AMA Pro Racing’s latest interpretation of motorcycle displacements has resulted in a Daytona SportBike field that is, in one word, diverse. Filling today’s SportBike grid is your typical onslaught of Japanese four-cylinders, but sprinkled throughout is a handful of teams who’ve chosen the less traveled path — the European route. Immediate standouts include Triumph’s Daytona 675R and Ducati’s 848 EVO, both of which have found their way to the Daytona 200 podium in one of the last two years.
We tested Triumph’s 675R twice in 2011, once during our first-ride review (“R is For Ready,” July ’11) and once during our 2011 middleweight comparison (“Return Engagement,” August ’11), where it went head-to-head with the Big Four’s 600cc entrants. Ducati’s 848 EVO was similarly tested (“Stealth Bomber,” January ’11), but had yet to go against the Triumph in any comparison test. For 2012, we’ve all but forced the manufacturers to cross paths, this time in an all-out brawl between the 675R and the new 848 EVO Corse SE, two middleweights that are just a cut above their standard counterpart.
The duo’s track-oriented design brief led us first to the Streets of Willow in Rosamond, California, where the bikes were fitted with our Racepak G2X data acquisition system and shod with Pirelli Supercorsa SC race tires courtesy of CT Racing (www.ctracetires.com). With the hope of discovering how the two bikes would handle in the real world — and with the understanding that they’ll likely see more canyon roads than racetrack apexes — we then headed to our favorite Southern California canyon roads and continued the note taking.
Multiple sessions on the track and several weeks of commuting later, one bike emerged as a standout in nearly every category. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves however, let’s first take a look at what sets these two bikes so far apart from their standard equivalent — and more importantly — from each other.
Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE
2012 marks the second year in a row that Ducati’s middleweight lineup has received some attention, this time in the form of a special edition model designated the 848 EVO Corse SE. The latest edition to the 848 Superbike family features larger brakes, upgraded suspension and a healthier dose of Ducati electronics, making it every bit the bike we’d been hoping to pit against the up-spec 675R.
The addition of the letters “SE” to the end of the 848 EVO’s model name brings the usual swap from middle-of-the-road suspension to higher-end Öhlins componentry out back. The Showa 43mm front fork surprisingly goes untouched, but is complemented by 10mm larger (330mm) front brake rotors clamped by Brembo monobloc calipers. Ducati’s eight-level traction control system and quickshifter unit are included in the slew of upgrades; that in addition to the Corse red/white/black paint scheme that completes the package.
The 848 EVO Corse SE runs...
The 848 EVO Corse SE runs typical Ducati footpegs that offer little grip, plus requires that rebound adjustments to the shock are made through a tiny sight hole in the swingarm. We quickly got frustrated with each aspect. The Öhlins shock is at least an improvement over the Showa unit.
Despite running an untouched Testastretta Evoluzione engine, the 848 Corse SE proved no slouch on our SuperFlow dyno. Last updated in 2011 with reshaped pistons and a redesigned combustion chamber, the 849cc engine pumped out a V-twin-impressive 118 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 62 foot-pounds of torque at 9600 rpm — that leaves the Ducati 12 horsepower stronger than the Triumph and gives it a staggering 14 foot-pounds torque advantage in this comparison. What gains the Ducati makes on the dyno, it unfortunately loses on the scale; with a wet weight of 437 pounds, the Ducati is more than just a Jenny Craig diet away from competing with the svelte 421 pound Triumph.
The 848’s ergonomics are typical Ducati and go unchanged for 2012. Wide, far-forward clip-ons place an unwieldy amount of pressure on your wrists and make any ride over 20 miles a chore. Matched to those clip-ons is a thin seat that’s — you guessed it — on the firm side. Kent and Bradley’s commute to and from the office was affected by other traits typical of a Ducati, including buzzy mirrors that leave you guessing what’s behind you and a poorly shielded undertail exhaust that toasts your goodies in a matter of minutes. A more amiable footpeg-to-seat distance makes up for these shortcomings, but it goes without saying the 848 EVO is no Cadillac.
The wet clutch that’s replaced Ducati’s traditional dry setup is much appreciated, especially in stoplight-to-stoplight riding. Feel at the lever is a bit on the firm side, but leaving from the light requires much less finesse than in years past once the tachometer surpasses the 2500 rpm mark, where the Ducati sputters just slightly.
No Öhlins here; Ducati’s left...
No Öhlins here; Ducati’s left the Showa front fork status quo. Larger, 330mm front rotors provide a noticeable amount more stopping power. Accessing that power requires some strength in your right hand, but needless to say, it’s there.
