A great-looking, novice-friendly retro from the masters of the scrambler genre
British heritage bike specialists Triumph can justifiably claim to be experts in the fashionable field of trail-style retros having introduced the first mainstream ‘scrambler’ back in 2006.
So it should be no great surprise that this latest version, the third based on its smaller, 800/900 Bonneville twin, is pretty much a benchmark for the breed.
The first, all those years ago, was created out of the then 865cc Bonneville twin retro roadster, inspired by Triumph’s own 1960s TR6 Trophy twin as made famous by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, and distinguished by its cross-braced, trail-style bars, upswept, off-road exhaust, engine ‘bash’ guard, larger wire front wheel and semi-knobbly tyres. With the 270-degree crankshaft giving the classic off-roader a mellow backbeat and distinctive feel, it proved a massive hit. Not only has it (and its successors) remained in Triumph’s range ever since, they’ve helped spawn a whole scrambler sub-category of retro bikes that includes Ducati’s Scrambler and the Yamaha XSR700 and 900.
When Triumph updated its whole Bonneville family in 2016, with both 900cc and 1200cc versions, a scrambler version followed in 2017 called the Street Scrambler. That bike was simple and affordable, with a soft 54bhp but meaty midrange was gentle yet flexible and, with plenty of neat retro styling touches, looked the real deal.
But compared to rivals such as Ducati’s 75bhp Scrambler it was a little lacking in ultimate performance which is why this updated and uprated version was introduced for 2019. Internal engine changes have boosted peak power by a healthy 18% to a more respectable 64bhp; there are new, switchable riding modes accessed via equally new switchgear and instruments; the front brake is now by Brembo instead of the previous Nissin and there’s lots of styling and detail updates, too. Even at standstill it’s a marked improvement – and all for a price hike of just £300.
With its larger front wire wheel and higher bars, the Street Scrambler is slightly taller and more substantial than the roadster Street Twin – in many people’s view it’s better looking – but without being more cumbersome or intimidating.
On the move it’s both easy to get on with, neutral and pleasingly characterful. And when you’re in the mood to more than merely travel, the 900cc twin noticeably has more to give while its brakes are also more able to haul it all back down again. Don’t misunderstand: it’s still no sportster, the Street Scrambler’s more leisurely and lumbering than that. Nor does it have quite the zest and pep of the Ducati or, particularly, Yamaha’s more modern XSR700. But neither is the Triumph left it their wake like it was before.
And for this style of bike, that’s probably enough. The new Street Twin is a brilliantly friendly and easy-to-ride machine; is decent all-round transport; it’s style is more charming and effective than most rivals and it’s a great base for further modification via Triumph’s now extensive accessories catalogue.
In fact that final point alludes to our only real criticism. Sweet, charming and effective though the Street Scrambler is, in standard spec it’s also pretty basic and cries out for some of those accessories. Our test bike, for example, was lovely – but largely because it was heavily customised with them – ribbed seat, headlamp grille, number boards, billet oil cap, handlebar brace and pad, V&H pipes and more. All of which were mouth-watering but also added over £2000 to the price.
But as long as you understand what you’re getting, you won’t be disappointed. With classic looks and an easy going nature, the Triumph Street Scrambler is a motorcycle that has a wide appeal.
Triumph Street Scrambler Specifications
|ENGINE TYPE||Parallel-twin, four valves per cylinder, liquid cooled|
|BORE X STROKE||84.6 x 80mm|
|MAXIMUM POWER||64 hp (47.8 kW) @ 7500 rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE||80Nm @ 3200rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||41mm KYB telescopic forks|
|FUEL TANK||12 litres|