IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME
The 2020 Triumph Street Triple R wants a relationship with you. Just be aware that Triumph has changed. Since its rebirth in 1991, Triumph offered a relationship based upon value. It had no choice; it was the only way to generate the volume required to revive the marque. But recently Triumph has moved on to more premium pastures leaving the value buyer behind.
Triumph’s strategy is intelligent. They have moved upmarket while concurrently moving a significant amount of manufacturing to Asia where production costs are much lower. Check the country of manufacture on your new Triumph motorcycle. There is a chance it was manufactured in Thailand, not Hinckley. This includes the Street Triple. The formula is thus; charge more, lift perceived quality, build cheaper, increase profits.
This is where the Street Triple comes in. The Street Triple began its life as an affordable high volume model for Triumph. Call it the engine room for the brand. Over the last few years, however, the realities of modern commerce and squeezed margins have inflated the price of the Street. Triumph’s response to the increasing cost of doing business (which Triumph must pass on to the consumer) was to improve the quality of finish and incorporate new technology into its products.
Just take a close look at any modern Triumph compared to bikes of five to ten years ago, and you will see what I mean. Triumph Roadsters are a prime example. Compare the 2011 Speed Triple to the 2019 version, and you will see that the underlying architecture is shared between the two, but the quality touches are worlds apart. How do you convince people to pay more for your product? Offer higher perceived quality coupled with more technology to partially offset the price hike.
So for the 2020 version of the Street Triple R, Triumph has presented a revised model with the marketing spin of it being more ‘accessible and affordable’. How does this translate to the real world? Well, in terms of price, this new version is indeed a little cheaper. In the UK this means a £400 reduction from £9,300 to £8,900. Euroland gets a €436 cut from €11,000 to €10,564, and in the US the Street R will set you back $10,500, $750 less than the outgoing model. Australian pricing has not been announced at the time of writing.
Despite this reduced pricing regime, the Street Triple still falls short of being the value proposition it once was. If you want value consider a Suzuki GSX-S750, Kawasaki Z900 or Yamaha MT-09 for considerably less money. Triumph no longer plays in the value market though, so that is fine by them.
So how have they reduced the cost then? Well, two main areas have been ‘cheapened’. Now when I say cheapened, I don’t mean that the equipment is rubbish. I mean that cheaper alternatives have replaced the higher specification hardware found on the superseded Street R.
The first component is the dashboard. The old reliable conventional dial and LCD digital gauge cluster unit from the Street S replaces the flashy TFT display. You may be disappointed if you are the sort of person that is captivated by the TFT goodness of your smartphone. Personally, it does not worry me from a practical standpoint. There is something tangible about a real needle moving around your tachometer. Just know that the Kawasaki Z900 gets a TFT display.
The other area affected, and not mentioned widely, is the braking system. If you look closely at the PR pics, you will notice that the master cylinder is no longer a modern setup, but rather an old school unit as evidenced by the big black rectangular reservoir on the handlebar (again borrowed from the Street S). The bike retains the steel braided lines and Brembo calipers though. Will this have a massive effect on your braking? In reality not really, provided you don’t go banzai at every corner entry on your daily commute to work.
IS IT ‘BETTER’?
How has Triumph compensated us for using ‘cheaper’ components? Well, they have fitted an up and down quick-shifter as standard (yay), given us a Euro 5 engine (yawn) which claims to be more responsive and sound better (yay), revised the styling with a new LED headlight assembly (for the better), and changed the rearview mirrors which look like you may finally be able to adjust them without swearing (unlike the old versions, yay).
Has Triumph made it more desirable to you? That’s for you to decide. The Street Triple is a fantastic machine, regardless of the little letter at the end of its name. The sound alone brings you closer to the Gods and is worth the asking price. You can’t go wrong with one of these.
Ignore the publications that say you are getting a higher specification for less money with the new Street Triple R. It is more accurate to say you are getting a revised specification mix for a different price. Don’t you love marketers?