Words: Syed Shiraz
Photos: Vinay Kumar
It wasn’t too long ago that I first sat in an aeroplane. It was a domestic flight, and the days leading to it had me reading a bit on travel etiquette and such. I was also proactive enough to check in via web – not because I am quite orderly, but because I wanted to pretend at the airport like I had got it all figured out. Still, my very accommodating friend (a car-only tester), my co-traveller that day, was helping me out with all small things like tying luggage tags that would be stamped by the security personnel in case we were not transporting bombs, etc. Once in the aircraft, an Airbus 320 I believe it was, looking outside at the black tyre-marks (those certainly weren’t marks left by a trolley…) through the small oval windows, my friend and I couldn’t help talking about the sheer expanse of space available for some wheeling shenanigans.
Our conversation was briefly halted by a sudden, but soft, movement of the plane, which was now inching towards the runway. It was here that my friend smirked, “You are about to get scared!” Our carrier was now moving at what seemed like 10-12 km/h and then the pilot mashed it, I guess, he would have, because it now felt like 80 km/h (I later checked the take-off speeds of these airliners; they are around 250 km/h) and while I was wondering if its suspension could be bettered, the plane ascended and things became silent at first. Within a few seconds, the turbines cleared their throat, but again there was silence. It’s not much different than the sound of the compressor, and subsequent silence, that one experiences in a room equipped with a window AC. I got impatient and asked my friend, “hey, when is that scary part going to come?” He looked at me, half astonished, and asked, “you really weren’t afraid when it accelerated before the take off?” “No.” I said, wondering what the fuss was all about…
I actually thought about it later and was able to zero in on the reason behind my nonchalance in the flight – motorcycles! You see, when one regularly dispatches 100 km/h in around three seconds, there is nothing much else really that comes close to providing the same amount of exhilaration. Another offshoot of riding fast bikes fast, regularly, is the realisation that there are very few things in life that can unsettle you. Because, the insane acceleration and equally mind-numbing braking of these bikes have already provided so many jolts to our brains that there remains nothing much that might be strong enough to upset our mental equilibrium. Getting kicked out of the house at 3 am? Not a problem. A heartbreak? We’ll survive (and a motorcycle also helps immensely in recuperation). But, how much bike do you really require to achieve that kind of transcendence? Will only the unrelenting pull of the rhinos like the ZX-14R or the ‘Busa do, or can you achieve a similar state of tranquillity (post several natural shots of dopamine and adrenaline, of course, via the throttle) with a playful dolphin like the Triumph Daytona 675? We rode the Brit (no pun intended) for a few days in and around Delhi to determine how this internationally all-conquering supersport motorcycle fairs in the Indian scheme of things. Practically, as well as emotionally.
First things first – the ergonomics. Well, to be honest, I have not ridden many 600s yet, but the takeaway from my minuscule amount of acquaintance with them, and whatever I have heard and read about them, is that they offer the most committed riding position of them all. The exception here would be the CBR600RR, and the GSX-600R too by some margin (two of the most ‘comfortable’ supersports, I hear). Now, since none of the Japanese 600s are available off the shelf in India, I’m going to use a motorcycle, for perspective, which perhaps more than 98 per cent of you guys reading this would have ridden – the Yamaha R15 V2. Because that’s more or less how the Daytona feels like when you swing a leg over its 820 mm saddle (the Yammie’s is at 800 mm though) and grab those clip-ons. In fact, the mid-section of the bike felt even narrower to me and I could, therefore, easily touch the tips of my boots on both sides. So, even if you are vertically challenged (like me), don’t lose heart; just sit on the bike and see how comfortable (or uncomfortable) and confident you feel on it. I guess my toes and feet must have become stronger than even the most hardcore ballet dancers’, thanks to more than 25 years of riding motorcycles, but even newbies should be able to ride this thing even if they are 5’4”, provided they do not have a disproportionately short inseam.
