Sometimes I ride a motorcycle and it meets my high expectations. I expect perfection, and it’s exactly as I expect. Everything’s in the right place, everything works perfectly, and the bike is flawless. Riding the Triumph Street Triple RS (765) was exactly this experience.

But there were some aspects of the bike that bugged me. They aren’t huge, but they’re there. And at this level of competition, and this price point (for a “middleweight” bike), every issue is worth noting.

I rode the spritely “Striple” for a couple of days in the canyons of the Los Angeles Forest — one of my favourite places for “middleweight” motorcycles — in November of 2023 (it was cold, but not icy yet). I say “middleweight” in inverted quotes because while the Street Triple RS isn’t heavy, it’s quite powerful. The definition of what’s a middleweight sport bike has definitely evolved over the last decade!

Anyway, the Street Triple is a platform widely loved for being powerful, lightweight, and very well-balanced.

Lately, though, it has been getting a lot of competition from the super hot middleweight naked sport bike segment. So you might be curious about the same things I was:

  • What makes the Triumph Street Triple RS Special?
  • What is it like to ride the Street Triple RS?
  • What competition does it have?

We’ll look at all this below.

2023 Triumph Street Triple RS Review cover rhs 3-4
2023 Triumph Street Triple RS

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A Brief History of the Triumph Street Triple

See here for a full model history of the Triumph Street Triple.

I always like to give a brief intro to motorcycles, looking over the recent model history and the historical context for the bike, because it helps people psychologically get where bike is placed both in history as well as in the current range of available machines.

The Triumph Street Triple is a fairly unique bike in that it’s a mass-produced and widely-ridden three-cylinder motorcycle. Well, this was more unique before the MT-09 (and the much less often seen MV Agusta triples), so let’s look back at where it all started.

The Street Triple is, as of the 2023 model, now in its fifth generation. That’s a lot of generations!

It all started in 2007 with the first Triumph Street Triple. Back then, the Street Triple was a pared-down Daytona 675 with a street tune and different road-going equipment — different lights, handlebars, and exhaust.

Triumph had released the first-gen Daytona 675 in 2006, and it promptly stole the show of middleweight motorcycles — deservedly! Triumph had been making their smaller bikes with four cylinders, while the bigger Daytona (the latest being the 955i) had made do with three.

The 2006 Daytona 675 was an instant hit. It still is. It’s powerful, making a peak of 92 kW / 123 hp at 12500 rpm, but more importantly, it has a wide torque curve that’s far less peaky than its 4-cylinder supersport rivals. On top of that, the Daytona has looks that still hold their own today (so do some other 600s of the day, to be fair).

2007 Triumph Daytona 675 RHS black
2007 Triumph Daytona 675 (same as the 2006)

So, why not make a naked Daytona? Why not indeed.

At the time of the Daytona 675, Triumph had already been making the Speed Triple (the naked version of the bigger Daytona) for a while. It was a hit for all the reasons it still is — its big-bore three-cylinder engine gives a great balance between power and broad torque. Plus, it has tons of character, hedging its bets between the benefits of a twin and a four.

In fact, the Speed Triple had outgrown the Daytona. The last big Daytona was the 955i, but the 2005 Triumph Speed Triple 1050 was not explicitly based on any Daytona model. So it has remained until this day. (Model history of the Speed Triple coming soon!)

Eagle-eyed observers at the time (like at Visordown) noted that the Daytona 675 was built with the naked version in mind. “Take a close look at the [Daytona] 675 and you’ll spot the fairing brackets are neatly tucked away, the engine’s water pipes are hidden and the frame doesn’t have any ugly fastenings… The Daytona was designed to look good naked, because 18 months later it would appear in exactly that state.”

2007 Triumph Street Triple first gen Round Eyes
Triumph Street Triple (1st gen)

Triumph de-tuned the engine slightly and gave the first-gen Street Triple simpler suspension — no adjustability at the front, and minimal at the rear. At the front, Triumph gave it twin headlights, a design it has worn to this day (though they’re no longer round, to the chagrin of some).

But what really caught most people’s attention was the same magic formula as that of the Daytona — the first-gen Street Triple has a broad spread of torque from down low with no surprises anywhere.

