Category Archives: bike

Triumph Daytona 675 – the perfect track bike?

daytona-rearWhen Triumph released the Daytona 675 in 2006 to the public it took the world by storm. Here was a small British manufacturer taking on the Japanese in one of the most fiercely contested market segments; the midweight 600 class and smashing the competition into oblivion. This really was Triumph’s finest hour, demonstrating a practical application of Britain’s first class engineering heritage to the world.

Just as Supermarine combined a phenomenal engine package in the Merlin engine with a ground breaking airframe to produce the superlative Spitfire before World War II, Triumph achieved their own victory by designing a phenomenal 675 triple engine married to a staggeringly composed and responsive chassis.

d675The Daytona 675 exceeds the sum of its parts however because it has another quality that is often lacking in Japanese motorcycles. That quality is character. It’s not easy to define, but you’ll recognise it as soon as you ride a Daytona 675. You’ll appreciate the phenomenal torque delivered by its three cylinder engine across the rev range, the howl from the exhaust as you surge towards the redline, and the complete composure of its chassis regardless of road or track conditions. Nothing, in the midweight class, could compete with the package offered by Triumph in the Daytona 675 and it went on to win both Supertest and Masterbike’s prestigious awards in the Supersport class two years in a row (in 2006 and 2007).

The Daytona 675 went through two signficant iterations in 2009 and then 2011 before being completely revamped in 2013.

2006- First incarnation
2009- Headlamp/fairing redesign, less weight, +3bhp, new top end, lighter wheels, improved suspension and brakes
2011- Introduction of the 675R. Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes
2013- Complete re-design

1GG_0863Track and road riding are two different disciplines. Riders that are new to the track benefit from smaller capacity bikes that don’t overwhelm their abilities. Many experts suggest that a 400cc four, or 600cc twin is the perfect bikes on which to learn track craft. These types of bike force you to focus on corner speed and the maintenance of momentum; all of which contribute to increased confidence, ability and ultimately faster lap times.

Once you start to acquire those track skills, you will want a more powerful machine. This is where any Supersport category motorcycle will meet that need. In the hands of an accomplished rider a 600cc machine will anihilate a less capable rider on a bigger machine despite giving away 40-80 horsepower.

The key attributes of a track motorcycle are:

– designed for track use
– relatively low cost (both to buy and maintain)
– easy to upgrade
– cheap to repair with wide availability of new and used spares

So are all 600cc motorcycles from 2000-2010 the same? In short “no”. In order to win races, Japanese motorcycles have chased more horsepower with ever increasing red lines and narrower power bands as a by product. If you exit a corner in the wrong gear on a Japanese Supersport bike, you will be eaten alive the bikes following behind.

RYE_6275Triumph’s 675 triple engine nearly matches the Japanese in headline horsepower but it delivers usuable power right across the rev range. Invariably this means nearly double the available torque at 5000RPM. This is what gives the Daytona 675 so much usuable drive out of corners and is what makes the bike so forgiving to less experienced riders.

To be honest a 750cc motorcycle is probably the capacity bike for track use because it affords a combination of 600cc handling combined with 1000cc like engine performance. Of all the Supersport bikes from the noughties (2000-2009), the Daytona 675 is probably the closest match to a 750 – a fact borne out in many head to head comparisons with Suzuki’s GSXR750 where the Daytona 675 regularly turns in faster lap times.

Are you sold on the Daytona 675? If so, which model should you buy?

My advice would be to go for the 2009-2012 models. If you can find an “R” model, so much the better. The newer 2013+ models are both more expensive, less easily tuned and will have less second hand part availability. It’s worth noting that there is almost complete parts interchangeability between the 2006-8 and 2009-12 models which gives access to a huge set of available parts and spares.

My own track bike is a 2009 Daytona 675 on which I have done nearly 3000 track miles! Over the past two years I have made the following changes to the bike (incrementally):

520 chain conversion: -1/+2 gearing change for better drive
suspension: new K-Tech springs and valves (front) and K-Tech 35DDS lite rear shock
slipper clutch: swapped for a 2013 slipper clutch

Apart from using increasingly stickier track tyres each season, I don’t have any further immediate upgrade plans, although a removal of the catalytic converter and a remap on a dyno are on the cards.

I sometimes wonder about changing my Daytona for something else… but then I realise that this bike does everything that I ask of it so well that I’m pretty sure I would only be disappointed by something else. Plus I’m not sure I’m ready to give up on the howl and crackle emerging from its Arrow exhaust as I drive from corner to corner!

