Triumph Street Triple 765 RS Review (2020-on)

I distinctly remember pouring over the power and torque graphs on the launch of the original Street Triple 765 RS back in February 2017. The graphs told a story of a race-tuned model and a road-tuned model, and there are no prizes for guessing which was which. One had a fizzy, fast top-end and the other had a punchy mid-range. The R was the yin to the RS’s yang.

On the face of it these two personalities made a lot of sense. Fast-road and occasional track-day rider? Get the RS. Pure road-rider-commuter-do-everything-er? Get the R. It was all a total no brainer, or so it seemed… but when you sat down with a brew and stared down the barrel of an order form at your local dealer, suddenly it wasn’t so simple.

What you actually wanted the best bits of both models, yet, unfortunately, such a bike couldn’t be ordered. Road riders with a hankering for a bit of Ohlins and Brembo bling couldn’t specify those as options on the R. Likewise, if you wanted all of the RS’s hardware and electronics but didn’t want the race tune, you couldn’t pick up an RS with the R’s more lumpy, less pointy cams as an option. Making your ideal spec would have to be your own garage project, and whichever way you attacked it, it’d end up being more expensive and a complete pain in the arse too. Houston, we had a first world bike problem.

Predictably what followed was a load of articles – Superbike included – more or less saying that while the RS was epic, the one you really wanted when push came to shove, was the R. At a guess, that was both good and bad: you were all buying the right bike most of the time, but Hinckley presumably weren’t selling too many of the top-shelf RSs… the product planning department must’ve been asked some awkward questions.

Anyway, let’s get to the heart of the matter: what did Triumph do about this R vs RS quandary? For 2020, as we just found out on the new Street Triple RS’s launch in Cartagena, it combined the R and RS models into one, and called it… the RS. It now has the mid-range grunt of the R, and it doesn’t sacrifice the spicy top-end we all loved so much when we could make use of it. We say Triumph have combined the R and RS because it wouldn’t comment on the R model, so we can only assume it’s going to quietly disappear… that’s kinda sad, but it’s also progress for you. We’re just glad Triumph listened.

And it didn’t only listen to feedback about the engine tune. The new RS has updated graphics on the TFT dashboard plus a new set of headlights with a revised design. It also comes with a bi-directional quickshifter as standard, and has had a thorough going-over in the styling department. That seat hump? It’s a bit more supportive than before. The radiator side-pods have been updated to look a bit more angular giving it a more muscular look. The mirrors are slightly bigger and tweaked in shape. The exhaust has been completely redesigned and now has a smart carbon end-cap on it (again, as standard), and the seat unit has speed holes for more fasterness. With a set of stickers on various bits of body work, the new RS sports a much more contemporary look.

All that stuff’s great, but the thing we care about most is the powerplant. Developed by the same team responsible for the Moto2 765 engine, it’s been given a lightened crank, clutch and balancer shaft resulting in 7% less inertia. Backlash gears have also been removed from the gear box, and there’s a new exhaust cam and revised exhaust header link pipe which together are mostly responsible for 9% more torque and 9% more power in the middle of the engine’s rev range. The exhaust is freer flowing and now has two catalysts. Peak torque and power is basically identical to the outgoing RS – 121bhp at the crank (at 11,750rpm) and 79nm of torque (at 9,350rpm). Clearly, Euro5 has not ruined the party – frankly, it has improved it.

Dry weight is a claimed 166kg, which probably means fully fuelled and ready to go the Street Triple RS will be around 190kg, which is the lightest in class. The chassis remains completely and utterly unchanged, which says a lot: if it aint broke, don’t fix it.

The price? In the UK the new RS will set you back £10,300, exactly the same price as the outgoing model. That’s crazy: even more bike for no more money. We’d guessed it’d be within £200 either way of £11,000… Hashtag Not Complaining.

And so we get to the riding. We’ve ridden literally every single incarnation of the 675 and 765 – including the Moto2 765 – so, as it goes, this is a bike Superbike knows rather well. Initial impressions, as soon as you sit on the RS, are that the Showa big piston forks and Ohlins STX40 shock have completely different stock settings to the outgoing model. Blindfolded, we’d have sworn we were sitting on a 765R. Stuart Wood, Triumph’s Chief Engineer, confirmed this to be exactly the case: it’s set up softer as standard, and that translates into comfort as we negotiate some coastal Spanish village roads on the way to the photo point.

