Comparison test of naked bikes with three-cylinder engines

Comparison test of naked bikes with three-cylinder engines

Cheers to the three

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There is no more fascinating drive concept for country roads than the three-cylinder engine. In the comparison test of naked bikes with three-cylinder engines, PS took a closer look at all common triples in sport-oriented chassis.

A busy working day in the northern Black Forest. A few strollers and forest workers duck their heads in shock, involuntarily flinch, and frantically seek cover. With a panicked look they first search the sky, then the area for approaching fighter pilots from the Second World War. And they are relieved to see this growing, threatening screeching not from a squadron, but the five naked bikes with three-cylinder engines Yamaha MT-09, Triumph Speed ​​Triple, Triumph Street Triple R, MV Agusta Brutale 675 and MV Agusta B.rutale 800 on the small country road winding down into the valley.

Comparison test of naked bikes with three-cylinder engines

Cheers to the three

MV Agusta Brutale 675 and MV Agusta Brutale 800 as well as Triumph Street Triple R and Triumph Speed ​​Triple argue here for the laurel wreath.

Kawasaki does without three-cylinder

Flashback: At the end of 2006, the author sat at the presentation of the second Kawasaki Z 1000 generation on one of the Spanish islands off Africa and talked to press spokesman Andreas Seiler. It was about the engine of the Z 1000, which had become more powerful and brawny, but logically remained a four-cylinder. We philosophized back and forth until I begged Andi and Kawasaki to build naked bikes that are powered by three-cylinder engines in addition to the Z series.

Kawasaki in particular, with its three-cylinder two-stroke tradition, seemed to me predestined to stand up to the Triumph brand, which relies on this engine concept, and – much more importantly – to supply the market with these really provocative, versatile engines . At the time, Seiler dismissed it with words like “too expensive”. Back in the here and now. Who dares Wins! Because at the end of last year, a Japanese brand, Yamaha, finally dared to bring another socially acceptable three-cylinder onto the market – the Yamaha MT-09.

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Yamaha MT-09

Cock up and up the wheel! The Yamaha MT-09 whirls like a world champion.

The Japanese have the best three-cylinder engine currently available in the Yamaha MT-09. Not surprisingly, after all, it is the most modern design in the test field. The engine called "CP3" (CP stands for "Cross-Plane", ie the crankshaft design, the 3 for the number of cylinders) impresses with its robust acceleration, powerful torque and silky smooth running. A dream of an engine that is sporty, crisp, but also easy to move comfortably, whose transmission shifts smoothly in Japanese and which is also very stingy with fuel with the given performance.

The only real shortcoming of the Yamaha MT-09 is its throttle response. In standard and sport mode (STD and A) she accelerates too hard. And in B mode, the only one with a soft throttle response, the good guys are unfortunately missing almost ten horsepower. More annoying than the missing horses in B-mode is the peculiarity that the standard mode is automatically reactivated every time the ignition is switched off. A little thing that is better turned off with the upcoming facelift.

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Yamaha MT-09 in the top test

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Handlebars positioned high and close to the driver

It is striking how the Yamaha reacts to different tires. It is delivered with the Bridgestone S20 in special specification "M" on the front wheel, which is supposed to ensure that the Yamaha MT-09 still drives straight ahead even at its (electronically limited) Vmax of 210 km / h. However, this entails restrictions in handling and steering precision. Our test bike stood on the S20 without any special specifications and was more manageable, leaned more deeply and provided the rider with a little more feedback. An improvement that every MT-09 rider can enjoy as soon as the first tires are worn

In contrast, the ergonomics of the Yamaha MT-09, which is far too passive for us PS students, is difficult to change. The handlebars are high and close to the driver, the entire seating position is comfortable, but unsporting. On the other hand, the crisp brakes and the offered driving comfort inspire, which is at the expense of the feedback. Is the MT-09 now a heating iron or an everyday sofa? It is just like the cloud of sound with which it surrounds itself – subtle Japanese, but by no means boring or conservative. And simply places itself in between.

Triumph Speed ​​Triple

So this is it, the real, unadulterated big bike ride. The Triumph Speed ​​Triple puts the pilot high and spreads its legs too wide with its wide tank.

