Details: 2012 Triumph Street Triple R

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Out here in LA, we’ve got a lot of bikes coming through our respective garages. Fancy stuff too. Grant’s riding a Diavel this week, Sean’s on an Aprilia and I just got my hands back on the Daytona 675R. But even with that kind of dream garage, there’s very few motorcycles that we wish would stick around permanently. It’s always surprising which bikes those are too. The 2012 Triumph Street Triple R doesn’t make nearly 200bhp, doesn’t have traction control and doesn’t even wear Ohlins badges on its suspension. But, even without all that, it’s still the closest thing to a perfect motorcycle we’ve ridden.

Photos: Grant Ray

Tires: One of the things you have to get used to about riding press bikes is riding on OEM tires. The D204s that came stock on the ’11 R1, for instance, were garbage. So much so that they essentially made the bike unrideable. But not on the Street Triple R; it comes from the showroom wearing Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsas, which heat up quickly and work decently in the wet, but are still capable of huge lean angles and big throttle openings in the canyons. They’re what we’d put on a bike like this Triumph anyways, so the fact that they’re there as stock is a $300 bonus.

Fueling: Triumph doesn’t communicate this, but the ’12 Street Triple now comes with switchable riding modes. There’s just no button for switching them. Instead, fueling is smooth and predictable when you’re gentle with the throttle, automagically switching to immediate, sharp and precise when you get aggressive. To us, that makes a lot more sense than a silly switch; it does what you need it to do when you need it to do it, without you having to get involved. Regardless of what you ask though, the fueling is absolutely perfect; no hiccups, no stutters, no hesitation.

Power: Power is down from 124bhp on the Daytona to 104 on the Street. That’s not as bad as it sounds. You’ll miss a little at the absolute top of the rev range, but the low and mid ranges are surprisingly full for a triple displacing only 675cc. Open the throttle and you won’t be left wanting.

Flexibility: See above. It’s surprisingly useful for a relatively small motor. Yes, we know it’s ridiculous to call a 675 “relatively small,” but it’s 2011, not 1974 and this is the world we live in. The only thing you miss coming off the larger, 1,050cc Speed Triple is the bigger bike’s explosive punch at mild throttle openings. You won’t be left behind on the Street.

Satin finishes: In addition to the new headlights, Triumph also ditched chrome finishes on the exhaust and heel guards for 2012, replacing them with satin finishes. Chrome is tacky, thank you.

Steering: In order to ride a motorcycle with any degree of confidence, you need an intimate connection with the front tire. It should communicate every last intricacy of what it’s doing, from absorbing tiny bumps to just how much grip you have left. You also want your inputs to be translated intuitively and proportionately. Thanks to high-quality damping and a steeper rake than the stock Street Triple, the R does all the above.

Wheelies: Full throttle in 2nd over a crest and your front wheel’s going to come up. Grab 3rd and it’s going to come down. If the wheel’s not straight, it’s going to get a little wiggle on when it does. All that is smooth, fun and controllable on the Street Triple and not in the least bit scary.

Brakes: Again, riding press bikes does have drawbacks. Stock brakes among them. But on the Street Triple R, you don’t have bullshit rubber lines, you have nice braided steel items and the radial Nissin calipers off the Daytona. Good feel and incredibly strong.

Seat: This is probably the biggest advantage the Street Triple has over the Daytona. In place of a little foam pad, you instead get a big, comfy saddle. It’s still easy to move around and achieve proper BP, your butt just doesn’t go into convulsions after 20 miles.

Headlights: The most controversial thing about the ’12 bike is the newly angular headlights. To us, these are a much better fit, evoking technology and performance in place of some 1960s oily two-wheeled ideal. We just wish they included projector beams so we could easily fit HIDs.

Colors/Graphics: I’ve got a soft spot for old JPS Lotuses, so this black and gold definitely rings my bell. I also dig the new Triumph logo font, for the same reason as I dig the headlights — this isn’t a retro, it’s a modern performance bike and it looks like it, just in a classy, understated way. The little red R is a classy, just-flashy-enough touch.

Mirrors: You can see stuff in them! That stuff isn’t your elbows!

Price: At just $9,599, the Street Triple R makes every other performance naked look silly. How can BMW justify $11k+ for the crappy F800R when the Street will run circles around it? Why is a Ducati Streetfighter 848 three grand more? At that price point, monthly payments are going to be what, $150-ish? I paid $170 on my iPhone bill last month (travel adds up). Awesome motorcycle or sexts from girls? Wait, that’s a harder choice than I first thought…

Riding Position: The bars are slightly too high. This leads to a little bit of instability above 80mph, worsening as you get north of 120. You also get buffeted fairly badly on the highway. But, riding position is personal. A lot of you are going to appreciate how upright it is if you do most of your riding in town. I do too, but I live in LA where I go at least 100mph on a daily basis. Dropping the bars an inch or fitting clip-ons on risers would cure this and, talking to owners, both of those are popular modifications.