On top of that, it’s light, weighing only 182 kg / 401 lb with a full tank of gas. That’s still impressive today, and bear in mind that technology that helps in weight saving has come a long way in two decades.

Just as the Speed Triple outgrew the Daytona, the Street Triple eventually outgrew the Daytona 675. In fact, the Daytona 675R was the last of the high-power Daytona motorcycles, notwithstanding expensive limited-run models (the Daytona 765 Moto2) and everyday street bikes (the 2024 Daytona 660).

Over the years, Triumph iterated on the Street Triple’s formula without radically altering it. Changes included

  1. The first R model in 2009 with better suspension and brakes
  2. New “slanty eyed look” in 2012
  3. A revised look from 2013 with a low exhaust (no more under-tail pipes) and optional ABS. The newer R model got radial calipers
  4. The 660 models from 2014, detuned for some markets for learner license compliance (now discontinued in the wake of the newer 660 models like the Trident)
  5. The 765 models from 2017, with different power levels between spec levels, and also a higher-spec RS model with an Öhlins rear shock and Brembo M50 calipers (from older superbikes)
  6. The 2023 revision of the 765, with cornering ABS, and even optional cruise control in the RS model

The bike I rode is the 2023 model Street Triple RS with an Öhlins shock and cornering ABS — but no optional cruise control. Let’s look at it below.

Specs of the 2023 Triumph Street Triple RS

Below are the core specs of the 2023 Triumph Street Triple, plus some comments / notes.

The Street Triples is unusual in that the spec R, RS, and Moto2 spec levels don’t just differ in suspension and brakes, but also in engine peak power. Triumph has used this strategy since 2017. Other manufacturers don’t tend to change the engine tune — just everything around the engine.

Item2023 Street Triple RS SpecComments
Peak power96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpmSlightly up on the Street Triple R (88 kW / 120 PS / 118 bhp)
Peak torque80 Nm / 59 lb-ft @ 9500 rpm
Front brakesBrembo Stylema calipersUp from the M4.32 on the R. Also up on the previous-gen RS model’s Brembo M50 calipers.
Front suspensionShowa Big Piston Fork, fully adjustableBetter than the R (which has separate functions in each fork leg), but not as good as the Öhlins on the Moto2
Rear suspensionÖhlins STX40, fully adjustable
Wet weight (90% fuel)188 kg / 415 lbStill light after all these years!
Instruments5-inch TFTPar for the course these days, even on mid-spec bikes
Cruise controlOptionalStandard on the MT-09 SP and even the XSR900…
Ride modesRoad, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, Track
Service intervals* 6,000 mile / 10,000 km / annual oil changes
* 12,000 mile / 20,000 km valve service intervals
Shorter service intervals than some other Triumph bikes with 10,000 mile / 16,000 km service intervals (e.g. the Trident 660)
2023+ Triumph Street Triple RS Specs

Comparing the Street Triple RS with its Stablemates

Anyone shopping for a Street Triple is going to be instantly bewildered by the different models on display. There’s the Street Triple R, Street Triple RS, and Street Triple Moto2. Which one is for you?

The easiest upsell to the RS from the R is that you get more power out of the box. Getting that power would require a trip to the tuner. Secondly, cruise control isn’t an option on the base model. If you want that feature, you need the RS or better.

Finally, it would cost you more to upgrade to those features than it would to buy the Street Triple RS outright. So if you want Öhlins suspension and Stylema calipers (and don’t care about the power or cruise control), the RS is still your best port of call.

Now, if you’re a Moto2 kind of person, then money is no object and you know that’s the bike you want — full Öhlins front and rear and an aggressive riding position. If you can afford to crash that bike at the track — or just display it in your living room — then power to you!

Bear in mind that the Street Triple Moto2 was limited to 1530 units — 765 of each colour scheme. That’s not terribly limited, but it means owner’s are likely to attach sentimental or collector value to them.