Those who switch directly from the Yamaha MT-09 to the Triumph Speed ​​Triple will get big eyes. So this is it, the real, unadulterated big bike ride. The Speedy beds the pilot high and spreads her legs too far with her wide tank. The knee angle is sporty, but not excessive, and the handlebars nestle in your hands by itself. As soon as the 1050 triplet has come to life – which can sometimes take a while for the starter to start organizing – you move forward with a throaty gurgle from the arrows slip-on bags from idle.

The Arrows exhaust system as well as the gel seat, the front spoiler, the fly screen and the milled aluminum brake fluid reservoir are also part of the special equipment package that Triumph is giving to every Triumph Speed ​​Triple buyer in 2014. And without a penny surcharge, which results in a saving or a price advantage of a whopping 1721 euros.

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Good road holding and solid feedback

Everything about the Triumph Speed ​​Triple looks full, dignified – simply sovereign. She doesn’t let herself be stressed and passes this feeling on to her pilot. Which is not to say that it is sluggish or even slow. Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! She swims effortlessly within the five-man combo that is fighting through the Black Forest. Requires a stronger hand only when bending, but compensates for this deficiency with the fullest road holding and solid feedback. The latter looks washed out in deep lean angles, but even with sporty country road use you rarely get into this lean angle area.

It is clearly not a racer, the Triumph Speed ​​Triple. And conceptually it is the oldest moped in the test field – you can feel that. Its large and long motor (the only one with one behind the other instead of one above the other) is the center around which everything revolves. It decelerates the handling in the same way as it does not accelerate. Very straightforward and calm, always with enough lard on the chain. On the other hand, the front brake and the associated ABS are not very inspiring. The stoppers act degressively and the ABS regulates too slowly, i.e. it opens too long in the regulating range.

Triumph Street Triple R.

The Triumph Street Triple R is punchy and easy to drive. That promises driving pleasure.

The little sister of the Triumph Speed ​​Triple, the Triumph Street Triple R, which is equipped with a more modern ABS, can do better. Although it does not quite reach the level of the Yamaha or the MVs, the braking effect, controllability and the control behavior of the Streety stoppers and ABS combinations match the agile overall appearance of the little Brit. Unfortunately, the test motorcycle sold by Triumph and provided by a dealer suffers from badly worn tires.

A replacement was not available in the short time, which is why the Triumph Street Triple R stood up noticeably on the brakes in an inclined position and had to accept point deductions. Although this peculiarity tarnishes the driving pleasure, it hardly distorts the true character of the Street Triple R. She is and remains a classy, ​​fun-stud. This combination of low weight, sufficient performance and crisp handling inspires anew every time. With 106 hp it is the weakest motorcycle in the test field, but you don’t notice it.

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The Triumph Street Triple R

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Triumph Street Triple R tuned too tight

There is always enough pressure, it is just served a little too evenly. What looks good on the big Triumph Speed ​​Triple looks boring on the smaller, sportier Triumph Street Triple R. In order to really fascinate, her good-sounding, not too loud triple lacks a little kick around the top. But that is whining on a high level. Worse, and a real criticism of the Streety R, is the whining that the pilot makes on bad stretches of the road. Because the British woman is way too tightly tuned. On the fork, the damping must be fully opened for road use in order to work properly. Your shock absorber, on the other hand, works wonderfully, even if the driving experience doesn’t quite match that of the big sister.

The English women agree on the smoothness of the engine running and the somewhat clumsy gear operation. What the Triumph Street Triple R and the Triumph Speed ​​Triple lack, however, not to survive in everyday life, but to collect important points in the overall standings, are equipment features such as different driving modes or traction control. The latter is really “too much”, as the English would say.

Although it does not quite reach the level of the Yamaha or the MVs, the braking effect, controllability and the control behavior of the Streety stoppers and ABS combinations match the agile overall appearance of the little Brit.

MV Agusta Brutale 675 and MV Agusta Brutale 800

The MV Agusta Brutale 675 fascinates because it wants to be abused.