Triumph Daytona Slipper Clutch

Slipper_DSC_0078After nearly blowing up my engine on a previous track day when it overreved and slewed into a corner as I changed down one gear too many, I figured that a slipper clutch would be a worthwhile investment; much cheaper than rebuilding the top end of the engine due to a bent valve.

I looked at fitting a Sigma clutch but the cost was going to be close to £900 (US$ 1,350) if you included a new set of plates that would be required to give the correct pack tolerance and to also get rid of the anti-judder rings. That was just too much to spend in one hit even if I could probably re-sell the Sigma clutch at a later date … especially when a cheaper (but decent) option is available.

I heard that it is possible to fit the 2013 Daytona Slipper clutch into the 2006-2012 Daytonas. Only the inner clutch basket and plates need to be changed as the outer basket is the same on the both models. I therefore spoke with T3 Racing to find out about the upgrade/conversion and what it would all would cost. After a little negotiation, the final price came out at almost half the cost of the Sigma unit (with new plates).

Slipper clutches prevent the rear wheel from locking up violently when changing down by using the back torque from the wheel to “lift” the inner basket using ramps in the clutch. This has the effect of separating the plates in the same way that the rider would if they pulled the clutch level in. As the clutch is activated, the rear wheel can turn freely again because it is no longer being restrained by the engine.

Slipper_DSC_0075Once you hold the clutch assembly in your hand you see how simply this works. While the Sigma uses a mechanism that separates the plates by lifting the whole inner backet on ramps at the back of the basket, the Triumph slipper clutch works by having ramps on the inner basket which only lift the pressure plate. This is what allows the rear wheel to free wheel instead of locking up when any back torque is applied.

The parts diagram shows the 2013 Daytona Slipper clutch components needed to convert a 2006-2012 Daytona clutch. The required parts are identified with red boxes.
slipper-parts
Not listed is the clutch cover gasket – you will need a new one.

Fitting the new clutch is actually pretty straight forward, provided you have a Haines or workshop manual and the correct tools. The steps are as follows:

  1. Release the clutch cable from the actuator arm
  2. Remove clutch cover/case
  3. Remove the pressure plate
  4. Remove all the friction plates, steels and rings (keeping them in the correct order!)
  5. Remove the inner clutch basket
  6. Fit the new clutch basket
  7. Add the new rings, plates and steels in the correct order
  8. Refit the lifter piece, seat the new bearing, fit the pressure plate and tighten the springs
  9. Clean the gasket surfaces, smear the gasket with sealer and fit
  10. Refit the cover
  11. Re-attach the clutch cable to the arm and adjust the tension correctly

Here are some photos taken during the removal of the old clutch center, and when fitting the new slipper basket center.

The whole job took me just under 3 hours, but I reckon I could do the next one in under an hour. Triumph recommend using a special tool to hold the clutch basket to remove the retaining nut. An alternative method is to use an air gun with the bike in (second) gear and the rear brake applied. There is no need to drain the engine oil to carry out this job.

If you think that you might re-use your original clutch at a later date, then it is really important to note the order in which you take the clutch apart and store it assembled correctly. Similarly, it is important to keep all the plates and rings in order as you dismantle the new clutch before fitting it to the bike.

After fitting the new clutch, I had to adjust the clutch cable tension because the cable was now too loose. Once I has done that I was struck by how light the clutch action is compared to the old clutch – this could be a function of the three new springs that replace the five in the older clutch unit.

Although I gave the bike a quick test to make sure everything was fitted properly and that there were no oil leaks, I didn’t have a chance to test the back torque / slipping action properly due to failing day light. However with my next track day only four weeks away, I am looking forward to trying it all out properly on track. I’m not expecting to lose too much engine braking into corners and should have the reassurance of knowing that I am less likely to overrev the engine by mistake.

I’ll report back with more feedback after my next track outing.

Update February 2016, Cartagena Spain

Spent four days at Cartagena with No Limits and really got the chance to put the new slipper clutch to the test.

This is an awesome bit of kit that you were really and quickly appreciate when approaching corners. You still get all the engine braking you had before just up to the point where the back wheel would either lock up or skip – except that it doesn’t.

It’s hard to describe but it sort of feels like “magic” as if someone is feathering the clutch for you just enough to
stop the engine overreving in and to keep the rear end of the bike in shape.

I’m not sure how much you’d use a slipper clutch on the road, but you will pretty much come to rely on it for every corner on track once you have one.

Well worth the financial investment!

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.