The middleweight Duc feels much more at home in the canyons, where its stiffer suspension and aggressive riding position feel immediately more efficient. The excess weight the Ducati carries over the Triumph makes the Corse SE a bit more difficult to hustle through the tight stuff, but the Brembo monobloc calipers coupled with the larger brake rotors definitely get the Ducati slowed down quicker than the 675R.
The characteristics that hinder the Ducati on the street don’t necessarily play in its favor on the track. The bike is a bit more difficult to transition through a tight right-left-right complex like the turn four-through-six section at the Streets of Willow. Feel from the Showa front fork is adequate, although feedback was not always as intuitive as Kento or Bradley would have liked. The biggest difference was in turn three, where both riders found the front to be vague just at the point where they’d like to get back on the throttle.
Narrow, buzzy mirrors make...
Narrow, buzzy mirrors make discerning what’s behind you a chore, but traction control adjustments via the switch on the left clip-on are a breeze. The Ducati’s digital display isn’t the easiest to read at a glance, but it takes the cake when compared to the Triumph’s unit.
The impressive numbers our test mule spit out on the dyno were immediately apparent on the track, and the Corse SE is much stronger up top than the pre-Evoluzione model. Bottom-end grunt is impressive as well, and makes up for what the Duc lacks in midrange power. Thanks to its flat torque curve the 848 EVO requires very few shifts throughout the course of a lap, and when shifts are warranted, an aggressive knock to the quickshifter is all it takes to keep the bike out of its propulsion-halting 10,750 rpm rev limiter.
The SE doesn’t initially feel quick to spin the rear wheel, but moving the traction control settings from level one to off revealed that the system was indeed keeping the tire from sliding — Bradley ended up going quicker with the TC off, noting that he had less feel from the rear with the system set to a higher setting.
At $14,995, the 848 EVO Corse SE costs about $1000 more than the standard EVO Dark model we tested last year. For Ducatisti, track-day participants and serious canyon junkies, that small jump in price is well worth the addition of traction control alone.
Triumph Daytona 675R
The Daytona 675R is one of four Triumph models currently emblazoned with an R suffix. The bike put in an impressive performance during our 2011 middleweight comparison and came up just a notch behind Suzuki’s then-new GSX-R600 once the scores were tallied up.
In Triumph lingo, the addition of an R to the end of a bike’s moniker almost certainly means the addition of Öhlins suspension front and rear. The 675R is no exception, and comes standard with an NIX30 fork paired with a twin-tube TTX36 shock. Additional upgrades include a quickshifter, multiple high-quality carbon fiber pieces and Brembo monobloc calipers tied to a Brembo master cylinder that looks identical to the Ducati’s externally.
As with the Ducati, the 675R runs the same engine as its standard counterpart; no outrageous valve overlap, aggressive cams or larger pistons here. When strapped to our SuperFlow dyno, our 2012 test mule produced 106 horsepower at 12,500 rpm and 48 foot-pounds of torque at 10,400 rpm.
The Öhlins NIX30 fork is superbly...
The Öhlins NIX30 fork is superbly damped, meaning it works well both on the track and for commuting. The Brembo monobloc calipers and Brembo front master cylinder utilized in last year’s transformation provide immediate — and linear — stopping power.
Ergonomics are similar to the Ducati in that they are track-oriented. A shorter reach to the clip-ons puts the rider in a less aggressive riding position, but there’s a bit less room in the saddle for taller riders to move around. Footpeg-to-seat distance is a bit cramped in comparison to the 848, and it feels like taller Triumph owners would benefit from a set of adjustable rearsets.
Fortunately, the 675R requires less effort when trudging through LA traffic thanks to a softer clutch and brake feel. Wider, unshakably steady mirrors provide a clear view of what’s behind you, and a cooler-running undertail exhaust keeps temperatures down south within reason.
Canyon riding is much less a workout on the Triumph than it is on the Ducati, a direct result of the well-damped Öhlins suspension. Feel and feedback is much improved at both ends, and the firm settings that permit aggressive riding through the tight stuff surprisingly don’t hinder long jaunts down the freeway. “You’d expect the stiffer suspension to be abusive on the superslab, but it’s really not bad at all,” confirms Kento. The narrow triple is much more nimble as well, and requires just a faint input to the clip-ons through transitions. The Ducati requires a full day’s workout in the gym by comparison.
While we expected the Ducati to outnumber the Triumph on the dyno, we didn’t expect the difference to be quite so large. It didn’t help that our 2012 675R test mule, which spun the drum to the tune of 106 horsepower, was a ghastly five horsepower down on our 2011 test bike. The 848 has a notable advantage in the torque department as well, as expected.
