Triples are rather rare in the motorcycle world, especially in Malaysia. Last year, Yamaha surprised us with the introduction of the MT-09 in Malaysia – a 847cc three cylinder naked machine priced at RM54,000. Yamaha’s new model immediately gained a lot of attention from the Malaysian motoring press for it’s unique engine layout and radical looks. Yamaha was venturing into a challenging new market. Among the contenders that it faced in terms of pricing were the Kawasaki Z800, and the Ducati 795. Both middleweight nakeds priced at RM47,989 and 59,900 respectively. However, there is an even closer rival that lurks under the radar. The Street Triple 675 may have the biggest cc differential compared to the other two, but it has an identical engine layout. The large capacity difference means many may overlook this contender, so Matmoto took the pair out for an outing in the hills of Karak to compare them.
Diamonds in the rough
First off, in terms of physical size and appearance, the MT-09 is slightly bigger than the Triumph. If you are anywhere close to six feet tall, the MT-09 would suit you better physically. It is taller, slightly longer and has an overall more imposing stature compared to the Street Triple 675. In fact, the 675’s diminutive size is my largest grouse with the otherwise nearly faultless Triumph. If you are average Malaysian size, standing at 5′ 8 or 5’9, then you should be fine though. The MT-09 has a radical look that sort of crosses the line between standard and supermoto/streetfighter. At first glance, with its tall tank and stance, it’s harder to compartmentalise it into any genre of motorcycle. It is a good looking bike in a beastly sort of way, with an aura of machismo about it. Yamaha left the dash uncovered with wires and cables protruding out from behind, further building up that rough, cobbled together look. The Triple is the more refined of the two. You either love or hate the Street Triple twin headlamp configuration. Our photographer said he just couldn’t get used to it. However, there is no denying that many would think it’s a good looking bike. Handsome even. While the Yamaha’s generic headlamp makes it look a bit more ordinary – the Triumph stands out as an original. Fit and finish on both the bikes are good. The Triumph has beautiful clocks and instrumentation. The Yammy has a spartan meter cluster that looks simply high-tech.
A scalpel and a parang
As we left in the morning, the first order of business was to test both bike’s handling and performance on the winding road from Gombak toll plaza to Karak town. I started off riding the 675. The Triumph has unusually good suspension. Of the numerous bikes I’ve ridden recently, both the Daytona and Street rank among the best handling bikes in their respective categories. You can tell that a lot of work has gone into getting things right. It is a well crafted riding experience. The sitting position is relatively upright and comfortable. The suspension is pliant, predictable even at high speeds. The brakes are powerful.
Everything mixes together in a balance that is quite simply intoxicating. This is racetrack level handling in a sit-upright naked package. It feels safe, but fast. But what makes the bike an absolute hoot to ride is the powerful, rasping triple that sits under you. With a perfectly metered throttle – the engine just begs to be trashed on the winding roads of Karak.
The Yamaha is the more powerful of the two. Churning out 115hp from its 847 cc mill, the engine doesn’t have the deep intake rasp that is so addictive on the Street. Its engine though delivers its power in a smooth linear fashion that propels the Yammy along quite rapidly. The riding position on the Yamaha is upright, and with the wide bars – it feels almost supermoto-ish. The Yamaha is quite agile, and feels light. On the Karak roads – it was very much in its element, easily powering out of the corners and gobbling up miles at a ferocious rate. The engine is extremely smooth and responds to throttle input instantly. The bike is also equipped with what is known as the Yamaha D-MODE system. This gives the rider a choice of three different mapping settings, namely STD Mode, A Mode and B Mode. The STD Mode (not to be confused with the medical affliction) perhaps stands for Standard and is mapped for a wide range of riding and road conditions. The A-mode on the MT-09 engine gives sharper throttle response in the low to mid speed range, making the bike more aggressive. The B-mode on the other hand delivers a milder throttle response – perfect for urban commuting or riding in rain. All three modes give enough power to keep up with the Street Triple in a straight line. However, as the pace picked up during the ride and the corners became tighter, feedback from the front end was harder to gauge. I felt that I needed to shift my weight further forward. It may be just my riding style but coupled with a snappy throttle which felt just too quick – this lowered my confidence somewhat. I was riding out of my comfort zone. The radial four- pot calipers with 298mm floating discs do their job well. The upright seating position felt comfortable and well spaced out. This is a bike that can take you long distances, at a rapid pace – and in relative comfort.
A matter of choice
On paper, it is a no brainer. At RM54,000 the MT-09 is significantly cheaper than the Street Triple which retails for RM59,900. It is also more powerful, and produces more torque than the Street. On the road though – it is a different story – and it becomes harder to tell which is the overall winner.
Race-bike like suspension makes the Street a supremely potent beast – especially on winding roads like those on Karak, which make up for its lack of cubic capacity. While the MT-09 does not feel as refined as the Street – it does offer superb value, especially in the Malaysian motorcycle market. However, with ABS, which is usually a RM3,000 to RM5,000 option equipped in the sales price, the Triumph is a very good bargain. In fact, with the high level of kit you get as standard on the Triumph, it’s hard to beat this bike for value.
Liquid-cooled 847cc (78×59.1mm), inline triple, 12v, 6-speed, chain drive
|STREET TRIPLE (ABS)
Liquid-cooled 675cc (74×52.3mm), inline triple, 12v, 6-speed, chain drive
|Power||115bhp @ 10,500rpm||105bhp @ 11,850rpm|
|Torque||62ftlb @ 8500rpm||50ftlbs @ 9750rpm|
|Chassis||Aluminium CF diecast diamond sectional frame, aluminium symmetrical double-sided swingarm||Aluminium beam, twin spar|
|Suspension||Front: Inverted 41mm fork, rebound adjustable. Rear: Link type monocross with horizontal shock, rebound & preload adjustable||Front: non-adjustabe Kayaba 41mm inverted fork. Rear: non-adjustable Kayaba monoshock|
|Weight||188kg (kerb)||183kg (kerb)|
|Brakes||Front: 2 x 298mm discs, radial 4-piston calipers Rear: 245mm disc with pin-slide caliper||Front: 2 x 310mm discs, 4-piston calipers Rear: 220mm disc with single piston caliper|
|Front Tyre||120/70 R17||120/70 R17|
|Rear Tyre||180/55 R17||180/55 R17|
|Fuel Capacity||14 litres||17.4 litres|