Until recent times there were basically two types of engine configurations to choose from in a standard street bike: Twin or Inline Four. Triumph has long provided the exception with its popular Inline Three-powered Triumph Speed Triple a top-seller for the English firm since 1994 and later supplemented with the middleweight Street Triple 675 that debuted for the ‘07 model year. Although radical for its day, the Street Triple is a highly effective mount blending the low-end power pulses of a Twin with the high rpm adrenaline of an Inline. Skip ahead eight years and the Italians at MV Agusta now build a Triple with its Brutale 800 as well as the Japanese in the form of Yamaha’s all-new and highly affordable FZ-09. But does the newer breed of sweet-sounding trios have what it takes to outshine the original? We’re going find out in this Triple-Cylinder Street Bike Shootout.
Armed with a fresh look and carefully refined as well as more mass-centralized chassis, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple 675 R ABS ($9999) is the benchmark. It’s based off the Daytona 675 Supersport, sharing its 675cc motor that is the smallest amongst the three in this comparison. It’s packaged in an svelte aluminum frame with a low running weight and the R-spec comes outfitted with track-grade suspension and ABS-equipped braking hardware for a mere $900 over the base model, which is the form in which we tested it. Years and years of refinement have netted the Street Triple we have today and it’s not going to be easy to bump it off its lofty pedestal.
Also introduced last year is MV Agusta’s 2013 Brutale 800 ($12,498). Based on the F3 Supersport and smaller Brutale 675, the larger streetfighter earns its badge from its long-stroke 798cc motor. Like its sibling it sports a full electronics suite including traction control (more simple rate-of-change
design), adjustable engine power and throttle sensitivity maps and an optional $500 electronic quickshifter. It also employs MV’s signature hybrid frame constructed from steel and aluminum to give it just the right amount of feel through corners. We love the way the F3’s chassis feels on the track, but will it work on in a more street-oriented environment?
Yamaha surprised the motorcycling community with the release of its 2014 FZ-09 ($7899). Sporting one heck of an attractive price, it also showcases Yamaha’s all-new 847cc Inline Three. The motor features Yamaha’s MotoGP-derived crossplane firing order that broadens the torque curve and makes the engine feel and sound sportier too. It’s hung within a twin-spar aluminum frame with a low-slung exhaust and modern yet slightly utilitarian shape designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of riders. It also offers three different throttle response maps and rough-road friendly suspension components which Yamaha thinks is ideal for urban riding. But the real question is if it can perform in a sporting environment, too?
To find out we spent a few days riding these machines around town as errand runners. We also detoured to
the hills for an afternoon rallying around corners to get a sense of their sporting pedigree. Afterwards we visited Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for a fun and affordable SoCal Trackdays weekend. While we were there we ran all of ‘em down Chuckwalla’s deserted Army-built runway to accurately measure their true straight-line performance. Lastly we rated the characteristics of each bike based on our feelings behind the handlebar, reviewed the data, crunched numbers, and tabulated the scores based on our tried-and-true street-based scorecard. So let’s find out which triple-cylinder bike you need to swing a leg over for the New Year.