2023 Street Triple RS review - Not just a track tool

Rohit Paradkar Updated: March 03, 2023, 04:00 PM IST

Circuito de Jerez - a MotoGP-grade racetrack where many historic battles have been fought. A glance at the last corner reminds many of the clashes between Rossi and Gibernau, or even Marquez and Lorenzo in recent times. Jerez is also the circuit where Triumph's 765cc race engine was first tested by the Moto 2 riders as it became the engine of choice for this racing category. It's been four years since and the engine has evolved and proven its reliability and performance. One would expect that by now Triumph would have figured out a way to capitalise on that Moto 2 connection and build an advanced track bike. The good news is, they have.

Supersport machines are unfortunately a dying breed and it's a pity that despite being at the peak of their racing involvement Triumph has axed the Daytona for good. So if you still want to go racing with a middleweight Triumph triple, your option is the Street Triple RS - a very accomplished motorcycle that is back in a practically all-new avatar for 2023 - and has even brought along an evil twin in the stunning Moto 2 Edition, which unfortunately is sold out and won't make it to India.

This also means you won't be able to buy the shiny new Street Triple with the acclaimed Öhlins front suspension. The gold standard NIX30 front forks are exclusive to the Moto 2 edition which is limited to 765 units in the Rossi-yellow and pearl-white paint schemes respectively. The further bad news is that Triumph won't sell you this suspension because it needs a different yolk, clip-on handlebar and triple clamp and since the latter holds the limited edition numbering on it, a spare can't be sold to you without proof of ownership/damage.

So if you are that serious about racing a 765 triple, you will have to figure out the mounting and the modifications yourself and if you are that inclined, you can also fit a Daytona race fairing on either of these motorcycles with minor modifications. Many Triumph racers around the world have been doing just that - take Dynavolt Racing's racing 765 for example.

Coming back to the Street Triple RS, it is the range-topper now that the Moto 2 editions are sold out worldwide. Compared to the base Street Triple R, the RS can be identified with its exclusive paint options like the wine red colour seen here. But my choice would be the yellow inspired from the yesteryear 955i. Not that I love the 955, it is just that the yellow looks stunning on the RS' sharp bodywork. The belly pan and the bar-end mounted wing mirrors are other giveaways that it's the RS, but both can also be retrofitted on the R.

Chassis, handling and ride
What may not be evident until you get astride the RS is that it stands 10mm taller thanks to a spacer that's added on top of the Öhlins STX40 mono-shock. The seat is a bit of a perch, like the Speed Triple, but the narrower tank makes the Street Triple feel a lot friendlier even for shorter riders. The spacer on the shocker is removable, and you can bring the seat height back to 826mm like the R or go down a further 28mm with the low seat option. The latter simply employs a slimmer seat with innovative 3D mesh cushioning and doesn't mess with the ground clearance or suspension geometry in any way.

But the higher ride height of the RS is designed to give it a more front-biased riding posture ideal for the racetrack or attacking corners. They've also given it a sharper rake angle than the R (23.2 degrees versus 23.7 on the R) and a reduced trail, which makes the wheelbase shorter by a marginal 3mm. But this geometry change makes quite a bit of a difference! Since you are putting more weight on the front, the bike won't wheelie that easily under hard acceleration and at the same time, the shorter wheelbase ensures that the rear remains stable through the corners and the directional changes, despite the rider putting more weight on the front. All of it just works. On the long straights of the Jerez circuit, we were battling wind at over 200kmph but the bike did not lose its composure at all. And through the tight corners, it feels incredibly agile and stable. I don't remember which other middleweight naked gave me so many laughs through the bends the way the Striple does.

What allows you to push the bike harder still is the new suite of electronics which now use a six-axis IMU from Continental. It brings along new-age stuff like wheelie control too, but more importantly, there is a less intrusive traction control system now - which works discreetly on the road as we found on the Street Triple R and even on the track you won't see the TC light coming on often. The RS also goes a step ahead with the Track mode, which allows the bike to have a certain degree of slip before the TC will kick in.

