After winning numerous magazine middleweight shootouts and European national Supersport racing titles since its debut in 2005, one might consider the objective of Triumph's R&D; team in making the Daytona 675 better still for 2009 a challenging task. The most evident change is the subtle restyling job carried out by Chris Hennegan, the Triumph factory technician-turned-stylist who designed the original bike. He's replaced the slightly pinched appearance of the previous model's face with a more aggressive and modern appearance to the broader-looking fairing nose, incorporating a revised headlamp and cockpit. But beneath that is an equally uprated performance package, demonstrated by lapping at the tight and twisting Cartagena circuit and on the hillside highways of the rugged Cabo Cope region of Spain. Available in a fetching shade of Tornado Red alongside the Jet Black livery that's topped the sales charts ever since the Daytona was introduced, the '09 Daytona 675 retails for about three percent more than the older model at $9799.
The new model feels identical to the old one when you throw a leg over it; the Triumph sits quite tall thanks to the unchanged 32.5-inch seat height, but the midsection is very slim, similar to how you'd expect a V-twin to be, and the rider is packaged in the Triumph nicely. These are ergos that will suit many different statures, except for the very shortest. There's lots of room for a six-footer like me, so I didn't feel cramped aboard it, in spite of the footrests being set fairly high. The handlebars are angled downward and pulled back a bit, so despite its racy riding position the Triumph doesn't prove to be as tiring on your arms and wrists as you might expect. The small instrument panel is unchanged, with seven adjustable shifter lights on the right of the analog tach with a digital LCD panel displaying a multitude of functions including speedometer, mileage/dual tripmeter, 99-lap timer, maximum speed, engine temp, fuel consumption, average speed, etc.
Steering geometry has been relaxed slightly with a rake of 23.9 degrees and 89.1mm of trail, while the 41mm inverted Kayaba fork delivers the same confident handling as before on both road and track. But thanks to the '09 Daytona's separate high and low speed compression damping adjustment now available on the fork as well as the Kayaba rear shock, overall compliance at both ends is improved still further. The advantage of having separate adjustment is not just that you can dial in a more precise setup on the racetrack, but also that you don't need to compromise settings in pursuit of optimum damping in both types of situation, and ride quality is much improved on the street, too.
That extra adjustability of the Kayaba front end is necessary to counter the effectiveness of the new four-piston Nissin monobloc radial-mount brake calipers. Producing a claimed 15 percent more power and five percent more initial response than their predecessors, these new calipers bite on new floating 308mm Sunstar discs featuring reduced unswept area for improved heat distribution and dissipation. The Nissin brakes are stellar in performance, with superb feel and progressiveness with just a single finger on the adjustable lever; squeeze harder, and they deliver outstanding stopping power very controllably from high speed. The Japanese brakes are fully equal to the Brembo benchmark in performance, and maybe just shade the Italian stoppers in terms of sensitivity and controllability. And in spite of the fact there's still no slipper clutch fitted, the Triumph remains stable under aggressive braking with no rear wheel chatter or instability on the overrun due to the greater flywheel effect of its three-cylinder engine.
There's less to stop with the new Daytona, thanks to a more than six-pound reduction in dry weight (now claimed at 357 pounds). Most of this has come at the rear of the bike, with more than two pounds of unsprung weight shed via the adoption of a new-spec rear wheel and sprocket assembly, and another 2.2 pounds shed from the new triple-exit silencer, which also has improved gas flow for increased performance. The thinner-wall (down from 1.2mm to 0.8mm) stainless steel exhaust headers also save more than a pound, plus another 0.6 pounds comes from the new magnesium cam cover. This diet has two additional benefits besides the increased performance derived from an improved power-to-weight ratio. Because much of weight has come off the rear of the bike, it effectively centralizes more of the mass while also increasing forward weight distribution for better front-end grip out of turns.
This was noticeable at several points on the Cartagena circuit, where the Triumph effortlessly flicked from side to side through the track's many combinations of turns. The Daytona steers with pinpoint accuracy that allows you to hit the same small patch in the tarmac lap after lap, and turns easily even while holding a tight line. It also stays glued to the tarmac in faster turns, thanks not only to the increased forward weight bias and improved suspension compliance, but also to the outstanding grip of the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires fitted as stock.
The Pirellis are also a factor in the Triumph's easy steering and agility because of their sharper profiles that promote quicker steering without impacting stability or showing any trace of nervousness on turn-in. They also heat up very fast; on a 55-degree F day, I had a new set of Pirellis that had never seen tire-warmers up to temperature within just a lap of the 2.1-mile circuit. Just what you need if you live in colder climes, where getting the rubber warmed up fast is a key issue.
The Daytona 675 just seems to shrug off all bumps and ripples while cranked over at any speed, and while exploiting the torquey three-cylinder will often lift the front wheel exiting a turn, it never gets out of hand. Presumably the non-adjustable steering damper fitted as standard plays a role in preventing even a quick flick of the bars in this situation, but it would be interesting to try the Triumph fitted with an adjustable one so you could experiment with settings. As it is, this is a very confidence-inspiring bike to ride, the type that makes you feel master of the universe at track days, in contrast to most literbikes that make you feel as if the bike is the master.