Cornering – the key to faster lap times

pairbikesOver the winter I’ve been thinking about the changes I need to make to my riding in order to improve my lap times. After reviewing footage from my last few track days, I can see that the biggest lap time improvement would come from changing the way I ride the corner entry and exit.

A few months ago, I rode the Silverstone GP circuit with Matt who was on his Honda VFR400 race bike. Despite Matt’s racing experience, I figured that the Daytona’s 10-15 mph speed advantage down the straights would result in similar lap times. The reality was that Matt’s greater skill and experience allowed him to cancel out my speed advantage by utilizing his brakes and tyres more effectively than I could.

Anyone can ride fast down a straight because opening the throttle and holding it open are easy as a bike is most stable under acceleration. Real speed gains come from:

  • carrying more speed in the corner
  • how quickly you get on the throttle at the corner exit
  • how well you brake for the next corner

I’m going to use a video of our bikes coming onto the Wellington Straight at Silverstone’s GP circuit to try and explain the things that I need to improve in my own riding order to achieve the faster lap times that I am after.

The video is running at half speed to give you time to pick up on the different things that I want to note. I suggest opening the video in a new window (by clicking on the YouTube logo in the bottom right of the video) so that you can see the text and video side by side in two windows.

The rookie on the Daytona is the top left view while the racer on the VFR is the bottom right view.

You can pause the video at the time intervals shown below as I try and explain some of the differences in our riding styles.

Time Comment
00:08 Notice the corner apex speed difference. My Daytona is doing 75 mph vs Matt’s 79 mph
00:12 Notice how much sooner Matt gets his bike upright – this allows him to get on the throttle harder
00:14 It takes the Daytona 4 seconds to reach the VFR’s speed on the straight by which time the VFR has pulled out a lead
00:25 The Daytona’s maximum speed is 123 mph vs the VFR’s 113 mph. The Daytona now passes the VFR, arriving at the bridge 0.2s ahead of the VFR
00:27 The Daytona is now easing off the throttle. The VFR is still flat out
00:31 The Daytona is braking at 0.6g while the VFR is only just starting to brake (hard). The VFR pulls 0.8g when braking
00:36 The Daytona arrives at the left hand turn sign board (arrow on the right of the track) 0.2s ahead of the VFR
00:37 The VFR has now caught the Daytona again because the turn in points for the two bikes are approximately the same and the VFR takes a tighter line to the apex
00:39 Notice how the VFR is carrying more entry speed into the corner; 62 mph vs 57 mph
00:46 The VFR reaches the apex of the corner 0.2s ahead of the Daytona and is carrying an extra 2mph of speed at the same apex point

The two areas that the racer on the VFR makes significant gains are coming onto the Wellington straight at the start of the video, and his approach to the next corner at the end of the same straight. Let’s focus on the corner exit coming onto the Wellington Straight.

image4249

Once your braking is over going into a corner, you need to apply sufficient throttle to settle the (front) suspension – Keith Code calls this “maintenance” throttle. As you approach the apex of the corner you can start to apply more throttle as you pick the bike up. Matt is able to get on the gas earlier and harder coming onto the Wellington Straight which means that he passes the apex point at 79 mph compared to my 75 mph. It then takes me 4 seconds to catch him down the straight despite the Daytona’s higher top speed.

However, the area where I lose most time compared to Matt is in the braking zone on the approach to the next corner. Let’s break this section of the track down using the following diagram.

image3047

Racers say that you should either be on the gas or on the brakes. The biggest mistake that rookie riders (myself included) is to coast in the transition phase between accelerating and braking. I spend nearly 2 seconds coasting from accelerating to braking in the transition zone while Matt spends just 0.3 seconds in the transition zone.

The other aspect that is important to note is that Matt’s braking marker is later than mine, so while I spend two seconds decelerating from 123 mph to 95 mph, Matt is still travelling at 115 mph. This combination of a later braking point and harder braking minimises the time spent braking so that he catches and then passes me at the end of the straight.

My poor race track skills come from years of road riding where you roll off the throttle and use engine braking before applying the brakes on the approach to a corner. This style of riding has no place on the race track! Gains are made by choosing a later braking marker and reducing the transition (or coasting time) between accelerating down the straight and braking for the corner.

image5600

The lower part of the diagram shows the rookie rider while the upper part shows the more experienced (and confident) rider. It shows what kind of riding style change is required to improve a lap time. Note that the turn in point and the turn in speed should remain similar no matter where your braking marker is.