See? A low-mount Arrow does wonders for making the tail look svelte.

Stock exhausts: Like all stock motorcycles, the Triumph’s cans are a little too visually bulky. A low-mount Arrow looks way nicer. Stock ones still sound nice though.

Two-tone seat: The pillion portion of the one-piece seat is ugly grey vinyl. It looks like something that should be on a bass boat.

Clocks: Triumph’s universal clocks feature poor graphic design, are hard to read and don’t really display much info. If you’re going to use one set of instruments on every single bike you make, at least make them look nice.

And that’s it. There’s literally only four minor things wrong with the Street Triple R, other than the fact that I’m not currently riding it. An awesome brand, good looks, good comfort, good performance and a really, really fun ride for less than $10k? This thing is pure win.

  • Ben Incarnate

    This is not the poisonous Wes I heard about once upon a time…

  • Lama glama

    Triumph hit it out of the park with this one. It really is a spectacular bike in every way that matters. Triumph in general is on a roll, and this has got to be the pick of a darn fine litter.


    I’ve been sold on this bike since the first article you did about it. Good write up this time too, but you guys need a copy editor. Correct “where” to “wear” in the first paragraph.

  • Mark D

    It does seem like a killer bike, but you guys are nuts if you think the bug eyes/no fly screen looks better than the round lamps/fly screen.

    I also approve of the matte finish and new logo, though.

    • Sean Smith

      I think Wes is nuts for that (and many other) reasons.

    • Goldhammer

      So subjective, ya know? I keep going back and forth…I like both for different reasons.

      One thing I definitely disagree on is the low mount exhaust. Something about those two cans on either side, swept up high, is awesome to me (granted, they’d have to be Arrows and not stock). Gives it a more muscular look in my opinion.

      To each their own…

      • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

        Completely agree. Don’t like the visual weight distribution without those high pipes

        • Mark D

          The low-mount is cooler to me simply because adding saddle-bags would be way easier. If its a do-it-all bike, ratty grocery-getting saddle bags are a must.

      • 80-watt Hamster

        I’m with you on the exhaust. Seems better proportioned with the stocks. Plus I’ve ridden on with Arrow cans (though not the low-mount): too f’n loud. Also prefer the round lamps, though putting the flyscreen above the squinty-eyes makes them bearable. And on a final stylistic note, matte > chrome.

        This bike has been on the top of my drool-list since taking a demo ride. Now if I could only find the cash for one, plus somebody to swap bits with depending on which version I find.

        • Scott Pargett
          • Kevin

            Very nice. Bar change also?

          • Wes Siler

            Love that bike.

          • runrun

            beautiful. what kind of cans are those?

          • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

            you mind giving us a rundown of what all you’ve done to it?

            • John

              Wow that looks almost exactly like mine. It looks like he has a Chain Reaction Moto exhaust (which sounds amazing btw) a swap out for apex clip ons, tech spec tank pads, fender eliminator, rear sets, And a full kit of sliders…

          • Goldhammer

            beautiful, nice work. yea a rundown of mods would be great

  • Thom

    Triumph seems to be hitting them out of the park all the way around these days .

    Couple of other sites are reporting record profits for the company .

    Yeaaahh Triumph !

    Thpppppppppt ‘ The Motor Company ‘ That’ll teach you , sending all those jobs to India !

    And gee , speaking of profits , just WTH is Victory/Indian and their new abomination these days ?

    • BigRooster

      I was surprised to see 50k units as a major year for Triumph. I thought they sold in higher volume. Very impressed that they can be so diverse and quick with new models whilst being small and yet profitable.

  • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

    Seat kinda has the same nut-crushing effect of the gladius. Heard the Sargent seat is a worthwhile upgrade.

    • Wes Siler

      Learn to grip the tank with your knees under braking. No weight should be going through the bars.

      • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

        learn to suck it. It’s a problem across all the forums, not a problem with my riding.

        • jpenney

          I disagree with all the “forum problems”. Twitchy throttle. Nope. Nut slamming seat. Nope. In 8000 miles I’ve adjusted the angle of the hand controls, the brake pedal, added a kriega us-20, and fitted Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires. This bike is damned near perfect.

          • filly-fuzz

            Man I hate forum tossers.

