Cartagena, Spain—Having been on the job and in the saddle for the turn-of-the-century debut of the Triumph TT600, I can appreciate just how far the Hinckley, England-based firm has progressed since its inaugural foray into the highly competitive middleweight supersport class. The inline-Four TT and Daytona 600 that followed have become a distant memory, erased by the 2006 introduction of the Daytona 675.
Seemingly overnight, that track-bred, technically advanced, fuel-injected, inline-Triple established Triumph as the performance leader in the class. Despite the bike’s sales success and magazine accolades, Triumph knew from the beginning that the Daytona 675 was an underachiever of sorts. At the time of the bike’s inception, under-tail exhaust was important from a sales and marketing standpoint, but it compromised chassis geometry and weight distribution.
The 2013 Daytona 675 and 675R models rectify that, with an all-new stainless steel exhaust system and a host of engine and chassis updates that include anti-lock brakes and sharp, new styling with a higher-quality finish and better attention to detail. Triumph’s Product Manager, Simon Warburton, said this major makeover has provided the foundation for the next phase of Daytona 675 development.
When questioned about the absence of electronic rider aids such as selectable delivery maps or traction control, Warburton says Triumph feels no need for such “gimmicks.” He did, however, say that such systems make good sense if ride-by-wire technology is implemented in the future to meet more stringent emissions regulations.
I had the opportunity to spend a day stretching the throttle cable of a new Triumph Daytona 675R at the bike’s world press launch, held at Circuito Cartagena on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The R model comes equipped with a race-spec Öhlins NIX30 fork and TTX shock, plus Brembo Monobloc front calipers and radial master cylinder, a quickshifter and carbon-fiber fenders. For hardcore track-day enthusiasts and racers alike, the upgrade from the standard 675’s KYB suspension certainly justifies the $1900 premium the $13,499 R model commands.
Lapping the 2.2-mile track at speed revealed a dramatic improvement in chassis balance, agility and feedback. The claimed three horsepower boost felt subtle, but the focus has been in smoothing midrange torque. Fueling was excellent, offering tractable delivery and good control.
The engine is an all-new design with a shorter stroke and 2mm bore increase that allows 500 additional revs, pushing the redline to 14,400 rpm. The separate alloy cylinder block with Nikasil-coated bores is stronger than its predecessor’s one-piece upper crankcase with pressed-in liners. The added strength allows higher combustion pressure for increased torque and power, illustrated by the bump in compression ratio from 12.6 to 13.1:1.
Other changes include revised valve timing and increased lift, thanks to lighter valves. The exhaust is 1.3mm smaller in diameter than before, and the intakes are now made of titanium and have reshaped backside contours for improved flow. What’s more, the crankshaft and alternator rotor carried on one end are lighter, reducing inertia for snappier engine response.
A redesigned gear selector mechanism, which includes a new shift drum and forks, works with revised first and second cogs to deliver lighter and more precise gear changes. The clutch has been upgraded to a slip/assist design that reduces lever effort by 25 percent and quells engine-braking-induced rear wheel hop during deceleration. A tooth off the countershaft sprocket has lowered final gearing for improved acceleration, yet top speed remains roughly the same due to the increased rev ceiling.
Speaking with lead test rider/chassis engineer David Lopez, the man whose fingerprints are all over the 675, helped my own understanding of some finer details. The pro-level racer said the lighter wheels and die-cast subframe, along with the aforementioned exhaust, have all contributed to moving weight forward. The 52.9-percent front bias (it was formerly 51.8) allows the use of quicker steering geometry and a shorter wheelbase (54.1 inches versus 55.0) without inducing stability issues.
The frame headstock has been extended slightly forward, making room between the front wheel and engine to accommodate a steeper rake angle of 23 degrees, sharpened from 23.9. The trail measurement of 87.7mm is 1.4mm less than before, and the cast aluminum swingarm is 15mm shorter, with an asymmetric shape that allows the low muffler to be tucked tightly for exceptional cornering clearance.
Predictably, relocating the exhaust system has provoked a hint of dissent from the 675’s fan base, but not to the degree Triumph encountered when it restyled the iconic headlights on its Speed Triple. And all told, I prefer the new look of the bike.
But for those who may not, experiencing the quick and composed side-to-side direction changes while traveling at 75 mph (verified by my GPS data logger) through Cartagena’s chicane can be a very persuasive thing of beauty! Straight-line stability was steadfast along the 130-mph main straight, as well as during hard braking into the first turn. Three of the 15-turn circuit’s braking zones threw twists into the lap as the brakes needed to be applied while leaned over at around 100 mph and held on deep into the corner. The front Brembo setup provided all the power I could ask for approaching Turn 1, with the superb feel and sensitivity needed for breathless trail-braking.
These same harrowing corner entries showcased the benefit of the slipper clutch. When downshifting while leaned over, the back of the bike briefly stepped out of line but came right back without a hitch. The ABS offers two modes of operation, normal and circuit. Triumph insisted we ride in the latter mode as it’s calibrated for dry track use and overrides the normal mode’s anti-nose-wheelie control. You’d practically have to hit an oily patch or run off track for it to activate. The stock fitment Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP radials were so hooked up, the only time I felt the ABS engage was when I purposely stomped the rear pedal on pit lane to be certain it did in fact work.
At day’s end, I couldn’t agree more with Warburton’s sentiment. Right now, the Daytona 675 may well represent the zenith of refinement for a bike that eschews a digital ride-by-wire interface. Heck, even in this age of digital this and HD that, don’t most true audiophiles still prefer vinyl?