There is no denying that the 2011 Triumph 675R is one of the best looking sportbikes to be released from the British manufacturer in some time – perhaps ever. The bike is draped in crystal white bodywork, carbon fiber guards and features a red powdercoated subframe that has most everyone who walks by the bike turning their head in its direction. But as we all know, looks only get you so far in this world. Fortunately, with its Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes and factory-equipped pieces such as a quickshifter, Triumph’s latest addition to its sportbike lineup has the bronze to match its beauty.
In comparison to the 2011 675, the 675R is no different in terms of the engine or chassis. The middleweight machine has the same 675cc liquid-cooled three-cylinder engine as its kin, and the twin-spar frame has gone untouched. However, power increases were not the primary concern for Triumph engineers who felt the engine revisions in ’09 were enough to keep the 675R on par with the competition. Instead, Triumph engineers strived to improve the handling and brakes of this ever-popular middleweight machine. Enter the Öhlins front fork, Öhlins rear shock and Brembo brakes.
Fitted to the rear of the 2011 Daytona 675R is an Öhlins TTX36 rear shock. The unit, which has been tried and tested by a large number of riders in Supersport and Superbike championships worldwide, is the exact same shock that customers have been able to purchase from Öhlins for the past few years – albeit with different valving that is suited specifically for the 675R.
More intriguing is the 43mm Öhlins NIX30 Road and Track front fork that replaces the standard model’s 41mm Showa unit. The only thing more interesting than the fact that this Road and Track fork has never come standard on an OEM-spec machine is the fact that – before now – it has been used solely on literbikes. In fact, should you try to purchase the fork for the middleweight machine in your garage, you would find it nearly impossible. Besides, according to Erick Knight of Öhlins, “If the fork was available to consumers, MSRP would be around $2900.” That’s quite worthy of note considering the 675R is priced at $11,999, just $1500 more than the standard 2011 Showa-equipped 675.
Then take into account that the 675R features full Brembo front stoppers, a factory quickshifter and numerous carbon bits including a front fender, rear hugger, heat shield and cockpit infills, and you realize that this bike is seemingly a scortcher of a deal, especially if it holds up to Triumph’s claim that it is “the ultimate street and track day bike.”
Putting their word – and bike – to the test
To prove the 2011 model is every bit as good as they say, Triumph invited press to spend a day aboard the 2011 model on some of Southern California’s best mountain roads. They then invited us to spend a day aboard the revised middleweight at one of Southern California’s newest racetracks, Chuckwalla Valley Raceway.
As has been the case in years past, the Triumph’s 675cc three-cylinder engine proves to be extremely versatile on the street. Whether you are accelerating hard out of a fast corner or cruising down the road at city street speeds, there is plenty of manageable power. And not only does the three-cylinder engine provide plenty of midrange power, but it is extremely smooth. Adding to the overall experience is the one-of-a-kind exhaust tone that you can’t help but become completely enamored with. To be honest though, the riding position of the 675R is rather tight for taller riders and the seat is rather firm for any length of ride. That said, the real joy comes when you get the bike out on the racetrack, where at it feels right at home and where the Öhlins suspension shines, as do the Brembo brakes.
Compared to the Showa suspension of the standard model, the Öhlins Road and Track fork of the 675R has a significantly stiffer feel. However, the cartridge-equipped fork offers a surreal amount of adjustability in comparison to your typical OEM-spec fork and as such, clickers can be changed here or there to suit your weight and riding style. As speeds increase on track and as laptimes drop (and they will), the more aggressive race-proven suspension proves to be a serious advantage, as it allows you to drive harder through the middle of the corner.
The Öhlins front fork and rear shock are not the only advantage on the track however, as the Brembo front calipers are extremely beneficial. In hard braking zones, the four-pot calipers provide plenty of stopping power, although the feel at the lever is extremely different than on the standard model and it takes a lap or two to get used to them. The primary difference is that only little force needs to be applied to the lever, meaning just one or two fingers can get the job done no problem.
The next obvious advantage on the track is the factory quickshifter, which beyond making your life a little easier, can help serious track addicts shave tenths here and there off their laptime. It works above 2500 rpm and on the track it provides seamless upshifts without engaging the clutch or closing the throttle.
One gripe that was shared between most of us nit-picky journos was of the new gauge cluster of the 675R, which is very hard to read thanks in part to its dark back lighting and white readout. Other than that, the 675R impresses and gets very few nicks in any category. It is a great package and a great deal for serious street riders and track enthusiasts.
Be sure to check out the July 2011 issue of Sport Rider magazine for a full first ride review of the 2011 Triumph 675R, on newsstands June 2011.