpart, the 675 Daytona. So reinventing this two-wheeled money tree that’s so essential to Triumph’s ongoing prosperity is a Big Deal, which started out three years ago when chief engineer Stuart Wood and his team decided to bore and stroke the existing three-cylinder 675cc engine to produce enhanced performance via an uprated 78 x 53.4 mm format for a 765cc capacity (versus78 x 49.6 mm before). Wood says these are the biggest internal dimensions possible without increasing the physical size of the engine, which would have necessitated not only a new chassis, but also a new crankcase casting. While the 765 tag may appear to be marketing-driven symmetry relating to its 675 predecessor, Wood insists it’s pure coincidence derived from taking the existing 675 crankcases, then optimising every millimetre of available space within them to deliver a cubed up powerplant that unlocks the gateway to significant extra power and torque.

More than 80 new engine components for the 2017 Street Triple

Doing this also helped redress the loss of performance entailed in achieving 2017-compulsory Euro 4 compliance, even if Triumph insists this wasn’t the main reason for so completely revamping the 675cc three-cylinder engine package, with just 10% of that model’s parts carried over to the new one. This employs more than 80 new components versus the 675, including a new design of crankshaft carrying new rods and pistons, a revised balancer shaft reflecting the extra mass of the new crankshaft assembly, and a new aluminium cylinder block with Nikasil plated bores, plus bespoke cams for each different variant of the new model. For moving upwards in capacity has presented Triumph’s customers with comparable improvements in rideability and performance to those that MV Agusta already wrought on its Italian-made 675cc triple back in 2013, by launching the acclaimed 800cc variant of that motor. We’ve been waiting ever since then for Triumph to follow suit, which the British manufacturer has now at last done after giving us a hint of what to expect by producing the Tiger 800 triple in 2010, albeit a quite different engine aimed at offroad and multi-purpose use, rather than being ridden hard on tarmac, like the Street Triple and Daytona will always be. 

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS10

Meet the range-topping Street Triple 765 RS

Riding the range-topping 121 bhp Street Triple 765 RS – the most powerful, the lightest, and the most electronically advanced Street Triple yet made – in the hills north of Barcelona as one of the very first group of journalists to ride the bike at its Catalan launch, initially entailed doing so on roads left damp and greasy after overnight rain, before the wind howling in from the Pyrenees dried the surface, permitting some serious corner-carving. This was followed by a single track outing on the Catalunya GP circuit before rain stopped play – a wet weather ride in the following session saw both wheels sliding and the ABS kicking in everywhere, leaving the 220km day to be ended with an uber-real world ride back to the hotel along slimy diesel-covered roads, in a torrential downpour. Riding Triumph’s new multi-purpose middleweight in every single set of circumstances a customer might reasonably expect to face underlined what a tight-steering, chuckable, torquey yet trustworthy and generally transformational step up from its capable predecessor the new bike is. BikeS that is, because Triumph has in fact launched five distinct 2017 versions of the new Street Triple, which on paper at least are all very different from one another.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS11

Though the fabulously well-balanced handling and light yet precise steering delivered by the new model’s carried-over 675 frame design are certainly worthy of appreciation, as is its impressive 166kg dry weight, 2kg lighter than the old 675 which was already the lightest in its class – 1.7kg of the saving coming from the lighter exhaust system and airbox – it’s that stellar new engine package that’s the unquestioned star of the show in the new Street Triple. In RS guise this makes its 121 bhp peak power at 11,700rpm, a massive 16% more horses than the 675 delivered a thousand revs below the 12,750 rpm soft limiter, and with maximum torque of 77Nm that’s a hefty 13% more than before, produced at 10,800 rpm. This makes the bigger 765cc motor noticeably more torquey and powerful to ride than the outgoing 675 Street Triple engine with which it shares just 10% of its parts, while weighing 1.2kg less. You can use a gear higher in most corners thanks to the new in-line triple’s extra grunt compared to its predecessor, although the bottom two gear ratios on the 765 are shorter than on the 675, for added zest and extra zip in acceleration. 

