Review of the 2017 Triumph Street Triple S LAMS
Triumphs LAMS-compliant 660 version of the Street Triple gets a makeover, in line with its 765cc stablemates. We discover the delights of modern learner motorcycling.
Having reviewed the previous 660cc version of Triumphs Street Triple, we were expecting the new one to be much the same. But the new 'bike benefits not only from the chassis mods that were brought in when this years Streetie grew from 675 to 765cc, its had a retune too. The end result is a very different proposition.
The LAMS (learner approved motorcycle scheme) regulations set limits of 660cc and 150kW/tonne power-to-weight ratio.
As a purpose-built machine, Triumphs 660 version of the Street Triple was always specified right on the edge of those limits. But this new machine exhibits an urge that seems crazily at odds with ones expectations of a learner motorcycle.
Read our item about the LAMS regulations
The reason is torque, and lots of it. The engineers at Hinkley have obviously been fiddling with fueling, mapping and other parameters to eke even more torque from the three-cylinder motor.
As a machine aimed squarely at the Australian and New Zealand markets, trawling both versions of the Triumph website reveals suspiciously little about the actual figures. The Aussie one has an obvious mistake, quoting the same torque figure as the 765cc Street Triple S and advising power as Coming soon, while both power and torque are Coming soon on the NZ website. At least I think the torque figure is a mistake. From the way the 660 goes, it might not be
Whether its the torque, an unannounced change in gearing (on the 765 versions, first and second have been lowered), a 2kg weight drop, or all three, the new bike has devastating acceleration.
Even at small throttle openings (its ride-by-wire), and with just 3,000rpm on the clock, the smallest-capacity Street Triple lunges forward. So much so that, in Road rather than Rain mode, it can frequently set off the rather abrupt traction control in first and second gears.
Which makes it hard to recommend the 660 as suitable machine for a true learner. Instead, its perfect if youre a competent rider experienced off road, say and want something to get you through the licensing system that wont bore you to tears.
Boredom is certainly not on any Street Triples agenda. Even with the smallest engine its a machine capable of keeping any rider entertained.
The 765cc Street Triples in S, R and RS forms come with a new gullwing swingarm and a slight increase in rake, changes that carry through to the LAMS version. The tweaks move the Street Triple even further down the route taken by the previous model versus the original.
That first Street Triple was a flickable hooligan of a thing, prone to pawing the air with its front wheel. The second generation ditched the heavy twin under-seat silencers, moved mass forward, and made everything more grown up and sportsbike-like.
The new machine adds further stability while feeling even more like a sportsbike with flat bars. Even the seating position is a bit that way. The seat is still usefully low but knees bend through quite an angle once your feet are on the pegs. Meaning ground clearance is just fine.
Your body is canted slightly forward (not a full racing crouch) reaching to the bars, and theres a strong sense of connection with the front end and its prodigious grip supplied by the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber.
This is all mostly a good thing, but it does give the Street Triple a somewhat serious and purposeful quality: quite different to the puppy-like enthusiasm of the original.
The new weight distribution, sticky rubber and steering geometry make the Triumph feel resolutely planted. It has stability in spades, but on twisty back roads it demands decisive steering inputs to change direction quickly.
Confidence in what the bike will do is high, though, with reassuring feedback coming from the tyres and suspension. Although the KYB shock and 41mm USD (upside down) forks are unadjustable, apart from preload on the rear shock, they work really well and deliver a well-damped ride.
Its a similar story with the brakes: the non-radial two-pot Nissins up front, biting twin 320mm discs, get the job done, with great feel. And the ABS worked well in an impromptu test staged by someone turning right in front of me.
Overall, despite this being the cheapest Street Triple you can buy matching the 765 S' for equipment the cycle parts deliver a classy, quality impression.
Its hard to know what Triumphs engineers are thinking when it comes to the Street Triples mirrors. They are, and always have been, useless. Perhaps, if your name is Bilbo Baggins, you could adjust them to get a glimpse of whats behind. For riders of a more normal stature their only value is to confirm that your elbows have not fallen off. Curiously enough, for such a smooth machine, they also manage to vibrate.
The dipstick to check engine oil is another mild irritation for anyone used to the convenience of a sight glass. That abrupt traction control could grate on a track day. And the pillion perch is not exactly sumptuous. Thats pretty much the list of Street Triple impracticalities.
Angled valve caps make checking pressures easy. Six-way adjustable clutch and front brake levers let you find the perfect grasp. The dinky bikini fairing does a better job than youd think of keeping wind and even the odd bit of rain away. And, having owned Street and Speed Triples, I can attest to the strong quality of finish on modern Triumphs.
Advice on checking tyres
Check your levers and cables
More upmarket versions get a fancy electronic screen, along with more sophisticated electronics. But this LAMS version has a perfectly good clock set-up, shared with the 765 S and familiar to many recent Triumph riders.
The new model moves Triumphs Street Triple further along the path of a grown-up, sophisticated middleweight. It even has modes! Okay, only two: Road and Rain. Nonetheless, every tweak adds a dash more purpose, and its as evident on this 660 version as on any of its siblings.
The Street Triple remains the Rolls Royce choice among LAMS machines, offering a classy and characterful ride and a turn of speed that belies its supposedly learner status. But of course there is a price to pay: $13,990 plus on-road costs, to be exact. While some might blanche at paying that for a LAMS machine, its $1,000 less than the outgoing model. Given what it offers, its hard to argue that its not value for money.
Classy chassis, quality finish, rip-snorting torque.
Those damn mirrors! Too much of a handful for novice riders.
Model: Triumph Street Triple S (LAMS)
Cost: $13,990 + on-road costs
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline triple
Fuel System: EFI
Transmission: 6-speed, chain drive
Seat Height: 810mm
Dry weight: 166kg
Fuel capacity: 17.4l
Demonstration machine courtesy of Triumph Motorcycles NZ.