That lithe handling enabled the Triumph to consistently turn quicker lap times at the track, although our 2012 test bike felt a bit different than our 2011 675R. The 2012 bike was a lot less twitchy through the turn six-seven transition, and felt much more stable through the faster sections. The grabby brakes that we complained about in 2011 were noticeably less touchy when entering the tight turn two, and we were unable to upset the chassis when grabbing the binders with force. Still, despite looking identical to the Ducati’s brake setup, the Triumph’s stoppers don’t have the same power as the 848’s through the middle of the pull; a result of the smaller brake rotors, pad variations or piston diameter. Nevertheless, the Triumph outscored the Ducati in this category thanks to a lighter pull and its more linear buildup of stopping power.
The 675R runs a more refined...
The 675R runs a more refined quickshifter than the Ducati, but its footpeg-to-seat distance is a bit more cramped. The twin-tube TTX36 shock is a step above the Öhlins unit on the Ducati and provides much more linear suspension action.
The 675R’s power delivery is just as linear as that braking performance, with a flat torque curve that feels more manageable at the racetrack. Fuel injection is a step above the Ducati’s, meaning a crisper off/on throttle transition that makes it easier to get back on the throttle mid-corner. But according to Kent, the biggest advantage the Triumph holds at the track is that “it feels better at turn-in and mid-corner. There’s just more feedback from the front,” he admits. Feel is equally as strong out back, and the more linear shock action provides confidence driving out of the corner.
Triumph’s quickshifter is a step above the Ducati’s, with a more refined interruption and precise action that never once faltered. The LCD panel that flanks the analog tachometer is extremely difficult to read at a glance however, forcing us to pick the Ducati’s all-digital display as the better of the two options.
Triumph updated the Daytona...
Triumph updated the Daytona with a new analog tach and illegible LCD panel in 2011. We’d hoped the display would be replaced for 2012, but no such luck. Mirrors are unshakably steady and wider than the Ducati’s, providing a better view of what’s behind you.
In every other category, we found it hard to knock the 675R. Hell, we can’t even argue with its price; at $12,699 the up-spec model is only $1700 more than the base model, and a whopping $2300 less than the Ducati.
The run to the checkered
The Run to the Checkered
Both the Ducati 848 EVO and Triumph Daytona 675R have already proven to be contenders in AMA Pro Racing’s SportBike class. But an interesting move by the Latus Motorsports team tells about as much of the story as our testing has; in the final stages of the 2011 season, the team switched from an 848 EVO to a 675R. It’s not for a lack of performance on the Ducati’s part, after all the team won the 2011 Daytona 200 on the Duc and ran up front for the majority of the season. And the Corse SE even one-ups the standard 848 EVO. It’s just that the Triumph is an all around better package. The triple is easier to manage, with a broader range of power, flawless suspension and spectacular brakes. Quite frankly, we’re surprised more teams haven’t started looking in Triumph’s direction. SR
Racepak G2X Data Analysis
Ducati: 1:23.81 sec.
Triumph: 1:23.76 sec.
Just .053 seconds separated the 675 and 848 on their fastest laps, or about a bike length at the start/finish line. But even though they turned almost identical lap times and there are many almost identical segment times on the track, there are some significant differences apparent from the data collected from our Racepak G2X system. The bikes are separated by almost a half second at two points on the track, a relative eternity compared with the overall lap time.
Turns 4-7 segment time
Ducati: 16.53 sec.
Triumph: 16.62 sec
Turns 10–12 segment time
Ducati: 9.57 sec.
Triumph: 9.49 sec.
Both these portions of the track are all about transitioning from side to side quickly. Here, the segment times for both sections are quite close, something we wouldn’t have expected given the Ducati’s heavier weight and relative reluctance to turn. A closer look at the data shows that the 848 is able to gain more speed between each corner compared with the 675, but the Triumph makes up the difference with more speed at each apex. In the first section, turns 4–7, the 675’s apex speed is, on average, almost 1 mph faster than the 848’s. In the second section, turns 10–12, that differential grows to 1.5 mph. In between the corners, however, the Ducati’s maximum speed is up to 3 mph faster than the Triumph’s.
Straights (total time)
Ducati: 22.77 sec.
Triumph: 23.13 sec.
Summing the segment times for the six straight sections of the Streets of Willow shows the Ducati gaining .36 seconds over the course of the lap, a sizable advantage. The 848 has both better acceleration and deceleration in a straight line compared with the 675, something clearly seen on the speed graph and backed up by the performance numbers and subjective comments in the test. Almost anytime the bikes are close to vertical, the Triumph falls steadily behind.
