Track-day Triple Sportbike
Motorcycling along the near deserted Spanish country road outside of Cartegna, I realized that Triumph just can’t hide their roots. Flicking left and right, lofting the front wheel over small rises in second and third gear, and plunging down series of mountain descents, revealed what a truly incredible street bike the Brits have produced with the new Daytona 675. Soaking up the bumps without fuss and turning into the corners with the lightest touch of the bars, the in line triple quickly instilled a lot of confidence as we navigated the twisting roads at speed. Riding with a fast group of Triumph staff and journalists, it was actually exiting the corners that the best part of the equation went to work. The engine.
Able to pull the 375-pound Triumph from 3000 rpm all the way to the red line, the flexible inline triple is simply outstanding. Making my 600cc four cylinder seem simply flaccid until the revs get into double digits, the Triumph engine is also blessed with shovel loads of character. This really should come as no surprise with the Brit bike displacing an extra 75cc over it’s Japanese counter parts, but it’s Triumph’s focus on road riding that in my mind has made the 675 such a perfect middleweight. The good news is they haven’t sacrificed performance at the racetrack to make the bike work so well on the road either. In fact, the new 2009 675 is an even better track bike than before. And there certainly haven’t been any complaints in this department since we first rode the new bike in Malaysia back in February 2006.Looking at the new 2009 Daytona 675, the visual changes are limited to a wider, restyled front fairing, cockpit and headlights. The rest of the bike has either remained the same or undergone subtle upgrading. Triumph saw no need to reinvent the wheel, but they did see many areas they could subtly improve the beast and made fifty subtle changes. Producing 123 horsepower at 13,500 rpm. the original D675 made plenty of power. It doesn’t hurt to have more in this competitive arena though, so Triumph gave the bike three more peak horsepower this year. This was done without sacrificing any of the low or midrange power and there is also a minimal increase of torque to 54 foot-pounds. The real story is revealed when the two power curves are overlaid though and you can see the new bike is stronger everywhere. With an increased rev ceiling that allows peak power to arrive at 13,900 rpm, instead of 13,400 rpm, when the blue shift lights on the tachometer pass 14,000 rpm, the new Daytona is producing eight more horsepower than the previous model.To make these gains, the Triumph engineers went to work on the cylinder head. Leaving the 74 mm bore and 52.3 mm stroke untouched below, the extra power was found in the exhaust ports. With the transition from the valve opening to the single, circular primary pipe now being split between the exhaust port and the new header casting, there is more flow. The result is increased performance, and a small weight reduction as the engineers were able to use thinner material. This is not the extent of the upgrades, with this year’s D675 now using a new exhaust cam, narrower valve seats, and shorter intake trumpets. They also saved more than two pounds of weight with the new exhaust can. Sitting up high under the rear seat, this weight loss helps the bike transition from side to side with less effort. Something the bike already does extremely well due to its narrow engine, which was most noticeable on the tight, relatively narrow Cartegna racetrack. Requiring quick changes of direction in a number of places, the Triumph excels at this job. It did have some big help this year with the new Pirelli SuperCorse SP tires, but it certainly gets this job done with less effort than my four-cylinder track bike.The ride position feels roomy for a Supersport and the gauges are easy to read. Switchgear is all standard stuff, and a digital speedometer lives with an analogue tach and doesn’t require reading glasses to use. Mirrors do a great job of letting you see your elbows, and the small front fairing is perfect for blow-drying your chest hair if you are just out of the shower. The front brake is multi adjustable while the clutch offers none. Both are very light in their operation, and maneuvering around tight spaces is as good as it gets for the hands down, arse up, narrow steering lock brigade. "Less effort" would actually be the conclusion to this test if I had to sum up two days of riding in one succinct statement. With a broader spread of power across the range, you definitely spend less time shifting gears to keep the motor on the boil. Triumph’s test rider gave us a quick brief about gear selection before we took to the track, and it was really very interesting, as well as helpful. Exiting one of the tight right-handers on the backside of the track hard on the gas in second gear, his advice was to quickly short shift up through third to fourth. Approaching red line in second, I slipped it up a gear, and then another, before flicking hard left. This gave just the right amount of acceleration for the lean angle. By the time I had the bike stood up aiming for my