2006 Middleweight Sportbike Comparison: Honda CBR600RR Vs. Kawasaki ZX-6R Vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 Vs. Suzuki GSX-R750 Vs. Triumph Daytona 675 Vs. Yamaha YZF-R6 - The Un-Comparo

Redefining Middleweights

By Brian Catterson, Photography by George Roberts

Six Iron
Yamaha Hits A Hole In One
Jim West
Age: 37
Height: 6'
Weight: 220 lbs.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Avocation: World's fastest golf pro

Unlike most of the other riders here, I don't have any roadracing experience. I'm also bigger than everyone else-by a lot! I'm just your average working guy. But I do eat, sleep and breathe motor-cycles, and I attend a dozen or so track days each year. So I suspect I'm fairly representative of the person who might buy one of these motorcycles.

The new middleweights are so good it's hard to choose one over the other. None have any real faults, all are littered with the latest, greatest bits, all make excellent power, handle exceptionally well and look great. But as good as they are, I did have a clear favorite, and it wasn't the bike I expected.

The bike I wanted to like best was the Triumph. I've owned several Triumphs over the years, so I have a certain softness in my heart for them. The Daytona 675 is one of the best-looking motorcycles I've ever seen; it's amazingly narrow and sleek. I was excited to get a chance to ride it on a racetrack. Once out there, however, I never got comfortable. The suspension seemed unsettled and didn't react well to pavement irregularities, especially while leaned over.

The surprise was the Yamaha. I'd ridden previous-year YZF-R6s and, quite honestly, didn't like them; they felt twitchy and unstable. Therefore, my expectations weren't high when I hopped on the new model. At first, I felt perched too high in the air, the bike feeling too small for someone my size. But I was shocked when, after two-thirds of a lap, I felt entirely comfortable on it, like I'd ridden it for years. As a result, I went significantly faster on the R6 than on the other bikes. The motor is super-strong, ultra-smooth and revs to the moon

I think picking a winner here is all about personal preference. You can't go wrong with any of these bikes; they're all excellent. It just depends on which one best fits your riding style

Work Of Art
Triumph's Daytona 675 Works As Good As It Looks
Lee Bivens

Age: 38
Height: 6'
Weight: 175 lbs.
Skill Level: Expert
Avocation: acclaimed Motorsports artist

As I rolled into Barber for this comparison, I was excited, but not overly. I was born and raised on the Japanese 600s, so I had a good idea what to expect. But what about that British bike, the Triumph Daytona 675? Surely, the screaming fours are the way to go, no?

It wasn't going to be easy to sell us on a British triple. Corporate Triumph types were at Barber in force. Were they worried about the 675 or proud of it? Now I know; they're proud of it-and damn well should be!

To begin with, it looks fantastic: a classic European sportbike, as aggressive as they come, and certainly Ducati 916 caliber. The three-cylinder engine also sounds great, especially at the lower end of the rev range where you spend most of your time on the street.

So the Triumph looked good to this art dude. But could it rip? Yes. The 675 pulls just as hard, if not harder, than all five of the Japanese bikes, the Suzuki GSX-R750 included. Plus, it has the added benefit of bottom-end power and revs at least 1000 rpm beyond its 14,000-rpm redline.

Hopping aboard, I found the creature comforts completely race-oriented. An ultra-narrow seat/tank junction and stretched-out handlebars felt just right for a tall rider trying to imitate Valentino Rossi. Initially, the suspension was set up for street riding and was too soft in all respects. To cure this, Triumph's Jeff Fields added 4mm of shock preload and dialed up compression and rebound at both ends. That accomplished, the 675 felt much more aggressive

On-track, the Brit-bike felt remarkably like a Japanese machine. The front brakes were the best of this group, particularly while trail-braking. The 675 also has the greatest cornering clearance. Transition from full throttle to heavy braking was nice and stable, and downshifts were smooth even without a slipper clutch.

Flickability is arguably best on the 675. The ultra-narrow body, light weight, steep rake and minimal trail make for quick transitions. The bike worked very well when loading up the front end for aggressive corner entries, too. Mid-corner speed was good, and it was possible to make line corrections once committed. As for line-holding ability, I'd rate the 675 second behind the Yamaha YZF-R6. Even while accelerating, enough weight remained on the front end to let the bike finish the corner. Never once did I come close to running off the track.

Where the Triumph shines the most, however, is picking up the throttle, squirting off the corners and firing down the straights. You've got to speed up your brain to keep up with this fast-revving triple

In my mind there's always been a question of how far behind the Japanese Triumph is. Not anymore. The British have closed the gap to almost nil. If you are bold enough to stop being a Big Four man and are willing to step into the relatively unknown world of European motorcycles, then I'd say try the 675. You won't be disappointed.

By Brian Catterson
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