Daytona 675 suspension upgrade

ktech-rear2In the past two years of owning a 2009 (2nd generation) Triumph Daytona 675, I have been building a shopping list of things that I wanted to add to or change on the bike.

If you’d asked me at the beginning what I most wanted, I’d tell you that I wanted more power to be able to keep up with 1000 cc bikes down the straight but over time as I’ve done more track riding my views have changed because I now realise that while power plays an important part in lap times, skill, talent and confidence are probably more significant.

Here’s a comparison of my upgrade priorities between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

2012/13 Priorities 2014/15 Priorities
  1. Tyres
  2. More power
  3. Quickshifter
  4. Slipper clutch
  5. Suspension
  1. Tyres
  2. Suspension
  3. Slipper clutch
  4. Quickshifter
  5. More power

While there is little that I do about my skill (except through instruction and practice), there is a lot that I can do about confidence – something that is massively affected by track conditions, tyres and the bike’s suspension.

Last year I switched from using Michelin Pilot Power 3’s to Pirelli Rosso Corsa’s and I noticed an increase in my confidence and corner ability as a result. While discussing my track riding with several racers, they all advised upgrading the Daytona’s suspension because although it is good, it can be made better.

There are quite a few options for suspension upgrades on a 06-12 Daytona and these include:

  1. Fit the Ohlins front end (forks, brakes, yokes) from a 675R
  2. Fit the TTX Ohlins rear shock from a 675R
  3. Upgrade the existing front fork internals
  4. Replace the rear shock by an aftermarket one

In various discussions with suspension experts it became apparent that you should not upgrade the front without upgrading the rear or vice versa. Any improvement at the front or the rear of the bike will only highlight inadequacies at the other end!

Finding a secondhand straight 675R front end wasn’t going to be easy and the alternative of upgrading the fork internals was always going to be a faster and probably cheaper option. Fork upgrades come in two flavours; new valves, pistons and linear springs for the existing 20mm internals or a complete 25mm cartridge kit. Because a cartridge kit costs nearly £1,800 (US$ 2,900), I opted to go for the cheaper upgrade option costing 1/3 of the price instead!

I removed the forks from the bike in less than an hour and posted them to Colin at 100% Suspension to work on. Colin had advised the 20SSK kit instead of the 20SSRK kit because he felt that the R (racing) kit is quite harsh and less forgiving especially if the bike is ever used on the road. He also suggested that the 20SSK kit would actually be nicer to use on the track too. Based on his recommendation, he carried out the following work on my forks:

  1. New linear K-Tech springs that matched my weight to replace the progressive Triumph ones
  2. New 20SSK-INT-KYB-9 piston kit
  3. New compression flow control valves
  4. New seals and oil

Colin also cleaned up some corrosion pitting that he found on one of the fork tubes in order to prevent possible future damage to the fork seals. With the work completed, I got my upgraded forks back just a few days after sending them off. I then refitted them in about an hour, making sure that the forks were positioned at the correct height within the yorks before torqueing the clamp bolts back up.

KTech-dds35LiteWhen I mentioned buying a second hand 675R Ohlins shock for the rear, Colin advised the K-Tech 35DDS over the Ohlins or a Nitron as this the shock most favoured by 675 racers – it’s fully adjustable and is a true race specification shock and excellent value for money in his opinion.

The 35DDS comes in a Pro and Lite version and the difference between the two (apart from price) is that the pro includes a hydraulic preload adjuster and bypass valve. The lite makes do without these two features; however the rest of the shock internals are identical. The hydraulic preload adjuster means that you can quickly change the preload between wet and dry conditions while the bypass valve allows you to change both compression and rebound damping simultaneously with one adjuster – again useful for backing off the damping in wet weather conditions. The lite version costs £900 (US$ 1,400) while the pro version costs nearly £1,200 (US$ 1,900). The two extra features of the pro version can be added to the lite version later on which is why I decided to chose that over any other rear shock option.

My first test of the new suspension was a track day at Donington. The weather was perfect and I could immediately notice a difference when riding the bike. The best way to describe the suspension would be “plush”; it felt both compliant and stable at the same time. Colin had set the forks and rear shock up with a standard setting which he recorded on a sheet for me.

However as I upped the pace (a bit) I noticed that the front end squirmed under hard braking. After a quick call with Colin, this was quickly fixed by adding an extra click of compression at the bottom of the front forks. One thing you will notice with the K-Tech valves is that they only offer one compression adjuster unlike the original Triumph valves which offer two; one for high speed and one low speed compression. Regardless of this, the K-Tech single adjuster valve is actually better than the Triumph one in operation.

The other thing that I noticed while riding at Donington was that the bike started to shake its head under hard acceleration; something it didn’t do with the old shock setup. Again a call with Colin resulted in him advising adding one more click of compression on the rear (black adjuster), and an additional 1mm of preload (1 full turn on the ring) if necessary as well. Because this would make the bike sit up more at the back, he recommended also adding some preload on the front if I felt that the steering had become too “quick”. He reminded me that there is no perfect setup because riders are all different and that some experimentation is required to get the setup that you want.

If like me you are worried that you won’t be able to tell the difference between the old and new suspension, don’t because you will be able to! I also worried that I wouldn’t be able to give Colin any meaningful feedback as I rode the bike although, in truth, it is actually quite easy to see the changes that adjustments make to the way that the bike handles.

So I’ve spent quite a lot of money on something that isn’t immediately obvious to the causual observer, but based on just one track day, I can honestly say that I can feel the difference between the old and new suspension set up. Because the new one gives me more confidence on the brakes and in corners, I genuinely feel that it is money well spent and I’m glad I priortised it over other possible upgrades.

I’ll report back with more details of any changes that I make to my setup again after I spend a day on track with Colin fine tuning the suspension at a future track day.

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