Turns 2, 3, 8 and 13 (total time)
Ducati: 26.94 sec.
Triumph: 26.02 sec.
Even though the Triumph is slower than the Ducati going into and coming out of these individual corners, it can carve a tighter line according to the GPS position data. And in turns 2 and 3, it can hold that tighter line and carry more corner speed - more than 3 mph extra in turn 2. This advantage, in these four corners alone, adds up to almost a full second in the 675’s favor, more than offsetting the 848’s more powerful engine and brakes on the Streets few straights. Note that the speed graph is somewhat deceptive here: Even though the Ducati has much more entry and exit speed in many cases, the additional distance it travels in these corners more than negates any advantage from that speed. The Triumph’s less-aggressive brakes, better front-end feedback and slightly cleaner off/on throttle response translate to better performance at the entry and exit of the individual corners. At the Streets of Willow, that is a very effective package, but the story would definitely be different at a track where the Ducati could better stretch its legs.
| || |
| ||2012 Triumph Daytona 675R||2012 Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE|
|MSRP||$12,699 ||$14,995 |
|Engine|| || |
|Type||Liquid-cooled, transverse DOHC inline three||Liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin|
|Bore x stroke||74.0 x 52.3mm||94.0 x 61.2mm|
|Induction||EFI with 44mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.||Marelli EFI with elliptical throttle bodies equivalent to 60mm, single injector/cyl.|
|Chassis|| || |
|Front suspension||Öhlins NIX30 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.3 in. travel||Showa 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 5.0 in. travel|
|Rear suspension||Öhlins TTX36 shock absorber, 5.3 in. travel||Öhlins shock absorber, 4.7 in. travel|
|Front tire||120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP||120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP|
|Rear tire||180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP||180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP|
|Rake/trail||23.5 deg./3.4 in. (87mm)||24.5 deg./3.8 in. (97mm)|
|Wheelbase||54.8 in. (1392mm)||56.3 in. (1430mm)|
|Seat height||32.7 in. (830mm)||32.6 in. (830mm)|
|Fuel capacity||4.6 gal. (17.4L)||4.1 gal. (15.5L)|
|Weight||421 lbs. (191kg) wet; 393 lbs. (178kg) dry||437 lbs. (198kg) wet; 412 lbs. (187kg) dry|
|Fuel consumption||39 – 42 mpg, 41 mpg avg.||35 – 42 mpg, 39 mpg avg.|
|Quarter-mile||10.66 sec. @ 130.13 mph||10.67 sec. @ 131.02 mph|
|Roll-ons||60–80 mph/ 3.36 sec.; 80–100 mph/ 3.54 sec.||60–80 mph/ 4.01 sec.; 80–100 mph/ 5.29 sec.|
|Ratings|| || |
| ||Triumph Daytona 675R||Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE|
|Fun to Ride||9||8|
|Instruments & Controls||6||7|
|Chassis & Handling||9||8|
|Engine Power Delivery||8||8|
Picking a winner between the Triumph 675R and Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE wasn’t the brain rack you’d expect it to be; the 675R is a better package, plain and simple. That’s not to say the Ducati was a poor performer, and I actually got along quite well with the trellis-framed twin at the track. A few suspension changes made an immediate difference in corner-exit feel, and the 848’s bottom-end grunt gives the Ducati an advantage out of the corner. Feel from the Showa front fork is vague mid-corner however, and the Triumph’s Öhlins are better damped as a whole.
The Corse SE’s ergonomics...
The Corse SE’s ergonomics are typical Ducati and put an unhealthy amount of weight on your wrists, making longer freeway stints a chore. The 675R’s ergos are track-oriented as well — there’s no denying that — but the more upright position makes all the difference during a commute.
Had I been recently hitting the gym more often, the Ducati may have been a better choice on the street, but its heavy steering was no match for the lithe Triumph. Factor in the 675R’s steady mirrors and more comfortable ergos and you have the reasoning for why this decision was so easy.
A quick look at how close the lap times are between these two shows how close they are in performance. Both accomplish the task of getting from point A to point B swiftly in the same amount of time—it’s just that one requires less work than the other.
For some reason, our Triumph 675R was down on power compared to previous test bikes; from being the class gorilla at 111 horsepower in 2011, to a relatively meek 106 horsepower this year is a dramatic change. Contrast that with the Ducati’s stout 118 horsepower rating, and you’d think that the V-twin would run away. But the 675R’s superb chassis and suspension make up for that deficit—and then some. The Triumph can hang with the 848 without all the dramatics, with a nimble feel that gives you more options in the corners. And it’s hard to argue with that exhaust note.