Riding Impression: 2009 Triumph Street Triple R

Light, narrow, agile and torquey, the little Trip’ is one of the best naked bikes on the market.

Photography by Jay K. McNally

Riding Impression: 2009 Triumph Street Triple R

Riding Impression: 2009 Triumph Street Triple R

After more than 1000 miles in a weekend of riding, things become quite plain. The relationship between you and your bike is either negotiated quickly and works, or things go very wrong.

It didn't take much seat time for me to figure out that the Street Triple R was as affable, friendly and fun as the standard Street Triple we enjoyed so much in 2008 (it won Best Standard honors that year). Only now it's better, thanks to the $9499 R's improved brakes and suspension. The $800 premium over the '09 standard model is totally worth it.

So, as I left for San Francisco from our Newport Beach offices and released the R's excellent clutch, felt the healthy bottom-end power and the good throttle response from the soulful 675cc Triple, I was pretty sure things were going to work out. Lane-splitting to get out of town was as low-pressure as it could be due to the bike's agile handling and slim profile. Once I got on the highway and up to the 85–90-mph tempo of Interstate 5 through central California, the 8000 or so revs this cruising speed required didn't seem as frantic as it might simply because of the of three-cylinder engine's nice cadence.

Excellent range is provided by the 4.6-gallon steel fuel tank and 45-mpg fuel economy. It wasn't uncommon to make 150 miles before the fuel light came on.

Once up north and having fun on winding roads around Bodega Bay, I began to enjoy the benefits of the uprated suspension and the great radial-mount brakes. High-speed damping is a bit harsh (bumpy freeways get tiresome!), but the control provided by the Kayaba fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork and single shock (with threaded preload-adjustment collars but no provided spanner—grrr...) more than makes up for it. I also rode the bike two-up and was surprised how well it continued to steer, even at deep lean angles.

Negatives? The seat is terrible! I admit I'm not the smallest dude on staff (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), and sometimes Road Test Editor Don Canet says us big fellas "smash the seat foam" down, but this seat, like, evaporates when my ass hits it. I can't believe I did two 500-mile days on it! After a few hours in the saddle, I thought it might somehow have gotten better, but I'd just become comfortably numb. So, Triumph, what I ask is that you get whomever designed this seat to sit on this saddlewhile they design the replacement. Trust me, they will do it quickly.

Okay, so an aftermarket or re-foamed seat isn't too expensive. And the effort is worth it to get everything else this awesome motorcycle offers.

So, yeah, me and the Street Triple R got along great.

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R

2009 Triumph Street Triple R