In my delusions of product-planning grandeur I've long imagined that there is a place in the bike market for a premium mid-sized sportsbike model.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Engine: 675cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected triple developing 94kW (126bhp) of power at 12,500rpm and 74Nm of torque at 11,900rpm.|
|Transmission: Six-speed sequential gearbox, chain drive.|
|Chassis: Alloy twin-spar frame with double-sided swingarm, fully adjustable 43mm inverted Ohlins NIX30 front forks with 122mm of travel, fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 rear monoshock, with 133mm of travel.|
|Hot: Rivals the similarly priced MV Agusta F3 for both looks and power, then beats it for refinement, handling security and suspension quality.|
|Not: Mudguard designer should be shot; riding position feels like some masochistic form of yoga, steering lock could be more generous.|
For the reality is that it costs no more to make a 1000cc sportsbike than it does to build a 600 if the bikes are built on an equal footing in terms of their suspension, tyres and other running gear.
Hence 600cc sportsters are generally dumbed down a little in such areas. It's this current state of affairs that makes the new Triumph Daytona 675R so special. For this is a supersports class contender that you can ride away from the showroom and not feel the slightest need to change or improve anything.
The absence of a 1000cc sportsbike in the Hinckley factory's range no doubt encouraged Triumph to build a sporting flagship out of the Daytona 675 triple instead. The basis of the R is therefore a bike improved recently by a new engine, new frame, and most tellingly, the migration of more of the bike's mass to its centre. The base Daytona is therefore a better bike in just about every dynamic area for 2013, but the R takes things a couple of steps further via the fitting of top-shelf Ohlins suspension, track-ready Pirelli tyres, Brembo brakes, a red-painted subframe and some tasty pieces of carbon-fibre. The result is a $21,495 sportsbike that you can happily park next to a $40,000 Ducati Panigale and not feel the slightest bit of shame about it being a relative pauper.
For the Daytona 675R looks totally righteous thanks to its touches of Swedish suspension gold and Italian brake caliper silver. There might be something a little derivative of the Ducati 848 in its frontal styling and the Yamaha R6 at the rear, but it all comes together to create quite a looker.
When luxuriously decorated in a paint scheme that combines sparkling pearl white with glossy black and matt red, it's total eye candy.
Triumph's newest 675cc triple prunes back the piston strokes and broadens the diameters of the cylinder bores instead to achieve the same cubic capacity as its forebear.
This reins in piston speeds through the majority of the rev range and allows a 700rpm redline extension that will soon have the slugs back up to frenetic Audi RS4-V8 velocities again.
With the rev limit now extended to a wailing 14,400rpm, you no longer encounter the abrupt rev limiter as readily as when riding previous Daytona 675s.
Even more commendable is that the change in bore/stroke relationship doesn't seem to have dented the impressive mid-range performance expected of a Daytona 675 in the slightest.
You get three more horsepower with the new engine, and the 126bhp total takes the Triumph close to the magic 200bhp-per-litre mark, but this extra top-end power has been won at no expense to ride-ability and torque delivery.
There's also a more unstoppable personality to this new engine. The previous motor felt a little raw and it chucked out heat like a blast furnace. The new bike runs cooler, shifts gears with more accuracy and is smoother.
All encourage an impression of long-lasting durability that you'd more normally associate with Honda than Hinckley. Ditto, the details of Daytona have been tidied. There's less exposed wiring and plumbing, the fasteners are of higher quality, and did I mention the paint?
This is a $20,000 sportsbike that's capable of putting on a chassis performance that borders on the priceless. It's not quite as quick to change direction as its similarly-priced MV Agusta F3 rival, but then, the F3 can offer too much of a good thing at times.
For New Zealand roads, the extra security of the Triumph's handling is more of a blessing, and although the setup of the Ohlins suspenders is firm and trackday-targeted, not once did the poxy surface of a reference backroad knock the 675R off its line.
The bike also plugs itself directly into the rider's brain by offering a wealth of tactile information about the available traction. There are no electronic riding aids on board the Triumph apart from the very well calibrated ABS system for the super-brakes, but at no time did I feel the need for any. This, despite the usual winter riding hazards - driveway wash residues, damp surfaces in the shadows, longer warmup times for the tyres etc.
Triumph has relaxed the new Daytona's riding position a little but you still feel like you're bending over and trying to touch your toes while staring at something on the ceiling.
With the bars mounted a smidgen higher, touring could become part of this bike's agenda. Like the comfort levels, the mudguards are vestigial and token, and road spray is left unchecked in its corrosion-inducing rampage.
That said, this bike still wins the triple-powered sportsbike crown by being a more complete bike than its similarly powered MV F3 rival. It also happens to be the finest supersports bike on the market as well as the best-performing Triumph.
What a trifecta.
- © Fairfax NZ News