Triumph Daytona 675 | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

By Ari Henning, Photography by Kevin Wing

Ringleader: Ari Henning
MSRP (2009): $9799
Miles: 6820-8211
MPG: 38
Mods: Akrapovic exhaust, Continental tires, Driven sprocket and oil filler plug, Triumph accessory hugger and heat shield

It’s time for my Triumph to go back, and I’ve missed the 10,000-mile goal on yet another long-term testbike. While Tim has an 80-mile commute to rely on and Joe will toss his keys to anyone, I’ve been accumulating miles in 150-mile spurts at weekend track days. Disconnected lights, triangulated race rubber and an abundance of testbikes saw the Daytona parked a lot, thus 60 percent of the miles I logged were at racetracks. That’s pretty good considering many track-day providers stop providing during the winter months, when things can get cold and rainy even here in Southern California. And since the weather was pretty wet in December, I pulled the trigger on a set of Continental’s new Road Attack 2 sport-touring tires ($162.99 front, $200 rear; www.conti-moto.com). I’d hoped to report on their durability, but alas I’ve only put 500 miles on them. So far, so good...

While I can’t mouth a word of complaint about the Triumph’s engine or brakes, the same can’t be said for its chassis. I never got the geometry or the suspension fully sorted. Every time I fixed one issue, another cropped up. That’s often the way it goes when you’re dialing-in a track bike, but sooner or later you arrive at an acceptable setup. No so the Triumph; the process just kept dragging on.

Some racers have installed special swingarm-pivot inserts to increase the swing- arm angle and improve corner-exit behavior, but that was more work than I wanted to do. Instead, I dropped two teeth on the rear sprocket with an aluminum Driven Racing cog ($66.95; www.drivenracing.com), which in theory should combat squat by reducing the countershaft sprocket’s leverage on the rear wheel. The immediate upside is a revised final-drive ratio that makes first gear more useful in slower corners and raises top speed on fast tracks.

After hearing a few uncorked Daytonas at track days, I gave in and ordered an Akrapovic slip-on exhaust ($791; www.akrapovic.com). I took me 4 hours to install the pipe because I had to lift the subframe to fit the stock heat shield over the oversized Akro mid-pipe. But the system sounds superb, cut 4.2 lbs. and smoothed out the power curve while adding 2 bhp and 1 lb.-ft of torque to the midrange. The Slovenian pipe’s carbon-fiber end cap touched off an accessory catalog shopping spree and, $439 later ($150 for the rear hugger, $289 for the heat shield; www.pure-triumph.com), the front fender, rear hugger, heel guards, heat shield and muffler all match.

My time with Motorcyclist’s 2006 Motorcycle of the Year was exciting, but it wasn’t without problems. The brake light, turn signals and horn failed several times due to a fussy electrical connection under the fuel tank, and the check-engine light came on with increasing regularity during the last several months. A trip to the local dealer saw the problem diagnosed as a maladjusted exhaust flapper valve; bringing the cable tension back into spec fixed the problem.

Meanwhile, I’m on my third Clear Alternatives integrated tail light ($119.95; www.clearalternatives.com), because both previous units malfunctioned. The aftermarket company stands behind its one-year warranty and immediately sent out replacements, but the product obviously has some reliability issues that need to be addressed.

Other issues? Well, there was one big one: While wringing the Triumph’s neck at Willow Springs, the oil filter O-ring hemorrhaged, spraying Mobil 1 all over my rear tire and misting the track surface from Turn 6 through high-speed Turn 8. Miraculously I remained upright and brought the bike to a stop in the dirt, but the two riders behind me hit the deck hard. Both were fairly understanding, one going so far as to say, "That’s why we wear leathers and helmets!" That’s also why many race organizations require oil-retaining belly pans. Wish I’d had one at the time...

It’s been fun, and it’s been real, but has it been real fun? I’d say so: This Britbike definitely has its quirks, but "owning" one for a year has been a unique experience, and developing it has taught me a few things about setting up a track bike.

With the Triumph leaving, it’s time to select a new long-termer. The Trumpet’s cool three-cylinder engine has me on an idiosyncratic kick, and I want to keep with it. So what’s next? Look to the right...

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