Blog Search

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Triumph Daytona 675 ride impressions

Ok, let's start with an introduction - the chap in the photo below with the beautiful Daytona 675 is Andy West.  I think you know the disreputable old geezer on the right so the least said about him the better.
 
A pair of Triples (sounds odd...)

Being oh so terribly formal, Andy is Dr. Andrew West, a prominent figure in the world of science and commerce and Vice-Chancellor of NZ's Lincoln University.  At a far less formal level, he's a life-long bike nut and also has an early Triumph Trident and an immaculate '69 Triumph Bonneville in his man-cave at home.  As I was also due to find out during the day, he's a really down to earth nice guy and a bloody quick and safe rider too.

Going back 6 months or so ago, Andy contacted me through the blog as he'd seen the link to my Street Triple review and asked for my views about its suitability for his wife as a post-learner machine.  As well giving some opinions, I'd offered Andy the chance to ride it for himself and draw his own conclusions.  Today was that day so rode down the coast to Thames to meet him, bring him home for lunch and then settle into the serious fun of trying out each others' bikes!

A few showers had passed through in the morning but the weather was brightening up, the roads were gradually drying and the portents were good for using the bikes how they were meant to be used (in the name of thorough and objective road-testing, you understand).


Bike swapping - throw your keys in the middle and see what you get!

A quick walk-around
A preliminary perch on the Daytona showed it to be poles apart from the Street Triple.  It may share the 675 power plant, by that's about as near as it gets!  The Daytona is the closest thing to a pure race bike on the road as you're likely to encounter.  The strongest (and slightly unnerving) impression which hit me when first climbing on board was the near-complete absence of anything in front of you!  I always wanted to ride an Imperial Stormtroopers bike from Star Wars and this is the nearest thing to a terrestrial equivalent!  The low screen and mirrors were way below the eye line and it felt like you were sticking right out in front of the bike.  The clip-on bars also felt like they were vertically below my chin although amazingly, they felt perfectly comfortable.

The seat height is greater than the ST but the narrower seat allowed me to rest on the balls of my feet with complete confidence, also due to the bike's light weight at around 165 kg.  Controls were identical to the ST, so they were instinctive.

Wossit go like, mister?
Andy had warned me that the Daytona has a very tall first gear and he was right! Cutting through dozy holiday traffic in Coromandel village required more concentration regarding road positioning than the ST.  I never actually had to dip the clutch but the fingers were ready if required.  The saving grace was the big torque spread of the motor and I'll come back to this later.

Getting onto the open road was initially unnerving.  The lack of anything in front of the face and the head down, arse up riding position felt quite precarious and coupled with the narrow, low bars, I didn't feel all that confident about hustling through the bends.  Probably no bad thing as the road was still slightly damp in places, the supersports-oriented Supercorsa tyres weren't up to high grip temperatures and there's not much in the way of rain grooves on them either. In fact, they felt quite vague and I didn't like the Supercorsas much at all in those conditions.  Considerable scope for going down on your arse if you pushed really hard, I'd imagine.  I think that for the wide range of weather and temperature conditions I ride in, a good sport touring tyre like the PR3 would give a lot more confidence.  Andy also seemed inclined to this view after riding the ST3. Steering on the Daytona was completely different from ST with its higher, wider bars.  Because of the race-style steering geometry, moving the body around the bike and weighting the pegs was all that was needed to change direction on the D675, with far less emphasis on heavy countersteering.  The faster you went, the less conscious steering effort required!

Up in the hills south of Coromandel, we stopped briefly at a lookout to compare notes and both of us had  huge grins on our faces!  Andy was completely enthused about the grip from the Pilot Road 3 tyres fitted  to the ST and I was blown away with the pin-point accuracy of the steering of the D675.  The other thing which took me by surprise was the relative comfort of the Daytona.  Even for my knees which have taken a hiding over the decades, the high footpegs were surprisingly comfortable.  The thin seat wasn't bad either but for longer hauls, it would definitely have an Airhawk pad fitted to it.  One thing's for sure, you'd never suffer from a cold bum on this bike - heat transfer from the high level pipe and muffler through the thin seat is quite pronounced!

Now here's a thing which I'm sure that many riders have experienced.  If you're not riding too well, often a short stop will make a world of difference and you feel transformed when you hop back on.  So it was with riding Andy's bike.  Even though our stop was less than 5 minutes, hopping back on the Daytona afterwards felt completely natural and my riding was much more assured.

