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.
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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).
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.”
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
- The first R model in 2009 with better suspension and brakes
- New “slanty eyed look” in 2012
- A revised look from 2013 with a low exhaust (no more under-tail pipes) and optional ABS. The newer R model got radial calipers
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
|2023 Street Triple RS Spec
|96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpm
|Slightly up on the Street Triple R (88 kW / 120 PS / 118 bhp)
|80 Nm / 59 lb-ft @ 9500 rpm
|Brembo Stylema calipers
|Up from the M4.32 on the R. Also up on the previous-gen RS model’s Brembo M50 calipers.
|Showa Big Piston Fork, fully adjustable
|Better than the R (which has separate functions in each fork leg), but not as good as the Öhlins on the Moto2
|Öhlins STX40, fully adjustable
|Wet weight (90% fuel)
|188 kg / 415 lb
|Still light after all these years!
|Par for the course these days, even on mid-spec bikes
|Standard on the MT-09 SP and even the XSR900…
|Road, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, Track
|* 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)
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.
|Street Triple R
|Street Triple RS
|Street Triple Moto2™
|88 kW (118 bhp / 120 PS) at 11500 rpm
|96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpm
|96 kW (128 bhp / 130 PS) at 12000 rpm
|Showa Separate Function — Big Piston
|Showa Big Piston
|Lower clip-on handlebars
|Multi-function instruments, Colour TFT
|Road, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable
|Road, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, Track
|Road, Rain, Sport, Rider-configurable, Track
OK, let’s take that spec sheet for a ride.
Riding the Triumph Street Triple RS
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.
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!
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.
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.
|2023 Street Triple RS
|2024 Yamaha MT-09SP
|Is more better? (Often, yes…)
|78 / 53.4 mm
|78 x 62.1 mm
|Same bore; Street Triple RS is more oversquare
|MT-09 SP is much less stressed
|88.3 kW / 120 PS / 118.4 bhp @ 11,500 rpm
|87.5 kW / 119 PS / 87.5 kW @ 10,000 rpm
|Similar power, but MT-09 gets there lower
|80 Nm / 59 lb-ft @ 9,500 rpm
|93 Nm / 68.6 lb-ft
|MT-09 has more torque
|Showa 41mm BPF
|KYB inverted fork
|Öhlins STX40 piggyback reservoir monoshock
|Öhlins STX46 piggyback reservoir monoshock
|Both high-end Öhlins
|2 x 310mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers
|2 x 298 mm discs, radial calipers
|Not Brembos on the MT-09SP
|Cornering ABS, quickshifter, optional cruise
|Cornering ABS, quickshifter, cruise control (all standard)
|MT-09SP comes with everything
|189 kg / 417 lb
|Same, or MT-09 even lighter
Anyway, here’s a brief overview of the other bikes you might consider.
Aprilia Tuono 660
The Aprilia Tuono 660 is one of three motorcycles in Aprilia’s high-end middleweight 660 range, along with the high-end RS 660 and the Tuareg 660 adventure bike. The Tuono 660 is the everyday sport bike. It has a fairing, but not a full one, and it still has handlebars. The 660 parallel twin makes a peak of 100 hp / 73.5 kW @ 10500 rpm and has a satisfying sound to it. While it’s at the lower end of the “middleweight” capacity spectrum, that’s a bunch of power, and the Tuono comes with many ride aids, including cruise control as standard, and optional cornering ABS and quick shifter (they’re all standard on the RS).
BMW F 900 R
The BMW F 900 R doesn’t get a ton of attention. But it’s a good bike and deserves more of one! The engine is an 895 cc parallel twin with a 270-degree crankshaft, and it has quite a good sound to it — I’ve often mistaken it for a cracking V-twin. It makes just modest horsepower of 73 kW / 99 hp at 8500 rpm, which is totally fine. The bike also has cornering ABS and cruise control, though not in every market (e.g. not Australia).
CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport
The CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport may not have a fairing, and comes with baggage from being a Chinese bike, but its clip-on bars and forward-canted position mean business. And it’s cheap. The CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport has a few components that are quite high-spec, like Brembo Stylema calipers (superbike spec!) and adjustable KYB suspension (fully adjustable at front, preload/rebound at rear), and it even comes with cruise control. The 649 cc parallel twin (with 180-degree crank) makes 55 kW / 73 hp at 8500 rpm, and it puts power to the ground via a slipper clutch. The CFMOTO lacks an IMU, but given the rate at which CFMOTO is upgrading their bikes, I don’t expect that to remain the case forever.
Ducati Monster 937 / SP
The Ducati Monster 937 is just called the Ducati “Monster”. It’s the latest in the long line of Ducati Monster motorcycles, and so much has changed in three decades. The Monster 937 is powered by the 937 cc liquid-cooled Testastretta 11-degree engine that makes 82 kW / 111 hp at 9250 rpm. It’s the same motor that powers a bunch of bikes, including the Multistrada V2, the Supersport 950, and the Hypermotard. The Monster is super lightweight thanks to its front frame (no longer a trellis, and beyond the monocoque even) and thoughtful design, but has eschewed the iconic trellis frame and single-sided swingarm. The high-end 2023+ SP model comes with Brembo Stylema calipers and Öhlins suspension. See here for more about the Monster 937.
MV Agusta Brutale RR
The MV Agusta Brutale RR (previously Brutale 800 RR) is a high-power, high-spec, and decidedly design-led sport naked (see the coveted explored rear wheel on the single-sided swingarm, plus the love-or-hate three-outlet exhaust). It’s based on a highly-tuned 798 cc triple that makes a whopping 140 hp at 12,300 rpm, quite a lot higher than its competitors — but it comes high up in the rev range. The Brutale RR comes with fully-adjustable Marzocchi / Sachs suspension, cornering ABS, and cruise control. The Brutale RR is a little heavier though, weighing about 10 kg / 20 lb more than its competitors. Yes, it’s expensive.
Yamaha MT-09 / SP
The Yamaha MT-09 (see buyer’s guide) — and especially the SP — is a high-end sport bike powered by Yamaha’s own cracking three-cylinder engine. While earlier MT-09s had issues with the suspension and engine performance, the engine has always been well-loved. Since 2021, Yamaha upgraded the 847 cc triple to 890 cc, and upped the power and mid-range at the same time. But what really caught people’s attention was the improved chassis, suspension, and handling. Cycle World called the MT-09 “a better Street Triple” (before the 2023 upgrade). Fighting words! The 2021 revisions come with cornering ABS, and the 2021-onward SP comes with an Öhlins shock and much better ride, plus standard cruise control, which also comes on the standard model from 2024. (See the buyer’s guide to sift through that!)
Triumph Street Triple R / RS / Moto2
The Street Triple R / RS / Moto2 (refreshed for 2023) is Triumph’s latest in its street-oriented series of sport bikes. Originally, the Street Triple was derived from the Daytona 675, but since the Daytona was sunsetted in the mid-2010s, the Street Triple has led a life of its own. The Street Triple’s engine capacity expanded from 675 cc to 765 cc in 2017, and in 2023 the model gained cornering ABS and even optional cruise control. The top-spec RS (apart from the limited and expensive Moto2) has an Öhlins shock and Brembo M50 calipers. And comes in yellow! see the full Street Triple buyer’s guide for the model history.
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!