The Daytona 675 might change the way we look at the middleweight supersport class. Not only stunning to look at, its three-cylinder motor is one of the best streetbike powerplants on the road.
Way back in September when the Daytona was announced, we predicted “the new Daytona 675 Triple could be the most interesting new offering of 2006.”
Well, it turns out we were right.
While it’s apparent to even Stevie Wonder the Daytona is gorgeous, the transcendent part of the package is the Trumpet’s 675cc three-cylinder motor. One of the finest mechanical soundtracks vies with an amazingly stout powerband for our favorite characteristics of this glorious dynamo. Using three instead of four cylinders, plus its obvious displacement advantage, gives the mill a distinct leg up in grunt over everything but the 749.
“This bike has upped the performance ante in the middleweight motorcycle market thanks to a deliciously fun three-cylinder powerplant,” says Kenny. “The Triple easily makes the most user-friendly power on the street.”
Aided by nicely progressive clutch take-up, the 675’s huge advantage anywhere below 7000 rpm makes sprints across intersections the quickest and easiest. Expeditious launches can be made from as low as 4000 rpm, which is something the Multis in this test can only dream about.
“It is easily the strongest engine down low and is surprisingly strong all the way through the rev range,” BC states. “Power is extremely smooth and linear all the way through the rev range. Only at the very top did it finally give into the four-cylinders, but by then it was so far gone it didn’t matter.” (For the record, its 2200-rpm range of 100-plus horsepower was at the low end of the group.)
Thrilling in a different way are the soulful sounds that erupt from the Triple, a musicality that rivals rock trio Rush for musical expression. It might be the best sounding street motorcycle engine ever (with all due respect to the Honda CBX, several Ducatis, and my old V-4 Yamaha RZ500 two-stroker), and it makes you want to ride without earplugs so that glorious howl can resonate through your cranium. Imagine the symphonic noise of half a Porsche flat-Six being spun to 13,000 rpm and you’d be close.
With the most radical steering geometry of this group, the Triumph makes direction changes nearly effortless. A standard steering damper keeps things from getting unruly.
But there’s more to the Daytona than just a harmonious motor. We also enjoyed just looking at it, some even likening it to Ducati’s legendary 916. Its slim and toned look is punctuated by an aggressive stare from projector beam headlights up front and a tri-exit exhaust out back.
“Triumph hit the jackpot with the styling of the 675,” judges Kenny. “From front to rear, the sharp angular bodywork and trick frame just look incredible.”
The Daytona is an aesthetic hit, but not without some minor misses. The rough finish on the aluminum frame and swingarm castings is a bit unrefined, and its footpeg-mount castings look cruder than the others. Also, its oddly fitted rear hugger fender doesn’t hug, appearing as if the swingarm had been extended. Kenny found fault with the flat leading edges of the side fairings that stand out as the only blocky bits of the Brit spitfire.
Straddling the Triumph takes a karate-high kick to clear the tall tailsection. Its undertail exhaust forces an elevated perch, and the thinly padded seat slants forward. It feels a little Ducati 916-ish, though not as torturous because its low clip-ons are close to the rider. Despite the tall seat, a 5’8″ rider can touch flat-footed thanks to its slim design.
“I found the riding position to be a little too awkward for my 6′ frame,” BC says. “I just felt like my center of gravity was too high and too far over the front of the bike. It’s a very racy riding position, which I think hampers the bike’s near-perfect streetability.”
For others, like Kenny, “the styling is worth any measure of discomfort.” And the Daytona’s super-slender midsection means a rider can get fully out of the wind while in a racer tuck. The cockpit drew compliments for its attractive instruments that include a clock, gear-position indicator, a progressive series of shift lights and a class-standard lap timer function. And, despite its big slugs, the Triple proves to be amazingly vibration-free.
Endowed with the raciest rake and trail figures, the 675 has steering alacrity that, along with the lightest weight, makes it the best choice for cut-and-thrust backroad maneuvers. A standard steering damper is thankfully included, but the bike’s handling isn’t quite perfect.
“Riding the Daytona proved to be a bit of a conundrum for me,” says the prolific BC, obviously our best note taker. “I loved the motor, tranny, and its lightweight flickability. However, the ergos made cornering less confidence-inspiring than the other bikes. The bike turns in very quickly and is stable, but it just didn’t feel quite right.”
The Daytona looks and feels impossibly slim, and that impression was verified on our scales where the Triple weighed in at 390 lbs, the class featherweight.
Part of BC’s complaint is due to the Daytona’s suspension, which our testers rated at the bottom of the pack. A bit of knob twiddling improved its action, but it also proved how sensitive the bike is to its setup.
The Triumph’s gearbox offers short and positive throws, but the lack of a slipper clutch held back the bike’s transmission/clutch ratings; a howling rear tire during compression braking is a rarity in this class. Braking performance, however, is second to none, thanks to a radial-pump master cylinder pushing fluid through braided-steel lines to the radially mounted 4-piston calipers, the only bike of the group to have this trifecta.
A couple of nits need to be picked. Throttle response at lower revs can be abrupt; oddly, this wasn’t an issue at high rpm. Also, the narrow midsection puts a rider’s thigh fairly close to the exhaust system under the seat, which can transmit enough heat in warm weather to be a bit discomforting.
But, for us, discussion about the Daytona always comes back to its motor. Back in September, we were prescient to write, “This new Daytona is going to redefine what a middleweight’s powerband can feel like,” and our prediction came true in a remarkably wonderful way.
Power is always accessible and it feels like a 750 in comparison to the other Mulits. It’s so versatile that you can use second gear for those quiet 25-mph putts through your neighborhood and still have strong thrust if needed. And when canyon strafing, the flexible motor gives a rider a choice of gears, making its rider feel like an honors student switching to a standard class.
Yes, this Triple is so good that we believe this might be the best engine formula for the middleweight class. Transplanting it in any of the Japanese bikes would almost certainly improve them, especially from a street perspective.
The Triumph had to be the biggest surprise of the test,” BC remarks. “I knew it had the potential to perform but doubted that it would come together as well as it did. On the street, the torquey motor and its lightweight nature make it the bike to beat. Trackday guys and canyon carvers will love this thing.”