On the run down the coast to Thames with the roads having dried out, we started to use a bit more throttle, particularly when passing small groups of slow-moving holidaymakers.  Whilst the Street Triple is no slouch at all, the greater horsepower at the top end on the Daytona was very noticeable and pretty impressive.  Whilst the top end was indeed impressive,  it still compared very favourably with the ST at lower down in the rev range.  This means that in normal on-road conditions particularly in making snap overtakes, it would completely outshine Japanese IL4's of similar capacity which need to build revs to develop power.  The extremely slim fairing and screen were also more effective than you might imagine.

Is there a downside to the Daytona?  Well yes and no.  It has higher specification suspension than the ST and the setup is on the firm side.  If I was to regularly use one on the Coromandel Peninsula roads, I'd want to knock off a whole lot of preload front and rear and rely more on the excellent rebound and compression damping to lower the tendency to jump about on the more uneven road surfaces. On sweepers with better finished surfaces or for trackdays, it would be nigh-on perfect as it was.  I'd get rid of those Supercorsa tyres though.  The Daytona does have passenger pegs but anyone perched out back is in for a world of pain.  It's that "fitness for purpose" thing though - you don't buy a Daytona for hauling a pillion or lots of luggage about.

On pulling up in Thames before Andy continued home, we were still genuinely smitten with each other's bikes and couldn't keep the smiles off our faces. As I write this quick review, I'd imagine that Andy is telling his wife for the 100th time that the Street Triple is the perfect bike for her.  He can't really lose can he, with a Daytona AND an ST in the shed?  I'd happily do the same except the only thing I'd lose would be my balls, courtesy of someone near and dear!  It's easy to see why both machines have repeatedly won "Bike of the Year" titles in numerous international motorcycle journals.  So there we are,  two incredible machines with the Street Triple having a broader use and the Daytona being more highly focussed. With only being allowed to have one bike at a time by She Who Must Be Obeyed, it has to be the ST for the conditions I ride in, but oh for a Lotto win to help with the case for both of them!

Thanks Andy for a fantastic day, both from the viewpoint of the company, your riding skill and letting me use your Daytona how it was meant to be used!  Catch you for an even longer ride in due course!


Design elegance!



25 comments:

  1. Well said Geoff,they are an incredible machine, still miss mine....mmmm..actually I think one of thoses in the garage will suit the existing family. I hear they have eased up lines of credit....and relationship councelling!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Roger:
    I now understand why you loved yours so much! I think that if one appeared in either of our garages, it would be way too late for counselling. Removing a sharp object by a local medic would be a far more likely scenario!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Geoff:

    You are so lucky to be able to switch bikes for a ride and then test them to their limits. While I take care of everything like it was mine, I don't think I would want the responsibility.

    If our dealer network was better, perhaps I would consider a Striple. I love the engine characteristics & the sound

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Bob!
    Yep, we both enjoyed the opportunity to switch and evaluate the differences. Whilst they got a fair work-out in bursts, the Thames-Coromandel coast road is not a place to ride to the limit; particularly with holidaymakers having left their brains at home! We saw enough to make some relatively accurate assessments though :-).

    Shame about your dealer network. I would say in mitigation though that my nearest dealership is 160 km away, not that I had to use them for anything other than servicing within the warranty period.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi geoff,

    Firstly...Happy New Year....

    That Daytona looks awesome in red! Sounds like a great day out! Buy one and I'll come over to ride it, and the ST!

    Cheers mate,

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice report Geoff!

    I have to be honest here, I have never ridden a "crotch rocket" mainly because I don't like the feeling of my nose rubbing on the front wheel - a hazard for a 6ft 6in chap.

    N

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good write up Geoff , thanks for your real world views.

    " Now here's a thing which I'm sure that many riders have experienced. If you're not riding too well, often a short stop will make a world of difference and you feel transformed when you hop back on "

    Yes !!! ... done that on many occasions , and it works

    Andrew X11

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi "Anonymous Andrew" & happy New Year. Guess it's a bit cold in Scotland at present!

    Thank you - it was a blast to ride. Glad you've experienced it too. Found that a lot in the early days of IAM practice when I tried to perfect to many things at once. Take a short break, clear the head and start again!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Anthony:
    Happy New Year to you too mate! It was indeed a grand day. If you'll guarantee to placate Jennie and save me from serious harm, I'll gladly stick one in the shed for you to try out :-).

    Nikos:
    It was bad enough with me at 5'8" feeling like I was sitting over the front wheel spindle. However, I think your knees would kill you after a few hundred metres at your lofty elevation!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Did I miss the bit about which bike suits you best, the Striple or the 675?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi there ...


    Been reading this blog for a while now ......I enjoy it very much and thought it was about time i started following ....will recommend to many...... its a good read!

