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Triumph Street Twin review, road test

20th Jun 2016 1:50 pm

We take a thorough look at the baby of the Bonneville family, the Street Twin, to find out whether it is a capable machine, or just a trip back to nostalgia town.

  • Make : Triumph
  • Model : Street Twin

Triumph had unveiled its all-new Bonneville family last year with three distinct models, the entry- level Street Twin, the larger-engined Bonneville T120 and the Thruxton café racer. With these bikes now available in India, we decided to focus on the Street Twin, the bike which replaces the base Bonneville in the company’s line up. While it looks familiar, Triumph claims it is all new. So just how different is the Street Twin from its predecessor? Is it just a bike that’s been designed to appeal to the retro bike crowd based on looks alone, or has Triumph widened its appeal? We spent a few days in the Street Twin’s saddle to answer all these questions and more.

Visually, the Street Twin wears the unmistakable silhouette of the Bonneville, but at a second glance, it’s easy to see the modern touches that make it feel like a contemporary retro motorcycle rather than an old bike. A smaller, slimmer fuel tank, black alloy wheels, twin upswept exhausts finished in brushed metal, a slimmer seat, aluminium headlight bracket, modern clear lens indicators and an LED tail-light complete this neo-retro look. Even the instrument cluster is a very modern –a minimalist design with a single pod which houses the speedometer and a small LCD panel for displaying all the other information. One issue we found with this instrument pod is that it lacks a tachometer and even to do something as simple as look at the time, you need to cycle through all the available views for the LCD panel using the info button on the handlebars.

While we’ll tackle the mechanical considerations later, the conventional forks (with rubber boots) up front and twin shocks at the back too add to the classic styling of the bike. Triumph has gone a long way to stay true to a slim, old-school design and has even stacked the radiator for this new liquid- cooled engine vertically along the twin cradle frame. The throttle bodies designed as faux carburettors which were a fantastic design touch on the previous Bonneville are gone though, and haveinstead been replaced with an aluminium cover that tries its best to convey a sense of old-world charm. Triumph also says that the New WaveCustom Scene played a huge part in the way this new Street Twin was styled and we tend to agree, as the minimal approach to the overall design leaves a lot of room for customers and custom bike builders to really trick out the way the bike looks.

The Street Twin carries forward the tubular steel cradle frame design from the Bonneville, but now this chassis has received ample changes in terms of its geometry. The largest mechanical change, however, is the engine. It might look like it’s the same from the earlier bike, but now this parallel- twin motor houses an increased capacity to 900cc and also sports liquid cooling. The block still retains the cooling fins just like an air-cooled motor, making itmore efficient, and allowing the boffins at Triumph to keep the size of the radiator almost the same as the oil cooler from the outgoing Bonnie. This new motor now revs lower than the older 865cc unit and makes lesser peak power (55hp vs 69hp), but is tuned for higher power delivery in the usable rpm range, i.e. between 2,750 and 4,750rpm, and in this zone, the Street Twin makes 22 percent more power. More importantly however, this new engine makes more torque – 80Nm, and all of it is delivered from as low as 3,230rpm. In the process of making the new engine more usable in real-world conditions, another change has been the cylinder firing order which has gone from 360 degrees on the outgoing bike to 270 degrees on the Street Twin. This really goes a long way in improving low-end torque delivery and also gives a bike a distinctive sound (which is also enhanced thanks to the new exhausts). This engine’s highlight is its refinement, and this vibe-free temperament ensures that the bike is well-liked by a wide variety of riders.

The new motor’s torquey nature is immediately apparent whether riding through congested city roads, open highways or twisty hill roads. The bike’s high tractability makes it a joy to ride in these slow-to-medium speed conditions, and should keep most riders happy as long as they don’t feel the need for some high-revving action. Acceleration is brisk, but not neck-snapping in any way, and the Street Twin can go from zero to 100kph in 6.14 seconds.

