Despite a few minor annoyances, I’m enjoying riding my Triumph Street Triple R. It doesn’t have the classic styling of the Bonneville or Thruxton. Nor is it off-road-capable like the Scrambler. However, the naked motorcycle does have its own positive points.
Shifting and throttling the 2012 Triumph Street Triple R
One key take-away from taking a motorcycle safety course is careful throttle control. Many a rider has twisted the throttle too much, and either popped a wheelie or skidded out of control. For larger-capacity, multi-cylinder bikes, care is especially important.
But the 2012 Triumph Street Triple R’s throttle is very easy to modulate. That might be down to how Triumph designed the electronics. According to Motorcyclist, the Street Triple R was the first to receive the brand’s ‘application-based’ throttle mapping. Basically, the engine revs based on how quickly you twist the throttle, not how much.
There is a little ‘dead-zone’ when you barely crack it open where the engine doesn’t respond. But overall, the system means the 675cc three-cylinder engine is fairly easy to control. Want to carefully tip-toe through your neighborhood at low revs? No problem. And the 106 hp and 50 lb-ft are just a sharp twist away.
The clutch and 6-speed transmission are just as well-calibrated. The Street Triple R’s clutch is pretty forgiving for a sporty bike. So even if you don’t have much clutch lever experience, the motorcycle won’t punish you for it by stalling easily. A well-defined bite point helps as well.
Triumph unveiled the Street Triple R in 2007, before updating it in 2013 and 2017. Compared to earlier models, Motorcyclist reports Triumph tweaked the 2012 model’s transmission springs to improve shifts. I’ve only ridden the 2012 bike, so I can’t verify those claims. But I can say the 6-speed is very satisfying to shift. Neutral is easy to find, and upshifts especially are extremely slick and smooth.
Whether on a motorcycle or a truck, stopping is just as important as going, if not more so. My 2012 Triumph Street Triple R doesn’t have ABS. That became standard on the 2013 Street Triple models, though, Cycle World reports. However, my NB Miata doesn’t have ABS either. And truthfully, the Triumph doesn’t really need it.
Although later models received Brembo brakes, the 2012 model has Nissin disc brakes front and rear. In fact, there are dual discs in front. But it’s not their stopping power that impresses me most. It’s how easy they are to modulate. I’ve gone head-over-handlebars due to poor bicycle braking, and still have the scars to show for it. Stopping too quickly carries its own risks. But because I can feel and control the brakes so well, I’m less likely to repeat my tumble.
The 2012 Street Triple R’s suspension and handling
The Triumph’s adjustable Kayaba forks and suspension are a little stiff, true. And they’re not quite as adjustable as the later Showa and Ohlin units. However, they’re fairly compliant, even on Chicago’s potholed roads. In any case, the handling benefits are worth it. In corners, the bike doesn’t wobble, and it tracks true.
Standards are good beginner motorcycles because they put the rider’s legs directly beneath them. That, and the 31.7”-high seat, makes putting your foot on the ground easy. Also, the Triumph Street Triple R doesn’t have the legs-back, leaned-over riding position that fully-faired sportbikes have.
You’re still leaning a little forward, but only slightly. Which actually helps you brace against the oncoming wind. It also means you’re over the bike’s center-of-gravity. Plus, instead of clip-on bars, the Street Triple R has a proper, well-positioned handlebar.
Put all this together, and riding it feels like I’m riding a big bicycle. Which is a very good thing. Yes, at 417 pounds, it’s much heavier than any bicycle. But for a motorcycle, it’s fairly light. For comparison, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is down 27cc and a cylinder, but it weighs 28 pounds more even without fuel.
The weight, plus the riding position and suspension, make the Street Triple R a bike you don’t have to wrestle. It can be both a good commuter and fun weekend machine. It’s just a fun bike to ride.
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