What is “too much” for the British is just good enough for the Italians. Regardless of whether it is about the engine’s ability to turn, its electronic equipment or the strength of the sound with which it competes. The MV Agusta Brutale 675 and MV Agusta Brutale 800 are eccentric and are neither stingy with one nor the other. The two MVs have a lot in common, their name Brutale is very apt. Because they get down to business brutally, whether in the upper speed range or acoustically. The latter in particular, the driving noise, is “too much”. The soundscape described at the beginning is largely on the account of the two Italians and bystanders.

Even die-hard motorcyclists will quickly get embarrassed by the MV Agusta Brutale 675 and the MV Agusta Brutale 800. In clear words: The MVs may sound great, especially over 8000 turns, but they are far too loud! Anyone who throws up a file like this every morning at seven o’clock to get to work shouldn’t be surprised if one day they have flat tires or if they otherwise fall victim to vigilant vigilante justice by an angry neighbor. Despite, or perhaps because of, this impropriety, the two riot brothers address a downright rebellious people.

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The 675 digests bad country roads better than the 800

What has already been shown in the performance test of the MV F3 800 (PS 6/2014) proves to be true in this test: The MV triple have finally received acceptable mappings. The engine management of the two Italo three-series is not quite as smooth as that of Yamaha and Triumph, but the N mode in particular is convincing on both. Spontaneous acceleration is inherent in the design of the two short-stroke engines, short gear ratios help translate this into good acceleration and pulling power. Both are the same as the gearboxes, which work imprecisely in spite of the automatic gearshifts and which often annoy with idle times. In spite of this shortcoming, the MV three-cylinders encourages heating, whereby the 800 does this in all engine speeds, the 675 only above 7500 rpm. This is where the biggest difference between the two is revealed. If the MV Agusta Brutale 800 has mastered the virtue of low-speed driving, the MV Agusta Brutale 675 literally craves the whip. If you don’t swing it, it’s not fun.

The undercarriages show amazing things. Despite the cheap, non-adjustable dampers, the 675 digests bad country roads better than the 800. This fails above all on the shock absorber in the high-speed range of the damping and allows short, hard hits to pass unfiltered to the pilot’s backbone . The chassis designs, on the other hand, deserve great praise. The MVs are manageable without end, not only deliver great feedback, but also drive with wonderful precision. The parentage from the super athlete F3 is omnipresent. The brakes, which harmonize very well with the Bosch ABS, go well with this. So when things have to go fast and extravagance is called for, there is no way around a brutal one.

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MV Agusta Brutale 800 in the test

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The engines: the fascination of three cylinders

The three-cylinder in-line engine of the Triumph Street Triple R has 106 hp.

What makes a three-cylinder engine so unique and why is it the ideal country road drive in a motorcycle?
A modern three-cylinder manages to combine the advantages of two- and in-line four-cylinders without adding their conceptual disadvantages. This results in clear advantages for road use. The fact that an engine is livelier, more powerful and more aggressive at the top, the shorter its bore / stroke ratio and the smaller its individual cubic capacities, the same for all designs.

Assuming always the same cubic capacity, the three-cylinder offers itself as a powerful, but also revolving and powerful engine, since its individual cubic capacities are between those of a two- and four-cylinder. In addition, fewer parts move in a triple than in a four-cylinder, and its bearing points do not have to be as large as in the twin. This reduces internal friction and increases efficiency.

Better handling, brilliant sound and a narrower overall width

In addition, there is the asymmetrical firing order of a triplet, which causes its crank pin offset. This is not only responsible for the ingenious sound, but also for an easily controllable power output, which is always very convenient for a motorcyclist. The shorter crankshaft length of the triple compared to the four-cylinder makes handling easier, the narrower overall width allows narrow frames, which in turn benefits the entire vehicle.

Of course, a parallel twin is even narrower, but in order to offer the performance of a triple of the same size, it would have to be designed with a significantly shorter stroke than this one. Which is at the expense of the torque in the lower speed range. A short-stroke twin is then not at all capable of cultured shooting from the depths of the lower speed range due to the larger individual displacement. Not even the upgraded KTM 1290 Super Duke R succeeds in doing this. Four-cylinder engines can only keep up in the lower and medium speed range if they are designed with a significantly longer stroke, have a larger displacement or have a much shorter gear ratio.

