obviously in the market for Supersport sales but it\'s never really been taken seriously and consequently is usually left on the substitute bench on game day. Well after a very entertaining day blowing up the skirt of one of the new super-duper-sport Daytona 650, I think this is going to change.
Being a Brit I did anticipate the English marques’s initial introduction of the original Supersport TT600 in 1999, but on first inspection I was left feeling a little disappointed. Sure the-little-Trumpet-that-could aced a few in the handling department but it looked like a wanky old late 80\'s Japanese jelly bean motorcycle. It was soft and fuzzy and not at all the fire breather that we looked forward to. Oh, and don’t even get me going on that frog shite fuel injection which enjoyed an enhanced re map from your local dealer every other week to run properly - Was that fuel map 1000024 or 1000028 sir? To their credit though, this was the first manufacturer to offer Fi on a middleweight bike so credit is due... grumble, grumble.
The company saw fit to go back to the drawing board somewhat and in 2003 a restyled version appeared newly christened the Daytona. This particular bike enjoyed some really nice clothes and some further revised hardware. Best I document the changes for you because they are also relevant to the newer 2005 version. To address weight issues, the 2003 model featured some lighter frame and sub-frame parts which totaled nearly 2lbs, with further reductions in unsprung weight from the suspension. The motor also gained some new found power through a revised (lighter) crank, reworked head and different valve spec’s. They also turned to the Japanese for a fuel injection cure and a set of Keihin throttle bodies found their way onto the newer bike (bon voyage to SAGEM) For the proverbial, and very British, shits and giggles, the exhaust received some work and as an end result, power and torque was up everywhere.
So how good was this first remake? How about a Junior TT class win in the much fabled Isle of Man? Not too shabby, let me tell you. However, the stock bike was down on power to most of its Asian counterparts - To own a Triumph, you needed to want to own a Triumph. Looking good is fine in the middleweight war-zone, but you need some horsepower substance to stand tall at your local bike night or racetrack - Nice try Triumph.
Fast forward to a beautiful day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the USA press introduction to the new pumped up 05\' Daytona. This bike evolved from the constant (and consistent) comments asking for more power. Triumph’s answer came from a much used and trusted equation - There is no replacement for cubic displacement. The 2005 model comes complete with a longer conrod, (fitted by the factory for your convenience, of course) and it endows the 2005 with a few more ponies and a lump of torque for good measure. That 3.1mm longer stroke comes with no downside apart from a little more rev’s to enjoy the increase in midrange and power.
These bikes available were production units, with a boat load currently in transit from sunny olde’ England. The tires were also a new street set-up from Pirelli, labeled Diablo T’s. This new rubber offered a compound similar to the standard (and great wearing) Diablo street but with a carcass similar to the build design as the Diablo Corsa race tire. The basic idea is to improve bump absorption and to give the rider a fatter tire print. I liked them and only had one catastrophic slip which I think (in hazy retrospect) was due to a cold tyre.
Handling was really quite decent with a nice precise turn in with lots of good feel up front. I was having a little wiggle in between the first turn left and next turn right. The forks offered feel but suffered from a too fast a rebound. With too little rebound adjustments available I couldn’t slow the front down enough to stop a bounce in between that fast left-right transition. The Pirelli guys on hand offered some solution but progress was thwarted with that above mentioned little tip over.
Power is as expected for an oversized Supersport, the midrange felt quite lusty with a very handy bit of over-rev. The bike could also carry a higher gear in most corners for lazy (but fast) cruising or banzai’d at high revs for max drive and race pace. The Trumpet also had excellent ergo’s with lots of room on the seat to push back under braking or tuck in on your local front straight (I’m 6\'1"). The clocks are of a good size and very obvious to the rider at speed, so no crazy digital oddities to promote here. The gearbox has previously been subject to some minor criticism, again Triumph went to the drawing board and added a backlash eliminator gear with a couple less clutch plates to counteract the extra weight. They also added a new remote linkage to offer a better gear change sweep and I only missed one shift all day, so it looks like that’s all good now.
Basically I was having a swimmingly good time until my personal maelstrom appeared. Basically the track consisted of a 4th gear straight followed by a nice tight, drop a gear, left-hander (turn one). As mentioned there’s a little chute, left right transition, followed by a nice settled and long right-hander (turn two) another short chute into a 90-degree right (turn three) followed by another slightly bumpier left-right set of turns (turns four and five). I’m grabbing a gear toward a fast as you like left dogleg (turn six) which in turn pushed you into a slight right dogleg (turn seven). Down one gear, and into a big right-hand sweeper that’s actually two corners (Turn eight and nine) back onto the front straight again.
Let’s back pedal a tad though, to turn six. I was setting a guy up for a pass and couldn’t find the room between (or coming out of) four and five, I hung back a touch and then charged the dogleg planning my pass there. Unfortunately I got what Freddie Spencer calls “a little greedy on the throttle” consequently I had the biggest high-side of my glorious journalistic career. I must admit I had a few dings in the past, but I’ve been lucky (and slow) enough not to have lunched a press bike, luckily I saved it for one of my motherland manufacturers. I have never had such a violent exit from a motorcycle, journo or not.
Tire warmers might very well have saved me on this one - I’m very sure Pirelli’s very own Super Dragon Corsa would have too and I lament Triumphs decision not to equip us with race tires on a race track. Stupid hurts though (it still does as I type this) and I accept full responsibility for my Tommy tip-over.
Let me take a quick time out - a shout out to Arai helmets, Kushitani leathers and Helimot’s Daytona Security boots (in that order) for saving my lovely lilly-white English skin - Don\'t skimp on your equipment in this sport, folks and drink lots of milk... that\'s all I have to say about that.
Battered and bruised I continued the review, albeit a little slower than of yore. The front suspension problems did seem to show its head later, especially when it got warmer. Some of the other guys were down to one fragged front tire per session. I think this rebound problem could well be cured and it’s a shame that I was half way through my diagnosis when I took my spill as I never really got fast enough again to continue to find the fix. I’m a big lad though so your mileage might vary.
Overall I was impressed with the little Trumpet. Build quality seemed spot on and I wouldn’t be ashamed to see this in my garage. It’s a shame however that it took a little bit of a displacement “cheat” to fulfill the power gains, but Kawasaki did the same thing with the 636 last year. I can’t help but think the 636/650\'s of the world are filling in for the lost 750 class, currently occupied by Suzuki, are we going around in one big circle here?
My final thought? Go take another gander at this bike at your local Triumph dealer, it’s definitely worth another chance.