        • Scott Pargett

          Hey man, I’ve rode this bike for two years. Wes is right, it’s a sport bike, you gotta do alot more than just sit there. Use you legs, back and core.

      • Wes Siler

        There’s a lot of group think in forums and people presenting opinions that are less than expertly informed. Taking the time to learn real riding skills eliminates about 99 percent of the problems people have with motorcycles.

        • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

          It and the gladius are two of the only bikes I’ve had that problem with.

  • Jesse

    Sat my 6′ tall/ 34″ inseam / monkey armed carcass on one today at the local dealer. So want, especially with the Arrow GP exhaust shown on the previous generation photo.

  • tomwito

    I’m in the market for a new bike and I’m completely torn on what I want. I have an 09 ZX6-R and just got my wife an 06 Daytona 675. I dont know if I want a Speed Triple or one of the Japanese liter bikes or maybe the Street Triple. I would prefer to have a bike to fit whatever mood I’m in but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. This is going to be a very dificult choice.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      We live in great times to have such a bevy of choices.

      • stempere

        Couldn’t agree more, i’m thinking about selling my crosaro veloce next spring or summer and go for something more economical for my everyday commute and still fun for the weekends. Top 3 right now is StreetR, Brutale 675 and SMC-R.
        They’s so much great bike nowadays, it’s awesome.

    • Myles

      Grab a zx10r or s1k. You know you want the powahhh

  • Goldhammer

    I want one to replace my SV650. real bad. and I’ve been looking for used ’08-’11 Striple R’s.

    Any difference between the ’12 model and the older version besides headlights and graphics?

    • Sean Smith

      The old model goes to 11, which is pretty cool, but the new one goes all the way to 12.

    • Slartibartfast

      I actually sold my 2002 SV650 about two weeks ago to buy a used Street Triple. Still miss the ole SV though; but purely out of nostalgia. The Street triple is a better bike in almost every way. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about riding it.

  • BigRooster

    Two days as a paying customer and two articles on bikes making my short list for a Christmas purchase. What luck.
    Glowing praise for the Street Triple is nothing new but it’s helping me make a decision non the less.

  • Gene

    Man… what did Grant do wrong to deserve the Diavel?

    Seriously, I do have to say HFL is making my next bike decision be British. None of the Japanese stuff even gives a quiver in the wallet.

    • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

      The shiver isn’t all that mind-blowing

      • Grant Ray

        The Diavel can go to plaid and the Shiver is boatloads of fun if you ride it fast.

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

          I think we all benefit from you guys moving to LA (and also adding Sean to the team).

        • ontheroad

          The Diavel does plaid surprisingly well. Turn the TC way down and light that giant tire up!

        • a hipster (’75 CB750 SS, ’10 Bonneville…….obviously)

          That cb1000r did much better out in Malibu than the shiver did.

    • Sean Smith

      When you’re blowing away busas and ZX-14s and cackling in your helmet as a result of mind-bending acceleration, you just don’t have the time to think about it’s looks or the pros/cons of a 240 rear tire.

  • Coreyvwc

    The little English brand that could.

  • HammSammich

    So, I’ve been going back and forth between replacing my Bonnie with the Speed Triple R or the Street Triple R. Every one I’ve every spoken to who has ridden the base Speedy and Street has said that despite its power advantage, the Speedy is the one to get if you need to be mild-mannered from time to time…

    Does the new throttle mapping on the Street change that and make the Street a milder beast, when necessary?

    • filly-fuzz

      Keep your wrist calm and the street will respond accordingly, give it some and you will be rewarded. Its as simple as that.

      My Street R does 10000km trips across oz, the commute, two up journeys, shopping, track days even some muddy dirt roads!

      Have you ridden one yet?
      If not go and test it NOW!

      • Sean Smith

        +1 Go ride some bikes. The Street is easier to ride fast, so you naturally tend toward that. The Speed is more of a handful (Literally. Grab a handful and the front shoots skyward), so you’re forced into taking it easy quite a bit.

        • filly-fuzz

          Will do right now.

        • contender

          I wish Triumph were on the demo list for the LB motorcycle show. Sigh, but probably for the best.

        • HammSammich

          Thanks for the insight, guys. Unfortunately, filly-fuzz, where I’m at in the Northern Hemisphere (way North of SoCal) the roads are too icy for a test ride until about March.

