Spannerman Road Tests Triumph Street Triple 660 | The Wolf In LAMS Clothing
In the bad old days, you could get your motorcycle licence by riding out of sight of the testing officer and returning without any evidence of having crashed. Cool. But bikes became more prolific in the ’60s and, along with cars, fatal crashes increased to the point that, by the early 1970s, it had become a national emergency.
After arguably more discussion than was necessary, LAMS was introduced in NSW in September, 2002. Other states watched with interest and South Australia came on board in 2005, Queensland in 2009 and Western Australia finally folded in January 2013.
Most states share the same LAMS formula: the engine capacity must not exceed 660cc and power must be limited to 150kW per tonne.
From my desk in the former MT office, if I scrunched up a sheet of paper and threw it, I could hit Paul Young, the Road Test Editor of our bitter rival (wink), AMCN. In a former life, the quiet assassin was an independent development rider contracted to Triumph in the UK. While he had nothing to do with the Street 660, he knows a lot about how Triumph works. It pains me to write this but if you’re really interested in the 660, you should also read his analysis of it in AMCN Vol 64 No 3 (7-20 August, 2014).
Normally it would be impossible for an Australian distributor to talk a manufacturer into extensively modifying an existing model just for the Australian market. Paul says the tipping point came when New Zealand embraced a LAMS scheme identical to most in Australia, adding 250 bikes to the 400 Australia was going to import. A total of 650 was enough for the factory to modify the existing 675 to make it LAMS compliant.
Engine capacity needed to be reduced to 660cc and a drop in power output was also required. The first part of this was resolved by moving the conrod big-end pins 0.6mm closer to the centre of the crankshaft and machining the gasket face between the cylinder and cylinder head to match the reduced stroke.
Power was reduced by the use of a throttle stop (no, you can’t tamper with it like you can with several other brands) and the finishing touch was a revised camshaft that dropped the point at which maximum torque was produced from the 675’s 9750rpm to just 4600rpm.
What this means is although the 660 has substantially less power than the 675, it has around 80 per cent of the 675’s torque produced from much lower revs, resulting in very sprightly acceleration.
What’s more, the torque increases rapidly from 2000 to 4000rpm, giving plenty of assistance to get away from cars at the lights without having to rev the engine to death.
HORSES FOR COURSES
The 660 is an excellent learner’s bike and is very true to the spirit of LAMS. Other manufacturers responded to the LAMS challenge simply by shooting existing models in their range with tranquiliser darts.
Triumph, on the other hand, invested in an engineering solution and produced a bike that will remain a pleasure to own long after the owner’s legal requirement for a LAMS bike has expired.
Engine aside, most of the reason for this is that the 675’s specifications weren’t changed in the development process. The 660 shares the chassis, suspension, brakes, running gear and styling of the bike from which it was derived. There would be no other bike in the world producing a modest 38kW that has Nissin/Brembo 310mm discs with twin-piston calipers and ABS on the front to pull it up. Pirelli Diablo Rosso tyres on a learner bike? You betcha.
New owners will love the riding position, which is slightly sporty but still very comfortable. They will be able to reach everything, they won’t be cramped and they don’t have to stretch too far. Once you’re off your Ls and take a pillion, the situation isn’t as accommodating, with a high perch and high-mounted footrests.
Despite the available torque, it’s still possible to find yourself in too high a gear but that will be an important part of the learning process. Another issue for taller learners is that you look over the instruments (and indicators) and have to make a conscious effort to take them in. For me, that resulted in leaving the indicators on after turns and not being aware of it. It seemed to happen on the 660 more often than usual for me (a serial offender) and it’s an important safety issue for learners.
The 800mm seat height may be an issue for some of our shorter brothers and sisters, but cornering clearance hasn’t been compromised to make the bike lower. All that will really be denied 660 owners is the top-end rush the stock 675 delivers, but there’s hardly anywhere left in Australia apart from track days where it’s safe, legal and sensible to use it.
THE COST OF EXCELLENCE
The Street Triple 660 is priced from $12,490 (plus on-road costs). Beneath it are myriad brands and models of LAMS bikes priced north of $5000. Thirteen large is a big ask for an 18-year-old, even with generous parents. It may not be such a big ask for older people converting to motorcycles or for returning riders and, if you want the best, this is what you’ll have to pay.
But with the increasing introduction of graduated licences, learners could be stuck with the same bike for at least three years. If you start with the Street 660, you won’t be bored for a single second of it.
TYPE: Inline three-cylinder
BORE & STROKE: 76 x 51.1mm
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI 3 x 42mm Keihin throttle bodies
TYPE: Six-speed constant mesh
FINAL DRIVE: chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
FRAME: Twin spar, aluminium
FRONT SUSPENSION: KYB 41mm USD fork, non-adjustable, 110mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Monoshock, preload adjustable, 124.5mm travel
FRONT BRAKES: Twin Nissin/Brembo 310mm discs, twin-piston calipers, ABS
REAR BRAKE: Single 220mm disc, single-piston caliper, ABS
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
CLAIMED WEIGHT: 181kg (dry)
SEAT HEIGHT: 800mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 17.4L
WHEELS & TYRES:
FRONT: 3.5 x 17-inch alloy with 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso tyre
REAR: 5.0 x 17-inch alloy with 180/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso tyre
POWER: 38.26kW at 9000rpm
TORQUE: 50.60Nm at 5150rpm
TOP SPEED: 180km/h (estimated)
PRICE: From $12,490 (plus on-road costs)
WARRANTY: Two years/unlimited kilometres
BIKE SUPPLIED BY: Triumph Australia
– Quality components
– It’s a keeper
– Low instruments
– Pillion comfort