Zero Gravity Daytona 675
Fleet, shark-like, and surprisingly compact, the standard-issue Triumph Daytona 675 yields more-from-less through a torquey triple and relatively low mass-but how do you trim more fat from an already-lean thoroughbred?
While mulling alterations to the off-the-shelf Triumph 675, Zero Gravity president Glenn Cook initially hoped to draw inspiration from one of his favorite motorcycles-the Matchless GS50 campaigned decades ago by the fearless Dick Mann. "Its lines are classic, subtle, and purposeful," Cook says of the elegantly naked racer, but he decided that the GS50’s old world silhouette would not translate to Triumph’s jagged-edged crotch rocket. Dipping into slightly fresher wellsprings for inspiration, Cook recalled the Zero Gravity-sponsored Yamaha TZ250 GP bikes piloted by Nick Ienatsch between 1993 and 1995. Drawing from their single-mindedness, Cook took a different approach with his Triumph Daytona 675 project.
Torn down to its aluminum frame, the Triumph Daytona 675 was stripped of its bodywork and disassembled so each component could be addressed individually. The rough, stippled finish on the frame was hand-sanded to a smooth texture and powdercoated. A lighter, less restrictive titanium LeoVince exhaust system supplants the stock pipes. A Dynojet Power Commander ignition system was installed, and tuning work was executed by Jett Enterprises in Camarillo, Calif. and Southern California Triumph in Brea. An Öhlins unit replaces the rear shock, while front and rear Galfer brake rotors were also incorporated; Cook’s vision for the motorcycle came together as its mechanical form took shape. "It was such a work of art," he recalls of the bike’s underpinnings, "I couldn’t bring myself to cover it with bodywork."
Thus, the Triumph Daytona 675’s mechanicals were thrust into the spotlight, necessitating a cosmetic refresh of the components normally hidden beneath a fairing. Because the polished finish of its Galespeed wheels set a certain visual tone, that look was echoed with the Woodcraft rearsets and billet engine and stator cases, which were offset with anodized stainless steel pucks.
To refine up the visuals, several hoses surrounding the Daytona 675cc inline three-cylinder were re-routed. A polished can of Red Bull was utilized for overflow collection, and Cook chose to frame the newly fetishized powerplant with café racer-style bodywork.
Taking the stock fiberglass fairing and extending its tail section, Cook drew cut lines and resculpted it for an elongated profile. His company’s trademark windscreen was installed, its curved shape reflecting an evolution of the Double Bubble screen that debuted on Ienatsch’s 1995 bike.
Once the styling was finalized, Cook tapped Chris Wood at Air Trix for a distinctive paint scheme. Wood had been responsible for the metalflake paint on the Zero Gravity-sponsored Honda CBR600 SuperSport bikes campaigned by Ben and Eric Bostrom in 1997, and the Daytona pays tribute to the Bostrom bikes with a metalflake gold layer sitting atop white and silver striations, broken up with two thin red stripes. Atop the chiseled tank is a two-tone gold leaf Zero Gravity logo, and both wheels are guarded by Nexray carbon fiber fenders. Mike Lira was responsible for the Daytona’s final assembly.
The custom Daytona’s one-off bodywork and streamlined engine components lend it a sleeker, slicker look than the factory’s naked Street Triple, and the mechanical alterations include greater power working in concert with a significant reduction in weight.
But how does this retro-styled Triumph Daytona 675 ride address the road?
I threw a leg over the Zero Gravity Daytona 675, and its first hint of personality came from the deep rumble of the underseat LeoVince exhaust. Even at idle the pipes are loud, and a blip of the throttle summons a bellow that echoes for blocks. The auditory effect certainly makes for a stirring ride, and the Triumph’s acceleration feels smooth and urgent, adding a noticeably more flexible spread of torque than the stock version.
Cutting through the pancake-flat onion fields of Camarillo just a few miles from the Malibu coast, the engine’s pull becomes most insistent when revs approach the 9000 rpm range, but a glimpse of a red and blue light bar ahead discourages gross displays of decibels. Patience and extended dragging of front and rear brakes finally brings the bike to Potrero Road, an undulating canyon two-laner that aggressively twists into a mélange of off camber and decreasing radius turns, replete with dramatic elevation changes and blind corners. The Daytona responds with a tilt and a yawn; the swift and agile middleweight flicks through the corners effortlessly; its sticky Dunlop Sportmax GP-A rubber, and slightly thicker rear tire, gluing the bike to tarmac. The pipe emits an ever-meaner note against the canyon walls, and the bike’s front wheel becomes pleasingly light with throttle provocation.
It is an all-too-brief ride aboard Zero Gravity’s trick Daytona 675, but that brevity is probably all the better, since confidence accumulates quickly and there is a precipitous line between self-assured speed and metalflake paint-scraping error. Returning to Zero Gravity headquarters brings back untested engine pucks and unscathed bodywork, and the ease with which the Triumph carries its speed makes the motorcycle feel less like a show bike and more like a go bike. As a two-wheeled homage to bygone racers goes, that statement is worth its weight in titanium.