The new blipper+quickshifter combo works incredibly well, even at low revs and low speeds, as we dart between pedestrian crossings and roundabouts. But what’s noticeable is the throttle’s a bit sharper than it was before. That telepathic, buttery-smooth-ness has been eroded very slightly, and that’s down to the removal of engine inertia, and a set of brand new maps in each riding mode. It’s nothing you can’t or won’t adjust to.

Some faster roads appear now that we’re out of town, and it takes no time to reap the rewards of the extra grunt in the mid range. It’ll punch out of corners just like the R could, and you have to work less hard to do it. This is what we wanted, and man it’s good, and so much more engaging than the old RS was in this landscape. Sport mode (one of five modes: track, rider, sport, road, rain) combined with the slightly softer suspension setup make it hard to think of bike we’d rather be riding on fast, flowing, twisty roads like these.

If you were worried Euro5 was going to choke the Street Triple’s soundtrack, well, your fears have not materialised. Triumph endlessly bang on about that rich, raspy, raw noise… and they’re not wrong. This thing sounds epic, and better than any that came before it.

Photo shoot over, it’s time for Circuito de Cartena, and the real fun begins after some suspension settings are twiddled. It’s somewhat weird that Triumph would launch what is a road bike at a track, but it’s soon obvious why: this thing is basically a supersports bike with a set of bars, and only a few track sessions are going to hammer that point home. The chassis comes into its own here, and it’s no wonder: obviously, it’s lifted from the Daytona 675/765, arguably one of the best handling bikes ever made. The grip the Street Triple generates is incredible, and it steers amazingly; the tight and tricky turns 1 & 2 at Cartagena really show it off. You don’t have to do anything but look where you want to go and the 765 RS obliges, letting you go tighter, wider, and anything in between by only as much as thinking about it.

The extra mid-range thrust doesn’t hang about in making its presence felt; you can make use of it on track as well as the road. Short-shifting through Cartagena’s chicane, then use it to push wide on exit and get a great run down using all of the top-end and the excellent ‘shifter through turn 6 into turn 7. And the best bit? The horsepowers and torques are made earlier in the rev range. The Pirelli Supercorsas (which we’d change for the road) are now V3s, rather than V2s, and with the Brembo M50s up front, you can take liberties into corners, and scratch pegs until your boots start to wear away as well.

In fact, that’s our only real complaint: the pegs go down pretty quickly, and ABS (which can’t be disabled) starts to get in the way of things when you’re really pushing on. But this is a road bike after all, so we can’t knock it too much: we shouldn’t be comparing it to a proper track bike, rather we should be marvelling at what a cracking job it does at a track, and just how many superbikes it’ll embarrass when ridden well enough.

Thus far, it’s utterly obvious that as a result of the engine mods, the Street Triple RS is far and away more capable and versatile than it was before. To think we had a cracking little road ride, then arrived at a track and simply carried on, having only switched into track mode, disabled TC, and adjusted pressures and suspension settings… awesome.

Riding aside, it’s a lovely machine to be in the presence of. The bar end mirrors and smoked reservoirs are standard bits of equipment, as is the span and ratio adjustable front brake lever. Every fit and finish is top notch, even down to the stitching on the seat and the rim tape on the lightest-in-class wheels. More or less every single one of us on the launch sat and tried to find physical fault with it, and none of us could come up with anything substantial.

The new dashboard graphics transform the cockpit experience. The outgoing model’s were a bit naff, but these are far better: you can choose from various colour schemes, there’s less visual noise and it’s all a bit more modern looking. It’s easier to navigate too as the way around the dashboard has been revised, but sadly all of this is still controlled by that annoying joystick thing on the bars which is fiddly to use at the best of times especially through a pair of gloves, but hey-ho. It’s also got all of that go-pro sat-nav stuff going on, if you’re into all that internet-generation stuff.

To conclude, it’s pretty obvious this is far and away the best Street Triple (and Street Triple RS) yet. The mid range and top end makes it a more useful tool in any setting. It’s got top-shelf hardware that now includes a blipper, plus revised and more capable electronics, a refreshed look, and it’s not gotten any heavier, or indeed any more expensive. Don’t bother looking at anything else, this is the mid-capacity naked bike to buy. And it’s in dealers as of November. No brainer.

Contact: Triumph UK

Photos: Triumph & Kingdom Creative

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