2023+ ModelsStreet Triple RStreet Triple RSStreet Triple Moto2™
Peak power88 kW (118 bhp / 120 PS) at 11500 rpm96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpm96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpm
Front brakesBrembo M4.32Brembo StylemaBrembo Stylema
Front suspensionShowa Separate Function — Big PistonShowa Big PistonÖhlins NIX30
Rear suspensionShowa Öhlins STX40Öhlins STX40
ErgonomicsRegular handlebarsRegular handlebarsLower clip-on handlebars
InstrumentsMulti-function instruments, Colour TFT5-inch TFT5-inch TFT
Cruise controlUnavailableOptionalOptional
Ride modesRoad, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurableRoad, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, TrackRoad, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, Track
2023+ Triumph Street Triple R, Street Triple RS, and Street Triple Moto2™ model spec differences

OK, let’s take that spec sheet for a ride.

Riding the Triumph Street Triple RS

2023 Triumph Street Triple RS Review parked LA Forest
2023 Triumph Street Triple RS, ready to ride

I went into the ride on the 2023 Street Triple RS with quite a clear idea of what to expect. I had ridden other Street Triples before, and I had heard every opinion on them you could find. So I went in with high expectations. They were met fully — in almost every aspect.

Getting on to the Street Triple RS, which I rented from Riders Share, I noted two things immediately. Firstly, this one didn’t come with cruise control. I know it’s an optional extra. But while it’s an option I’d always spring for (not that critical on a naked bike, but it’s nice to shake the pins and needles out of my fingers), I realised that not everyone would, which would make buying a used model more difficult. (It’s one thing to appreciate about the MT-09 SP — they all have the same features as standard.)

Secondly, the Street Triple RS’s display is a little weird. It bugs me when a rectangular display is in a differently-shaped housing, even if there are other lights to make up the rest of the space. It just seems like a square peg in a round hole.

2023 Triumph Street Triple RS TFT Display
2023 Triumph Street Triple RS TFT Display

Plus, I could never find a display layout on the TFT display that I liked. I flicked through all four options and didn’t like any of them. The owner agreed. I even prefer the base model Street Triple R’s more conventional LCD. Give me a big tacho!

2023 Triumph Street Triple R LCD instruments
2023 Triumph Street Triple R (the “base model”) LCD instruments

I don’t mean to nitpick… but also, I do. C’mon, these are expensive. It’s a “one bike” for many people. And you have to look at the display all the time. It should be an aesthetically rewarding experience, as you can find on BMW and Ducati bikes.

I was really anxious to hear the Street Triple RS’ engine. The Striple I rode had (thankfully, for a fair comparison) a stock exhaust. Expanding regulations have taken their toll on most exhaust sounds, so one can’t fairly judge a stock exhaust… but I do like the bark of the Triumph triple more than that of the MT-09. An aftermarket exhaust would wake either up. Nevertheless, they’re not the same motor.

Like the other Street Triples since the first, the 2023 5th-gen Street Triple RS has power and torque all over the rev range. Apart from having handlebars, it’s quite different from riding a 600 cc sport bike. I don’t think 600s lack torque down low (you don’t need much torque when doing low-rev commuting, anyway), but there’s no question that they have a high-rpm kick. The Street Triple has less of one, as it’s more linear all the way through.

But lest you think “linear” = “boring”, far from it. The torque delivery of the Street Triple RS’ engine just means it’s exciting all the time!

The part I like most about the Street Triple is just how easy it is to quickly start riding fast. The layout is very intuitive to most motorcycle owners. The low weight gives you room for error, almost giving me a feeling of widening the lanes. It’s so easy to start, stop, and turn, that I can make mistakes, catch them, and correct them. That’s the magic of a lightweight, powerful motorcycle.

All the controls work as expected. Nothing surprised me. This includes things like the quickshifter, brakes, and suspension. Again, the Street Triple RS matched its high expectations.

I can’t comment on the mirrors as the version I was riding had bar-end mirrors (which I know look cool, but which I find very difficult to use in most situations). Stock, the Street Triple comes with OEM bar-end mirrors, which owners report buzz at most speeds (see this thread on Triumphrat.net). They swap them out with Rizoma ones.

I’m a huge fan of bikes in the ~90 kW/120 hp range, especially when they’re sub-200 kg/440 lb in weight. My own old “beater” bike, a Honda 919 (a.k.a. the Hornet 900 or CB900F), is like this, though somewhat heavier. (See here on why I like owning a “beater”.)

