My Old Friend

I have a bad habit when it comes to motorcycles. I trade often. I mean, over the past 40+ years I have changed motorcycles more often than some people change their mind! There are a few simple reasons for this. First of all, there is a constant stream of new and exciting motorcycles hitting the market. They are coming out faster than I can keep up with. I can easily think of a couple dozen bikes, both  new and old, that I would love to own right now. Since I am not rich, I have to trade to change. Those who say, “You can only ride one bike at a time,” or who think that all bikes are alike, just don’t really understand. They are not all alike. They all have 2 wheels and an engine; beyond that, the experience can be very different. Aside from the smorgasbord of choices, I suppose boredom is another reason for my short term ownership habit. I get bored easily…with just about everything. I prefer to live life in short bursts, with change in between.

Knowing how fickle I can be, let me introduce you to my current garage:IMG_3210I’ve only had the Vstrom and Scrambler a few weeks, but the Street Triple has been mine since 2010, which must be some sort of record. I’ve got about 600 miles on the Scrambler since I bought it and probably 400 on the Vstrom, so I’m still formulating opinions, but so far so good. Since I picked the two newest ones up I have not ridden the Street Triple at all. That is, until today. I went to start it a few days ago and it let me know it was feeling neglected! The brief ride today was enlightening and made me ponder the question: “If tomorrow my world went to shit and I had to return to one bike in the garage, which one would I keep?”

With that question in mind, lets call this a lighthearted review of these 3 machines. I will start with the Vstrom. First, let me say that I would never have even considered looking at a Vstrom if my friend Matt had not encouraged it. The bike was not on my radar at all. Sure, I knew it was a good machine. I knew it was a bargain machine. I knew it was a do it all bike with a cult following and that it was very practical….maybe the most practical bike currently made. But it’s not exotic, classy, performance oriented or attractive. In fact, the only thing it is really good at is being “pretty good at everything.” And very affordable. Can’t really knock that. So, after a brief ownership period, what do I think?

The Good

1. I was looking for a traveler; a bike that could do 500+ mile days in reasonable comfort. I believe I got it. Very relaxing machine. I’ve only done a 300 mile day on it so far, but judging by how I felt, I’m pretty sure I could get on this bike at 4 in the morning, point it south, and get off 17 hours later in Naples…and still be able to walk!

2. Nice motor, plenty of power, even though the actual HP is low.

3. It isn’t a beauty queen, so I won’t be nearly as concerned if I tip this bike over, or run it down a muddy road or ride a week in torrential rains. I might cry if I got a Duc or MV Augusta caked in Alaska mud!

4. I can’t really find any glaring problems. The bike just works. It even handles pretty well, especially considering it is wearing a set of “Death Wings” for tires.

The Bad

1. The brakes suck. Especially the front brake. I’m hoping new pads will help.

2. Yes, I can tell it is a “bargain” bike by the quality of some components, but really, I bought it to ride…hard and long, so I’m not worried about that.

3. The motor is great, but pulls a bit different than my other bikes. The Triumphs both have a lot of meat down low. With the Vstrom it is going to take a bit to figure out what gear I want to ride in, particularly on twisty roads.

So, what about the Scrambler?

The Good

1. Looks are killer. Everyone wants to look at it and talk about it.

2. It is easy to ride. Relaxing even. It gives me an excuse to quit being “Ricky Racer” and just enjoy the ride.

3. Love the engine. The lumpy twin is very cool. And the torque? Pulls like a tractor. I love riding this bike.

The Bad

1. Looks are killer. Everyone wants to look at it and talk about it. Can’t get out of the parking lot!

2. The bars are too wide for me. Yes, I know; if I was “man-sized” it wouldn’t be a problem. I need some new bars.

3. It is too quiet. Seriously. I’m not a loud pipe sort of guy. I don’t like the extreme rumble of some machines at all, however, I do like it when a special motor, like this one, is allowed to express itself. It has an Arrow 2 into 1 on it now. With the baffle in it is too quiet, robbing me of the wonderful thump this motor makes. With the baffle out, it is extremely loud. Too loud. I need a solution.

That leaves the Street Triple. The only other bike I ever came close to owning as long as this bike is a Ducati Multistrada. And there is a reason for both. If tomorrow I had to go back to one bike, it would, without hesitation be the Street Triple. After riding it today, I was instantly reminded of just how great it is, at least to me. After riding the other bikes, my first impression of the seating position of the Street was“Ready, set go!” High seat, low bars, nothing in front of you but the road. Yep, feels good. Feels like home.

The Good

1. The motor. The motor. The motor. Had to say it 3 times, one for each cylinder. Awesome. Smooth. Powerful. Meaty. Strong. No, it’s no Hayabusa. Nor is it a Super Duke or a BMW S1000R, but for a 675 with a dry weight under 400 lbs, I couldn’t really ask for more.

2. It looks good.

3. It still excites me, even after all this time. As soon as I get on this bike, thumb the starter, wick the throttle and listen to the music those Arrows make, I’m in love. And lust…and lust can get ahold of you…and take control…and cause you to do stupid things! I want to ride this bike faster, and harder, and faster, and harder.

4. It feels like a quality machine. Solid. Well thought out.

5. It fits me.

6. It is more versatile than you think. It has carried me on several 500 mile slab days. Like it or not, argue all you want about what a bike can and can’t do…the Street Triple can do anything I want it to do and still leave me with a smile.

7. Handles very quickly and effortlessly. Shift in the seat and you are turning!

The Bad

1. The seat. Horrible for me. I have had 3 other seats on it…all of them sucked. Give me a good seat and I will ride this bike to the end of the road…and back. Suggestions welcome. Already tried the Gel, a Sargent and an inexpensive custom job.

2. Only 130 miles before the fuel light comes on. I’ve read some guys say they get 200 miles out of a tank. Apparently I’m doing something wrong.

3. Suspension is a bit stiff for some roads, particularly when traveling distance. A bump on the Interstate can knock me totally off the seat when at speed.

That’s about it. No, it doesn’t have much wind protection, but I’ve gotten used to that and don’t really mind. Not much luggage capacity either, but I use Kriega bags and can travel for a week. I might end up with some Bags Connection or Givi hybrid bags eventually that I can take off and on when I want. None of those limitations keep me from believing that the Triumph Street Triple is the finest motorcycle I have ever owned. DSC_01614 years of ownership, countless trips to Asheville and back…the Street triple feels like an old friend.



One thought on “My Old Friend

  1. That’s how I feel about mine too 🙂 I’ll happily bike whore on anything I can (except cruisers, I just can’t do feet first), but getting back on my street always feels best of all 🙂 Here’s to many more years of happy ownership!

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