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2020 Triumph Street Triple RS vs KTM 790 Duke vs Kawasaki Z900: Spec Comparison


Has the new Street Triple RS got what it takes to retain its position as the best middleweight naked?

The middleweight naked segment has become a hotly-contested battleground in recent times. This space is populated by various machines with different approaches as well as different engine displacements and configurations. So, which one looks best on paper? We find out by putting the updated triple-cylinder Street Triple RS up against the twin-cylinder KTM 790 Duke and the established inline-four contender, the Kawasaki Z900.

Motor Madness

 

 

Triumph Street Triple RS

KTM 790 Duke

Kawasaki Z900

Layout

765cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline-3 cylinder

799cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-twin

948cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline-4 cylinder

Power

123PS @ 11,750rpm

105PS @9,000rpm

125PS @ 9,500rpm

Torque

79Nm @ 9,350rpm

87Nm @ 8,000rpm

98.6Nm @ 7,700rpm

Gearbox

6-speed, bi-directional quickshifter

6-speed, bi-directional quickshifter

6-speed


We have three different motorcycles with three different displacement figures and engine configurations. The Kawasaki has the largest displacement by far, and also the greatest number of cylinders. It’s no surprise then that it also has the highest power and torque figures—that are needed because it is also the heaviest bike here by a fair margin. Being an inline four potter, it makes its peak power at a slightly high 9,500rpm, but its huge peak torque figure of 98.6Nm kicks in at just 7,700rpm — the earliest of all the engines here. This makes it a very tractable and useable motor, and the absence of a quickshifter won’t be missed since you won’t have to tap up and down the gearbox as much.

The Triumph isn’t far behind the Kwacker in terms of peak power, but it makes this figure at an astronomical 11750rpm. Moreover, its torque output is the lowest here while also being delivered highest in the rev range. On paper, then, this seems like an engine that will need to be kept on the boil to extract the maximum from it.

However, Triumph claims to have increased mid-range torque by 9 percent, and there has also been a bump-up in torque between 2000 and 4000rpm. The motor has become more tractable than before, allowing you to trundle along at speeds as low as 30kmph in 6th gear, while also letting you hold it in a higher gear than before through some corners on the track.

The KTM appears outgunned in this company, making just 105PS from its 799cc mill. But it does make a healthy 87Nm of twist, and being a twin-cylinder motor, it has a very meaty mid-range, producing great doses of torque in the lower reaches of the tachometer. This, coupled with its shorter gearing means that it can comfortably keep company with the other two motorcycles on this list in most scenarios. However, we expect the low rpm-limit and lack of top-end power to make life difficult for the KTM post-150 kmph.

Underpinnings

 

Triumph Street Triple RS

KTM 790 Duke

Kawasaki Z900

Frame

Aluminium twin-spar frame

Tubular steel frame

Steel trellis frame

Front Suspension

Fully-adjustable 41mm Showa Big Piston Fork, 115mm travel 

43mm WP USD fork, 140mm travel

41mm USD fork, adjustable preload and rebound damping, 119mm travel

Rear Suspension

Fully adjustable Ohlins monoshock, 131mm travel

Preload-adjustable WP monoshock, 150mm travel

Horizontal link monoshock with preload adjustability, 140mm travel

Brakes

F: Twin 310mm discs, Brembo M50 monobloc calipers


R: 220mm disc, Brembo single-piston caliper


Switchable dual-channel ABS

F: Twin 300mm discs, J.Juan 4-piston calipers


R: 240mm disc, single-piston caliper


Dual-channel lean-sensing ABS with Supermoto mode

F: Twin 300mm petal discs, 4-piston calipers


R : 250mm petal disc, single-piston caliper


Dual-channel ABS

Tyres

F: 120/70-ZR17


R: 180/55-ZR17

F: 120/70-ZR17


R: 180/55-ZR17

F: 120/70-ZR17


R: 180/55-ZR17


On paper, the Trumpet seems to have this one all wrapped up. With top-spec suspension and braking components from some of the best manufacturers in the world, and some of the grippiest tyres that you can use on the street, it ticks all the right boxes. In fact, the new Pirelli Supercorsa SP v3 tyres on the 2020 RS are better than their predecessors in every measurable aspect, and offer supreme performance on both road and track. That being said, the Triple has the least suspension travel on this list, and that could cause problems on our pothole-ridden roads.

Even though the KTM may again appear to be trumped on paper, things are not quite as they seem. Despite having non-adjustable suspension (except for rear preload), the setup on the Duke is well-balanced and offers a good balance between comfort and performance. It also has the greatest suspension travel of all the bikes here. Moreover, the braking performance is brilliant, especially considering that it is devoid of fancy Italian braking hardware.

The Z900 falls in the middle, offering some amount of adjustability at the front and rear while giving you more suspension travel than the Triple but less than the Duke. The braking setup on the Kawi is the least impressive in this company as its heft proves to be its biggest obstacle.

Dimensions

 

Triumph Street Triple RS

KTM 790 Duke

Kawasaki Z900

Rake/Trail

23.9 degrees/100mm

24 degrees/98mm

24.5 degrees/104mm

Wheelbase

1405mm

1475mm

1450mm

Ground Clearance

165mm

186mm

130mm

Seat Height

825mm

825mm

795mm

Weight

166kgs (dry)

169kgs (dry)

210kgs (curb)

Fuel Tank

17.4 litres

14 litres

17 litres

Once again, the Street Triple seems to have the upper hand on paper. It has the sharpest steering geometry, the shortest wheelbase, and is the lightest motorcycle here, despite having the largest fuel tank. However, its seat height, at 825mm, could pose a problem for shorter riders.

The Z has a longer wheelbase than the Triumph, and significantly lower seat height. It also has a similarly-sized fuel tank, and all these things together should make it a competent tourer. However, at just 130mm, it does have the lowest ground clearance and this would be something to watch out for when riding over our speed breakers.

Despite having the longest wheelbase here, the Duke has a rake angle nearly as sharp as the RS, while its trail is marginally shorter. The long wheelbase then is a result of a long swingarm that makes the 790 a stable motorcycle, without sacrificing agility. The dry weight is also just 3 kgs more than the Triumph, and all these factors add up to make the KTM a sweet handling motorcycle. The 14-litre fuel tank is considerably smaller than the competition and this could be a hurdle to those looking to tour on the 790 Duke.

Verdict

The Z900 is the most laid-back motorcycle here, with relaxed steering geometry, the most comfortable riding position, and the most tractable engine. It is also the cheapest motorcycle here, costing just Rs 7.70 lakh (ex-showroom India). It makes a great value-for-money proposition for those who are not interested in lap times.

The KTM and the Triumph are both more intentful motorcycles with higher specification components and more comprehensive electronics packages. They are both quite evenly matched, with the Duke edging the Triumph in certain areas and the Triple clawing it back in others. However, with the current Street Triple RS priced at Rs 11.13 lakh (ex-showroom, India), it is Rs 2.50 lakh more expensive than the Mattighofen missile.

Take both these motorcycles to a race track like the Buddh International Circuit and the Triple RS will run circles around the 790 Duke. But what the 790 Duke has in its kitty is the fact that you can ride from almost anywhere in India to the MMRT in Chennai, enjoy a day of humbling most litre-class motorcycles at the track day, and still ride back home in peace.

Triumph Street Triple Video Review

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