The first significant improvement that I can make, without even changing my braking marker, is to reduce my transition time from 2 seconds to 1 second or less. This means using the brakes as soon as I come off the throttle instead of using engine braking before applying the (front) brakes. The brake lever should be squeezed smoothly to load the front before being squeezed harder to rapidly slow the bike down. All (or almost all) of your braking should be done while the bike is upright in order to avoid having the front end wash out on you.

So instead of transitioning like this:

Off throttle -> change down -> apply brakes

the correct procedure is this:

Off throttle -> apply brakes -> change down

During the braking phase the throttle is “blipped” for each gear downshift. Downshifting should be done in the braking zone and not the transition zone.

The second significant improvement that I can make is to brake later by choosing a later braking marker. Focusing on a faster transition (between acceleration and braking) should automatically move my braking marker closer to the corner anyway. The important thing to remember is moving your braking marker closer to your turn in point means that you have to brake harder to compensate for the less time that you now have in the braking zone. Matt was braking at 0.8g compared to my 0.6g; however if he had been slowing down from a higher speed then his braking deceleration would probably have been even greater than 0.8g that is shown in the video. This also illustrates just how little braking force I am using compared to Matt and it is another area where I can make more of an improvement.

On an intellectual level I understand what needs to be done to achieve a better lap time, however putting that knowledge into practice is much harder than it appears. What’s that saying about “not being able to teach an old dog new tricks”!

I’ve been told that the best way to make this kind of riding style change is to choose one or two corners only and focus on trying your changes gradually throughout the day rather than trying to do it for every corner and all in one go as this quickly becomes overwhelming.

I’ll report back on any improvement that I am able to make on this particular section of track next time I ride it.

Silverstone GP 29 September 2014

warmtyresThis three group track day costing £159 (US$ 255) and organised by Focus Events on Silverstone’s GP circuit was to be the last bike track day here in 2014. I was joined by Matt, the master mechanic from Oval Motorcycle Centre and an ex-racer on his Honda VFR400. The plan was that he would try to help me by following me for a few sessions and giving me feedback which I could hopefully put into practice.

Although the forecast in the preceeding days had threatened some rain showers, we arrived at the circuit to find it completely dry. After unpacking the van, setting up the bikes, signing on and collecting a race transponder we headed over to the briefing. This consisted of the usual spiel about flags, overtaking and an explanation of how this “Chrono” day would run. Basically the first session would comprise three sighting laps for each of the three groups, followed by two normal (and timed) sessions before lunch. At lunch time, the lap times from the transponders would be used to re-group the riders in order to reduce the speed differential within the groups.

Unusually for Silverstone, a great deal of emphasis was made of noise levels at the end of the briefing. There is no mandatory noise testing but Silverstone operates a “one strike and you’re out” policy if you are caught by the mobile noise detectors. Matt was worried about his exhaust, although I thought it sounded no louder than many of the Ducati’s you hear thundering around the track. So to avoid being kicked off the circuit, he decided to go for a voluntary noise test… which he promptly failed… with a reading of 109dB! Luckily someone was able to supply generic baffles for £40 a pair which Matt then fitted. On re-test, he just passed with a reading close to 105dB; the static test limit for the circuit. However, in all the to-ing and fro-ing Matt had managed to miss the sighting laps.

pairbikesIn my previous Chrono day on the same circuit, I got bumped down from the Inters to the Novice group. The prospect of that happening again and the fact that I was going to be followed by Matt meant that I was determined to give a good account of myself in the first timed session. I knew my Daytona 675 was going to be a lot faster down the straights than Matt’s VFR400, but that he would also catch up with me again in the corners because of his skill and race experience. With that thought in mind, I determined to go for it from the start.

RossoCorsaRearThe week before I had just switched from a set of Michelin Power Pilot 3s to a set of Pirelli Rosso Corsa tyres. As we were both using tyre warmers my tyres felt really sticky as we headed out onto the track. My progess that session was a revelation. The new Pirelli tyres felt amazing, giving so much more confidence in corners than my Michelin Power Pilot 3 which I had been running all year.

By the second half of the session, I felt as though I was beginng to carve my way through the field, which is not something that I normally do in the Inters group! As the session came to an end on the in lap, I looked behind me expecting to see Matt on my tail, but he wasn’t there. I immediately thought that he must have either broken down or crashed. Thankfully he was parked up safely in the garage when I got back although didn’t look too happy. I asked him how long he was with me for, and he said something about how he’d try to keep up but that I’d “disappered off into the distance” leaving him for dust. I actually posted my fastest time ever on the circuit with a 2:52 – a full 5 seconds faster than my quickest time here a month earlier!

