2009 Triumph Daytona 675

Three's Still A Charm

By Ari Henning, Photography by Paul Barshon, Jason Critchell

Triumph hit a home run with the 2006 Daytona 675, creating a machine that has remained afloat amidst a rising tide of high-performance Japanese middleweights. Obliterating the 600cc competition, the British firm's lean triple won Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year award in its debut season, upsetting the four-cylinder status quo. Yet just five months after the Daytona's initial release, the Triumph team set to work on the '09 model. After smoldering (no pun intended) in the Hinckley workshop for three years, how would the revised Daytona emerge?

Now that we've met the new bike at its press intro on the outskirts of Murcia on Spain's southern coast, we're pleased to say that the in-house designers haven't muddled with the Daytona's sleek lines. Like Monica Bellucci, the 675 has aged well and looks damn good the way it is. Aesthetic changes are subtle and limited. Narrower headlight openings, stylized projector-beam shrouds and a bridged air intake add a tad more aggression to its face. Thin arrowhead turnsignals, new fairing graphics and some black powdercoating on the engine cases round out the cosmetic updates.

The engineers were similarly sure of their engine and chassis designs. "We were very happy with the bike and didn't want to make unnecessary changes, so we decided only to refine it," remarked Simon Warburton, Triumph's Product Manager. To that end, they made minor improvements to every aspect of the machine's performance, from reducing weight to raising the redline.

Attention paid to the exhaust side of things has added a claimed 3 horsepower and 1 lb.-ft. of torque while elevating redline by 400 rpm. New cam profiles, lighter valve buckets and massaged ports allow the mill to breath easier and spin faster. Thinner tubing on the headers and silencer in conjunction with other lightened components helped shave 6.5 pounds. New Nissin monoblock calipers and redesigned rotors are said to increase braking power by 15 percent, and both front and rear Kayaba suspension units are now adjustable for both high- and low-speed compression damping.

To get a feel for the mechanical upgrades, we spent a day at Cartegena Raceway, a tight, 2-mile circuit frequented by European race teams looking to escape the winter cold. Thumb the Daytona's starter button and the inline-triple jumps to life, whirring with an electric urgency that exits the under-tail exhaust in an enthralling note. Point the bike down track, and the engine impresses with potent, linear thrust from idle to its 13,900-rpm redline. Three cylinders make for the perfect hybrid, marrying the low-end pull of a 650cc twin to the propensity for revs and top-end power of a 600cc four. Cartegena's condensed layout, with a half-dozen short straights interrupted by sharp, 90- and 180-degree turns, was a great place to demonstrate the triple's broad spread of power and light handling.

The 675's abundant torque, largely available at just 4000 rpm, catapults you off the apex, with a potent top-end rush above 10,000. Shifting is precise and Swiss-watch smooth, shifter forks benefitting from a new super-hard molybdenum coating. Suspension setup was spot-on for the track, with firm settings that helped the bike initiate and finish turns cleanly. The rear wheel and sprocket carrier have been pared down by 2 pounds, and both wheels are now equipped with race-spec Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa radials with a tall, round profile that aids turn-in and full-lean stability.

As the day progressed and speeds increased, the 675 never lost its composure. Like a Labrador retriever, it remained complacent regardless of provocation. Despite heavy throttle at corner exits, there wasn't more than a hint of wheelspin. And though the front end got light on occasion, the steering damper subdued all headshake.

Trail-braking didn't interfere with tipping the bike in, and even without a slipper clutch, over-exuberant downshifts never resulted in more than a little back-end squirm.

The next day we were treated to a 100-mile foray through the towns and rolling hills of the Mediterranean coast to get a feel for the Triumph's street manners. The addition of high-speed compression circuitry is a blessing on the street, effectively eliminating the cracks, seams and hardened concrete globules so prevalent on urban roadways. A 15-mile stretch of autopista revealed how deceptively smooth the triple is, with five-digit revs and triple-digit speeds occurring regularly.

While Cartegena's short straights limited the Daytona to fourth gear, the empty freeway provided the opportunity to roll the throttle to the stop and venture into the upper ratios. Given enough space, it would likely hit 155 mph.

The seat may be hard, but it's well-shaped and proved to be plenty comfortable. The only hindrance to complete street-riding bliss is the downward angle of the clip-ons, which focus pressure on the inside of the wrists. Ergonomically, the Daytona is the ideal compromise, offering a functional and comfortable riding position for both street and track.

Once we peeled off the highway and headed into the flowing curves of the Spanish countryside, all concerns about comfort faded. The 675 may be the easiest sportbike to ride ever, thanks in no small part to a torque curve that resembles a side elevation of the East Durham Plateau. The Daytona will pull from just about anywhere, even when the tach needle has fallen into the basement after a botched corner entry, making it a very forgiving and accommodating machine. Although damping had been dialed back for the street, our spirited pace did nothing to disturb the chassis's stability and line-holding abilities. Despite the crisp afternoon air, the Pirellis warmed up quickly and displayed commendable straight-line stability for such a track-oriented tire.

After a lengthy seafood tapas lunch, no number of cafe solos could lift us from our post-meal stupor. Back astride the bikes, we appreciated the Daytona's relaxed capabilities. Its comfortable ergonomics and powerful engine mean it doesn't need to be caned to be ridden. It's a capable cruiser, happy to hum around town in the lower gears, with no lag between throttle movement and acceleration. Even though the '09 model is equipped with a taller first gear, there's little need for it unless you feel the urge to air out the front wheel-and that can be accomplished in second or even third, given a slight rise in the road.

With a claimed 126 bhp, a wet weight of 410 lbs., a $9799 price tag and the versatility to suit your mood, the Daytona offers a package to rival any middleweight sportbike. Status quo be damned.

Tech Spec
Evolution

Triumph's groundbreaking triple gets more power, more revs, less weight, better suspension and top-notch tires.

Rivals
All four of the dominant Japanese fours: Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Yamaha YZF-R6.

TECH
Price $9799
Engine type l-c inline-triple
Valve train DOHC, 12v
Displacement 675cc
Bore x stroke 74.0 x 52.3mm
Compression 12.65:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 126 bhp @ 12,600 rpm
Claimed torque 54 lb.-ft. @ 11,750 rpm
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension 41mm Kayaba inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Single Kayaba shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
Front brake Dual Nissin radial four-piston calipers, 308mm discs
Rear brake Nissin single-piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear tire 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail 23.9/3.4 in.
Seat height 32.5 in.
Wheelbase 54.9 in.
Fuel capacity 4.6 gal.
Claimed dry weight 357 lbs.
Colors Tornado Red, Jet Black
Available Now
Warranty 24 mo./unlimited mi.

Contact
Triumph Motorcycles of America, Ltd
385 Walt Sanders Memorial Dr. #100
Newnan, GA 30265
www.triumphmotorcycles.com

Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
A unique and user-friendly middleweight sportbike with performance to match the best of them.

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