Engine, gearbox and performance
There is a revised gearbox too with a taller first and shorter subsequent gears. The low-end torque is not as on-tap as the KTM 790 or 890 Duke, but that means the Street Triple continues to feel easy to ride to the groceries. While on the track, the mid-range pull is exceptional and allows you to ride in higher gears without falling out of the powerband or without messing up the drive out of corners. A superb tuning of the slipper clutch also allows you to hammer in the downshifts and get excellent engine braking for attacking corners that follow long straights - like the C1 or C6 at Jerez. Triumph wouldn't share the acceleration figures, but claim that the RS (and the R) are marginally quicker now. Some of my lighter industry colleagues on the ride tell me that their RS hit the limited in 6th gear at around 245kmph (speedo indicated), confirming that the naked still doesn't match the top speed of the more aerodynamically efficient full-faired machines like the Daytona.

Even the anti-lock brakes run a different Track map by completely disabling the new combined braking system and allowing you to go harder on the front and rear brakes to suit your riding style. Furthermore, this Moto 2-derived system is intelligent enough to understand the difference between a trail braking or hard braking manoeuvre for a corner, versus a panic braking situation or a wheel lock, and will choose braking pressures and ABS sensitivity accordingly. The result is that under hard braking you won't notice the pronounced pulsations of the ABS as you did on the previous RS. You can also trail brake into the corner with more confidence if you absolutely must. Braking from over 200kph at the end of the start-finish straight at Jerez and dropping the bike for the tight uphill right-hander immediately showed the higher confidence that the new RS offers.

We had three 20min sessions at the track and even as I picked up pace there was no brake fade to complain about. By the third session, I also got a stiffer suspension setup and that coupled with my track time, allowed me to exploit higher lean angles and faster corner exits on the motorcycle. And yet the motorcycle never felt like it had reached its limits. It is a rewarding feeling when two corners become one - like C3 and C4 or C11 and 12 - and it is a big feat when a naked motorcycle gives you the required speed and stability to make this transition happen.

To reduce dive further, you can opt for a stiffer setup at the front and the RS' stickier rubber will complement the change. The weather was chilly during our time in Spain and even though they used tyres warmers on the RS during our track sessions, the track itself never came up to ideal temperatures. Yet the tyres never felt skittish nor did the TC light up often, suggesting just how good the chassis is. This is why it has been carried over unchanged from the previous bike, save for the change in rake and trail.

Even the swingarm and suspension components are carried over. The 41mm Showa front forks may look similar to the units of the R, but unlike those separate function forks, both the big piston forks on the RS get rebound, damping and compression adjustability to help you fine-tune the setup for road or track. The front travel is exactly similar to the R and the rear travel is marginally lesser. The RS also runs a firmer setup out of the box because it's the track variant. But you will be amazed to know that the RS actually offers a better setup than the R even for the road and the suspension simply feels nicer, highlighting the advantage of having full adjustability on both legs of the forks. Even the more aggressive riding posture of the RS doesn't seem uncomfortable on the road and our 100km ride on Spain's uneven B-roads felt like a breeze.

I have previously said that the M50s on the outgoing RS felt a bit too sharp and grabby for road use. With Brembo suspending the manufacturing of these brake callipers now, Triumph has opted for the higher-spec Stylema callipers, which continue to use the MCS brake lever and master cylinder as before. But the marriage of these components just feels better in every respect compared to the previous RS. The brake feel is very progressive on the road irrespective of how hard you are pushing the bike and the tyres certainly complement them. The Supercorsa rubber is sure to wear out a lot faster than the ContiRoad tyres from the Street Triple R, but in every other aspect, the RS comes across as the better bike.

The R will continue to be the best-selling variant for the Street Triple, but this time choosing between the two Street Triples isn't going to be based on the road versus track choices alone. The new RS has a crisper throttle response, superior suspension behaviour, better shoes and brakes and arguably a better colour palette too. If I had to recommend a Street Triple in 2023, then, it would be the RS hands down. In fact, it has become such a nicer package now that it will also appeal to anyone who's missing the racy 600s in today's buying choices.

Words Rohit Paradkar

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 8,84,000
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)

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