The seamless gearchanges delivered by the well dialled-in powershifter that’s standard on the RS help you surf the ultra-flat torque curve, though it’s a pity that there’s no autoblipper feature for clutchless downshifts even on this top-of-the-line Street Triple, as is indeed found on the bike’s MV Agusta Brutale rival. You can’t help thinking that Triumph’s held this back for the inevitable 765 Daytona sportbike variant that’s bound to come next as a potent rival to the reborn four-cylinder Suzuki GSX-R750 – and yes, the new Triumph 765cc triple motor is indeed worthy of comparison with this most iconic of Japanese sportbike powerplants. Indeed, let’s not forget that this new three-cylinder motor will form the basis of the control engine that it’s been unofficially revealed Triumph will be supplying to power Grand Prix racing’s Moto2 class from 2019 onwards.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS2.JPG

When that happens, the glorious three-cylinder intake howl coupled with the deep-throated thrum from the 3-1 stainless steel exhaust that is the new Triumph engine’s epic signature tune – and which has rather amazingly got past the Euro 4 noise police – will become a welcome new ingredient of the MotoGP experience. As it is, on the Street Triple 765 in which this great-sounding motor makes its debut, you invariably find yourself making unnecessary blips of the throttle when downshifting – unnecessary, because on the RS (and R) there’s a slip/assist clutch as standard for the first time on a Street Triple which delivers the same benefits as a slipper clutch, as well as a noticeably lighter clutch lever pull which makes riding the bike in traffic untiring, and also delivers greater control via increased precision. 

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS1.JPG

Yet Triumph has left in a noticeable amount of engine braking to the slip/assist clutch settings, meaning I could hold a lower gear for long stretches of twisty road up in the hills above Barcelona, repeatedly backing off the throttle to get lined up for the next turn without touching the brakes, before zapping it wide open again briefly for the next short straight. Surfing the beautifully responsive three-cylinder motor’s torque curve in this way is really satisfying, for this is a bike that delights in telling you it’s there to help out in getting you any way you like from A to B – slow or fast, relaxed or intense, chilled out or hard on. This is a true all-rounder of a motorcycle, with switchable two-stage Continental ABS and Keihin’s four-level traction control as standard. 

Perfect fuelling 

For a key feature of the 765 motor that you soon grow to appreciate especially in slippery conditions is its perfect fuelling at all revs, making this a bike that’s easy to ride slowly using part-throttle openings in town or traffic, yet has a deliciously crisp, responsive yet controllable pickup from a closed throttle in any gear. This allows you to fully exploit the magnificent torque delivered by the new bike’s uprated 765 triple motor, which pulls smoothly and strongly in any gear from 3,000 rpm upwards, then comes alive at 6,500 revs with an extra kick of grunt which sees it pulling ever harder towards the 12,750 rpm limiter. It has lots more performance than the old 675, both under acceleration and at higher revs. What a great motor.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS5.JPG

There’s a liquid-smooth transition to maximum drive out of a turn, allowing you to exploit the 765 engine’s huge reserves of mid-range power and torque. That’s irrespective of which riding mode you’ve selected out of the five available on the RS thanks to the full RBW/ride-by-wire digital throttle now featured for the first time on all versions of the Street Triple 765, via the Keihin engine management system. On the RS this includes a five-way choice of Road, Rain, Sport, Rider Programmable (so, dial in your chosen cocktail of settings) and Track, all selected via a joystick controller on the left handlebar’s switch cube that’s slightly fiddly to work on the move. This offers a huge range of adjustability that by virtue of its comprehensive nature isn’t immediately accessible, however – it’ll take even expert mouse-clickers time to acquire comparable joystick skills on the Street Triple, in learning to navigate the multiple choice of pages and settings, while remembering that two of the five riding modes (Sport and Track) can’t be selected unless the bike is at rest. However, persevere and it pays off, though as a package it's perhaps inevitably – given the price – a level below that of top-level sportbikes, without an IMU/inertial measurement unit to give the ECU info on lean angle, pitch and yaw, so as to optimise the handling via digital assistance. But you have more control than on some higher-end sportbikes which don’t allow turning the ABS off completely.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS7.JPG

The new Street Triple’s cast aluminium twin-spar beam frame (and 17.4-litre fuel tank) may be the same as on the outgoing 675 model, but there’s a new stiffer gullwing swingarm that’s aimed at improving grip on the exit of turns, via a 4mm higher swingarm pivot position. There's also slightly sharper steering geometry with an 0.4-degree steeper head angle (now 23.9° from 24.3° on the 675), balanced by 5mm more trail (100mm) for the fully adjustable 41mm Showa BPF/Big Piston Fork that gives a slightly reduced 115mm of wheel travel. But the likewise adjustable Öhlins STX40 piggyback rear shock with a taller rear ride height more than makes up for that with 131mm of rear wheel travel, with brilliantly chosen but relatively softly sprung settings arrived at by Triumph’s test-riding chassis engineer Felipe Lopez in conjunction with the Swedish suspension sultans. These settings are never too soft, though, and are just right for real world road riding.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS12

