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Back in May, I took my 2010 Triumph Thruxton in for new tires and a 42,000 mile valve job. I’d had her for six years, and a more reliable bike I hadn’t owned. Trixie was her name, and I’d ridden her as a loaner while my Street Triple was getting new tires. After a trip up the incredible Sandia Crest Road — 120 turns in 10 miles and a 4000 foot elevation change that takes you up to 10,650′ — a was hooked. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t the most light bike. It wasn’t the most maneuverable or comfortable (that was my 2008 Spreed Triple), but she had character and I could really ride it. I rode the hell out of it from the 1500 mile mark when I bought it. I rode it like a sportbike, and I often hung with much faster bikes in the twisties of the Crest road.

The new Triumph Albuquerque shop is excellent and owned by a pair of friends of my, the inimitable Scott Cloninger and Scott Metcalfe. Great guys. If you need stuff, call them! They loaned me a new Street Cup, knowing that I wanted one. What I didn’t know if they had special ordered one for me; on of the last to come into the country. (Supposedly, they are discontinued this year.) I was instructed to “go play.” I took it up the Crest, and it was everything I hoped Trixie could be: maneuverable, stable, and torquey as hell. Apparently, there had been an agreement between my wife, who had been helping them get the new shop of the ground, and the Scotts to give me a crack at the bike.

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What sold me was the commuting around town. The bike is squirty. The torque come on just a bit above idle, about 50 ft-lbs. of it, and holds until about 5,500 rpm (or 95 mph) at which point you’re on horsepower, and thanks to the moronic Euro4 & Euro5 standards Triumph is upholding, that means you’ve only got about 60hp. She’ll do 115ish at the top end and that’s with a few more turns before the redline at 6,500. That’s about the same as most of the air cooled Thruxtons, but the Cup gets there a lot faster. (Raisch is doing a $2000 kit that gets rid of the catalytic converter, adds a Power Commander, and a cam set that gets you back 20+ horsepower without hurting the torque.)

The weight is about 450 lbs. but its low and the bike feels a lot lighter than it is. It’s also got a much better turning radius than the old (or new) Thruxton, as there’s no restrictive steering lock to avoid hitting the tank. Riding position for a 5’8″ man like me is comfortable for a 300-400 mile day on the Alcantra-covered seat. Under the tail cowl, there’s more seat, should you want to carry a passenger. You are moderately forward, almost race bike but not quite, with arms down on the stock clubman bars. If you needed to, you could rotate them a bit and get about an inch or so’s relief. The instruments are gorgeous, with brushed aluminum around analog dials with LED odometer. It tracks mileage, time, miles traveled, miles to empty (or the metric equivalent), and estimated fuel mileage. I’ve been getting between 65-70mpg at an average altitude of 6,000′. I have noticed that she doesn’t like drag — in high winds, the mileage peels away to the mid 50s; I suspect it’s a function of horsepower. It’s a torquey bike, but she’s limited in power.

The other issue is that the mileage comes at a price. The 900s may be water-cooled, but they are running lean, and in a desert climate like New Mexico (or anywhere hot) the bike is uncomfortably hot at times. Nearly every ride I’ve taken sees the fans kicking on at some point, even at a good running speed. Some of this is the cat, which is right under the motor. Because of the Screaming Eagle decision in Europe and the execrable Euro4 bullshit, Triumph won’t do maps that are reasonably balanced so you don’t scorch your ankles. (My wife rode it a few weeks in 100F temperatures and her legs were red after a 25 minute commute.) There are aftermarket maps but some of the dealers don’t want to upset Triumph by installing them. De-cat X-pipes are running about $250 and don’t require remapping.

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The Street Cup (and the rest of the 900cc HT driven Bonneville series) come stock with Pirelli SportComp tires. They’re nice on dry pavement but in the damp or wet they’re near-deadly. I took a switchback on the Crest road (can you tell I ride it a lot) at speeds that were pretty standard for me and the back tire cut loose. I barely recovered the bike. The Pirellis are shit. Terrible. Really bad. It’s also the first time I’ve had a front die before a back tire. I got 3,000ish miles out of the front and the rear looked good for another thousand when I got a screw in it shortly after the above incident. Gone! (And they’re expensive: $230 for a rear, $150 for a front.) I replaced them with the same shoes I’d been using on the Thruxton — Shinko 712s. These are $150 a set. They’re good for about 6,000 miles of hard riding but they grip superbly in wet and dry. The downside is they are heavy and can be hard to balance well. There’s a lot of unsprung weight so the bike’s a bit more bouncy than she was, but it’s a small price to pay (literally) for the wear and performance. They also look much more aggressive. They are bias ply, but you’re not getting a Street Cup to “shit, I blew up my tires from heat” speeds.

Overall, the Street Cup has excellent build quality and the styling is tops. (I haven’t done any styling mods, so what you see is stock.) The only people doing retro better is Moto Guzzi. Is it worth the $10,500US out the door? I think that’s a bit high, but it’s in keeping with the ludicrous prices for similar bikes these days. Hell, even the Japanese stuff has gotten a bit pricey.

I’m planning on a decat and aftermarket map for this one to cool her off a bit. There’s some Triumph and aftermarket styling bits you can throw on to make it more your own, but we’re nowhere need the plethora of gear for the air-cooled Bonnevilles.

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