Ever since the Triumph Street Triple swapped its numbers around transforming from a 675 to a 765 in 2017, rumors have been rife to suggest the same tweak is set to be applied to the Daytona 675 supersports machine.

And now, a year after the Daytona was unceremoniously dumped from Triumph’s lineup, just such a bike has been spotted undergoing tests. Unsurprisingly its existence has sparked suggestions the Daytona is to rejoin the range in 2020. But we wouldn’t suggest breaking open your piggy bank just yet, as the existence of a prototype is far from a confirmation the bike is going to reach production.

The spy pictures themselves aren’t very revealing. The test bike is quite simply a last-of-the-line Daytona 675R with a Street Triple 765 engine bolted in. Apart from a slightly lashed-up exhaust, tiny changes to the engine covers, and the addition of TFT instruments from the Street Triple, there isn’t anything new to see. But they importantly illustrate that the idea of a Daytona 765 is alive and well within Triumph.

675 chassis
Most likely the Daytona 765 would not look like this 675 chassis fitted with the 765 engine. If the Daytona returns, it would need a face-lift; the last styling update was in 2013.Bernhard M. Höhne

While the prospect of a Daytona endowed with an oversize engine is without doubt a mouth-watering one, Triumph is a firm that’s driven by sharp business sense as well as passion. That sense both explains the existence of the Daytona 765 prototype and reveals why it might not be guaranteed to jump every hurdle between the test track and the showroom.

Let’s start with the case for a Daytona 765. There’s no question the basic recipe is right; Triumph’s three-cylinder sportbike has been a class leader ever since its 2006 introduction, with incremental improvements over the years to cement that position. So adding a larger, torquier version of the engine to the mix can’t be a bad thing. With the 765cc engine developed for the Street Triple, Triumph has an emissions-compliant motor that bolts straight into the old Daytona, so development costs could be kept down if necessary. And it’s an engine with a guaranteed racing pedigree; thanks to Triumph’s exclusive Moto2 engine supply deal, it’s going to win every Grand Prix it enters for at least the next three years.

All good so far, then, but building a Daytona 765 may not be quite that simple. First, while simply sticking the 765 engine into the old bike—as the firm has done to create the prototype that’s been spied recently—will work for testing, it’s not guaranteed to bring customers flooding to showrooms. The Daytona’s last styling update came six years ago, in 2013, and the earliest this bike could conceivably reach dealers is 2020. Could Triumph really relaunch a bike with seven-year-old bodywork and a chassis that’s effectively twice that old, dating back to the Daytona’s 2006 launch? It’s unthinkable, particularly given the fact that the firm has upped its game in terms of styling and technology in more recent years.

That means Triumph really needs to develop a new frame, bodywork, lights, and all the other details that go into a bike, even if it’s using the Street Triple engine without changes. And that’s not a given, since even in its sportiest RS form, the cleaner, Euro 4-legal Street Triple 765 engine is 5 hp down on the old Daytona 675’s 128-hp power peak.

So developing a Daytona 765 is likely to be a much bigger job than the spied prototype suggests, and given the well-publicized struggles of the middleweight sportbike market, it’s a bike that’s going to have to prove its worth before being given the green light.

And that’s probably what the prototype’s job is. If it can show that the combination of the 765 engine and Daytona chassis is a project worth pursuing, then those more complex, difficult developments can be done. On embarking on its Moto2 project, Triumph was always open about the fact that the Daytona would need to justify its own position, and the involvement in the sport wasn’t a guarantee that such a bike was on its way.

As a final thought, it’s worth remembering two more things that go in the Daytona’s favor. One is that Triumph has recently renewed its trademark rights in the Daytona name. And perhaps more importantly, the firm dropped plans to launch a sportier, half-faired RT version of the Street Triple 765 alongside the S, R, and RS models in 2017. The RT would have acted as a stand-in for the Daytona for buyers wanting a sportier bike, and its non-appearance may be another suggestion that Triumph has decided to give the Daytona a reprieve instead.