next braking marker, the engine was pulling hard back to red line right before shutting off. Avoiding the need to unsettle myself or the bike, shifting while all the way leaned over, it made perfect sense, and the torque of the inline triple made this work perfectly.Entering the very sharp left-hander brings you to a blind rise, and this section could be taken in second or third gear depending on preference. Toward the end of our test, I was using second as it felt more aggressive, but I’m not sure if I was carrying any more speed. This is going to make the Triumph a lot more logical choice for track day riders in middleweight market. More forgiving than a four cylinder for the less experienced track rider, there is absolutely no sacrifice of performance for the really fast guys.Proving this manageable power, the Daytona uses three 44mm throttle bodies, each with three multi-spray injectors. Keihin closed-loop fuel injection is retained for ’09, and there are numerous sensors to tell it how much fuel to deliver. These read throttle and crank position, road speed, air and coolant temp as well as what gear you are in. The EFI has been updated for better response at lower rpm and the bike has no trouble meeting Euro-3 emissions.The quality of the fueling is most apparent while riding on the street. Here in the stop and go world there are a lot of demands on the system, other than just whacking the throttle wide open exiting corners on the race track. And here the shining star from Triumph gets an extra twinkle. No matter what you do with the throttle, the Daytona provides smooth, seamless acceleration. Rolling up from 3000 rpm in a high gear, to holding 6000 rpm on a steady throttle in first, any combination of throttle position and gear selection reward you with the same faultless fueling.I do have one minor complaint, and that was the gearbox. A number of times running wide open in third, the gearbox wasn’t ready to let me make the next shift and dropping from third to second gave me a false neutral on occasion. This made for a great adrenaline rush charging into turn 10 while still leaned over. It wasn’t the most helpful for a fast lap time either, as it took a while to gather it up and almost required a change of underwear on one occasion. A new quick shifter is available to work with the stock wiring harness, and while I am not fond of these systems with street shift pattern it seemed to work just fine.The missed gear incident makes a perfect segue way through to talk about the brakes. Triumph claims the new Nissin monoblock calipers have 15% more power and 5% more bite. My senses aren’t fine-tuned enough to notice a difference, but I did notice how unremarkable the brakes felt and I mean that in a good way. Providing all the stopping power I will ever need in a progressive fashion, none of my attention was wasted thinking about the brakes entering corners. Helping the brakes do their job, the Triumph uses the same inverted Kayaba 41mm fork as before but with some important upgrades. Now featuring both low and high-speed compression damping, the front fork is extremely well behaved on both street and track. In the rear the new shock also gets this extra tuning ability. Talking about the wheels, Triumph’s Simon Warbourne told us they lost a couple more of the bike’s seven pounds overall weight loss here as the rear wheel and sprocket have been lightened. This weight loss was obviously a move aimed at Triumph’s 2009 racing aspirations, as FIM Supersport rules don’t allow the use of the aftermarket wheels. After a highly successful 2008 that captured the British and German Supersport Championships for Triumph, and some impressive top six finishes in the ultra competitive Supersport World Championship, Triumph has announced it will join forces with BE1 Racing out of Italy to run it’s first official World Supersport Championship. Piloted by ex Moto GP 500 and World Superbike pilot Gary McCoy and young Italian Gianlucca Nanneli, it’s going to be an extremely exciting year for the British company.During our presentation, we were introduced to the new line of competition parts available for those interested in racing the Daytona. On a table next to the podium we drooled over a tasty full titanium Arrow exhaust, performance camshafts, slipper clutch, lightweight valves, engine covers and programmable race ECU. The Daytona 675 also comes with a computer program called TRAC (Triumph Race Calibration Software). This allows teams to program the new race ECU from individual fueling in each cylinder to setting pit lane speed. So whether chasing a trophy at your local club event, or going for a World Championship, Triumph has the latest technology at your fingertips.There is a full range of regular accessories available from gel seats, rear sets, and exhaust systems to customize our ride, which also includes luggage and screens, lower seats, and colors coordinated seat cowls. Coming in black or red, both a little generic in the looks department I feel, the new 2009 D675 will retail for $9,799.00. She’s a little raver mate and watch out, this one might even bring home a World Championship this year.Read: Our 2010 Daytona 675 SE Preview