The Triumph’s Circuit ABS mode—accessed via the dash while the key is on but the bike is stopped—is more lenient than the standard street setting and didn’t create any additional problems with brake function compared to turning the system off, so we left it on for added safety. Too bad the ABS resets itself to the more conservative standard mode every time you turn the key to off. The Kawasaki’s electronics are easier to use. Having a giant switch for the power modes and TC seems like overkill at first, but once you fumble around with the dash buttons on the 675R trying to turn the ABS off you appreciate the simplicity of the 636’s arrangement.
The Kawasaki’s chassis worked much better after ride-height changes, but it still isn’t as good as the Triumph is right out of the box. The Daytona’s fluffy brakes are a drag on the track, but ABS could be a lifesaver on the street. ABS is available as a $1000 option on the ZX-6R, pushing the price to $12,699, while the 675R is further up the scale at $13,499. If that’s too much to swallow, the base model Daytona is $11,599 and still comes with the same great engine and ABS.
On paper and on the track, these bikes are remarkably similar—our fastest tester’s best laps on each bike were separated by just 0.03 sec. But the 636 and the 675 are very different in terms of character. The Kawasaki is a tremendously good motorcycle but it lacks the Triumph’s charisma—something we said about the 636 against the previous Daytona. And performance without a bit of attitude just doesn’t do it for us. So the Daytona wins on both fronts: superior performance and a personality that accentuates its capabilities. We call that the king of the class. Again.
Weight: 150 lbs.
Inseam: 32 in.
For me, local club racer on a tight budget, a brand new ride is a bit of a stretch. However, if put in this position, I would absolutely fork over the extra $1800 for Triumph’s new 675R. The revived 636 from Kawasaki is an excellent all-around motorcycle with great midrange power and smooth handling, but doesn’t have all the extras included in the Triumph package. The Ohlins front end, TTX rear shock, quickshifter, and charismatic powerplant all produce a competitive bike right out of the box. The razor-sharp handling, punchy powerband, and solid frame all surpass those of the Kawasaki for a relatively marginal cost. It really is amazing what you get in the 675R for less than $14,000.
Weight: 185 lbs.
Inseam: 34 in.
The 636 is a tremendous sportbike. It’s smooth, powerful, feature-laden, and comfortable on the street. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than Triumph’s 675R, even with power modes and traction control. But I’d still take the Trumpet. Other than the front brakes losing feel with the addition of ABS, the 675R does everything a sportbike should while stirring my soul with every rev. I love the throaty growl of the triple, and the way the 675 makes power is definitely more usable on the street. If you want a great sportbike and you like green, get the 636. I guess I’m just a sucker for Euro charm.