Although I was a bit disappointed to see the new Daytona's three-cylinder engine painted black (presumably for commonality with its Street Triple sister, which reduces the visual impact of such a handsome, clean-looking motor), as well as the disappearance of the British Union Jack emblem that used to adorn all Triumph models, there's no complaint about the enhanced performance. Power is increased by a claimed three horsepower, now set at 126 horsepower at 12,600 rpm, with torque up slightly too, by 0.74 ft/lb to 53 ft/lb at 11,750 rpm. "We went for more power at high rpm, but almost by accident ended up with a fatter midrange as well," says Simon Warburton, Triumph's Product Manager and leader of the R&D; team that developed the bike.
This was done partly by raising the rev-limiter 400 rpm to 13,900 rpm (equal to 14,500 rpm on the optimistic analog tach). New stronger carburized steel rods (titanium was considered, but rejected as unnecessary) assisted in this, carrying the same forged three-ring pistons running in Nikasil chrome bores, with their upper rings treated with DLC anti-friction coating aimed at minimizing flutter at high rpm. These deliver the same 12.65:1 compression ratio as before, although the cylinder head has been extensively reworked, with revised porting culminating in oval-exit exhaust ports. New valves and buckets--30.5mm inlets and 25.5mm exhausts, all still made from nimonic nickel-based alloy--feature narrower seats to reduce shrouding, and are still set at a shallow 23-degree included valve angle aimed at creating a very flat CNC-machined combustion chamber. There's a new exhaust cam with increased duration, and a hydraulic tensioner for the offset chain cam-drive. On the intake side, each 44mm throttle body features shorter intake trumpets intended to improve top-end power.
The Daytona 675's close-ratio six-speed gearbox now comes with a taller first gear, same as previously found in the factory race kit; but to be honest, except in city traffic, you never really need to use it even with standard gearing, because of the engine's meaty torque curve. Perhaps more importantly, the stock motor now comes with an extra half-quart of oil via a deeper sump. British Supersport champion Glen Richards' tuner John Trigger added a spacer to achieve the same result on the title-winning 675 Daytona in '08, a key factor in Richards going the whole season with a spotless reliability record while the factory-supported Italian-based SC Triumph team in World Supersport were suffering from terminal bottom-end troubles.
For '09, Triumph is offering an array of new track-focused accessories, such as a programmable race ECU and related software including TRACS (Triumph RAce Calibration Software), a computer program developed in-house that allows customers and race teams to fine-tune the ECU via a laptop. This features a selection of different engine maps and a pit-lane speed limiter, all aimed at the needs of race circuit riding from track days to World Supersport competition. Other race hardware includes a complete Arrow titanium exhaust system, while the stock ECU comes pre-wired to accept a new plug-and-play electronic quickshifter, which Triumph claims can be fitted in a matter of minutes.
Although many Triumph owners won't see racetrack tarmac and probably don't see much value with the accessories, that would be a pity, because the new Triumph's upgraded engine performance even in bone-stock form makes this such a fun racetrack ride it's practically addictive. Strangely, the little bit of extra midrange torque is more noticeable than the additional power up top, which in any case you can only really access if you rev the engine out to 13,500 rpm. Holding off an upshift until then puts the motor right back in the fat part of the power band in the next higher gear. But there's a strong pull from the 6000 rpm power threshold with a noticeable extra hit of acceleration between 8000-10,000 rpm, which makes using second and third gear for tighter sections the hot tip. With the bike geared to top out at 161 mph, there wasn't room on Cartagena's short front straight to even pull a true fifth gear, but the following day out on the Autovia four-lane highway showed the benefits of taking it to the limit. Top gear roll-on is really impressive for a middleweight motor anywhere from 8000 rpm upwards, though even with the mellifluous-sounding stock exhaust you catch yourself making just a few unnecessary gearshifts just to be able to revel in the sound of three-cylinder music.
In fact, it's out on the highway where the Triumph arguably stands out most. Unlike almost any other sportbike on sale today, this is a satisfying, seductive ride. A motorcycle that's content to bumble along in everyday traffic, where the light clutch action won't cramp your hand, yet will pull with no transmission snatch from just 1500 rpm, cleaning out around the 3000-rpm mark, then building power all the way to that 12,600 rpm peak and holding it without falling off the pipe all the way to the limiter. Yet surf the midrange torque curve from 6000-10,000 rpm by holding third gear along winding mountain roads and country lanes, and you'll be rewarded with a surge of supremely usable power just at the twist of the wrist. There's a real sense of enhanced refinement about the new Daytona, a feeling that Warburton and his engineers have created a finely conceived and carefully developed homogeneous package.
The new '09 Triumph Daytona 675 is a bike that has everything: accessible engine performance with fine reserves of torque and added power, a capable chassis, precise steering, compliant suspension capable of fine adjustment, benchmark brakes, a wonderful exhaust note, and a high degree of comfort by the standards of its category. It may just be the best sportbike of any kind or any capacity available from any manufacturer in today's marketplace, certainly for real world use on public roads. It really is that good.
'09 Triumph Daytona 675
Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline three-cylinder
Bore x stroke: 74.0 x 52.3mm
Compression ratio: 12.65:1
Induction: Keihin EFI, 44mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail: 23.9 deg./89.1mm (3.5 in.)
Wheelbase: 54.9 in. (1395mm)
Seat height: 32.5 in. (825mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gal. (17.4L)
Claimed dry weight: 357 lb. (162kg)