Bikes in this power and weight range, with handlebars, are weapons on twisty back roads. Yes, I regularly got passed on straights by 200-hp superbikes. But I don’t care. It’s the amount of power that seems like plenty only until someone faster goes past you and you think “I wonder what that’s like?”

In a vacuum, though, I don’t think I’d want any more than the power of the Street Triple RS — at least, in the kinds of places that I typically ride. If I spent a lot of time on huge Autobahn-like straights or sweepers, I would think differently.

Having been lucky enough to have ridden those roads on everything from a Suzuki GSX-R1000R to a Harley-Davidson Low Rider S (which I didn’t particularly enjoy in that location for reasons for another day), I can confidently say that bikes like the Street Triple RS — and others in its power/weight class — are absolutely my favourites to ride there.

I’ve ridden bikes less powerful than the Street Triple RS, and when they’re significantly less powerful, they’re not fun when you get to an open straight. Bikes too powerful aren’t as fun on the curves for someone of my modest abilities. And motorcycles that are too heavy just take too much body English to get moving.

This is why motorcycles aren’t just individual to a rider — they’re highly dependent on the places you can ride. If all you have is wide open roads around you, a superbike might be frustrating.

Speaking of which, that’s naturally one place where the Street Triple RS falters. No wind protection means fatigue, eventually, on highways. It wasn’t a big deal, though, as it was counteracted by the fact that on the Street Triple you’re leaning forwards slightly, heading directly into the wind. Still, I’d recommend a good helmet and earplugs for anyone who has to do any distance on highways on the way to the “fun” stuff.

Main Competitors to the Street Triple RS

The Triumph Street Triple RS is a premium middleweight sport bike. So it has tons of competition from motorcycles with a diverse range of engines.

But probably the best comparison point for the Street Triple RS is the Yamaha MT-09SP — a bike I also had the pleasure of riding in the same area.

2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP LHS static 1
2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP LHS, Los Angeles Highway

Like the Street Triple RS, the MT-09SP is based on a three-cylinder engine. Since 2021, Yamaha dramatically updated the MT-09SP, giving it an 890-cc triple that makes similar power to the Street Triple’s.

Both bikes have a lot of tech in common, like cornering ABS and quickshifters.

You can see how the specs stack up below, but let me give my overall personal impression of riding the 2021 MT-09SP and Street Triple RS in similar conditions at the same location.

Overall, both bikes are very easy to ride, and extremely rewarding to ride in that environment. The 2021 revision of the MT-09 is such a huge refresh that it bears much less resemblance to its former model than it does to the Street Triple.

Both bikes are lightweight, powerful, and easy to manage.

Now here’s the kicker: I preferred the MT-09SP. Overall, I just liked its power delivery and geometry a little more. It felt more predictable and thus easier to fling about with reckless abandon. There’s also the fact that the screen is much more pleasant to use, which helped my experience a lot — it’s fun to watch the tachometer wind up.

But if you really like revving a bike out, the Street Triple RS will reward you more. You can rev it past 12,000 rpm in everyday riding. I found myself less surprised by the rev limiter than I was with the MT-09SP.

In general, the engine in the Street Triple RS is more fun. This is the be-all and end-all for many. It definitely makes the decision confusing!

Owning both would be different, too. The Yamaha has much wider valve service intervals. But the Street Triple R looks better (and still more than the 2024 refresh of the MT-09) and sounds better stock, and probably would sound better if they both had a comparable exhaust.

Not saying the difference is dramatic — you can’t really go wrong.

Below is an overview of the specs comparing the Street Triple RS and the MT-09 SP, plus some discussion notes.

