2013 Triumph Daytona 675R | First Ride

Better Than Ever

By Ari Henning, Photography by Matteo Cavadini, Alessio Barbanti

They say: "It's even better than before."
We say: "So true, and thank goodness!"

I fell in love with the Daytona 675 after attending the international press launch for the then-updated 2009 bike in Cartagena, Spain. Shortly after, I got a Daytona as a long-term testbike and relished its flexible and soulful motor, excellent street manners, and incredible track performance. Then I rode the 2012 675R and was blown away by how much better it handled than my long-termer, even after I had spent a year refining it.

Fresh off the press launch for the 2013 Daytona 675R at the same Cartagena circuit, I'm again impressed, but the strongest emotion I felt on the return trip to the states was relief. The previous 675R was so good-it's won every comparison test we've put it in-that I had a hard time imagining how Triumph would be able to make improvements without undermining the bike's performance and poise or sacrificing charisma.

Thankfully, the Hinckley folks are bigger visionaries and better engineers than I gave them credit for. They didn't just update the Daytona, they completely rebuilt it, giving it more power, honing chassis balance, and cutting weight in the process. After spending a full day aboard the new 675R, I'm pleased to say that my fears were unfounded: The new Daytona 675R is better than ever.

The inline-triple engine is new, with a 2mm bigger bore and 2.7mm shorter stroke, revised valve train, larger airbox, secondary showerhead fuel injectors, and a new slipper clutch, among other things. The engine's shorter stroke and lighter intake and exhaust valves allowed engineers to raise the redline from 13,900 rpm to 14,400 rpm. Higher engine speeds mean more peak power, but a more efficient cylinder head and more precise fueling mean there's more torque, too. The midrange feels as robust as ever, and while short-shifting is still an advisable strategy, the new motor has more usable over-rev than before, addressing what was one of a very limited number of complaints I had about the Triumph's engine.

The new low-mount exhaust may alarm those fond of the previous bike's undertail setup, but the new system is key to centralizing the Daytona's mass, which benefits all aspects of sport riding. Other moves made to concentrate weight include a lighter rear wheel, rear brake assembly, fairing stay, and headlight assembly. The R-model I rode comes with a quickshifter with updated ignition cuts, allowing even smoother full-throttle, clutchless upshifts. All U.S.-bound Daytonas will come with switchable ABS, and even with the addition of a 3.3-pound Nissin ABS unit, Triumph says that overall the new bike is 2.2 lbs. lighter than the outgoing model, with a claimed curb weight of just 405 lbs.

Alterations to the Triumph’s already excellent engine are just the start. This year the Daytona gets a new frame and swingarm combination that puts more weight on the front end, shortens the wheelbase, steepens the head angle, and reduces trail. As a result, the 675R has shockingly aggressive geometry—rake is just 22.9 degrees, trail a mere 3.4 in.—and extremely quick steering. You’d expect a bike with numbers this committed to tank-slap like crazy and twitch madly while making transitions, but the Daytona hasn’t lost a lick of composure, which is to say it’s nearly imperturbable. The new clutch pays dividends immediately, allowing the back end to stay planted even when banging downshifts while banked over. Cartagena is a challenging 15-turn, 2.2-mile circuit that demands committed trail braking and rewards fast side-to-side transitions. In that realm, the Triumph performed perfectly. Shorter final gearing, a lighter crankshaft, and more power mean the engine revs faster—and sounds even better because of it. The new exhaust has a little less bass at idle, but more induction snarl escapes from the larger intake opening on the Triumph’s nose.

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