2016 Triumph Speed Triple R Malaysia-8

Triumph, the motorcycle company, not the ladies lingerie outfit, has seen a renaissance of sorts over the past decade-and-a-half, beginning with the launch of the Speed Triple back in early 2000. Distilling the essence of the motorcycle, the Speed and Street Triple series take a powerful engine and stuff it into a razor-sharp chassis, a recipe for instant fun.

In the case of the 2016 Street Triple R, Triumph has shown it knows what it’s doing, and hasn’t messed with a winning formula. Using the 675 cc triple engine that has become something of a trademark for the Hinckley firm, the Street Triple R is a slightly revised version of the previous year’s model, but now coming with a touch of refinement and, at its polar opposite, bonkers fun.

When paultan.org were handed the keys to the 2016 Street Triple R, we were warned, “you might not give this bike back.” With the adage “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” we took the naked sports-bike through its paces. Memories of the 1953 Speed Twin that used to reside in the author’s stable came to mind, including puddles of oil – the bike was marking its territory – and the constant fear that it wouldn’t start.

All these thoughts were banished with the 2016 Street Triple R. Presented with the Triple R for the first time, the diminutive size of the bike was apparent. Swinging a leg over the seat, the round bars fell readily to hand, and its 168 kg dry weight – 5 kg lighter than the previous model – was not readily obvious.

The Street Triple R has a triple in-line engine with DOHC, liquid-cooled and 12-valves, that puts out 106 hp and 68 Nm of torque at 7,850 rpm, more than enough to hoist the front-wheel in the air easily. It does take some effort though, as the 2016 Street Triple R uses the same longer first gear ratio as the Daytona 675 sportsbike, bringing the top speed in first to 120 km/h versus the 2015 model’s 106 km/h.

Starting up the Triple R brings the bike to life with that ever-so-slightly unbalanced rumble three cylinders give you. It’s nowhere near as bad as the old Triumph Trident or Laverda Jota, but it is there. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives the Triple R a unique characteristic you will not find in Japanese fours or Italian twins.

Snicking the gearbox into first is easy, with only a light touch required. Our test bike came equipped with a Triumph quickshifter, properly calibrated to the bike’s ECU and gearbox, which we put to good use pulling the Triple R through the gears. Acceleration, while not quite as mind-blowing as some bikes we’ve ridden, was quick enough to bring a grin to the face, and rapidly put traffic in the rear-view mirrors.

Speaking of mirrors, looking back to check for traffic before making a quick lane change posed no issues, with a wide and easily discerned view of traffic almost eliminating the need for the quick look over the shoulder. Handling of the Triple R was, as said earlier, razor-sharp.

A steel tube frame ties the chassis together, and it is tight. Tight enough that handling the bends and switchbacks of Fraser’s Hill on our test loop didn’t phase it in any way. Changes of direction, heeled over at a speed of, well, what our Head of Editorial would call “insane”, did nothing to cause anxiety. A thought, a flick of the wrist, and the deed was done. The only bikes that would do this better would be wearing carbon-fibre fairings and shod with slicks.

Doing the highway run revealed what would be the only short-coming of riding nakeds, battling the wind-blast. Although our test bike came equipped with a fly screen as standard, it didn’t really do much as the speedometer climbed to what Triumph Malaysia’s Technical Manager later told us was “not a slow speed”. Settling down to something slightly above the national speed limit let us find a comfortable position in the saddle for a long highway cruise.

The seat position is somewhat biased toward the front end, but we didn’t find it intrusive. Done in an effort to place more weight over the front wheel, the saddle is long enough, and wide enough, for almost every rider to find a suitable position, whether for the commute, canyon strafing or highway cruising. While not quite designed for knee-down heroics, the Street Triple R’s seat cut allowed for this rider to switch positions quickly on left-right-left corner transitions without having the seat width get in the way.

The 2016 Street Triple R comes with a full, and very usable, suite of electronics. Setting modes was easy on-the-fly, but programming the modes wasn’t that easy. Careful perusing of the user manual is required before messing with any of the ride mode or suspension settings. While practice makes perfect, perhaps a little more could be done to make menu selection easy and more intuitive. If all else fails, recruit a teenager to make sense of the menu options.

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R Malaysia-1

Braking was another area where the Street Triple did well. Hard braking entering corners, without giving the brakes a chance to cool, revealed no signs of fade. Lever bite was ferocious, but the ABS system kept everything upright and ship-shape even on wet roads.

Standard suspension settings on the Street Triple R were a touch harsh for daily riding, so pay careful attention to the settings. The 41 mm KYB up-side down forks came with adjustable rebound, pre-load and damping, and provided a useful range of adjustment. The rear shock absorber, also a KYB unit, adjustable for rebound and damping, did not require adjustment whether for city riding or tackling the corners. In any case, the suspension is designed to accommodate all sorts of riders and riding types, so adjust to suit.

Some have remarked about the use of Nissin brake calipers in front, and a Brembo at the rear, and it was explained by Triumph that Nissin front pads cost much less than Brembos. For a bike that is designed to do many things, like this one, this makes good sense when it comes to maintenance costs.

Fuel consumption was appropriate for the 675 cc engine, with a high of 6 litres per 100 km recorded. Useful range on a full tank of 17 litres was 300 km at 120 km/h, while more, well, energetic riding dropped it to 220 km. It was noted that the LCD-bar fuel gauge wasn’t particularly sensitive, although accurate, with the gauge taking a little time to record full tank level. In any case, the wise rider always uses the odometer to calculate remaining range.

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R Malaysia-31

Living with the Triple R on a daily basis was easy. It’s low weight makes it manageable in traffic, and the width allowed for anxiety-free lane-splitting. The Triumph tank-bag had a useful capacity, although it balked at trying to swallow a Macbook Air. The tank-bag can be converted into a back-pack for off-bike use, increasing its versatility.

The 2016 Triumph Street Triple R retails for RM56,900, and comes in three colours with red-accented strakes and sub-frame – matte graphite, crystal white, and matte black as tested, with immediate delivery. Triumph Malaysia is providing a package worth RM4,500 with every Street Triple R that consists of a fly screen, Triumph tank-bag and Triumph quickshifter.

And much like its tank-bag, the 2016 Triumph Street Triple R is versatile. Without having to worry about much, a rider can easily press the Triple R into almost any sort of use, whether as a daily commuter, or weekend sports bike. There is enough power and grunt in the engine to keep up with most of the other bikes in its class, and the handling is very confidence inspiring.