Following the success of Triumph's latest triple, Daytona 675 and Tiger 1050 the British manufacturer has created yet another 'must have' product. This bike hits you right in the gut, and in very much the same way as a bike much bigger would. We took Triumph's Baby-Triple for a spin on some UK back roads months ahead of its SA launch.
Triumph Speed Triple 657. Photos: Martin Leyfield and Tor Sagen
One of the best things the modern Triumph factory did was to strip a Daytona sportsbike to create the Speed Triple. If there is one Triumph that has managed to capture people's imaginations during the last 10 years it is the Speed Triple.
It is no wonder then that in the styling department Triumph has made the new Street Triple look as similar as possible to the great Speed Triple 1050.
Tell tale signs are the Daytona 675 swing arm and lower spec front brakes. But that's all the difference you'll notice from a distance.
The double round headlights are there, the double high stubby exhaust is there and the minimalist look is complete.
To decide on the Street Triple as Triumph's next "big thing" was an easy decision for Triumph, especially after the glory and sales after that followed the Daytona 675 launch.
The basis for a great naked was always there in the Daytona 675. The engine produced more torque than the bland and characterless in-line fours at the same time as it went just as fast around a racetrack.
The Street Triple felt very light when I first sat on it and pushed it forwards and backwards with the engine humming on idle. The seat (800mm) and feel is of a taller bike than the 07 Honda Hornet 600, but the Street Triple feels just as light and nimble.
Acceleration is instant and there's no boring wait for 10K readings on the tachometer. There seems to be drive all over the power band, but from 6000r/min the fun really begins and the front lifts at 8000r/min in first and second. Not big wheelies, just a small and very satisfying power wheelie.
If you want to play with the big boys the Street Triple can wheelie all day long easily by doing on-offs or using the clutch in second. It's just a natural thing for such a motorcycle. I would have been disappointed if it didn't.
The major two things that impressed me straight away were the 675cc triple engine and the handling.
First I noticed that there's no nervousness or tendencies to headshake like I have experienced on the Speed Triple. The front end on the Street Triple is rock-solid: Probably thanks to the Daytona 675 chassis and swinging arm I'd say.
The best parts from the Daytona 675 has been donated directly to the Street Triple. This makes the Street Triple a seriously competent sportsbike for the road and the occasional track-day.
The Kayaba upside-down fork and rear shock keeps the Dunlop Qualifyer tyres in contact with the changing tarmac all the time if you ride the Street Triple like a sportsbike.
But we're much naughtier than that and particularly on a naked streetfighter we turn into a version of Angus Young anno 1976. Triumph's Street Triple easily inspires the wild in me and I enjoy riding it much more than any new 134kW litre sportsbike.
The engine is a gem of 79kW triple power with a claimed 69Nm to hoist wheelies with. But revving it out in first, second and third (continue to sixth if you have the space...) feels great and above 8000r/min it's proper sportsbike acceleration.
The Street Triple has got the best of both worlds which is very difficult to achieve even with modern engine technology. Hail Triumph for having managed to keep the engine as exciting as this. The 675 is really addictive.
The claimed dry-weight is 167kg which is very light. This contributes to the great handling and ease of manoeuvring. Its steering angle is not the best for slow car-park manoeuvres in town but that's about the only thing that I could put my finger on.
The two-pot Nissan front brakes are more than up for the job and I actually like them better than the Speed Triple radial items. No fuzz stopping this Street baby.
I've ridden and tested both the 2007 Honda CB600F Hornet, 07 Aprilia SL750 Shiver, Suzuki GSR600's, Ducati Monsters and BMW F800's, so I know pretty much what I am looking for in a motorcycle like the Street Triple. My verdict? Triumph has built exactly the bike that I want.
The Triumph Speed Triple 657 will be launched in South Africa in November 2007.