The newly released Triumph Street Triple from Fast Bikes Sdn Bhd and the Ducati Monster 797 from Next Bike Sdn Bhd are natural competitors in the Malaysian middleweight naked bike segment. The Ducati was unveiled in August, while the Triumph was released earlier this month. The European offerings face off in our review to find the ultimate bang for the buck middleweight streetbike.
TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE S 765
HAVE you ever had that ‘click’ phenomenon, that magical moment when a stranger becomes your new best friend in no time at all, like you just “knew” you would be best friends from the moment you met?
Well, it happened to me the other day with the Triumph Street Triple S 765.
From the first twist of the throttle, it was like we forged a connection. The bike’s power was intoxicating. The handling so precise and predictable that I did not notice that I was riding faster and harder than I usually did.
It was a long weekend so we decided to go on a longer ride to test the bikes. We rode to Kuantan from Kuala Lumpur and then worked the bikes hard along the East Coast roads to Kuala Terengganu. The route gave us enough sharp corners and fast straights to let us get to know the Triumph Street Triple more intimately.
The Street Triple S has been upped to 765cc with the same format liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder engine.
The new 765cc triple engine is developed from the race-bred ‘Daytona’ engine and is revamped with more than 80 new parts including an increased bore and stroke, new cam, pistons and Nikasil plated aluminum barrels.
Triumph has also equipped the new Street Triple range with an improved gearbox with shorter 1st and 2nd gear ratios for slicker gear changes.
I like the way the bike roars. The revised air box positively screams during acceleration, good enough to give you an ‘eargasm’.
Despite the sharp suspension that my colleague raved about, the Street Triple’s upgraded suspension, a Showa 41mm upside down front fork with a Showa piggyback reservoir monoshock was comfortable enough and handled the road undulations and uneven surfaces throughout the journey to Kuala Terengganu quite well.
Braking is excellent even with the front and rear Nissin 2-piston sliding calipers and Brembo single piston sliding caliper on the rear.
With a 17.4-litre tank capacity, the 166kg bike is one of the lightest in its class. Guys with shorter inseams will find the Street Triple perfect. As for me, standing at 171cm, the bike’s fit is ideal and the low 810mm seat height makes me feel totally in control.
The electronic update for the Street Triple includes a revised LCD instrument pack where riders are able to select riding modes and access key information from the on-board computer, including fuel gauge, tripmeter, odometer, and journey distance.
The Street Triple S has a split personality - a realJekyll and Hyde. It’s smooth and steady for your everyday ride but it is ready to start howling at a moment’s notice.
It comes in Diablo Red and Phantom Black, and is priced at RM52,900. (Prices include GST, but without road tax, insurance and registration).
DUCATI MONSTER 797
The Monster is a finely-honed product from Ducati. Ever since the first Monster M900 made its debut in 1993, the Monster has evolved with the passage of the decades. From the day it was first ideated, the Monster was meant to be an easily accesible motorcycle for beginners. Ducati’s design brief for the bike was “for something which displayed a strong Ducati heritage but which was easy to ride and not a sports bike”. The 797 continues this tradition, and hones it further.
The moment you jump on the low seat, which sits at just 31.7 inches tall, your will realise everything seems to be just in the right place. The riding position is natural, and fairly upright. The 797 is a roomy bike, much more spacious than the Street Triple S 765. The seat is plusher, and more comfortable on long rides such as the trip we were on - a long haul journey from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu via Kuantan.
It is hard to decide which is the better looking.
Along the entire length of the journey, the Ducati, and the Street Triple drew admiring glances at every stop we made. The Ducati’s styling is perhaps the more sedate, with the tried and tested Monster DNA strongly evident. The 797 uses the same steel fuel tank and round headlamps as those on the Monster 1200. The frame is a traditional Ducati trellis frame with steel tubes.
This layout makes it rigid, yet at the same time light. As an added bonus, it leaves the air-cooled 803cc Desmodue twin-cylinder engine on full display. The frame is mated to an aluminum double-sided swingarm. The entire ensemble is traditional, yet still radical at the same time. In black, the Monster had an unmistakable aura of masculinity, despite it being the baby in the range.
The Triumph, on the other hand, is equally distinctive in its own way. The twin headlamps are a love-it-or-hate it affair, but I personally love it.
It is squatter and more compact than the Ducati. Measuring 1,410mm from one axle to the other, it has a shorter wheelbase as opposed to the Ducati’s 1,435 mm wheelbase.
The Triumph’s bug eyes give it more personality.
It’s not just the exterior designs which are vastly different. Despite their close positioning in terms of price, segment and cubic capacity, both street bikes are vastly different animals.
The Ducati’s 803cc twin generates 73hp at 8,250rpm with a maximum torque of 67Nm at 5,750rpm. The nature of the mill is rather sedate as well. Throttle control is precise with the single 50mm throttle body with two sub-butterfly injectors. But on the long stretches of highways of the LPT2 - which probably have some of the longest and straightest stretches in the country, the Ducati needs to be ridden hard, especially when staying on the right lane with very fast car drivers barrelling down the straights.
Some gear shifting and throttle wringing is needed to keep it up to speed.
The Triumph, on the other hand, is in its element. The 765 S’s intoxicating triple puts out 111hp at 11,250rpm with 73Nm of torque at 9,100rpm from the DOHC, liquid-cooled, 12-valve gem from Hinckley.
Weighing in at 175kg dry, the Ducati is heavier than the 166kg Triumph. The extra weight doesn’t seem to faze the handling, though. The Ducati comes alive every time we went off the highways into a trunk route, with agile, lively handling. The Triumph however, is like a scalpel. Its precise, razor sharp handling and steering just blows the competition in the segment away. On the highways, the combination of power and corner carving competency makes it a tough act to match.
Equipped with B dual Brembo 320mm discs and monobloc M4.32 four-piston calipers up front and a single 245mm disc on the rear, the Ducati will stop on a dime. On the rear is a single 245mm disc and a dual-piston caliper. A Bosch 9.1 MP ABS system keeps thing safe in case things get hairy.
Priced at RM55,900 (with GST), the Ducati is RM3,000 dearer than the Triumph. But perhaps that’s not too much to pay for some entry level Italian passion.