The sound is also part of it all; the triple sounds unique, visceral, alive.
Triumph’s 675 Daytona re-wrote the rulebook for mid-sized sportbikes when it appeared in 2006. Light, compact and deft-handling, it also produced plenty of torque from its three cylinder engine. For 2009 Triumph have made around 50 subtle changes to the bike – is it better, or worse for them? Alastair Walker reports.
I loved Triumph’s 2006 675 Daytona from the first lap of Brands Hatch. It is one of those bikes which feels totally at home on a circuit, with its easygoing power and sheer flickability. The steering, power delivery and the overall balance of the bike are perfect. The bike masks your errors and flatters the occasional bit of decent input, it revels in a race circuit.
But the Daytona makes a more than decent road bike too. Unlike most Japanese 600 class sportbikes, there’s no need to rev the engine to over 10,000rpm to get it moving fast The 675 begins to propel you forwards at fair rate from as little as 5,000 revs, and by 8,000, you’re ready to hook up into another gear and let the beautiful mid-range pull do the hard work. The sound is also part of it all; the triple sounds unique, visceral, alive. It is a noise that no four cylinder machine, even with an aftermarket pipe fitted, can match for soulful power. It looks great too, sharp, aggressive and purposeful. The 2006 Daytona was so good I couldn’t believe it was British.
Of course, no bike is so perfect that the manufacturers simply leave well alone. So what have Triumph changed for 2009?
ENGINEERING A POCKET SUPERBIKE
The engine has had a series of tweaks to give the bike more efficiency, and a slight power increase of just 3bhp. Not really something you notice, but work to the exhaust headers, inlet section of the airbox and exhaust camshaft suggest Triumph have been working to improve gas flow at hgher revs. The valve springs are slightly lighter too, again that benefits a higher revving engine. But the character of the motor hasn’t changed, it still pulls clean and crisp from just above tickover, then kicks ass from around 5,000rpm. A new ECU chip has re-mapped the ignition, plus there’s a taller first gear – in fact the gear ratios are taken straight from the 675 Supersport racebike.
You get the impression that Triumph really want the bike to be more track-focussed. There are little details like magnesium camshaft covers, a lighter rear wheel and rear sprocket and Nissin monoblock brake calipers. The engine has slightly more oil capacity, suggesting Triumph see some hot, hard riding ahead for the motor. The test bike from Bill Smith Motors also came with semi-slick Pirelli tyres. I was glad the ride ahead of me was on dry roads, the tyres looked like hand-cut slicks from BSB just a few years ago.
So straight from the crate, you could take this bike to Oulton Park, play about with the new compression and damping settings to the Kayaba suspension, and be knocking out respectable lap times. Depending on your actual riding ability of course. But all I had was an hour’s ride on some bumpy back roads, which is a different, real world type of test.
REAL WORLD GIANT-KILLER
I have thought for years that nobody really needs a 1000cc sportbike on the public road. In truth, having a smaller bike with less power makes you a better rider. You concentrate on every gearchange, move yourself across the bike in corners, really work the thing. On a twisty country road, the 675 Daytona is definitely all you will ever need. It accelerates to illegal speeds within a handful of seconds, the brakes are smooth and powerful in their action and the lightweight chassis can cope with almost everything the road surface throws at it.
The only advantage I can think of for real world riders, is that the weight of a big 1000 keeps the machine settled. In places, the 675 starts skipping and jumping about. It’s no criticism of the bike, just bad road repairs – or more bluntly, no road repairs. The average B-road in Britain is now so bad that it’s no wonder every wealthy middle-aged bloke is buying a big adventure trailie or a Range Rover – the Popemobile for people who worship money.
The new 675 suspension set-up is excellent for most road conditions, but definitely on the firm side. This isn’t a bike for someone suffering the usual bad back problems and wrist ache that us 50-somethings endlessly moan about. The 675 Daytona also keps its compact physical dimensions for 2009, plus a 23.5 degree steering ehad angle. You feel perched atop the bike in town, your head stretched across the clocks and swoopy nose-fairing. It isn’t a comfortable bike under 60mph, but then most sportbikes are a kind of chiropractor warm-up. In some respects the 675 Daytona feels like a Ducati 916 to ride; twitchy over bumps at high speed, a real arse-up riding position, loads of weight on your wrists. On the Triumph however, the clutch and gearbox actually work properly…
When you’re moving on an uncluttered road, shifting your weight off the saddle and revelling in that useful power, the 675 makes you feel 100% alive. It puts a smile on your face as you realise this machine can keep up with anything on the open road, on two wheels or four. It has a poise, a precision, that allows the rider to get the most of it and feel safe. The brakes are fantastic and the bike inspires confidence in its light, agile handling. Within minutes I was scanning the skies for Police spotter aircraft – that’s how easy it is on the 675 to get carried away.
The test bike was fitted with a carbon accessory kit, so little bits of black stuff were all over. Not my thing, but you might like it. The bike also had a gel saddle – much more useful, but the seating isn’t in the same comfort class as say a GSXR750/1000. If you are going trackday racing ( let’s be honest, it is road racing without trophies isn’t it?) then Triumph offer an optional Arrow race exhaust, ECU and wiring loom kit, oil pump gearing upgrade and software to let you play about with the rev-limiter and see what your quick-shifter is doing just after Clearways. For road riders, there’s also a taller screen, which is always handy on smaller sportbikes.
WOULD I BUY ONE?
The new Triumph is competitive on price, at £7589 OTR. It’s likely that every motorcycle is going to go up in price in 2009, as sterling slides against the yen, dollar and the euro. Those who buy now won’t regret it. The remaining 2008 675 Daytona models are being sold off at around £5800 and that is a bargain worth considering – the old bike is just as good on the road. The new 675 will give you a little edge on trackdays I reckon, it feels just that bit more focussed, and I would guess that the brakes and suspension offer more to a seriously fast rider. It is, like most sportbikes, a case of finding a bike that suits your riding style, but I think almost any rider under 6 feet tall would love the Triumph. It does all the things that matter exceptionally well and on track, you can’t ask for more.
I keep thinking of buying one last sportbike before I get too old, or the EU makes them illegal. The 675 Daytona is on that wish-list, alongside an Aprilia V4 and the latest Yamaha R1. In the end, biking is all about emotion, not common sense stuff like mpg, a comfy seat and bungee hooks.
If you want a machine that makes you feel that life is all about riding, and everything else is just waiting, then the 675 Daytona will do just that.
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Test bike suplied by;
Bill Smith Motors, Boughton, Chester. 01244 323 845
Engine; 675cc, three cylinder, four stroke, DOHC
Bore and stroke; 74mm X 52.3mm
Peak power; 126bhp @ 12,600rpm
Peak torque; 54 ft/lbs @ 11,750rpm
Gears; 6 speed
Chassis; Aluminium alloy twin spar
Front suspension; 41mm upside down telescopic forks, multi-adjustable
Steering head angle; 23.5 degrees
Rear suspension; Kayaba monoshock, adjustable for pre-load, rebound and compression
Brakes; Twin 308mm front discs, Nissin monoblock 4-piston calipers, single rear disc, single piston caliper.
Wheels/Tyres; 120/70 ZR17 front, 180/55 ZR17 rear, Pirelli OE fitment
Dry weight; 162Kgs dry
Fuel capacity; 17.4 litres
Estimated top speed;160mph
Extras; Optional race exhaust, quick-shifter, gel seat, carbon kit, ECU and software, taller screen
RRP; £7589 ( Feb 2009 )
Contact info; www.triumph.co.uk.