2008 Triumph Daytona 675 Review

When we first got a taste of the Triumph Daytona 675 during Supersport Shootout IV we were smitten with its combination of superb handling, powerful brakes and that raspy three-cylinder powerplant. In the end, the 675 won both road and track portions of the fourth edition of our middleweight face-off and established itself as a pure sportbike like no other Triumph in recent history. When we didn’t see fit to give it a shot at a title defense in ’07 we were lambasted by our fans, so we went through great pains to ensure our old friend made an appearance this year. Despite being unchanged since its inception the Daytona, after three years, is still an amazing motorcycle.

If you need proof, look no further than its tie for top billing in the Grin Factor category by the two most insane riders in our stable or the fact that it is the second-lightest despite being the elder statesman of this pack of miscreant motorcycles. The Daytona 675 can still run with the best of the middleweight motorcycles, as the hard data reveals. Everything we loved in the past applies to this day. It is agile and exhilarating to ride fast with its torquey power delivery and well-sorted brakes making it easy to connect the dots on the track or the dangerous curves of Oregon’s best byways.

On the dyno, the Triumph finds itself near the bottom this year in horsepower but makes up for it with class-leading torque. A respectable 104.4 hp at 12,100 rpm, it is 2 hp behind the CBR that is the next strongest at 106.3 hp. This places it in the lower percentile of a 5 hp spread between the 675 and the 109.7 reading posted by the R6. On the flip side, the Triumph’s 47 lb-ft at 10,400 rpm is tops in the torque department behind only the 848, but barely ahead of the GSX-R600. Between the power and the shorter gearing, the Daytona was consistently ranked in the top half of the field.

“Wow! The Triumph is so much fun to ride. It has a neat motor and gets great drives although it does hit rev limiter too soon. It revs surprisingly quick considering it’s a Triple, but it’s real easy to ride wheelies off the corners. The ergos aren’t too bad for a tall guy either,” says 6’2″ superbike specialist Mike Earnest.

Feelings are split on the 675 motor, with some of our more aggressive riders like Cory Call and Earnest ranking the motor high, while riders like Roberti and Wallace rate it low based on its quick revving nature and lack of overrev. Less-experienced riders seemed to get along well with the 675 because it is easy to short shift and keep momentum going and, like the Ducati, it’s more forgiving when it comes time to get a good drive to the next turn. However, when the stopwatch is on the 675, that mid-ranged biased power delivery takes a little getting used to after hopping off high-revving screamers like the Kawasaki and Yamaha.

“Of all the bikes, I looked forward to riding the Triumph the most coming into this test,” says Jimmy Moore. “I had heard so much about it and really wanted to see what all the rage was. It’s skinny, powerful, and comfortable, with good brakes and fairly sorted suspension. I couldn’t, however, get used to the low rev limit and loads of shifting that was required to make this thing really move.”

The transmission takes some criticism from the riders this year. Drop it into gear and the feel is much more-notchy than the other five transmissions combined with the fact that it, along with the 848 and CBR, does not come with a slipper clutch. This puts it at a disadvantage on the transmission/clutch scores in this age of technologically-advanced race replicas. Grabbing downshifts on the 675 when pushing hard results in a lot of rear wheel chatter. To combat this, the rider needs to take care when letting out the clutch on deceleration in an effort to keep things from getting out of shape.

On a positive note, the brakes are still really good, though not quite on par with the superstar set-ups from Suzuki and Honda. With a combination of steel braided brake lines, radial-mount calipers and master cylinder, the 675 and the 848 have equally impressive components on paper but the Triumph equipment offers more power and feel by comparison and is in the upper percentile in the braking category.

“The Triumph’s brakes are the business,” boasts the always critical Waheed of the British bike’s binders. “They have a ton of power, feel and initial bite and with the OEM steel brake lines, they should never fade.”

Digging deeper into the data, the Triumph also loses ground to the more-refined motorcycles in the handling department with riders finding that the fork isn’t up to par. Low scores in the suspension categories and a tendency to be twitchy and vague compared to the new-generation components bolted on to some of the other bikes ultimately hurts the 675.

“The fork is too soft,” explains Earnest of his low ranking of the Triumph’s 41mm inverted front end. “It’s one of the most-fun to ride and it’s one hell-of-a bike for a new rider. It also absolutely rips in the hands of a fast guy and its pretty cool looking too.”

Triumph isn’t far off the pace these days, but it did come up a bit short during our Superpole session, finishing fourth-fastest with Earnest at the controls and last with a less experienced rider calling the shots. The bursts of power and close gears have it bumping the rev-limiter more often than any bike other than the 848, and it really hurt it in the timed session where the difference between bikes is measured in tenths of a second.

In the end, the Daytona is a unique motorcycle, and that goes a long way towards winning the hearts of our test riders. Similar to the Ducati, the Triumph showcases its differences and that is a huge part of the appeal of this motorcycle.

“Whether it be accelerating, braking, turning, the six-seven-five does it all with the most character,” says Heedy. “The sound of the Inline-Three engine is the coolest and I always felt like I was riding something unique when I was on the Triumph.”

Although the street doesn’t seem like it would be a strong point of the 675, it is fun to ride in this environment because the motor has enough muscle to let the rider slack-off a bit and still have the juice to squirt ahead of the pack in a roll-on or to put a bit of distance on those pesky semis. Since you can only push so hard on the street, it masks a few of the weak points revealed on the track and accentuates the good stuff like the stonkin’ motor.

“The torquey Triumph Triple is a favorite of mine on the street,” says BC, one of our test riders who participated in our ’06 shootout which the 675 won easily. “Having both strong torque and a decent rev range makes the Triumph motor fun for any type of riding.”

From the moment you climb on the Triumph it feels similar to the Ducati in that they are thin in the middle and have high, flat seats and low bars that make the riding position more track-oriented than accommodating for commuter or daily driver duty, but it’s less aggressive than the Ducati. Both the 675 and 848 employ underseat exhausts which look the business but are not always the greatest arrangement for street riding comfort. Had we conducted the test later in the summer, the riding impressions might have not been so favorable. We know from experience that the underseat exhaust gets real freaking hot but since our test was done in the spring, the cool air concealed it.

When considering a bike primarily for street duty, the details can make a big difference. We complained about the unfinished look and feel of the frame and swingarm in ’06 and that is exaggerated further in ’08 as the rest of the bikes are more refined than ever.

Of all the things that can be said about the Triumph 675, the fact remains that this bike is one of the best combinations of power, weight and style that the class has ever produced. Add into the mix the fact that it is still by far the cheapest at $8999 and suddenly spending those hard earned clams on this svelte cycle makes some sense. Perhaps the fact that it is different than what you are used to and that it appeals to dudes with absolutely no fear is worth mentioning. Then again maybe that scares you a little bit too. Either way, we suggest you head down to your local Triumph dealer for a look.

Triumph Daytona 675 – Rider Notepads:
Very quick initial turn-in, maybe a little twitchy.
The transmission feels stiff on shifts.
Triple sounds great but feels weak on top end.
Too tall.
Great bike for trackday riders.
Bottom end as good as Honda or better.