For most of the 1990s, the Hinckley Triumph range of bikes were a brave attempt to make a British product compete with the very best from Japan.
Sometimes It worked, other times, the bikes looked a wee bit off the pace.
Then came the T595 Daytona; a brand new frame, a lower, leaner look and a raucous hooligan of a three cylinder engine inside it all. Suddenly, The triple seemed close to realizing its sports bike potential – a few brave nutters even raced them.
If you like your sporting motorcycles to have a dash of character, noise and style, shopping around for a used T595 could be a wise move.
It had been a hell of a day, and now it was nearly over. The sun had just set, but there was still enough light to see without needing headlights as I set off along the winding coast road towards Triumph’s launch base near Alicante in south-eastern Spain.
This was my last ride on the T595, and I wasn’t going to waste it: braking and cornering as hard as the unpredictable road surface would allow, and cracking open the throttle on the straights to send the triple stomping through the cool evening air. (“Cool” after the hot sun of the afternoon, that is. I still can’t believe I got back on that plane to come home.)
The Triumph responded superbly, just as it had all day. And as I tore along on this state-of-the-art superbike, it still seemed barely possible that the T595 Daytona was built by a British firm; a firm that began making bikes just six years ago. For make no mistake about it: this new Triumph lives up to all the hype.
Its name is still Daytona, but the T595 has very little in common with Triumph’s earlier Daytona and Super III. They were the Hinckley firm’s sports bikes, but Triumph’s modular concept meant they shared major bits with everything from the naked 750cc Trident to the 1200 Trophy sports-tourer. It’s just not possible to compete with FireBlades like that – and now Triumph aren’t trying to any more.
You probably know most of the techno-stuff already, so I’ll keep it brief. The T595’s motor is based on the old water cooled, 12-valve triple, but almost everything in it is new. Increasing the bore by 3mm to 79mm pushes capacity out to 955cc. New semi-forged pistons ensure that there’s no increase in weight.
They hold narrower, reduced-friction rings and run in new aluminium liners. Lotus Engineering (related to the car crew) were hired to help tune the motor by improving its breathing. Valves are larger (giving a 20 per cent increase in opening area), lighter and reshaped to improve gas flow. Camshaft profile is revised, and the crankshaft and balancer are lightened. Total engine weight is reduced by 12kg, thanks to magnesium engine covers, modified crankcases and a redesigned gearbox and clutch.
The airbox is reshaped and now has forward-facing air intakes. The new three-into-one exhaust uses stainless steel castings that are designed to allow the exhaust port shape to continue into the downpipes, improving flow, and has a new oval-section single silencer. Even more important is the new bike’s sophisticated French-made Sagem fuel-injection and ignition system, whose black box delivers a claimed three million instructions every second.
If the motor is a development of its predecessor, then the chassis of which it forms a stressed member is totally new. In place of the old-style steel spine is a neat perimeter frame based around twin oval-section aluminium extrusions.
Styling was a key factor in the chassis design, hence the Daytona frame’s polished-and-lacquered tubes and the hefty single-sided swing-arm. Suspension is by Showa, with 45mm right-way-up forks (Triumph claim they’re 1kg lighter than equivalent upside-down jobs) and a similarly multi-adjustable shock.
Brakes combine 320mm fully-floating Nissin discs and four-pot calipers. Tyres are Bridgestone’s BT56 Battlax radials in 17-inch diameters, the rear a 190-section fatso on a Triumph-designed, Brembo-made six-inch rim.
There’s a distinct hint of 916 influence in the T595’s shape, but the British bike looks classy and sufficiently distinctive in its all-yellow paintwork (black is an option). From the rider’s seat the bike feels notably more compact than previous Triumphs, as you eyeball details such as the white-faced clocks, fake carbon fairing trim and the bodywork’s Dzus fasteners.
Riding position is a typical race-replica crouch to fairly wide clip-ons. The seat is not particularly low, at 800mm, but most riders will be able to get both feet flat on the ground.
The injected motor fires up without need for a choke, takes a little time to warm up but feels great as you pull away, the three-cylinder lump immediately impressing with its smoothness and its willingness to rev. (In fact it’s so smooth that on the track at first I was revving it too hard, occasionally hitting the limiter.)
The new powerplant is much punchier than its predecessors, kicking super-hard anywhere above six grand to send the bike barrelling forward and the tacho needle flicking towards the 10,500rpm redline.
Peak output is a claimed 128bhp at 10,200rpm, 15bhp up on the old Super III figure and right up there with the FireBlade and Ducati 916, the bikes that Triumph used as yardsticks in development of the T595. The Trumpet certainly feels more than a match for the 916 at the top end, and it’s very close to the Blade too, particularly with the factory’s tuneful – and illegal for road use – carbon-wrap aftermarket silencer, which adds a few horses. (Other factory accessories include an aluminium-wrap silencer, carbon mudguards, a paddock stand and purpose-made tank-bag.)