I think we both suddenly realised that there was a chance that Matt might get bumped down a group while I remained in the Inters group. Oh, the irony! Anyway, it turns out that Matt had inadvertantly overgeared his bike with the result that it wouldn’t pull in top gear down the straights. This massively limited his top speed so that he was never in a position to catch me during the lap. Changing his rear sprocket for one with three more teeth would fix the problem he reckoned. That and the fact that this was pretty much the first time Matt had been on track for nearly 6 years combined with no experience on Silverstone’s GP circuit meant that he had been at a significant disadvantage that first session.

For the next session, we agreed that I would go as fast as I could everywhere except on the three long straights (Wellington, Hanger and the old National) for the first couple of laps in order to give him a chance to learn the circuit. The lap times for that session varied between 2:57 and 3:00 (excluding the out and in laps). This time he had no trouble staying with me although I would pull away down the long straights with my higher top speed of 134mph compared to his 120mph but that didn’t matter too much as he would quickly catch me though the next corner anyway.

After those two timed sessions, we stopped for lunch and waited for the new group lists… slightly anxiously. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that we had both managed to remain in the Inters group. Actually if I’m being honest, I think Matt was more relieved than I was as his friends would never let him live down being bumped into the Novice group! Luckily that didn’t happen and we had four afternoon sessions of riding to look forward to under almost perfect weather conditions.

As my fastest time the previous session had been 5 seconds slower than the first timed session of the day, Matt suggested that I try braking later at the end of the longer straights to carry more corner speed through the corner in the first session after lunch. I tried this but really didn’t enjoy that session at all because my riding felt ragged and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t always in total control of the bike. In trying to brake later and enter the corner at a higher speed, I suspect that I was actually going around the corners more slowly than before as a result of some last minute panic braking with the corner looming. In fact this suspicion was backed up by the fact that my average lap time for those 5 laps was 3:05 which was a lot slower than the previous two sessions.

For the next (and fifth) session, I decided to ride on my own and slow things down again to try and find my own rhythm. Although my lap times weren’t really any faster than before, I felt much more relaxed on the bike and more in control. I was getting my knee down in more of the corners and thoroughly enjoying myself.

In the sixth session, I continued to enjoy myself and although I couldn’t see my lap times during the session, I knew that I had ridden both consistently and reasonably well. A fact that was confirmed when I pulled into the garage to review my times because I’d managed to post four 2:57 laps out of the six laps that session.

One thing that did puzzle me slightly was why the garage was starting to look so empty with apparantly one session still to go. It turns out that delays due to two red flag incidents earlier in the day meant that we’d just had our last session. We did feel slightly cheated! Although we were later consoled by that fact that we did manage to get 25 complete laps during the day in addition to the first three sighting laps, which was significantly more track time than I received on the last Focused Events track day at Silverstone!

These are my lap times for the day:

Session Laps Fastest Comments Video
1 3 - 3 sighting laps
2 5 2:52.49 Under pressure! youtube
3 5 2:57.92 youtube
4 5 3:00.61
5 4 3:00.24
6 6 2:57.07 Consistent youtube

Matt did his own thing in the afternoon and was really pleased to have posted a 2:46 lap time by the end of the day. He was getting thrashed down the straights by bigger bikes which he’d then overtake again in the corners. I think he enjoyed the day almost as much as I did, although I can’t help thinking he wished he’d been able to bring his race spec Kawasaki ZX-7R instead of the VFR400. You can see some of his final session below.

One thing that I couldn’t figure out was how I’d managed to post two quicker laps of 2:52 – 2:53 but never managed to get anywhere near those times again for the rest of the day. I suspect that this was entirely down to my riding rather than any external factors like the track or my tyres but I’m still at a loss to explain the massive discrepancy in my lap times for the day.

As track days go, this was one of my favourite of the year and was a perfect end to a summer of track riding in the UK. I really feel that I’m beginning to sort my body position out more and am started to feel more relaxed on the bike. I still have plenty of work to do on my braking into corners and getting back on the gas on corner exits. Hopefully that’s something I’ll be able to work on over four days in Spain at the Monteblanco circuit in a month’s time.

Update: As promised, I’ve posted a comparison review of the Michelin Power Pilot 3 vs the Pirelli Rosso Corsa.

