Pedigree Learner

Maybe Triumph use Phar Lap clones to calibrate their dyno’s ‘horsepower’, ‘cause it sure doesn’t feel like an L-Plater. Impressed, we are.

Words: Fraser

I always enjoy dropping in to Bayride, located in sunny Tauranga (first fine day for a while) as we inevitably end up taking a few of their test fleet out as well as the original excuse to be in the city. This trip was no different, other than I had an inkling there was one of the new learner-legal Triumph Street Triples there, as I’d seen it arrive at Triumph NZHQ… OK, I’d been stalking again…

It sure looks the goods, being identical in every way other than the ‘660’ instead of ‘675’ on the graphics to the sweet bike it’s derived from. Thumbing the triple into life reassured me that it was going to sound the same too – a good thing in my books. The 660 even passed the ‘Kiwi nod’ test as I pulled into traffic. Did the people know it was a learner-legal version? Nope. They just thought it was a cool Triumph triple. The weird thing with these new bikes that is the case, pure and simple, until the tacho heads towards triple digits. Just before it reaches there, the power is curtailed but riding in the belly of the torque curve, the triple engine’s ace card, it feels little changed, as the few cc it has sacrificed for the cause are barely missed.


Right Proper Brit

The rolling chassis has lost nothing in this guise, the same components remain, as does the ABS braking system and adjustable shift lights, although you’re not going to bounce off the limiter anyway with the rev ceiling. What that means is the Street Triple 660 gives the same ride quality as the latest middleweight from Britain does in unrestricted form. It punches out of bends nicely, with enough power to be fun without catching a less experienced rider unawares. I say ‘less experienced’ as this, along with several of the restricted larger format bikes that comply with the new laws, it’s not really there for total learners, no matter how deep your pockets are.

If you are an experienced dirt rider or have had your learners for a while – or even getting back in the saddle after a break, then this motorcycle is simply brilliant! It has the best blend of power, looks, good components and great ‘real bike’ sound that you’re likely to find. It’s not the sort of bike that’ll get parked on the grass verge on the outskirts of town the day your full license arrives. You won’t feel bad on this puppy. Sure, you may trade it in but you can be selective about the next purchase, and if it’s something you hanker after more than this, it’ll be a good choice. Will it just be the unrestricted 675cc version? Quite likely.

The newer Street Triples are even nicer than the earlier, high-piped models, with more compliant suspension and a more centralised mass, making the sweet handling Triumph that bit sweeter still. There really is precious little not to like about the bike, and that applies double if you are looking for a place to hang your L-plate. We’ll have a full test in the next month or so, so thanks to Lindsay and the Bayride team for letting me loose on their spanking new motorcycle for a sunny afternoon’s first impression. And it’s a glowing report card.

The riding position is on the sporty side for the naked class, which suits the whole package, even in restricted form. Around town, it does mean you have a little more weight on your wrists but still way less than an actual sportsbike. Once you leave the city limits, that slight canter forward translates into a nice neutral stance, keeping you supported with the breeze and enticing you to move around when revelling in the twisty roads that are the home of the ‘Street’. Ergonomically, it is roomy yet sporty and everything you touch feels like, and is, a part of a learner-legal bike that has not compromised anything other than horsepower.


What Has Changed?

The 660cc Street Triple has a combination of different mapping in the ECU and what feels like a throttle movement restriction, so the throttle doesn’t rotate as far as the standard model. This calls and end to shenanigans when the peak horsepower (thoroughbreds, obviously) bumps the 45hp limit, although this limitation is largely countered by the torquey Brit’s ability to let you surf the torque wave that feels like it belongs to a bike with more than 660 cubic centimetres of swept volume. It launches off the line well and lets you pop out of the tight curves with your fully-permitted peers. It’ll also let you head to an educational track day and pull past the ‘ton’ with ease, which puts things in perspective a little. It’s a proper motorcycle, not a scale model. At non license-threatening speeds, it’s a pukka Triumph Street Triple.

I almost felt like I should be seeing a youth in the reflections as I headed back to Bayride… alas, when the helmet came off, it was just some old geezer with a big grin and a childish laugh. Best I could expect really.