On the tight, twisty Cartagena circuit I rarely had the chance to keep the throttle pinned for more than a couple of seconds, and the best I managed on the short pit straight was an indicated 125mph. But at that speed the T595 was still hauling ass with two gears to come. With its pilot tucked down behind the fairly low but reasonably protective screen the Triumph should be good for at least 160mph.
Low-rev response was crisp, too, when we left the track for a thrash on the roads around Cartagena. But the road riding did show up one flaw that had barely been noticeable on the track: the slight lack of grunt at about 5500rpm, which is annoying because it’s the engine speed at which you quite often find yourself winding in some extra throttle for overtaking. At least the T595’s slight glitch wasn’t as annoying as the old Super III models flat-spot at similar revs.
Another slight disappointment was the inconsistent six-speed gearbox. The bike I rode on the track shifted fine but the one I used on the road had a slightly notchy change, as did at least one other T595. All the bikes had covered very little distance, and their gearboxes might have improved with use, but it’s a strange problem because previous Triumphs have shifted very well.
There were no such worries about handling, particularly on the road where the Triumph’s combination of fairly light, neutral steering and confidence-inspiring stability was just about perfect for the mix of fast and slow speeds, and surfaces ranging from smooth to gritty and bumpy. High-speed stability was excellent, the handlebars wiggling occasionally over crests in the road but settling down immediately despite the lack of a steering damper.
The rather top-heavy feel of previous Triumphs is completely gone, replaced by a pleasantly manageable feel, and backed-up by excellent control from the firm yet compliant Showa suspension. The bike initially squirmed a little under hard braking at the end of the straight, but fine-tuning of the fork damping had all but sorted that when I ran out of time.
Out on the road I might have struggled for braking power had one of the numerous stray roadside stray dogs wandered into my path (we passed the remains of a couple that had made that mistake), but the Nissin set-up, complete with braided hose, worked superbly. Bridgestone’s fat radials were well up to the job, too. They stuck hard at circuit cornering speeds that had the fairing touching down lightly in right-handers (ground clearance is excellent), and the rear eventually slid very progressively.
At the circuit the Triumph felt slightly heavier than I’d expected, though this was arguably more to do with my expectations and the very twisty nature of the track than the bike. At 198kg dry The T595 weighs 14kg more than a FireBlade, slightly less than a 916 and exactly the same as Yamaha’s YZF1000R Thunderace.
The Daytona has similar steering geometry to all three, with 24 degrees of rake, 86mm of trail (fractionally the shortest of the four) and a 1440mm wheelbase (the longest by a small margin).
If anything the Triumph perhaps felt like a very slightly quicker-steering version of the Yamaha, which is no criticism at all. All four are brilliant bikes, so closely matched that in 99 per cent of situations it would be the better rider, rather than any particular machine, that would come out on top. At a twisty track such as Cartagena I’d probably back the Honda or Ducati, just. But on a faster, bumpier circuit – arguably more relevant to road riding – the Triumph and Yam would come into their own.
So here we are in the penultimate paragraph, discussing how the new Brit challenger fares against the world’s best sports bikes in terms of a tenths of a second at the track, a few millimetres of trail here, a handful of kilos there. Bloody hell. They’ve done it. The T595 is right up there – and at a pound under ten grand on the road it’s well-priced to boot ( 1997 price ).
No wonder Triumph dealers have been living in a winter wonderland for the last few months. Excuse me while I dab away a patriotic tear, but the unthinkable has finally happened. Twenty-eight years after Honda’s CB750 arrived to outclass Triumph’s new but relatively old-fashioned T150 Trident and hasten the demise of a once-great motorcycle industry, Britain once again has a sporting superbike that stands comparison with the very best in the world.
Get Triumph motorbike insurance for the triumph 595 daytona.
|ENGINE||Liquid-cooled DOHC 12-valve inline triple, cc 955cc|
|BORE X STROKE||79 x 65mm|
|MAXIMUM POWER||128bhp @ 9100rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE||100N.m @ 8500rpm|
|CARBURETION.||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|TYRES||Bridgestone BT56 Battlax radials. Front: 20/70 x 17in. Rear: 90/50 x 17in|
|WHEELS||Front: 3.50 x 17in; cast aluminium. Rear: 6.00 x 17in; cast aluminium|
|BRAKES||Front: 2, four-piston Nissin calipers, 320mm discs. Rear: Double-action caliper, 220mm disc|
|SUSPENSION||Showa – adjustments for preload, compression & rebound damping. Front: 45mm Showa telescopic. Rear: Showa monoshock|
|FUEL CAPACITY||18 litres|