Recalibrating your Triumph speedo with TuneECU

TuneECU-MapEditAfter changing the final drive gearing on my Daytona 675, I wanted to recalibrate the speedometer as the sprocket changes caused it to overread by 10%. This is achieved by simply changing parameters in the bike’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit aka the “brain” or engine management system). You might also need to change engine parameters after changing the exhaust system as the new one will probably require a different fuel map.

Changing the engine map stored in the ECU sounds scary but if you’re careful and follow the basic instructions, then the process is actually quite straight forward. Normally this sort of thing can only be done by a dealer with specialist tools. However a clever individual has created a piece of software called TuneECU which allows you re-map the ECU for various makes and models of bike. Not only is this software perfect for modders, but it’s available for free too! To see if it works for your bike, visit the TuneECU website.

Please read the TuneECU manual in full before attempting to modify your engine map. You use any information from this post entirely at your own risk! I do not accept any responsibility for any damage you cause to your motorcycle or engine. You have been warned!

The only requirements for using TuneECU are Windows XP or Windows 7 and an ODB-USB cable. I personally use TuneECU with Windows XP running under VirtualBox on my Linux laptop. This trick also appears to work for Mac users too. Apart from installing and running the TuneECU software, the only other thing you’ll need is an ODB II to USB cable. This should be a VAG (Volksvagen/Audi Group) compatible cable – mine came from Amazon marketplace and cost less than £10 (US$16).

Installing TuneECU

I’m not going to go into the specific details of how to install TuneECU or the cable’s drivers on Windows as there are plenty of instructions including these on the TuneECU site. If you have the cable, then this is an overview of what you need to do before you can use start to use TuneECU:

  • Either install the cable drivers that came with your cable, or download and install the correct drivers from FTDI Chip website
  • Make sure your Windows computer is disconnected from the internet BEFORE you plug the cable in for the first time, so that Windows cannot try and locate drivers for you. You MUST use the ones that either came with your cable or which you downloaded in the step above – don’t allow Microsoft to install its default drivers! During the install, when prompted select the folder containing the driver and install those files
  • Once the FDTI driver is installed, you can safely allow your computer to re-connect to the internet
  • Now download and install TuneECU. I suggest installing it in its own folder on your C: drive. On my setup I have a folder c:\TuneECU – this folder contains the TuneECU.exe application and one DLL
  • Create another folder on your C drive which you will use to store your bike ECU maps. You can either download (read) these from your bike’s ECU or download alternate maps from the internet

TuneECU and Engine Maps

TuneECU allows you to read the map from your bike, to make changes to a map (loaded in memory) and to save maps to disk for later re-use. You can download more maps for different exhaust/exup combinations from Tom Hamburg’s website.

The ECU map doesn’t just containing the engine air/fuel ratios at different throttle positions and RPM. It also contains details of any of the other parameters that you might want to modify such as whether to enable or disable the EXUP or SAI valves for example. This is why changing even one simple parameter requires you to download the complete map back into the bike’s ECU, despite the fact that no fuelling information was changed.

It is always advisable to read your bike’s current map and save it to your computer BEFORE you do anything else. This way you’ll be able to revert to this map if you make a mess of your settings and find that a new map downloaded from the internet doesn’t work as well as your previous one.

Locate your ODB-II Connector

ODBConnectorThe ODB-II connector on most Triumph motorcycles is a loose lead that is located under the seat towards the back of the tank. It usually has a plastic boot/cover on it and can be secured on a male connector/holder. Pull the connector free and connect your ODB-II lead when required to do so.

Reading the bike’s ECU map

When you first launch TuneECU, disable the Auto-Connect option on the Options menu. These are the steps that you then need to take to read the map from your bike:

  • Either pull out the headlamp and tail light fuses, and (if possible) connect a second 12V (car) battery in parallel with the existing bike battery. The ECU is very sensitive to a voltage drop and may abort a read or download operation mid operation otherwise. If you have a fully charged and healthy battery and pull those two fuses before you start, you should be OK even without a second battery connected
  • Turn the bike’s ignition on but do not start the bike
  • Select the Connect option from the ECU menu in TuneECU. Wait until the flahing lights at the bottom of the TuneECU window go from red to green – this indicates that TuneECU has connected to the ECU correctly
  • Select the Read Map option from the ECU menu. This will read the bike’s map into TuneECU’s memory. Be advised that this operation can take around 10 minutes or more. Make sure your computer doesn’t go to sleep during this operation
  • Once the map has been read, use the Save Map File option on the File menu to save the .hex map file to your computer. Congratulations! You now have a backup of your bike’s ECU map saved to disk
  • If you do edit this map, make sure you save the modified version under a different filename from your original one!

