You may have seen my introduction of the Street Twin we have acquired here at Australian Motorcyclist. It’s time to delve more deeply.

People often ask, “why do motorcycles have more and more electronics?” Actually, that’s not what they really ask. What they say is, “why do bikes have all this crap on them?” And what they mean is, “I didn’t ask for this, why do I have to have it?”

There are several reasons, including changing laws and taking advantage of improving technology to build a better motorcycle, but the one that concerns us here is: because then the manufacturers can charge more. That is not as cynical as it sounds. After all, they are in business.

Out on the street, the Street just looks unobtrusive but cool.

But there is another way to make more money, and that is to create relatively inexpensive bikes, and to sell heaps of them. That is what Triumph has done with the Street Twin. They have fitted a relatively small amount of technology. The bike does have ride by wire, adjustable traction control, ABS, and throttle modes, all of which can be varied in the two riding modes of Road and Rain, but that comes by courtesy of relatively cheap electronics. It also has cast wheels, which are cheaper than spoked ones, and is a few other farkles short.

The single clock gives you all the information you need without looking like a poverty pack.

I know it is not new at this stage, having been around for half a decade, but there is a new model and this is the first time I have had the pleasure of riding one. The Street Twin’s low price allows it to slide comfortably into the bottom end of Triumph’s twin-cylinder classic Bonneville range while simultaneously providing something of a defence against the upstart from India, Royal Enfield. It still costs a lot more than one of RE’s 650cc twins, but it is also considerably more sophisticated and offers far better performance and especially build quality while pulling the same heartstrings.

The Street Twin is the best-seller among Triumph’s classic twins, which also makes it their top-selling bike overall and the market-leading modern retro bike. How does it justify its success?

Yes, there are electronics to deal with but it’s done unobtrusively.

Well, this is a beautiful motorcycle. It offers lots of historic Triumph cues, like the way you can see through the bike. Sadly, the sharp, greyhound-thin 1960s Bonneville tank is not back. I have been tempted in the past to have a modern Bonnie tank cut and shut to match, but reducing the current tank’s volume doesn’t, in the end, make sense. The Street Twin already takes only 12 litres to slim down its tank. I will probably end up complaining about that… “do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes,” as Walt Whitman wrote.

Simple and quite elegant.

One reason for the limited fuel capacity is the amazing (in the true sense of the word) amount of hardware that lives in the tank. Take one apart some time.

The pipes are far better-looking than Triumph’s standard sausage mufflers which look as if they were designed by Lego. They are reminiscent of Nortons. They also provide an enjoyable throaty note. And the Street Twin’s good looks only become better as you get closer. Little things just look right, like the way the gear change is tucked in to look less obtrusive; the elegant handlebar controls; the paint; the shaped seat; and the instrument binnacle which makes it clear that the single dial is a deliberate and effective design choice rather than a cost saver.

Both brake and clutch lever are adjustable. A nice touch.

I prefer to have the speed in numerals and the revs indicated on a circular dial, which is the opposite of Street Twin’s setup, but you can’t have everything.

The marginally more padded seat is fairly comfortable and still low at 760mm, and the weight of 198kg dry is lower than a Bonneville’s. Ergonomics are good, and this is one of the rare bikes where I am not tempted to fit handlebar risers. Triumph has listened to owner feedback from the previous model and has adjusted the Street Twin’s ergonomics for a roomier rider triangle.

The clutch is pleasantly light, and gears snick into place audibly but easily, a notable improvement over some older Hinckley Triumph gearboxes. With this bike you do not have to wait until it warms up before you get a smooth gearchange. First gear is perhaps just a touch high, but you learn to deal with that. It might seem remiss on Triumph’s part to only give the bike five gears, but the spacing is such that fourth will do just about any in-town work, with fifth reserved for the open road.

KYB twin shocks with preload adjustment hold up the rear and the suspension, especially the KYB 41mm cartridge fork, does pass on the effects of Sydney’s endless potholes rather mercilessly. It is no surprise that the factory has saved here. Suspension is often the sacrificial lamb when a price point has to be met. Handling is not adversely affected, at least within my riding range, and easy turn-in combines with stable freeway running. Braking is up to the current level of technology with Brembo calipers on a single disc up front, and an unbranded caliper on the rear.

The 900HT (High Torque) engine has been upgraded with lightweight components like magnesium engine covers, a lighter crankshaft, balance shafts and clutch. A 10-horse increase in power takes output to 65PS / 7500rpm while peak torque remains at 80Nm / 3800rpm. The Street Twin is a pleasure to ride without tempting the rider to push on into license loss territory. The ride-by-wire throttle is direct and smooth.

Unfortunately, the tank cap is ugly. But at least it locks.

I have been asked recently to comment on things like filter changes, and while I have not had an opportunity to change the oil and oil filter, I can tell you that the air filter change is a snack. I prepared and fitted a DNA filter in about half an hour, and I’m slow.

This is just such a nice (in the best possible meaning of the word) motorcycle that we are going to buy it and modify it a little. Yes, this is going to be our High Street Twin (or Tearoom Racer) project. BTW, which do you prefer? I’ll yield to popular opinion on this.




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