          I have ridden a 2008 Speed Triple and found it to be predictable and calm at the “around-town” speeds I was riding…never grabbed a handful. Honestly, I feel like I’m asking for a lot from my next bike. I need to do some touring (300-400miles/day), daily commuting, running errands around town, and I hope to get into riding some track days. I am fairly certain that the Speed could do all of that well, but I like the idea of going with the smaller bike, if it would suffice (Price isn’t a killer here, but if I could save a couple grand it wouldn’t hurt my feelings). The insurance rates between the two are surprisingly close, and both fairly affordable too.

          Guess, the only thing to do is ride them back to back at the spring demo…April seems so far away…sigh.

  • isambard

    Came this close to buying a used 09 str this summer but pussied out and bought a (much cheaper) monster s2r 800 instead. I spent half what I saved upgrading the suspension, and this article is making me regret my decision a little. On the other hand, I still have my license.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    If the Street Triple makes all other nakeds look silly, and the Speed Triple also makes all other nakeds look silly, where does that leave them in relation to each other? Or does occupying separate displacement classes make the question irrelevant? (Sounds snarky, but this is a genuine question.)

    • DoctorNine

      You question makes all the other questions on this thread sound silly…

      • jpenney

        The street is lighter and feels frisky. The speed is a bit heavier and more cumbersome but more muscular.

        The ergonomics are different, though much less so from 2011 on when the speed was altered to fit more like the street.

        In the end I went with the street because of the weight as I like a lighter bike.

  • damien

    Love this bike. I often think about upgrading from my thruxton to one. I definitely prefer the round headlights, I guess that makes sense considering my current bike.

  • dux

    Triumph fueling auto-magic, engage!

  • oldblue

    I own a Daytona 675 and I love it. I’ve ridden a friend’s Street Triple R…and I love it more.

    Agree with everything written…apart from the rubbish new headlights.

    • jpenney

      I prefer the round ones but the spiderman lights look WAY better with a fly screen.

  • Andy Gregory

    It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. The only thing that could possibly get in the way is a Daytona 675R, but this bike just makes too much damn sense. Will definitely go low mount for touring purposes, and that’s fine by me. It’s a matter of when, not if…

  • 2ndderivative

    The FZ8 can be had for 6 grand new, while no one is discounting the Striple. 3.5 grand of upgrades could turn that thing into a beast. Thoughts?

    • Ben Incarnate

      Part of the point of middleweights is how nimble they are (or should be). The FZ8 is at a 60 pound disadvantage – it weighs just as much as the FZ1, Z1000, and CB1000R. There’s not much getting around that. A full exhaust system shaves less than 10 lbs – and that’s already gobbled up over $1k of the savings.

    • Mark D

      …lower insurance helps, too, though that’s more pronounced in the UK/EU/’Muricah’s Hat than in the States.

    • Sean Smith

      The difference between the FZ8 and the Street Triple is that one is a sporty-ish bike and the other is a real sportsbike that’s been re-geared and had taller bars added. That alone makes them basically incomparable.

    • Myles

      Decide how much you want to spend on a bike, and then buy the best bike at that price point. It’s very difficult to make up for differences with upgrades. A stock fz8 is a great deal, but a tricked out fz8 with 4k of upgrades is still inferior to this tripR.

  • Tim

    My ’11 basic Street has a throttle that acts as if it has the automatic riding modes so I suspect Triumph has had this for a while. I find the seat pretty bad so I replaced it with a Sargent. Love the under seat exhaust, even if it does get hot in Summer. Don’t like the new lights. Not the shape so much as how the protrude too far and look ungainly. Also, the “old” metal was not chrome, just more highly polished. Very sublte difference in person.

    • jpenney

      I noticed that after my last service. They updated to the latest map definitley changed the feel of the throttle. I especially noticed that it took a more vigorous twist to pop up the front wheel.

  • Ratlanta

    I agree about the low pipe, but its hard to beat the way the Zard looks.

  • Alex

    As you’ve ridden both of them and are likely a far more capable rider than me… Does the Street Triple’s seat inhibit corner position in hard riding or on the track? I have a Daytona and am looking into swapping the rear end with a Striple for comfort’s sake, and am wondering if I’d regret it come my next track day.

    • Wes Siler

      Nah, it’s totally fine. I mean it’s easier to find the edge of the seat when it’s a hard corner (daytona), but if you’re going to be riding the bike regularly, you’ll get used to it.

      • Alex

        Very glad to hear it, thanks!

  • robotribe

    For all the round lamp and double undereseat exhaust fans out there, you’re going to hate the 2013 model even more. Spy shots I’ve seen show the Spiderman eyes (of course) a well as new swing arm, single low mount can and tweaked rear end.

    Even though I’m a round lamp ST3 owner, I’m also in the camp who think the Spidermans look better with fly screen than the rounds do.