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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 319 October 2016 > THIRD TIME LUCKY

THIRD TIME LUCKY

The three most impressive three-cylinder middleweight bikes ava1labte are all verydifferent, in both size and character. But which is best? Time to give them all a tickle...
PICS: TOOTALLER GAWLER, MV, TRIUMPH, YAMAHA

MV Agusta’s financial difficulties couldn’t have come at a worse time for the iconic Italian manufacturer. Sales were up massively (by as much as two hundred per cent in some countries!), the bikes had never been better or more alluring, and to top it off the factory had just released the best road bike ever created – the new Brutale 800.

The launch of the new Euro4 compatible triple was an eye-opener alright.We always accepted MV’s metal is very sporty and rather fast. But they’d usually be let down by small things, concerns that would divert general buyers, who’d usually opt to head in other more traditionally user-friendly directions.

The Brutale changed this though, because on the evidence of the launch, this was the first truly complete motorcycle MV had ever built. From front to back it was nigh on perfection; gorgeous, nearly as usable as anything else out there, but, importantly, without losing any of MV’s sporting DNA or character. We were impressed!

Roll on a few months, and a financial crisis or three, and production at MV’s factory has begun anew. You won’t be surprised to learn that the Brutale is the one the firm is focussing on, such was the general interest in the beast. It’s MV’s third attempt at getting it spot on, so will it be third time lucky? Now is the right time to put it up against some rivals – namely the two other best triple-engined middleweights money can buy.

Yamaha’s nutty MT-09 gained some electronics this year with a bit of traction-control, and the larger capacity machine comes into the fray kicking and screaming. It may not have the MV’s handling credentials but has a whole lot to bring to the table.

Yet both of these bikes have to get past the long-standing emperor of the naked middleweight division, the bike that has won our tests countless times since 2007 – no matter what we’ve thrown against it.We’re talking about the daddy here, the Triumph Street Triple – and for this test, specifically the Rx version. Both the pretenders to the crown have more cubes and toys, but the Triumph is the epitome of the phrase ‘complete package’, and has been for many seasons. Right, it’s Blighty versus Japan and Italy – game on!

Triumph Street Triple Rx

The Triumph is right up Charlie’s street...

This may sound weird, but I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to be writing about the Triumph first in a test such as this. For years and years, the Street has won bloody everything – because it was so ridiculously good, but, more pertinently, far and beyond anything that could be classed as a rival. This meant that dozens of times I had to come up with different ways of saying the exact same thing so I didn’t end up repeating myself; and let me tell you that is not easy at all at the umpteenth ask. It’s not the Triumph’s fault, but its reign at the top has been unbelievably long and it’s taken Japan and Italy’s finest to finally relegate it.

Funnily enough, it’s partially the fact that the Triumph is so polished that has led to it being here. Placing the Yamaha and the Brutale ahead of it in no way means this is suddenly a bad motorcycle, because it’s anything but. The truth is it’s still absolutely stunning, starting with the genius of the 675cc inline triple engine. It is now ridiculously smooth, has aged wonderfully well and with every version released Triumph make it that little bit more sophisticated.

From the moment the starter is engaged you’re welcomed with that light, breezy whirr from the motor. I can’t ever think of anything else but Angel Delight when blipping one for some bizarre reason, maybe because it’s so smooth and creamy? As is the general power delivery, in fact. As fantastic as the engine is, however, it’s perhaps now a bit too civilised, especially in this rambunctious company.

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Used Tuono test: Aprilla's original naked nutter Alex Lowes: My 2017 pre-season starts now! Three's a crowd: Brutale vs MT-09 vs Street Triple R By 'eck, chief: Guy Martin caught speeding
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