The Street Twin only gets a five-speed gearbox, but the ratios are very well spaced and it makes good use of the wide torque spread. The shifts are a bit on the clunkier side, and the action between first and second gear seems rather vague, but once rolling, you can keep the bike in high gears, even in traffic. In urban conditions, another massive benefit is the new slip-assist clutch, which keeps the clutch lever action smooth and light. The Street Twin now also gets high-tech throttle-by-wire which makes for smooth throttle inputs. As part of the updated electronics package, the bike now gets a traction control system. Now this system is quite rudimentary in nature and quite intrusive at times, but when the surface gets loose, you’ll be glad to have this safety net.

The first impression that the Street Twin makes with force is its new easy-going handling. Yes, at 217kg it’s no featherweight, but it is 11kg lighter, and the low saddle makes the Twin feel dramatically lighter and easier to steer. This transforms the Street Twin into a genuine everyday motorcycle. As compared to the original Bonneville, the Street Twin’s steering geometry is now more raked in and itcomes with a larger 18-inch front wheel, while the rear stays at 17 inches. This has certainly made the bike more nimble than before, but it’s not the quickest handler amongst its contemporaries. At speed, steering does require a bit of effort at the handlebars, but overall there’s plenty of grip available and the bike does inspire a fair amount of confidence in the bends as long as you don’t go hunting for excessive lean angles.

The Street Twin is shod with Pirelli Phantom Sport Comp Plus tyres which were developed specifically for this bike. With a 100/90 at the front and a 150/70 at the rear, the new bike’s handling dynamics feel a lot more modern. A few times, especially on the curvier roads, you’ll find yourself wishing for more rounded profile tyres for slightly more grip when cranked over, but these new ones work well enough on most occasions and more often than not, you’ll run out of clearance on the pegs before you get to a lean angle where the tyres don’t hold.

The Kayaba suspension at both ends is a fairly old-school affair with conventional forks up front and twin shocks at the back. Ride quality is rather good for the most part, and the Street Twin glides over most bumps. However, the bike’s weight and shortish suspension travel of 12mm means that the ride does crash over really sharp or large bumps. But on the whole, the comfort of the wide and low saddle with its 750mm seat height can’t be ignored. Combined with the slightly leaned-over posture, you really can spend hours riding this bike before fatigue sets in. But when fatigue does set it, we believe it’ll be in your legs before it hits your upper body, as the seating posture positions your knees below the tank, which makes it quite difficult to grab with your thighs.

Bringing everything to a halt is a single 310mm disc at the front and a single 255mm disc at the rear, both grabbed by Nissin 2-piston floating calipers. Braking isn’t mind-blowing by any means and feel is par for the course. Drop the anchors and you can bring the Street Twin to a halt from 80kph in 35.4 metres. While the effectiveness of the brakes is nothing to write home about, the bike does get ABS, and it works quite effectively all the time.

The electronically controlled single throttle body has also allowed for the engineers to extract more fuel efficiency from the motor – some 36 percent more than the old Bonnie, letting the Street Twin have the same tank range even with a smaller fuel tank.As per our highway tests, the bike dished out a mileage figure of 24.9kpl, which combined with the 12-litre fuel tank will make for a range of nearly 300km, before it runs out of petrol.

ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Installation Parallel twin, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke - - - -
Type 900cc - - - -
Power 55hp at 5900rpm - - - -
Torque 80Nm at 3230rpm - - - -
Power to weight 253.5hp per tonne - - - -
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Gearbox 5-speed, 1 down, 4 up - - - -
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front 310mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper - - - -
Rear 255mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper - - - -
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Telescopic 41 forks, 120mm travel - - - -
Rear Twin preload-adjustable shocks, 120mm travel - - - -
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Weight 217kg - - - -
Wheels 10-spoke alloy - - - -
Tyres 110/90-18 - 150/70 R17 - - - -
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Width 785mm - - - -
Height 1114mm - - - -
Wheel base 1415mm - - - -
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Tank size 12 litres - - - -
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