Item2023 Street Triple RS2024 Yamaha MT-09SPDiscussion
EngineInline 3-cylinderInline 3-cylinderSamesies
Capacity765 cc890 ccIs more better? (Often, yes…)
Bore/Stroke (mm)78 / 53.4 mm78 x 62.1 mmSame bore; Street Triple RS is more oversquare
Compression ratio13.25:111.5:1MT-09 SP is much less stressed
Peak power88.3 kW / 120 PS / 118.4 bhp @ 11,500 rpm87.5 kW / 119 PS / 87.5 kW @ 10,000 rpmSimilar power, but MT-09 gets there lower
Peak torque80 Nm / 59 lb-ft @ 9,500 rpm93 Nm / 68.6 lb-ftMT-09 has more torque
Front suspensionShowa 41mm BPFKYB inverted forkBoth high-end
Rear suspensionÖhlins STX40 piggyback reservoir monoshockÖhlins STX46 piggyback reservoir monoshock Both high-end Öhlins
Front brakes2 x 310mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers2 x 298 mm discs, radial calipersNot Brembos on the MT-09SP
Ride aidsCornering ABS, quickshifter, optional cruiseCornering ABS, quickshifter, cruise control (all standard)MT-09SP comes with everything
Total weight188 kg
(90% fuel)
189 kg / 417 lb
(full tank)
Same, or MT-09 even lighter
Street Triple RS vs MT-09 specs

Anyway, here’s a brief overview of the other bikes you might consider.

Wrap up

It may seem that describing a motorcycle as one that almost met my lofty expectations is damning it with faint praise. And perhaps it is — after all, the Street Triple RS did miss the mark for me on a couple of fronts, like the TFT display (I just couldn’t jibe with it).

When you expect perfection, reality will always fall short. I can nitpick any motorcycle I’ve loved. The 2021 Yamaha MT-09SP is ugly. The Suzuki Hayabusa is heavy. The Ducati Monster (old ones, anyway) has grumpy days. And so on.

But the simple truth is: I loved my time on the Street Triple RS. It’s a fantastic bike, just like its predecessors were. In an age where 600 cc sport bikes don’t get the attention from manufacturers that they once did, the Street Triple RS is a bike I’d say riders (who have suitable roads around) should experience at least once in their lives. I know I’m looking forward to sampling one again!

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6 Comments

  1. Another great article Dana.

    We seem to appreciate similar bikes.

    The non RS appealing too as it is available in white in UK…I also prefer the dash display.

    I was unaware the MT-09 SP has IMU .. this is a good thing.

    Glad you enjoying the 919 (also 900 Hornet) .. Sold my 600cc Hornet & currently on a Gen 1 CB1000RA

    I thought you had a 2017 S1000R … Will look elsewhere on your site to see update re same.

    Thanks

    Kevin 👍

  2. The Street Triple R 765cc 2023 has 118HP even though it is less displacement and the MT-09 890cc (and SP version) 2023 has 119HP about the same horsepower but both are comparable.

    1. Yeah, they make their power differently. I hit the limiter by accident on the MT-09 a few times. It’s one of the reasons I prefer the smaller engine — I personally just find it fun to rev a bike out a bit higher. But the MT-09’s power is easier to access.

  3. I’d have to say if money is an issue, the ST3 R is the best option, just down 10 hp but same amount of torque. In the Naked MW segment, I’d opt for the revised Yamaha MT-09 base version, it’s more expensive, but Yamaha made some great improvements, fixed the dread awful ugly front-end and improved the rider triangle with a more engaging rider position yet more comfortable with better reach to the ground. I think the MT-09 is more about torque and the ST3 is more oriented for the track. Being a naked bike, higher torque is more fun than higher hp. If the weight of a bike is not a concern, I’d opt for the Kawasaki Z900, with even more torque. The competition is stiff indeed, but I’m a fan of the Japanese bikes for their superior reliability. One thing that you didn’t find wrong with the Almost Perfect ST3 is the appearance of the front-end of the bike, not a fan of the second-generation bug eyes, the first-generation round bug eyes were classic and much more appealing in aesthetics. The current generation bug eyes look as if they bulged out of the face, not very attractive which takes away from the looks of the bike. Manufacturers seem to have a hard time with making attractive front-ends for nakeds. Take a look at the 2021-23 Yamaha MT-09 and compare it to the revised 2024 MT-09 to see how the improvements to the appearance of the front-end can dramatically improve overall looks. Yamaha did a great job with the update, too bad they had to increase the price by $800, think mainly due to enhanced electronics, improved QS, etc. Again, no bike is perfect!

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