But it’s all sorted for taller folks. Unless you are a Kangaroo. I had three friends accompanying me for the photoshoot, the tallest of them being 6’1”, and I could see that he didn’t need to crouch so much (longer arms) to reach the ‘bars and, of course, he could flat-foot on both sides. And none of them (the other two are 5’7” and 5’9”) said that the footpeg-position was awry. I didn’t find anything amiss either. In fact, I found it to be just perfect. That said, the posture will remind some gym-goers of the muscle groups they have ignored while pumping iron only to impress girls. Still, they will fare better on the Triumph than folks who are callous about their physical fitness. Because, when we talk about the Daytona 675, the ergonomics at play here are more conducive in achieving quicker lap times (and shaming some litre-class machines while at it) than facilitating a comfortable commute to and from your office in crawling traffic. Regular commuting on the Daytona during rush hour will make your thick-skinned-self more empathetic towards arthritis patients.
But, I think, if you can afford to buy this kind of a motorcycle (INR 10.69 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi), the chances of you doing a regular nine-to-five job are as good as the possibility of my running away someday with such a media test bike. Bleak, but not zero… Which means, you will get to ride at those times of the day when traffic is not at its worst. Provided you are not just a weekend-warrior where the number of pictures of your Sunday ride with your buddies is less than the number of kilometres clocked on that ride. Anyway, we all know that even at other times of the day, the flow of traffic in most cities is far from smooth, but we also know that there is always some space for bikes to snake through… Now, those gaps, though perfect for everything from a Honda Activa to the KTM 390s, will never be good enough for bikes like the ‘Busa or the ZX-14R, or even for most litre-class bikes. And THIS is exactly where the Daytona shines! You would have noticed (or experienced) that in a traffic jam big bikes are generally kept by their riders on the right-most-lane, with the cars, while all other specimens of the two-wheeled world squeeze through what seems like a six-inch space alongside the kerb on the left hand side. Now you can do that too sir! No need to inhale those fumes coming out of that VW Polo TDI exhaust anymore. The Daytona requires as little space as an R15 does to slither through the slimmest of gaps!
The only constraint you would experience in the tightest of situations would be the pathetic turning radius of the Daytona – it is the worst of all the bikes that I have tested till date! Heck, my Jawa 250 offers a better lock-to-lock steering range. Even the R15 is better. Taller and stronger riders can tilt the bike more and get around it, but it would be an issue for shorter folks, especially if riding through the most congested areas is an indispensable part of their lives. Still, knowing that limitation, you can plan a little ahead to hit that tight, 90-degree, turn from a point where the rest of the bike follows in one sweeping arc, thereby saving you a three-point turn. If you didn’t understand that, try observing bus drivers taking U-turns…
Point is, it’s a myth that the Daytona is not a good street bike. I was also under that impression until I rode one. The funny part is, that I had communicated the same to an acquaintance (who seems to have gotten bored of his Ninja 650 too soon) just a day earlier than Triumph reaching out to us to check if we wanted to review the Daytona! The truth is, all bikes will tire you (to varying degrees) in choc-a-bloc conditions; a race bike will do that all the more, period. If you are averse to the idea, you’re most probably a cager at heart pretending to be a ‘biker’. Please introspect. For all others, I have an informal video to give you an idea about how this bike feels in regular city traffic.
It would suffice to say that the Daytona 675 is the sharpest handling motorbike we have tested so far at BikeAdvice! That should tell you a lot. And this is not even the R version (it has even sharper steering geometry, among other things)! Also, whereas the flickability of this bike is almost intuitive, its poise in corners and stability on straights is equally astonishing. Irrespective of the speed! I had also heard that the bike is too stiffly sprung, which, again, is not true. Perhaps, the lads who said that have never heard of the term “fully adjustable suspension” (as opposed to “adjustable for preload only” as some may want to make you believe). If the factory settings were perfect for my weight, there is no way a heavier rider can’t fine tune it as per his liking. Your inability to adjust the suspension does not mean that it’s harsh. So, I’ll repeat – I found the ride quality to be perfect and far, really far, from what I had heard from some of the new as well as older ‘experts/influencers’.
Now, I do not know why Triumph India will give us a test unit with a worn-out rear tyre, that too in incessant Delhi rains, (and when I pointed it out before taking delivery, the exuberant chap at the warehouse said, “we had an amazing track day last week sir!”) but other than losing traction twice on the, er, loose stuff (a new tyre would have spun too) the dying tyre still actually had some fight left in it! See, these Pirellis look like slicks even when new and it’s not a secret that they are meant primarily for the track. However, even this complete baldy performed quite well, but then I was being extra careful too.
