It’s the new British hope in the Supersport class but have the changes for 2013 done enough to get Triumph ahead of the competition? BRM put the new Daytona 675R to the test, and although it may look very familiar, discovered it’s brand spanking new underneath…

Words: Paul

The middleweight supersport class has never been strong down here in NZ, with the financial crisis having a big impact on sportsbike sales and almost stopping sales of the more focused bikes with smaller engines. The update of Triumph’s flagship 675, the R-model, has been designed to awaken interest in the class and there’s no doubt it would if more riders got to sample this latest triple from Triumph.

Despite the family resemblance still being there in spades, the 2013 model is nearly all new with only a couple of inconsequential parts like the mudguard and footpegs carried over from the previous version. Sit aboard the 675R and it’s instantly obvious this model has been seriously worked on from last year, with the saddle giving you a feeling of comfort rather than resembling a razorblade. A quick bounce shows the rear shock has been updated, the linkage that caused the rear of the 675 to be so severe now replaced for a more subtle item. The riding position in general feels comfortable when compared to the rest of the supersport category, although the crazily low screen still looks more like it’s there to keep rain off the clocks rather than wind off the rider.

The slimmer engine layout of the triple configuration sets the theme for the rest of the machine, with the Daytona feeling remarkably slim in the waistline, allowing your legs to feel like they’re virtually touching in the middle. The tank is high giving the riding position a ‘sit-in’ feel and the reach to the clip-ons is relatively long, although this all translates into a relatively spacious location for the rider. Firing the motor up by pressing the standard Triumph switchgear that is featured throughout the range, it’s peculiar to hear the exhaust note coming from below rather than behind, the move from underseat exhausts to the more traditional underslung system a nod towards mass-centralisation and lower centre of gravity. On the road we’re likely not to notice, but for the race teams it’ll be a major advantage.

The motor itself has been given a major refresh, with a new construction used to cope with the higher compression ratio. The rev limit has been increased by 500rpm thanks to a more oversquare bore and stroke, which has also seen power increase by 3hp to 126hp. There’s also a new cylinder block, pistons, gudgeon pins, crankcase oil baffles, titanium inlet valves, which combine with new twin-injector throttle bodies, ECU and a bigger central air intake running through the headstock.

The gearbox has also been updated to give a smoother transfer between first and second, while shorter gearing is able to be used thanks to the higher rev limit. The frame has also seen some major mods designed to improve handling yet retain stability.

Holy Howling Hell

Firing the Daytona into life is a familiar experience for any Triumph owner, the distinctive noise of the starter turning over and the three cylinders bursting into life all part of the Triumph triple experience. Even at standstill the Daytona feels like it means business, the growl from the motor invading your crash helmet from underneath the machine.

Heading for the open road and the new gearbox is a pleasure, snicking up through the ratios with a brush of the lever and no movement from the throttle thanks to the quickshifter that is fitted as standard on the R-version. The shifter cuts the ignition for a fraction of a second allowing the next cog to slip in unhindered without having to roll off the throttle, again something that is probably there more for supersport homologation. But as most things that work for the racetrack often make life easier on the road, the quickshifter allows you to shortshift through the gearbox with ease, using the ample torque that is the major characteristic of the triple powerplant to make quick and easy progress without sounding like you’re a loony.

Pulling out onto the open road and a slight miscalculation with the speed of an approaching car saw me having to launch the Daytona harder than anticipated, a dip of the clutch the automatic reaction when riding a supersport bike. But not for the Daytona, with the stonking mid-range enough to get the front wheel clawing the sky without any trouble, and stay there while you flick through the gearbox thanks to the quickshifter. At only 184kilos, the Daytona is a light machine, which combined with a claimed 126hp makes the performance more than a match for anything bigger or more powerful. There aren’t any switchable mapping options to play with, but with a power delivery this linear and predictable, you need to give up riding if you make a mess on a 675. The new engine has retained what set the Daytona apart, particularly on the road – the midrange. The new engine produces a bit more top-end too and the Daytona is an ‘easy ride’ being flexible for what is a competitor in the supersport class. That would translate into ‘forgiving’ on track as it doesn’t fall off the power curve as quickly as most. A slipper clutch avoids any lock-ups when changing down while ABS combined with some of the best brakes in the business should get you out of trouble if you need to stop in a hurry. The Brembo monobloc set-up offers power and feel by the bucketload, allowing you to brake hard enough to get the rear wheel off the deck without panicking that you’re about to go over the top. The feel from the lever and the stunning Ohlins 43mm forks combine to make this a front-end that other manufacturers can only dream of. Add in the slim nature of the Daytona and it’s hardly surprising that the Triumph tips into a corner almost before you’ve even thought about it. Once you’re in the corner, the Daytona is super stable, the riding position encouraging you to put plenty of weight through the pegs to settle the bike.

Extra R

Aesthetically, the 675R doesn’t stand out as much as previous models. Triumph have towed the line a little more – but not too much, particularly with the frame highlight on the R. But as soon as the engine fires up, it’s obviously one of Bloor’s babies. Top-shelf Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes combine with quality componentry including plenty of nice carbon fibre and the coolest looking brake master cylinders I’ve ever seen on a production motorcycle. The whole bike is nicely presented and that impression follows when you ride it. It’s an all-new bike that steps over the development ceiling the older version had hit. Comparisons have to be made with the Suzuki GSX-R750, Ducati 848 and Kawasaki ZX636, all who take the middleweight supersport genre and add a little bit. Without doubt the Triumph is better spec’d than all of these and arguably a better road bike as well. On the track the revvier nature of the four-cylinders would possibly equate to a faster lap time if there is a really long straight, but would the rider be getting quite as much enjoyment? Probably not!

As far as we can ascertain during our short time with the Daytona 675R, there have been plenty of improvements to the British machine and no backward steps, so it would have to rate as a success. Whether it encourages more buyers to try a bike with a smaller engine capacity is yet to be seen, but there’s no denying this has to be one of the most fun machines you can ride and possibly one of the best handling bikes on the planet. If the size of your engine isn’t the only thing on your mind, take a look at a Triumph Daytona 675R and be pleasantly surprised.

[This review featured in issue #110 of Bike Rider Magazine]