    The header picture makes me want to go on a riding holiday!

    kindest regards

    len

    scootering adventures uk

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dylan:
    The Striple because of its versatility for where I ride and what I do, but that doesn't stop me wanting a Daytona too!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Len and thanks for dropping by! The header photo was taken in 2005 at the start of a 4500 km in 5 days round NZ organised endurance ride. Not much time for sightseeing, I'm afraid!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey Geoff, another great write up. Pretty much all the Triumph range has enjoyed good press in recent years, but certainly the Daytona has been a big winner for Triumph. You mentioned how much Andrew liked your PR3's - what tyres does he run on the Daytona?

    Which reminds me, it must be about time for another tyre review! As I've said before, I actually love real world tyre (and oil)reports, though many see them as a joke.

    Ride safe.

    Jules.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks Jules!
    I thought that a pure sport bike was physically beyond me but not so, at least in the case of the Daytona.
    Andrew runs Pirelli Diabolo Supercorsas which are more of a race tyre. They take some warming up and also, the contact patch is at its biggest at huge lean angles. These features, plus minimal rain grooves push their performance towards trackdays or high speed road work. I was slightly concerned about them letting go before they got warm on the initially damp roads. Amazing when they're up to temperature though.

    Hahaha - I'll do a progress report on the PR3's before too long in that case!

    Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think you just inspired a new goal for me this year. I'm going to keep the FJR for when my wife wants to ride with me ( which is often, bless her ) but it's time to go find a bike that is purely me!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dan,
    You clearly have a wonderful wife if the prospect of two bikes in the shed is a likely outcome ;-).

    Jennie wouldn't even attempt to bend her knees round her ears on the Triple but she says she'd be happy on a cruiser or a trike. A trike is not for me but maybe a cruiser in a while??

    Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Geoff,

    What a coincidence, my brother and I just had a similar ride with my Street Triple & a Daytona 675 borrowed from my best friend, Ole. (who's in NZ for 3 weeks with his wife!) My brother was visiting from the East Coast and Ole thought we might like to go for a motorcycle ride. Both bikes have Dunlop Q2s, so tire stickiness was equal. I was hoping to be impressed by the Daytona suspension, but other than the stiffer springing didn't notice a big improvement in the Daytona. (The Daytona has an Elka shock which Ole says was good for 2 seconds a lap at his last track day; my Streetie has an R1 shock which was a vast improvement over the stock one. I weigh a bit more than you do Geoff.) Also, like you, we weren't pushing any limits - just out for a fun ride.
    The Daytona brakes are noticeably sharper than the Street Triple; now I'm wondering if some good 4-piston calipers will bolt on the Streetie forks. And yes, the Daytona definitely has more top end.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Tom:
    Quantum coincidences at work!! I had French-made Q2's on my ST and whilst they gripped well, I wasn't all that happy with them in the wet. They also went out of shape quickly and were worn out by 6000km. Overall, I preferred the Avon VP2 sport tyre and Avon Storm ST as a sport tourer. However, the Michelin PR3 is the best sport touring tyre I've ever used - quite extrordinary. Will do a progress write up on them soon.

    Thanks so much for your experiences!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi, Geoff. Now that Karen and I have finally got back into riding together (1200km round trip to KSS to get the back shock Ohlinised by Dr Bob), I'd say a vsit to see you and Jen would be likely some time this summer. Stay tuned...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Ian, long time no see! Nice to see that you've tackled the suspension issue. That would be the most important mod of the lot on so many levels. Would be great to see you guys but you might have to take pot luck on when. Never realised that retirement was so busy what with IAM, travelling, fishing, voluntary work and grandkids. It's a tough life all right, haha!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Happy New Year Geoff,

    I have often looked at these bikes with some envy, but my height precludes me from adventuring onto one. Also I am not a big fan at all of being in the forward riding position. Sounds like it was blazes of fun, but I will stick to my Shadow cruiser. I hope his wife gets the bike of her dreams!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Same to you Dar!
    I'm only 5' 8" and a lot of bikes I'd like to try are beyond me too which is a real shame. Yep, it was a great day, not only for the opportunity to ride a great bike but to meet another passionate motorcyclist in Andy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi geoff 6 months ago i bought myself a triumph 675 absollutly love it but 2 weeks ago went on a road trip round the top half of the south island but didnt like the handling of the pirelli diabolo tyres round the tight country corners would it be better to have sport touring tyres instead.I am new to riding and the dealerships keep trying to make me buy the expensive tyres would really appreciate your guidance

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Chasky,
    You're probably not getting enough heat into your Diabolo's with normal touring. Go forward one post to find my evaluation of the Michelin PR3 sport touring tyre - I honestly think you'd be better off with these. That's why my mate Dr.Andy West is going over to these on his D675.

    All the very best -

    ReplyDelete