For out on the Catalan country roads I could feel the rear shock gently compressing and releasing as it soaked up road rash from the bumps and ripples of everyday road surfaces. There, the quality of the damping front and was outstanding – yet wind the Street Triple up on the billiard table surface of the Catalunya GP circuit, and with only minimally stiffer settings the Öhlins shock delivers all the grip you could want from the race-quality rear triple-compound Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP fitted as standard to the RS. And leaning on the outstanding Brembo front brakes, with the four-piston M50 radial Monoblock calipers gripping the twin 310 mm floating discs, the Showa fork still kept eating up the car-induced ripples trailbraking into the Catalunya GP circuit’s chicanes, in spite of the serious weight transfer which working the single 220mm fixed rear disc via the single-piston Brembo sliding caliper first only partly countered. But earlier on the road ride I’d been grateful for the safety net of the ABS in using those uber-effective Brembo front calipers to slow down over any of the damp patches we initially encountered before the wind dried the roads. And slithering back to the hotel along those diesel-strewn highways was an effective test of the system’s efficiency. This is a confidence inspiring ABS package from Continental.

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS16

The Street Triple 765’s more aggressive nose-down bodywork styling is new and fresh, while undoubtedly retaining the family appearance with a colour-coded belly pan, seat cowl and lower chain guard for the RS plus a revamped flyscreen incorporating the intake ducts. This motorcycle could only be a Triumph, especially with those prominent headlights so clearly based on those fitted to the bigger Speed Triple, while the LED daytime running lights on the R and RS deliver a distinctive appearance on the road, and are up to 28 times brighter than the previous generation 675 model’s bulb sidelights. Self-cancelling indicators are featured on both the R and RS models. Climb aboard the Street Triple and it feels slim and agile, and the 825mm high seat will be accessible for all but really short riders, who now have the option of a version of the bike specifically tailored a to their stature. There’s also a wide range of more than 60 different accessories from the dedicated Street Triple aftermarket catalogue, including a choice of two Arrow exhausts, one of which is Euro 4-legal.

Ultra-legible high-resolution full-color TFT

But especially worthy of note is the ultra-legible high-resolution five-inch full-colour TFT dash, which is angular adjustable manually for optimum viewing. It has a choice of three different display formats which move the digital speedo and dash around the screen to suit your preference, and there’s a range of additional information in a selectable tray beneath the main display, To ensure that the screen is readable in all weather and light conditions, each of the three styles can be selected with either High, Low or Auto contrast, which uses an integrated ambient light sensor to select the most appropriate setting automatically. The High setting comes with a white background, while Low has a deep blue background. On the RS you’ve also got the ability to select a second more dynamic theme which gives three more styles, for a total choice of six. Especially clever is the bar graph tacho readout which changes colour over the final 1,000 rpm of the rev range, first turning orange, then red as it approaches the 12,750 rpm limiter, before finally flashing on and off as the cutout becomes imminent. Neat!

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS17

Triumph has made the new Street Triple a very much better motorcycle than it was before. This new 765 version is not only very much more powerful and torquey, but also seems more substantial and user-friendly than the old 675, to the point that you have to ask yourself if its arrival hasn’t made its larger capacity Speed Triple sister just a little bit – well, pointless? The current Speed Triple 1050 makes a claimed 138bhp and weighs 192kg, but the three-quarter size Street Triple 765 is now quite a bit more exciting to ride. You really notice its 26kg less weight on the RS, not only in terms of increased agility and improved handling, but also under acceleration, especially with the punchy torque of that fabulously eager-revving yet torquey engine to propel you forward – the 17 bhp less potent motor picks up revs faster and sounds heaps better than the bigger Speed Triple. Triumph management reckon that the two bikes have a different customer base – but I’m not so sure, because with the enhanced performance of the 765cc motor, they’re getting mighty close. And if the Street Triple 765 can do this to the class icon, which invented the Streetfighter category more than two decades ago and remains the class benchmark, how will its competitors from Ducati, Yamaha, MV Agusta, Kawasaki, BMW, Suzuki and soon KTM in the hotly-contested 750-900cc category stack up? Only a comparison test will tell – but for sure there’s a new kid in town that the others must take very seriously. 

Triumph claims this new Street Triple 765 is, in their words, a “game changer”. Is that a piece of PR hype too far – or does the new bike really raise the bar higher than anything else in the middleweight Naked roadster class can match? After riding it in Catalunya in such hugely varying conditions, I think I know the answer – and although GBP 9,900 in its native land (well, call that the UK, even though it’s wholly manufactured in Thailand!) is not a cheap price, you get a lot of motorcycle for the money.

So, speaking of games, maybe the goal posts just got moved!

Photo credit: Alessio Barbanti, Matteo Cavadini, Paul Barshon and Friedeman Kirn

2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS7.JPG

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