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.
The Daytona 675's upper fairing...
The Daytona 675's upper fairing has been subtly restyled, with a broader and sharper nose flowing into a higher and less-canted windscreen for better wind protection. Centrally-located ram-air duct still flows through the steering head into the airbox.
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.