The final member of the new Bonneville family we have yet to test is the 900cc Bonneville Street Cup. To cut a long story short, it’s based off the excellent Street Twin we tested a year ago, but tweaked here and there to resemble an old-school cafe racer.
Words: Nile Bijoux | Photos Nile Bijoux
Chief among the changes are the bullet seat with rear cover, the small wind deflector at the front, dropped ‘Ace’ clubman-style bars and bar-end mirrors.
Our unit was clad in yellow with silver accents and normally yellow isn’t a go-to colour for many, but here it really works. The look of the Cup is spot on, really. The rear seat cover combined with the wind deflector look top notch, and the mirrors complete the package. Speaking of which, it was really nice to look down and see plenty of road behind me. Their location takes a bit of getting used to though, and makes lane splitting somewhat tricky at times. The single Street Twin dial has been replaced by a dual-clock setup similar to the one used on big-brother Thruxton.
Moving on to the engine, as stated it’s the new high-torque 900cc previously seen in the Bonneville and Street Twin. The usability of this engine is fantastic – you can burble along at less than 2000rpm and there will still be pulling power. The nature of the tune plus Euro4 compliance means commuting and quick getaways are easy, but it runs out of puff at the higher end. No matter though because all 80 Newton-metres of torque are available at 3250rpm so you get an instant kick when you twist the throttle. The 40.5kW come into play at 5500rpm but it could use a little bit more oomph at those revs.
You can burble along at less than 2000rpm and there will still be pulling power.
That’s further pronounced with the five-speed transmission. In a world where nearly everything else has six speed ‘boxes, the Cup could really use another speed. However, the ratios are perfect for the gearbox. Taking off never feels strained and at highway speeds the thing hums along.
While on paper the specs don’t look hugely inspiring, we clocked a 4.9 second sprint to 100. That’s not bad for a bike not exactly created for performance. Even better was the braking – going from 100 to dead stop took a scant 3.9 seconds. Given the front only as a single disk, that’s pretty impressive. An 80-120 overtake took just shy of four seconds also, using third gear right the way through to 6500rpm.
The press bike was equipped with the stock cans, and truly they sound mint. The big twin comes across like a harmonious blend of Ducati, Harley-Davidson and classic Triumph (not surprisingly), and is best experienced in a tunnel or carpark for maximum reverb. Triumph reports that over 120 accessories are available, some of which are aural-enhancing Vance and Hines slip-on units.
In terms of electronics you have ABS, switchable traction control and ride-by-wire throttle, as well as a super light torque-assist clutch.
Suspension is essentially the same as the Street Twin, that being non-adjustable Kayaba 41mm units on the front and two Kayaba five-stage, preload-adjustable shocks at the rear, although the rear has a slightly stiffened initial spring rate and an increased length by eight mm. The upshot is that the rake angle goes from 25.1 degrees to 24.3 degrees, and the trail has dropped to 3.9 inches.
Triumph reckons this gives the Cup a sportier feel and better handling than the Twin it’s based off. The clubman bars definitely add to the quicker steering feel, but the footpegs remain in the same position as the Street Twin’s, which has a regular set of more upright bars. This means the riding position can feel slightly cramped as a result.
While the set-up is fine for town and highway riding, when you start pushing the Cup on the backroads some ducking and bobbing at the front end results, not helped by the stiffer rear. It’s never bad enough to back off and sit the bike up for fear ending of up in the dirt, but if sportier handling is something you’re after, you can buy a set of Fox fully-adjustable rear shocks developed specifically for the Street Cup.
Braking is unchanged from the Street Twin, taken care of by a Nissin twin-piston sliding front caliper gripping a 310mm disc up front, while the footbrake connects to a 255mm disk with a Nissin twin-piston caliper. The system works very well, with ABS kicking in quietly.
Overall the Street Cup is a very good unit, but not without some little niggles. The engine is torquey and full of character, a fantastic creation by the Hinkley folk. It sounds amazing, showing other manufacturers a Euro 4 exhaust system doesn’t have to sound like a sewing machine. It looks the part too with that trick two-tone paint scheme, bullet seat, bar-end mirrors and windshield, but despite the sporty looks it’s not exactly capable of carving corners in quite the same way as a dedicated sports bike can. In this way it could be argued the Cup is almost a poser’s bike. However for the most part it rides as good as it looks.
While it has little in the way of direct competitors, perhaps the closest one is Guzzi’s identically priced ($ 17,990) V7 II Racer ABS, powered by a 750cc V-twin. Also lovely to behold and easy to live with, if not quite as stroppy, you’d need to ride both before deciding.
Model Triumph Street Cup 2017 Price $ 17,990
Engine 900cc, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, IL2, 40.5kW / 80Nm
Transmission 5-speed, chain final drive Vitals 4.9s 0-100km/h
3.9s (113m) 80-120km/h, 64m 100-0km/h, 220kg