Installing a New or Modified Engine Map

Installing a new map into the bike’s ECU is simple.

  • Launch TuneECU and open one of your (.hex) Map files stored on your computer
  • Connect TuneECU to the bike (using the same steps as above if you’re not already connected, making sure the bike’s headlamp and tail light fuses are disconnected to preserve the battery)
  • Select the Download option from the ECU menu. This will download and install the current map opened in TuneECU to your bike’s ECU. The download operation takes about 2 minutes
  • Select the Disconnect option from the ECU menu to close the connection to the bike ECU
  • Turn the bike’s ignition off and then replace the headlamp and tail light fuses
  • That’s it!
    Unless the new map you downloaded changed any of the bike’s fuelling information in which case you will need to take the following steps to reset the ECU adaptation:
    • Connect TuneECU to your bike (using the same steps as above) this time with the headlamp an tail light fuses connected (otherwise the bike won’t start when need later!)
    • Switch to the Tests pane (near the top right of the window) in TuneECU
    • Select the Reset Adpation option from the ECU menu and wait about 30 seconds for the operation to complete
    • Start the bike engine (with TuneECU still connected) but DO NOT TOUCH the throttle!
    • Allow the bike to idle until the fan kicks in and then continue to idle until the TPS indicator at the bottom of the screen goes green or 15 minutes has elapsed. If the indicator doesn’t go green after 15 minutes, don’t worry, just continue with the following steps below anyway
    • Disconnect TuneECU using the Disconnect option on the ECU menu
    • Switch off the bike and disconnect the cable

Recalibrating your Speedometer

TuneECU allows you to recalibrate your speedo by adding or subtracting a percentage amount to the speedo parameter. If your speedo overreads by 10% then you would need to adjust the speedo reading by -10% (minus). If your speedo underreads by 5% then you would enter +5% as the speedo adjustment parameter value.

Adjusting the speedo reading is normally required when you change the gearing on your bike. I changed the gearing on my Daytona by going down one tooth on the front and up two teeth on the rear in order to get quicker drive out of the corners. You can read more about this in my post on gearing changes.

TuneECU-speedo-adjustOpen TuneECU and make sure it has the current map for your bike loaded. Click on the Speed Adjust (%) parameter near the bottom left of the Map Edit tab. A set of up/down arrows will appear – you use this to set your speedo adjustment value.

Once you’ve made your change, save your modified Map (.hex) file back to your computer (preferrably under a new file name). Then follow the instructions (given above) to download the modified map into your bike’s ECU. Provided you didn’t change any of the fueling parameters, then your won’t need to reset the TPS adaptation. Your speedo will now be corrected by the amount that you specify.

Note that adjusting the speedo also adjusts the odometer (mileage recorder). The two are linked and there is nothing you can do about this. When adjusting your speedo, bear in mind that the speedo typically overreads by about 6% from the factory so that the manufacturer won’t be sued by you when you get a speeding ticket! You might want to bear this in mind and factor it in when calculating your adjustment percentage.

When I made my sprocket changes, I reduced the top speed of the bike by 10%, so that is the amount that I adjusted the parameter by. After downloading the map back into the bike’s ECU, the speedo was correctly re-calibrated without the need for a SpeedoHealer.

Daytona 675 track gearing & 520 chain conversion

520-rear-49The 520 chain conversion on my Daytona 675 came about because I wanted to change the bike’s gearing to get faster drive out of corners. Although this isn’t necessarily that important on the road it is pretty useful on the track.

While the sprocket changes would produce the gearing change I desired, switching to a 520 chain (from the standard 525 chain) at the same time would also allow for bigger choice of sprockets, and lighter ones too. Less weight in the rear sprocket and chain means less rotational mass which helps make direction changes a little easier and faster.

The standard chain and sprocket setup on the Triumph Daytona 675 (for 2006-2012 models) is a 116 link 525 chain with a 16 tooth front/gearbox sprocket and a 47 tooth rear sprocket. Most people who want the same improved drive recommend going down 1 tooth on the front and up 2 on the rear, so that you end up with a 15 tooth front and 49 tooth rear.

The table below gives you an indication of the gearing changes you can achieve by changing either the front or rear sprocket or both together.

