2006 Triumph Daytona 675

With more cubes and just three cylinders, Triumph's latest middleweight sportbike heads in an entirely new direction

Photography by Kyoichi Nakamura

Fire it up and get ready for a virtuoso performance from that musical three-cylinder, which pulls hard from as low as 2000 rpm yet has the lusty appetite for revs you'd expect from a short-stroke Supersport contender. The Triumph has hefty midrange grunt by any stand- ards the torque curve is nearly horizontal, with 44.2 pound-feet allegedly on call at just 4000 rpm and especially those of a middleweight sportbike, as 50-mph top-gear roll-ons against the Honda and Kawasaki decisively proved.

Indeed, aside from a harsh flat spot in the fuel-injection mapping around 3000-3500 rpm, the 675 triple's power increases in a completely linear fashion until the digital tach hits the 10,000-rpm mark, whereupon it then totally targets top-end performance, hurtling toward the 14,000-rpm rev limiter. But that's not all: There's an extra treat in store from 12,300 rpm, when the Daytona goes mental with another decisive kick in the power delivery.

Such dominant performance is all the more impressive considering the Triumph's 3-into-1 catalyst exhaust, ending in that distinctive triple-pipe underseat silencer, is fully Euro 3-compliant. Those strict new norms significantly impact midrange power on certain other motorcycles one reason why several twin-cylinder manufacturers are currently working on bigger-displacement engines. For Triumph to deliver such torquey power delivery while meeting Euro 3 norms is an impressive piece of R&D.

I better not reveal exactly what top speeds I saw indicated on Her Majesty's highways, but let's just say the Triumph is apparently geared to top out somewhere beyond 160 mph, and feels ultra-stable 'round fast sweepers taken hard in top gear. Plus, in spite of its short wheelbase and rather radical steering geometry, the way the Kayaba suspension handled bumps taken cranked over at speed was remarkable; a steering damper is fitted as standard beneath the lower triple clamp. And the skinny Triumph has great cornering clearance. In spite of some enthusiastic charging through the wiggly Warwickshire countryside, I couldn't persuade the 675 to deck either side, not even the flick-out sidestand on the left. There won't be many bikes faster than the Daytona 675 along a winding country road, but there'll be a surprising number outpaced in shorter snatches by the British sportbike's incomparable acceleration and overall chassis performance.

A key element of that performance is superb handling courtesy of the 675's open-backed cast-aluminum twin-spar frame that extends up and over the engine, rather than around it. The new frame is 5.5 pounds (22 percent) lighter than the 650 Daytona's chassis and a massive 4.3 inches (21 percent) narrower. Although it felt tiny, the 675 was not only light and easy to chuck around, but very assured and predictable. The braced hollow-section swingarm, consisting of two cast-aluminum halves welded together in the center, skillfully laid all the triple's torque down via the fully adjustable piggyback Kayaba shock, which can also be altered for ride height. The swingarm pivot is now adjustable too, for the first time on any Triumph. There's also a substantial weight savings with the new five-spoke cast-alloy wheels; the front is 1.5 pounds lighter than the three-spoke 650 Daytona's wheel, with a corresponding 3.7-pound reduction at the rear.

Two things I reckon still need a bit more work are the brakes and clutch. I'd rate the brakes merely adequate, even though Triumph has fitted radial calipers and a radial master cylinder. And the clutch's engagement point needs tweaking; actual clutch operation is very light, but it's not always easy to judge the degree of slip when dialing up a fast getaway. Those are minor shortcomings, though, ones likely to be solved prior to production, and which don't impinge on the bike's significance.

Because, after a close first look at the Daytona 675, it's exceedingly difficult not to conclude that Triumph has turned a new page in sportbike development by combining the best of two worlds in a single package that shows plenty of original thought. By blending the grunty low-end of a twin with the more eager appetite for revs--and compact build--of a triple, the British manufacturer has created a super-middleweight of sorts; one with more performance than current 600 supersports and the lean build of a V-twin. Such a combination could easily become a firm favorite among discerning riders for whom horsepower numbers and quarter-mile stats are much less important than fun factor.

It might also play a key part in shaping the future of sporting streetbikes, because it addresses their increasing implausibility in real-world road use. Existing middleweights have become excessively peaky, while ever-rising insurance and other costs call into question the current breed of 160-plus-bhp and 180-plus-mph literbikes.Reconfiguring sportbike design in its entirety, though, is an exceedingly tall order. Whether Triumph's Daytona 675 is truly up to the task remains to be seen. MC

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