Performance measurement


The power measurement of the three-cylinder.

Pure three-cylinder power in all its glory! It’s wonderful to see that there is no substitute for displacement with this engine concept either. The Triumph Speed ​​Triple dominates nominally with the greatest torque and the highest peak performance – but in real life the lighter, better geared MV Agusta Brutale 800 pulls through better.

It is also easy to see how steadily the Triumph Speed ​​Triple, the Triumph Street Triple R and the Yamaha MT-09 are gaining pressure. What is perceived as too linear by the English women is perfectly fine with the MT-09. The freely rotating MV Agusta Brutale 675 and MV Agusta Brutale 800 feel less harmonious, but more fascinating for sporty motorcyclists.

Results and conclusion

The five pilots of the Triples scramble like young dogs, fly downhill in close association.

MV Agusta
Brutal 675
MV Agusta
Brutal 800
Street Triple R
Speed ​​triple
acceleration 10 5 6th 5 7th 6th
Draft 10 7th 8th 6th 7th 7th
Power delivery 10 6th 7th 8th 8th 9
Responsiveness 10 6th 6th 8th 8th 9
Load change reaction 10 8th 8th 7th 7th 9
Running culture 10 6th 7th 9 9 10
Gear actuation 10 5 5 7th 6th 9
Gear ratio 10 9 10 8th 9 9
Clutch function 10 6th 6th 6th 6th 6th
Traction control 10 5 5
Subtotal 100 63 68 64 67 74
landing gear
Driving stability 10 7th 7th 7th 8th 6th
Handiness 10 9 8th 7th 5 9
Cornering stability 10 10 10 8th 8th 6th
feedback 10 9 9 8th 8th 7th
Suspension tuning in front 10 7th 8th 6th 9 5
Chassis set-up at the rear  10 7th 5 8th 8th 5
Braking effect 10 9 9 8th 7th 9
Brake metering 10 9 9 7th 6th 9
Erection moment
when braking
10 9 9 6th 8th 8th
ABS function 10 9 9 8th 6th 8th
Subtotal 100 85 83 73 73 72
Everyday life and driving fun
Sitting position 10 9 9 8th 7th 5
Windbreak 10 2 2 1 3 1
Furnishing 10 4th 6th 6th 6th 6th
consumption 10 6th 6th 8th 7th 8th
Driving fun 10 7th 9 8th 7th 8th
Subtotal 50 28 32 31 30th 28
Total 250 176 183 168 170 174
placement   2. 1. 5. 4th. 3.

1st MV Agusta Brutal 800
Who would have thought that the MV Agusta Brutale 800 would win. It has finally reached the level of maturity that also inspires ordinary consumers and not just brand enthusiasts. You can’t drive an undisguised three-cylinder in a more sporty, lazy gearshift and yet livelier way, but it is quieter. Well equipped and with only slight weaknesses in detail, the 800 Brutale achieves a deserved victory.

2nd MV Agusta Brutal 675
Second place for a motorcycle that doesn’t have an adjustable suspension? That’s fine. And through a good basic set-up. We even like the MV Agusta Brutale 675 better than that of the 800. However, the drive is a matter of taste. Below the 675 is too poor, the poorly shiftable transmission is also annoying. If you have the money, you should definitely go for the more expensive 800.

3. Yamaha MT-09
Too few sporting ambitions cost the Yamaha MT-09 many points. The handy Japanese is still a lot of fun and guarantees one thing above all: Japanese quality and durability. It is a companion for every day, which is also allowed to reach its limits during the hot after-work round. Her subtle appearance, the ingenious engine, its restrained consumption and the pleasant acoustics make her the secret winner.

4. Triumph Speed ​​Triple
Not everyone is into anorexic supermodels or fond of light-footed motorcycles. All those who feel addressed have to resort to the Triumph Speed ​​Triple. Her engine is still a stunner, her appearance is still worth seeing. It exudes strength and stability and thus manifests the sovereignty of a large bike.

5th Triumph Street Triple R

No, the Triumph Street Triple R is not a loser. It gets the fewest points, but anyone who likes the combination of three-of-a-kind, handling, controllable performance and socially acceptable demeanor simply has to love and buy it.

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