The front tyre, comparatively, was in good nick and it did stick like glue, thereby aiding the fantastic stoppers in hauling the bike down with utmost precision. The feel at the lever was excellent too! Some superbike manufacturers can learn from Triumph in this department… But I don’t know when are most superbike manufacturers, including Triumph, going to learn to provide better headlamps in their faired bikes! First, it was the Ninja 1000, and now it’s this one. If ever there was a contest for something like “Sportbike With The Crappiest Headlights”, these two, which are otherwise the best in their respective segments, would be the joint winners! I mean, how can such fast machines have such poor headlights? I simply can’t fathom. Bring back those projector headlamps from the pre-2013 Daytona, Triumph; we won’t mind the additional weight. The bike weighs 167 kg (dry) right now; the addition of a few hundred grams won’t make it obese and slow. It would still be fast.
Did I just say ‘fast’? Yes sir, I bloody well did! I had to say it like that because most of us, especially the nouveau riche, are still obsessed with the ‘size’ of the engine, and anything under 1000 cc is generally not considered to be fast enough. Yes, it won’t do 299 km/h like the hypersport missiles from Suzuki and Kawasaki, but neither would you on those very bikes. Let’s admit that; there’s no shame in it. So, 250 km/h should be good enough, right? We achieved 245 km/h in 6th gear at 14,000 rpm, and, with the tacho needle still 400 rpm away from the redline, it would not be incorrect to predict that the bike would have crossed 250 km/h had I been braver. But, since staying alive is more important, I chose to back off… Here is the video:
But, it’s never about the top speed. It’s ALWAYS about the maddening acceleration of these bikes! That’s what pulls everyone (save for the posers) towards them. And the Daytona 675 does not disappoint. If you’ll check the video clip below, you’ll notice that despite my clumsy launch, the bike took less than four seconds to blast past 110 km/h. The best launch should yield a 3.0-3.2-second 0-100 km/h sprint. That’s litre-class territory folks!
Now, you may check the power and torque figures of the inline-three engine on the company’s website, and there’s a lot of material on the web on how the engine is different from not just the pre-2013 Daytona’s but also from the Street Triple’s. So I’ll just tell you how the engine feels and performs. Although the video clips above must have already given you a fair idea about how it would respond to your right wrist’s commands, I’ll still add a couple of things here. See, the basic difference (other than approximately a million-rupee price difference) between a supersport and a 200 horsepower superbike is that while you feel like you’re about to enter a war zone the moment you press the starter button on the latter, on a 600 it’s more like a highly enjoyable kickboxing sparring session. With an opponent who is way more talented than you, but won’t kill you. Unless, of course, you do something really stupid. The Daytona, being a 675, has a 75 cc advantage on its other supersport rivals (49 cc over the 636 Ninja) and that translates to better torque low down, which again helps massively in the city. But comparing it to other supersports won’t mean anything to you because you can’t relate to something that you have neither ever ridden nor would be riding anytime soon.
And that’s essentially where we, poor journos/bloggers, come in. We ought to share our ‘experience’ with you rather than reading out the brochure. So, the most crucial thing that I feel you should know as a Daytona fan/critic/buyer is that irrespective of the number of days/months/years that have contributed to your riding wisdom (or to the lack of it), you would neither be left wanting for power on the Daytona 675 nor would you be scaring yourself silly on it. There is enough power everywhere, but it never gets threatening. It sounds simple, but it is not at all an easy balance to strike, for a manufacturer. Let’s take the brilliant Ducati Monster 821 we tested recently as an example. If you’ve read that review, you would have noticed that I found only its full-monty Sport mode to my liking, but, for many others, it might be a tad too brutal for most occasions. Conversely, while they would love the other two (softer) modes of the Ducati, I found them contaminating the ride experience with way too much electronic interference. Of course, the state-of-the-art electronics suite that comes standard on the 821 allows you to even customize those modes! But that is precisely what makes you want to congratulate Triumph’s R&D team. Because, not only have they made a motorcycle that’s enjoyable for all, they have done so without depending on the crutches of electronic aids (save for ABS). So while the power builds rapidly, it’s progressive – there are no spikes or lows in the rev range, therefore you’ll never find yourself startled with an unwarranted wheelie, and you would also seldom require hammering down the gearbox for power. Also, though needless to say for a motorcycle of this stature, there’s slipper clutch to save your behind when you do go berserk on the slick-shifting gearbox on a racetrack.
