With the Daytona 675 looking set to be quietly shuffled out of Triumph's range, a victim of the incoming Euro 4 emissions regulations and falling sales in the supersport sector, Bike Social decided to pay homage to this great British motorcycle.
Introduced in 2006 as a replacement for the four-cylinder Daytona 650, the Daytona 675 Triple (as it was called on its launch) was the first three-cylinder sports bike to enter the highly competitive supersport class, going up against the likes of the Yamaha YZF-R6 and Honda CBR600RR.
For the first time, it gave the British manufacturer a truly class-leading bike, earning rave reviews in the press, winning numerous group tests and scooping the prestigious 'International Bike of the Year' award for 2006. The Daytona 675 has remained a staple in the Triumph range for over a decade, but with the current model unlikely to meet the new Euro 4 regulations without significant investment and the market for middleweight sports bikes at a desperate low, it looks like the end of the road for 'the greatest British sportsbike of all time'.
Here are 10 reasons why we think it was so great...
Triumph never really intended to seriously race the Daytona 675, but that didn’t stop it from taking some high profile race wins. There was a race kit of sorts, but that didn’t consist of much more than a new wiring loom and long duration camshafts. Despite that, the bike started clocking up national championship successes. It’s won the British Supersport Championship five times and powered Gary Johnson to a TT win in 2014 (pictured), the same year that Danny Eslick fittingly won the Daytona 200 on one.
With their shell suit graphics and big air scoops, supersport bikes were a bit tacky in the mid 2000s. The Daytona 675 eschewed that, with the in house design proving both purposeful and elegant.
The underseat exhaust of the first bikes were very much of the time but continue to look classy today, the narrow front profile had a touch of Ducati about it but overall it was incomparable to anything else out there.
The colours were fantastic too, at least on all but 30 of them. There were no gaudy graphics here and early ones came in the yellow that had become synonymous with Hinckley’s sports bikes and looked boss, other brilliant combos included black with gold wheels and pearl white with a blue frame. A short-lived decision to change the traditional Triumph tank badge to a weird (think sixth-form art project) ‘script’ was a mistake, and someone, somewhere, commissioned custom paint shop 8 Ball to produce 30 run out models in an, erm, unique livery (pictured). Those were minging, although clearly some British bikers didn’t think so.
Before the Daytona 675, Triumph were seen as a manufacturer of sturdy, albeit slightly dull, and worthy motorcycles.
The beautiful Daytona T595 of 1997 was a mighty fine bike but never really had the sporting credentials to challenge the main players. The company’s attempt to go mainstream with the four-cylinder TT600 (pictured) was something of a disaster, plagued with fuelling problems and styling that looked a couple of generations behind the cutting edge bikes from Japan.
The gargantuan Rocket III created a real buzz around the brand when it was launched in 2004 but the 675 marked the first time that Triumph created a truly market leading bike.
It was a bike that won magazine group tests and ‘Bike of the Year’ awards all around the world. Triumph were to be no one trick ponies either, as models like the Street and Speed Triples and the Tiger 800 and 1050 proved that Britain could build a bike as good as anything out of Bavaria or Tokyo.
Three cylinder bikes had been big in the Seventies, when BSA, MV Agusta, Kawasaki, Triumph and Yamaha all had triples in their range.
It was a format that fell out of favour in the Eighties though, with only the oddities that were the BMW’s K-series brick and the modular new Hinckley Triumphs using triples.
The 675 was the first all-new three-cylinder design for over a decade and Triumph’s formula for success didn’t go unnoticed. Other manufacturers got in on the triple craze. MV Agusta developed their own 675cc three-cylinder sportsbike, the F3, and BMW were reported to be working on a similar model, only to shelve it when the market for supersport bikes went south.
It was Yamaha who really took the triple concept forward, developing the MT-09 roadster (pictured) to much acclaim.
In total there were three generations of the Daytona 675, but such was the strength of the original that the latest was not always the greatest.
For many, the 2009 Daytona 675 was the pinnacle. This update featured over 50 changes to the original with slightly sharper styling (new headlights, tidier indicators and so on), better suspension, three more horsepower (up to 126bhp) and three less kilos (162kg dry). Triumph introduced an all-new replacement for 2013. The new chassis was sharper, helped in no small part by the move away from the underseat exhaust system. The short-stroke motor also made a few more claimed horsepower.
