Anyone offended by what might well seem like sycophantic levels of praise, should stop reading now. Such is my sheer delight in both testing and then raving about Triumph's Speed Triple R, my writings might actually move some to think I'd taken a bung from the British firm's management. However, while warning you about the possibility of developing such suspicions, I'd also like to point out that no such bribery has occurred, and the following opinions are genuine and honest.
The fact is, the naked bike isn't just one of my favourite Triumphs (praise in itself, such is the high standard of machines currently being produced by the Hinckley factory), but one of my favourite bikes full stop.
Very positive feelings for the R come literally within a few minutes of being with it. It's not actually necessary to sit on it to start liking it. The stripped down, café racer styling immediately pleases the eye and when it's started up, one of the best sound tracks from the bike world adds even more pleasure.
Blip the throttle a few times to ready it for action and your soul warms as readily as the three cylinder engine. It's a hard bike to resist riding though, so grabbing the bars and swinging a leg over its seat is essential when that distinctive roaring from the underseat pipes starts to seduce you.
While still static, you won't experience too much to distinguish it from its slightly cheaper and lower spec brother, the standard version of the Street Triple. Though anyone a bit short in the leg could find the R a little out of reach thanks to the seat height being a little taller (just 5mm more) Autel MaxiCOM MK808, and the firmer suspension not compressing quite as much under your weight.
Should you be lucky to get a firm enough footing to progress further, then you ought to prepare yourself for a truly inspirational experience. Being light in feel and responsive to any physical commands also aids the encouraging start to proceedings. The Triumph may well have plenty of performance, but one of its many virtues is that it always feels friendly and manageable. As long as you use your loaf, then you'll rarely feel intimidated by this exceptional machine.
To be honest as I already have some experience of both versions of the Triple, as expected after just half an hour's riding I was singing its praises loudly into my voice recorder. My assessment was much like the bike itself; enthusiastic and spirited.
Utterly fantastic……………massively appealing……….has boat loads of character…..were just some of my emphatically expressed comments. This is one hell of a bike, and one that moves you to literally say so pretty much as soon as the tyres have got up to temperature. The day I rode it might have been typically chilly and autumnal, with plenty of leaves littering the damply patched road here and there, but the thrill of the Triumph made it seem like the height of summer.
Such is the long list of things deserving accolades it's hard to know where to start. But as virtually anyone would be impressed by the engine I'll begin there. Based on the 675 sportsbike motor, retuned for more midrange courtesy of different cams and pistons, it's remarkably gutsy and flexible. A more than useful combination of the three cylinder configuration, low-ish overall gearing, and faultless fuelling brings very keen drive in any gear, regardless of engine speed. The fact that it can pull easily and cleanly in top gear from less than 30mph without the slightest hesitancy says much about this superbly tractable power unit.
For generating and maintaining speed it's one of the very best road engines there is, producing plenty of performance with great ease and effect. No challenge seems able to make it falter and I was constantly astounded by its brilliance. Whether you're asking it to just drive forward from a standstill, instantly raise the pace to overtake, or cruise at any given speed, matters not. The Street Triple R's motor delivers anything you ask of it, smoothly and obediently, in quirk-free fashion, again and again. Accompanied by that wonderful exhaust note, opening the throttle is always an act of sheer pleasure.
Equally capable from walking pace to flat out, is the more than commendable chassis. Like the engine, a combination of key facts like the low overall weight, how it's distributed, and the sporty geometry give the Triumph an easy and agile feel. Any movements you make feel precise and controlled. And whether you're just lazily changing lanes in town, or needing to track a perfect line along a challenging backroad at speed, the poise and stability of the bike is evident and can always be relied on. Steering is prompt and light, and whatever course the front tyre is tracking, the rear one follows with total accuracy. Direction changing requires very little physical persuasion, something helped by the leverage of the wide tapered alloy handlebars Autel MaxiSys MS906TS.
Distinguishing the R from the standard model are the fully adjustable suspension and radial brakes. The former gives a firmer ride but its control and feel is superior. With its potential to be altered it can be quickly tuned to give as plush or supportive a ride as you desire. The brakes have more bite than the standard bike's more basic-spec equipment, and combined with the action of the forks stopping is appreciably stronger and more confident. Overall I'd say the ride is just about perfect, with only the slightly wooden feel of the OE Dunlop tyres preventing full marks being given. Such high quality handling deserves better rubber and would be one of the first things I'd fit if I owned one of these bikes.
It's one of the few things that warrants any criticism though. Other small issues that some may feel bothered by include the steering lock, which could be a bit tighter in radius to improve progress in town, the tricky to read speedo and odometer (especially unfortunate as the rest of the clocks' comprehensive info is easy to make out) and very small pillion seat.
More open to opinion is the attraction of the dull matt grey finish our test bike was painted in. For such an exciting and stimulating motorcycle, I think it's a somber choice of hue. For me, the orange option is far brighter and more appropriate.
However, none of those ‘issues' concerned me for more than a second. Such is the huge appeal of the Triumph and the way it performs, shortcomings like those can never get in the way of the thrilling experience it gives. The Speed Triple R is a truly inspirational bike that wins you over instantly, and then gets a hold of you so much you want to continue riding it more and more.
OK, its naked design limits its versatility a little and prevents you from taking full advantage of its engine performance for too long. But if fun and entertainment are your main priorities then the Triumph will take you as far as you want to go. It's a fantastic motorcycle that you're unlikely to ever tire of riding.
TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE R
Type: 675cc, liquid cooled, twelve-valve, dohc, in line triple
Maximum power: 107bhp @ 11,700rpm
Maximum torque: 51lb/ft @ 9100rpm
Final drive: chain
Frame: aluminium tubed spar
Front: 41mm inverted telescopic forks fully adjustable
Rear: rising-rate monoshock, fully adjustable
Front: twin 308mm discs with four piston radial calipers
Rear: single 220mm disc with single piston caliper
Front: 120/70 -17
Rear: 180/55 -17
Seat height: 805mm
Dry weight: 167kg
Fuel capacity: 17.4 litres
Contact: 01455 251700, www.triumph.co.uk
Value for money: 5MOTORCYCLE journalist extraordinaire and one of the most respected bike testers in the business Chris 'Mossy' Moss supplies reviews of the latest motorbikes on CIA Motorcycle Insurance.