With the world economy currently in a major slump, it's more imperative than ever to find the most motorcycle for your money. Sure, literbikes offer the big horsepower numbers, but they also require the big dollars; in a credit market that's now tighter than an rusting oil drum lid, the chances of being approved for a new bike loan are slimmer than ever, and the bigger bikes' voracious appetite for expensive consumables such as tires can often make the final cost more trouble than it's worth. It's not by some stroke of luck that middleweights have been the sportbike market's biggest sellers ever since the category's inception.
And with the latest crop of middleweight machines, you're definitely getting a lot for your money. Nearly all the entrants in this year's group have undergone changes in some way, shape, or form. We covered all the details of Kawasaki's all-new '09 ZX-6R back in the March issue ("Sharpened Sword"), and the minor revisions to the Honda CBR600RR and Yamaha YZF-R6 for '09 were examined in the January issue. Suzuki's GSX-R600 returns basically unchanged from its major revamp from last year.
Details on the '09 edition of Triumph's Daytona 675 have finally been made available, and while the changes aren't drastic, they're significant nonetheless. A 450-rpm higher rev limit means that the hydraulic cam chain tensioner and taller first gear from the previous model's race kit are now standard on the '09 Triumph, and a lighter exhaust system works with recalibrated fuel injection mapping and a revised cylinder head featuring new valves and a modified combustion chamber to provide a claimed seven-horsepower increase. A new magnesium cam cover drops precious grams from the engine, while lighter cast aluminum wheels shod with Pirelli's street "SP" version of its Diablo Supercorsa tires offer less unsprung weight and better grip for improved handling. The fork and shock on the new 675 now both sport high- and low-speed compression damping adjustment, and new radial-mount Nissin monoblock calipers provide better stopping power.
Our usual testing regimen included a day at Buttonwillow Raceway Park along with the usual street and canyon miles. For the racetrack sessions, we spooned on Pirelli's latest Diablo Supercorsa DOT race rubber (see sidebar on page 44). Datalogging specialist/"junior Geek" and avid track day rider John Olsen and Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy motor officer John Young joined our usual guest testers Steve "Hollywood" Mikolas and Jim "Lucky Charms" O'Connor and SR's own El Jefe for the testing duties. As per our usual modus operandi, each rider rated each bike at each venue in 10 categories, resulting in a total of 50 scores for each bike at the track and another 50 for the street. The averages of those scores are listed with each bike in the following text, with the overall scores—averaging all 100 ratings on each bike from both track and street—listed in the SR Ratings chart at the conclusion of this story.