In addition to learning more about power delivery and engine dynamics, track testing exposes suspension shortcomings. To help us dial in both bikes, our first few sessions on track were overseen by Randy Acevedo at InHouse Suspension (951.741.4198). The Triumph was in good shape as delivered but we stiffened it up for racing speeds, adding compression damping to the fork while reducing rebound, and doing the same for the shock. The MV’s fork setup provided lightning-quick steering and needed just a turn of compression to add braking stability. But it took numerous sessions on track and diligent adjusting by Randy to get the Sachs shock to a comfortable place. As delivered, the F3 had the compression screw cinched all the way down, which is odd enough by itself, but we later learned that the valving overlap is uncommonly large. That is, adjusting the compression also has an effect on rebound rates; we discovered nearly no compression damping with the screw seated, but adding just 1/8th turn of rebound was akin to adding three turns of compression.
The MV’s engine is incredibly compact. The cylinders are cast into the crankcase and both
The fact that the F3 demanded so much attention to setup contrasts dramatically with the Triumph, which called for only minor tweaks. It also shows quite clearly that Triumph’s investment in the TTX shock is worthy of more praise. Öhlins says that one of the main benefits of the TTX technology is that it separates the compression and rebound circuits—what you set is what you get, with very little interaction. The 675R’s suspension responded predictably to the adjustments made, as it should.
Yes, the MV Agusta has taken a few hits, but it hasn’t been knocked down. Once both wheels are in line the MV carves through a corner beautifully and holds a line gracefully, yet has the ability to flick quickly from turn to turn. However, the F3 simply doesn’t put the power down as consistently as the Daytona, and can’t match the Triumph’s overall stability and predictability.
Racy red subframe and Öhlins shock are two of a few key components that make the R-spec Da
Even with both bikes set up as best we could on the stock components, grip was an issue. In preparation for the track, we mounted Michelin’s new Power Cup DOT-approved race rubber, which promised good times on these feisty middleweights, but we struggled to get keep the tires happy. On the MV, we found the eight stages of TC to be almost indistinguishable from one another, each equally keen to cut power in the wrong situation. The silver lining to the F3’s cloud of electronics (see Control-Alt-Delete, Page 63) was adjusting the Engine Brake setting. In Sport, the engine creates a great deal of compression braking during deceleration and we found the ensuing slides difficult to control. Switching to Normal made the slides easier to manage, though we would still like to see another setting with even less engine braking.
Sliding the rear tire around on corner entry has a certain charm, not least of which is making you feel a little more like Garry McCoy, but we have no love for uncontrollable shaking in the front end. Nothing could be done to keep away from the ferocious, almost-tank-slappers that the F3 would produce while on the power over bumps or in corner transitions. Nothing, that is, other than going slower or fitting a steering damper, which the F3 does not have.
Frantic and often unpredictable describe the MV Agusta’s track performance, while the Triumph is just the opposite. On track the 675R is incredibly poised and confident, the quick shifter is flawless, and the large analog tach needle combined with a broad spread of power make it unnecessary to venture near redline for the most effective corner exits.Also, the wide torque band provided choices in gear selection, where the F3 needs to be kept right on the power peak.
The Triumph’s unending willingness to please on the track does more than make its pilot feel good—it’s faster, too. The 675R posted a best lap of 1:36.26. That’s 1.5 seconds quicker than the MV’s best of 1:37.77, proving once again that top speed on the straights is no match for quick footwork in the infield. And then you add street function to the list, an area where the Triumph delivers blow after blow of pure superiority, in just about every functional category besides blatant sex appeal.
You could turn this argument around and say that the $800 difference in price—the MV sells for $13,498, almost an “everyman’s” ticket for an Italian exotic—is an imperceptible difference that buys a stunningly beautiful and almost rare machine, one you won’t see coming and going at the Rock Store or Deals Gap or Alice’s Restaurant. That’s fine if you want to ride your art. Might as well throw darts at your Pollock original. For everyone else, the Daytona 675R is the clear winner, a motorcycle so breathtakingly excellent that it’ll take more than fondly remembered GP championships to knock it out.