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Are you in the market for a midsize naked bike that delivers exceptional performance on both road and track? Look no further than the Ducati Monster SP and the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS.
Let's clarify one thing from the start: these midsize naked bikes, the Ducati Monster SP and the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, stand worlds apart from the 'affordable and practical' Japanese trio we reviewed during our adventure through the scenic alpine regions of NSW a few months ago.
While the Honda Hornet, Suzuki GSX-8S, and Yamaha MT-07 are undeniably fantastic motorcycles, they are designed with cost-consciousness in mind. They represent modern interpretations of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle, catering to a specific market segment. However, if you're seeking something more exclusive, with greater power, superior handling, better braking, and advanced technology, you're in luck. There are several midsize naked bikes available that will elevate your riding experience, even though they come with a higher price tag.
Two such alternatives are the Ducati Monster SP and the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS. These European models share the same size and weight category as their Japanese counterparts but boast significantly more horsepower, top-tier components, and cutting-edge electronic rider aids.
The Monster SP, building on the 'new' Monster introduced in 2021, features a cast aluminum frame. While traditionalists might initially find this change challenging, anyone who has ridden the new model will quickly recognize its superiority over the old trellis frame design. Even in its base configuration, the Monster includes a comprehensive suite of electronic rider aids, encompassing cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and selectable ride modes. In the high-grade SP trim, Ducati takes it up a notch with Öhlins suspension, Brembo Stylema brakes, a new steering damper, and eye-catching Termignoni silencers.
The addition of these premium components enhances the Monster SP's capabilities and fun factor, but it does come at a cost—$23,200 for the SP, which is $4,000 more than the base Monster and nearly $10,000 more than the Japanese midsize naked bikes.
On the other hand, we have the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, which was launched earlier in the year. This new Street Triple is an evolution of its predecessor, boasting a more potent inline triple engine, the same powerplant Triumph supplies for the Moto2 World Championship. In RS trim, the Street Triple delivers a claimed 95.6kW (128hp), surpassing the most powerful Japanese midsize naked (the Hornet, with a claimed 67.5kW) and even the Monster SP (82kW).
Like the Monster SP, the Street Triple RS comes at a premium compared to the Japanese competition, but it is $2,600 more affordable than the Monster SP. Standard equipment on the RS includes a Showa fork and Öhlins shock, Brembo Stylema brake calipers, cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, and selectable ride modes.
For those willing to spend around $20,000 rather than $15,000, there are a couple of other alternatives like the $20,760 KTM 890 Duke R and the $18,899 Yamaha MT-09 SP. However, for now, let's focus on these two high-end naked bikes from Bologna and Hinckley.
While they may not be fire-breathing 160hp-plus liter-class naked bikes, both the Monster SP and Street Triple 765 RS are exceptionally powerful and thrilling to ride on both roads and tracks.
The key distinction between these sporty naked bikes lies in their engine configurations. The Monster SP employs Ducati's traditional 90° V-twin layout, a hallmark of the brand until recently. In contrast, the Street Triple 765 RS adopts an inline triple engine, paying homage to the format that has been at the core of various Triumph models since the brand's revival in 1989. The Monster features a 937cc Testastretta engine, while the Street Triple sports a 765cc triple. In terms of peak power, the Monster SP falls behind the Street Triple RS. However, thanks to its abundant low-end torque, the Ducati easily keeps pace with the more powerful Triumph on the road. In fact, the Monster's linear power delivery, peaking at a claimed 82kW (111hp) at a relatively low 9250rpm, makes it a breeze to ride briskly on the road.
In contrast, the Street Triple reaches its peak power of 95.6kW (128hp) at a high 12,000rpm. Despite its preference for high revs, the Street Triple offers substantial midrange power. However, it cannot match the Monster's bottom-end torque. The Italian motorcycle generates 93Nm of torque from as low as 6500rpm, while the British contender's 80Nm arrives higher up the rev range at 9500rpm.
As a result, you can crack open the Monster's throttle from as low as 3500rpm in almost any gear, and the response is immediate and seamless, thanks to precise fueling that ensures a smooth power delivery without any soft spots or hiccups as the revs climb.
Although the Monster's engine flexibility means you rarely need to work the gearbox, you won't be able to resist downshifting a gear or two for tighter corners, partly because the sound from those twin Termignoni exhausts is simply intoxicating, as is the impeccable quickshifter.
The Street Triple, while delivering a completely different auditory experience than the Monster, boasts an equally enticing soundtrack, characterized by a throaty induction roar and a captivating exhaust note. To keep up with the Ducati in tight corners, it's advisable to work the gearbox more on the Triumph, keeping the engine in the upper third of the rev range, where it responds with urgency and the tachometer needle races toward redline. Fortunately, the quickshifter on the Triumph matches the Ducati's excellence, making gear shifts a joy rather than a chore.
In summary, both of these bikes share numerous similarities, despite their different engine configurations. They are impeccably constructed, beautifully finished, and choosing one over the other would be doing them an injustice. While brand loyalty may influence some buyers, I strongly recommend Ducati enthusiasts to test the Street Triple 765 RS before making a final decision, and likewise, Triumph fans should explore the Monster SP before committing to a purchase.
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