Getting To Know You
Triumph Street Tripe RS - First Leisure Ride
Distance Ridden: 61 miles
Time: 90 mins
Conditions: Dry, light winds, scattered mud & damp patches
Having owned my previous bike for 15 years, the first proper ride on a new bike - any bike - was always going to be strange. First 3-cylinder bike, first Triumph, first naked bike, first bike with fuel injection, traction control, ABS, ride-by-wire, first time on Pirellis, first.... well, you get the picture.
The first thing that strikes you about the RS is the throttle response. Blipping the throttle on tick-over provokes a deep grunt from the motor that seems to shake the ground below you. Select first gear and you're off, clean & smooth effortless. Open the taps, and the bike picks up instantly and crisply. Initially, it feels a little snatchy when you're not driving hard - constant or neutral throttle felt lumpy, almost like the motor was hunting, and I briefly wonder if there's a fuelling problem. The ride is a little firmer than I'm used to, and that adds to the jerky feel, but as I become more accustomed to the precise nature of the throttle, it becomes less noticeable.
When the road opens up enough to give it some gas, the 3-cylinder motor really comes to life and the bike springs forward, raring to go. The note from the Arrow pipe changes from the neighbour friendly growl, to a full-on roar that shakes the leaves off the trees. It's not the screaming Japanese in-line 4 wail that I'm used to, it's the bark of a dog - a fucking big dog that will bite your hand off if you get too near.
Then there's the quickshifter. It comes as standard on the RS, but nobody needs a quickshifter on the road, right? What's the point, you'll never use it? Until you do. You rev it hard in third, the numbers on the digital speedo tick up, you flick your left foot and it shifts up seamlessly, flawlessly. The bike just keeps pulling and the numbers just keep ticking up. It's totally addictive, you just want to keep clicking up through the box, gear after gear...
When you do need to stop, you have the rather amazing Brembo anchors to rely on. The front brake could well be the stand-out feature of this bike - they are that good. If anything, they're too bloody good. I've never been the heaviest of brakers, I like to brake gently, keep the bike settled and carry a bit of corner speed. But there was more than one occasion, I found myself braking as I normally would and scrubbing off more speed than expected and having to take a second bite at the corner.
The riding position is something totally new to me - the seat height is pretty much the same as my old Kawasaki, but the upright stance and wide bars make me feel higher up and in control. The slow speed stuff: car parks, junctions, traffic lights etc are a breeze, and filtering through stationary traffic is a piece of piss. The bike feels light & manoeuvrable and you get on with it straight away, inspiring confidence and making it feel "right". I wasn't expecting much protection from the flyscreen, and that's pretty much what I got. At 60-70(ish)mph, it's hitting my right in the chest, and I ain't the tallest. I found it mad me grab the bars much harder than usual, and I had to keep reminding myself to relax my grip.
An autumn day in Scotland, with mud and damp patches are not the best conditions to find the limits of the suspension & tyres. It was my first ride on my new bike, so I wasn't looking to shave few tenths off anything, but the handling of the bike felt good enough to give me plenty to forward to come next spring. It's gonna be a long winter.