So, with an engine that smooth, the power delivery so linear, what else could you possibly ask for along with the aforementioned sublime handling characteristics? A nice set of gear ratios and a pretty pillion rider? Okay, so while the latter is a matter of luck, the former is covered by Triumph. That, coupled with impeccable fuelling, means that the Daytona won’t complain if you bring it down to 25 km/h in 6th gear and then roll on without downshifting at all! So, whenever you’re not in the mood of listening to that brash child in you, who wants you to live near the redline in every gear, you can just leave the Daytona in sixth and it will happily trundle along at 40 km/h while you contemplate stuff like marriage, etc. But, I won’t recommend that (contemplation while riding, I mean), out of concern for your safety.
But I also know that you won’t do it anyway because no matter what state of mind you might be in, a handful of throttle in every gear produces such soul-stirring music that gassing it up at every opportunity is the only thing you would want to do on the Daytona. Please take your headphones out and listen to the clip below. Yes, just listen; do not bother watching it because since the battery of our action cam died, I used my phone for this one, keeping it in the side pocket of my backpack.
This is one motorcycle that would get even the attention seekers (those who get an aftermarket exhaust before even taking the bike out of the showroom) to agree with me that it’s indeed one of the best sounding motorcycles on the planet, even in stock form! And, for a change, I would want to join that deaf brigade to hear this motorcycle with an Arrow system slipped on it someday. But do watch the video clip from 3:10 to 3:30 to know what this does motorcycle does to the fairer gender. Please also watch the first 30 seconds where a chap, who literally had ran out of his govt. office gate to see the bike, asked me with full confidence that it was an R15 that I had customized. Which is a good thing really as these are the kind of blokes who fiddle around with such bikes in the parking lot, so if they feel it’s a ‘modified R15’ they won’t bother. Which makes me want to talk about the design and style of this motorcycle, but I would refrain because, like I have said in almost all my reviews, this is one aspect that is best left for the buyer to decide.
Okay, I have changed my mind. I WILL tell you how I feel about it anyway. This is a beautiful bike, and before anyone incorrectly assumes the word ‘beauty’ being synonymous with ‘soft’, the gaping air-intake between and above the headlamps tells them that nope, that’s not the case buddy. And I am in love with that narrow mid-section, because, like I had told you earlier, not only does it make life easier for shorter folks like me, that exposed bit of frame appears almost sensuous to me. Damn! I never thought I would use a word like that in a motorcycle review, especially when I abhor the repeated use of words like eargasm, bike porn, etc., by others in every second superbike review.
But, I didn’t like a few things. See, while a thin waist and a heavy top might be very desirable in a partner, in a bike, like the Daytona, the upper, bulbous, part (the area around the headlamps) of the fairing is something that just does not go well with its otherwise lithe personality. I wish that part was sharp like the rest of the bike. I also found those grab rails to be downright ugly. I know they would be best friends to bungee cords or to your girlfriend, who wanted you to buy a car, but I didn’t like them. And though I didn’t check it while I had the bike with me, it looks to me (I am checking the pictures as I write this) that they are easily removable, thankfully. The benefits of a track-oriented motorcycle!
That last statement also reminds me to tell you that the Daytona’s ABS system comes with a Circuit mode (in addition to ON and OFF, obviously) where the ABS is switched off for the rear tyre so you can slide in the corners when you want to or for those times when you do not feel like getting a mini-acupressure treatment for your right foot.
Oh, the most important thing: fuel efficiency. I rode the bike for 378 km in the city (yes!) and it used 21.18 litres of fuel, which means I got 17.84 km/l. Considering that I must have ridden sanely for only around 10 per cent of the time the bike was with me, most owners can expect to at least get a couple of km more than what I got. And even with 17.84 km/l, the 17.4-litre tank seems good enough for 310 km or so. Yes, I won’t mind touring on the Daytona because, among other things mentioned already, even its ground clearance seems up for the task.
What? Still need a verdict? The bike ain’t then for you, mate.