The 2019 Street Twin and Street Scrambler are revamps of two important models for Triumph. I know what some of you are thinking: Important? At the models’ shared launch, on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, the British company explains the Street Twin is by far its best-selling modern classic, and the Street Scrambler spawned a well-defined niche of retro faux off-roaders since its release in 2006. So, yes, important.
The Street Twin first. The reason for its success, Triumph says, is a mix of entry-level price (for the British brand at least), classic looks, and easy demeanor. If there was a recurring criticism of the 2016 Street Twin, at least from some areas of the media, it was the bike’s lack of oomph. So the biggest change is the engine. Triumph call this its “High Torque” 900cc motor. There is, it says, 18 percent more power, roughly 10 hp, taking the claimed power to 65 hp. This increase is mainly delivered with help of a 500-rpm rev increase to a new redline of 7,500 rpm. Studying the supplied graphs, peak power is up, but in the 3,500-to-5,500-rpm rev range, where even Triumph says the bike will spend most of its life, there is only an increase of 0 to 4 hp. Peak torque is the same, but the curve is flattened, so it offers increased torque over a wider range.
Another change for 2019, that is particularly relevant, is the addition of a rain map selected from a button on the right twist grip. It noticeably reduces power and torque. If only the downed rider had selected the rain map, it’s unlikely the crash would’ve happened.
Despite the name the factory christened this generation of engine, when I was riding the Street Twin I never felt it was characterized by a thud of torque. I was revving it higher than I expected to make it pull out of hairpins. This desire to be revved means the Street Twin has a relatively sporty feel.
Another improvement for 2019 is the adoption of a cartridge-style KYB fork and Brembo four-piston caliper front brake, both giving a more premium edge over the Street Twin’s new competitor, the bargain-priced Royal Enfield Interceptor. There’s a magnesium cam cover, lighter crank and balance shafts, and increased service intervals, now up to 10,000 miles.
Other changes are largely cosmetic. There are new alloy wheels, 18-inch front, 17-inch rear, with polished spoke faces and optional tire pressure monitoring capability; freshened side panels and graphics; new finishes on headlight shell and brackets; new LED rear light; a revamped clock, that gave all the info a modern classic rider should need and, again, leaves no doubt it’s a cut above the Enfield Interceptor. There’s a USB charging socket under the seat and more than 140 accessory options. Triumph said 80 percent of all Street Twins leave a dealer with official accessories added, so few new owners will leave having shelled out just $9,300 list price for the Jet Black model ($250 more for the Korosi Red and Matt Ironstone).
Literally everything about the bike has an ease of use, that is hard to criticize, but… It’s such a polished end product much of the character has been buffed out of it. I’m not an old duffer who wants oil leaks and self-closing tappets, but the Street Twin reminds me of the UJMs of the 1990s, the universal Japanese motorcycles that were derided, perhaps thoughtlessly, for their soulless efficiency. If you love the looks of it, I doubt you’d regret a purchase, but there is a distinct lack of X factor.
So on to the Street Scrambler. Immediately, this revamp of a model launched in 2017 is quirkier. It definitely has some X in its DNA, but it comes at a price, the white Scrambler is $11,000 (add $250 for red or $500 for two-tone khaki/silver).
When the very first European emissions regulations were muted, back in the previous century, I remember seeing Heath Robinson-style sketches of what bikes would have to look like to pass the rumored measures. Huge warehouse-AC-style ducting and exhausts that wouldn’t look out of place on a Peterbilt were predicted. Decades later and the emissions regulations are more strict than even the most tinfoil-hat-wearing kook would have predicted, and look at these two. The Twin has what Triumph refers to as sleek, stainless steel “swan neck” downpipes. The Scrambler has the instantly recognizable individual mid-level pipes, but the catalytic converters are well hidden. Triumph camouflages its radiators remarkably well too, mainly by leading the eye to what makes its moderns so classic: handsome engines, evocative tank shapes, smart touches like good-looking bar clamps and heat shields.
Considering how much the pair share, it’s remarkable how different the Twin and Scrambler feel. At 31.1 inches (790mm) the Scrambler’s seat is 1.2 inches higher than the Street Twin’s. Bars are higher and wider, and the Scrambler’s wheelbase is 1.2 inch longer too. It feels more substantial. The mid-level exhaust, that establishes the bike as “a scrambler” warms the rider’s calf, but the heat shield does enough to stop scorched pant legs. When standing up, obligatory for any Street Scrambler owner to get those Mojave vibes flowing, the pipes pushed my leg out so only half the width of my boot was on the rubber-insert bear-trap footpeg.