It was, in pure sporting terms, a better bike than its predecessor, but over a lap it was marginal and sales were never great, due mainly to the fact that the middleweight sportsbike market was in tatters by the time it came out. The 2009 was still regarded as more elegant and a better road bike and interestingly many race teams stuck with the old long-stroke model. Billy McConnell won the 2014 British Supersport Championship on the newer bike, but Luke Stapleford won the following year on a 2009-2012 version. Indeed Stapleford rode that bike in the world championships this year and scored a pole position in the very last round in Qatar on it.
Before the Daytona 675, mid-range sports bikes had four-cylinders and were 600cc, because that’s what the rulebooks said they needed to be in order to be eligible to race in supersport competitions around the world.
Triumph weren’t bothered about racing and wanted to focus their attentions on the twins and triples that had made them famous, so they made their new sports bike a 675cc triple in order for it to compete with the fours on the road, if not the racetrack. Although the factory never really got behind racing, plenty of privateers wanted to run Triumphs. Test rider Paul Young raced one in the 2006 British Supersport Championship and by 2008 675cc triples were allowed to race against the 600cc fours (and 750cc) twins under FIM supersport rules.
American stunt aces Ernie Vigil and Nick Brocha even built a cool drift bike, complete with extended swingarm, which gives us a gratuitous reason to dig out this awesome film from the archives.
Back in 2009, Welshman Chaz Davies’ career was on the rocks. A good friend and rival of Casey Stoner, Chaz had been Britain’s most promising youngster at the turn of the millennium but a succession of rides with substandard teams in the 125 and 250cc world championships had left him racing in the States and all but forgotten about when he received a call to ride a Daytona 675 for the factory-backed ParkinGO team at the last few rounds of the Supersport World Championship.
He finished fourth on his debut, securing a full-time deal for 2010. It was a breakthrough season for Chaz and Triumph on the world stage. They led the opening round in Australia, before being hit by technical problems, and would have won in Imola, only to run out of fuel on the last lap. Four third places were good enough for fourth in the championship, on a bike that was still running a standard road gearbox.
For 2011, ParkinGO built Chaz a much improved bike with more power and a stronger race ‘box. Team insiders reckon they would have won the world title with it, but they split with Triumph on the eve of the season and changed to the Yamahas Cal Crutchlow had taken to the 2009 title. Chaz won the championship anyway, setting him up for a move to world superbikes – where he has proved to be one of the championship’s top riders and has taken (as at the end of the 2016 season) 20 wins.
All bikes have their own distinct sounds, but there’s definitely something very invigorating about a three-cylinder 675cc Triumph on full chat. From the growling induction roar to the burble of the exhaust, it’s a tune to make any red blooded motorcyclist’s hair stand on end. Need more evidence, check out this video of Triumph development rider Felipe Lopez giving a Daytona 675R the beans around Portimao as proof.
Some of Triumph’s biggest successes have always been in the naked ‘streetfighter’ classes and it was no surprise to see the fairings come off the Daytona 675 to create the Street Triple.
Launched for 2007, the Street had always been in Triumph’s plans. That meant that the engine and frame were always styled to look good when derobed of the Daytona’s sexy bodywork.
The two shared most of their components. The frame, swingarm and basic engine were the same, although the Street was retuned (or should that be detuned) and lost the best part of 20bhp, delivering 106bhp at the crank. It was styled like the Speed Triple of the day, with twin bug eye headlights, flat bars and twin high level exhausts. At less than five-and-a-half grand it was priced to sell, and boy it did – bringing plenty of new riders into the Triumph fold.
There’s no doubt that the Street Triple was built to a price. The non adjustable suspension and sliding caliper brakes were pretty low rent but that didn’t stop it from being an absolute hoot. And when the R (pictured) was introduced in 2008 (taking the suspension and brakes from the first generation Daytona), well, another legend was born.
Back in 2006, British bikes were still a bit of a joke. The main reason for buying a Triumph was out of brand or national loyalty. Indeed, with Union Jacks plastered on their flanks, Britishness was one of the main selling points of Hinckley Triumphs.
The Daytona 675 changed all of that. Here was a bike that was the best in class. You bought it because it was a brilliant bike, because it looked great and because it marked you out as a rider who wanted something a little bit different. That it was British was something of a by product, but it still had that indefinable ‘Britishness’ that comes with the best of our vehicles.
Sure, components were sourced from around the world (and later ones were assembled at Triumph’s factories in Thailand) but here was a bike that was designed, engineered and built by blokes called Dave, Steve and Simon.
These days, British bikes are cool again. Triumph’s range is sold all over the world, while Norton are promising to do for the two-wheeled world what Aston Martin are doing in the car industry, producing luxury performance vehicles that are the envy of the world.