Front Rear Ratio Torque Speed
15T 47T 3.13 +6.3% -6.3%
15T 48T 3.20 +8.2% -8.2%
15T 49T 3.27 +10.1% -10.1%
15T 50T 3.33 +11.9% -11.9%
15T 51T 3.40 +13.6% -13.6%
16T 45T 2.81 -4.4% +4.4%
16T 46T 2.88 -2.2% +2.2%
16T 47T 2.94
16T 48T 3.00 +2.1% -2.1%
16T 49T 3.06 +4.1% -4.1%

The baseline (standard) gearing for the Daytona 675 is 16/47. In gearing changes, the tradeoff is between torque and speed. In 3rd gear at 12750RPM the Daytona on standard gearing will reach 110mph (178kph), while at the same RPM it can (in theory) reach 152mph (245kph) in top or sixth gear. Using a 15/49 gearing, top speed in 3rd is reduced to 100mph (160kph) and 137mph (220kph) in sixth gear.

front-sprocketI decided to go with a pair of Renthal sprockets; a lightweight 15 tooth steel sprocket for the front and a light but hardened 49 tooth anodised gold alloy sprocket for the rear.

rear-sprocketAlthough worried about using an alloy rear sprocket I was assured that the rear will last as long as the chain and front.

There are various chains available on the market, but motorcycle mechanics that I’ve spoken with rate the DID chains over Tsubaki and others. A product description for the DID VX-GB chain that I ended up chosing describes it as follows:

VX-GB Series Chains have superior strength to withstand the tremendous horsepower of current high performance motorcycles. A patented low friction X-Ring is used for maximum performance. D.I.D VX-GB X-Ring chains feature gold side plates and reduces friction by twisting between the side plates instead of being squashed. Normal O-Rings and other makers’ modified O-Rings have squashed points that increase friction. The twisting resilience of the X-Ring’s four sections greatly increases its sealing performance. This keeps the dirt out and the lubrication in much better than any other O-Ring. X-Rings have the greatest wear resistance of any other type of O-Ring or Non-O-Ring chain

When ordering the chain, the sales rep was surprised that I didn’t select the race version of the chain, the DID Road Race X Ring Gold Drive Chain as he thought this would be more appropriate for a track bike. Since the race chain cost over twice the amount of the VX-GB chain, I figured that I would just have to replace the chain a little more frequently if necessary. I’ve no doubts about the DID VX-GB being plenty tough enough for the Daytona 675 – in fact I read that the 520 chain has a higher tensile strength than the 525 chain!

The standard 525 chain length is 116 links. Because the new rear sprocket is larger then the original one I knew I would need a longer chain in order to be able to keep the rear wheel spindle in the same place as before – you want to do this to avoid changing the bike geometry. I wasn’t sure how long a chain to buy and ended up settling on a 120 link chain. This was slightly too long and I ended having to remove at least one link (and possibly two, I can’t remember now) using an angle grinder.

chain-linkOne of the annoying things about the 520 DID VX-GB chain is that a split link is provided to join the chain instead of a rivet link (like the one shown here). I only found this out after I went to join the new chain which resulted in a trip down to the nearest dealer to buy the rivet link. I don’t think using a split link on a high performance road or track bike is a particularly good idea.

Here are the parts for the whole conversion:

Part Description Cost
385U-520-15 Renthal 520 15T lightweight front sprocket £14 (US$22)
456U-520-49HA Renthal 520 49T alloy rear sprocket £30 (US$48)
520VXGB-120 DID 120 link Gold/Black chain £92 (US$147)
? DID 520 rivet link £10 (US$16)

After fitting the new chain and sprockets I test rode the bike on the street and to be honest I couldn’t really notice a massive difference between the old and new gearing. However, the first time I tried the new gearing on track I immediately noticed two things. Firstly the bike’s acceleration out of corners was much (10%) better than before. In fact a couple of riders at a Cartagena (short and twisty) track day remarked that they struggled to keep up with my Daytona as it out accelerated them from the same starting speed on corner exits. The second significant difference was that in (hairpin) corners where I would normally have to use second gear, I could now get away with third. In fact in four days at Cartagena this year, I only used second gear once on track and that was by mistake!

On short and twisty tracks, the -1/+2 gearing change is well worth doing. For faster circuits, it may be worth trying a lesser change in order not to compromise your top speed on the straights so much. In fact I might consider buying another 16T front sprocket to use on track days at faster circuits. Why a front? Because changing the front sprocket is generally quicker than changing the rear one.

One by-product of the gearing change is that my speedo now over-reads by 10%. Since this is going to cause the bike’s odometer to overestimate the bike’s mileage, I’m going to fix this by changing the gearing parameter in the bike’s ECU. I’ve documented this in my post on using TuneECU to recalibrate the speedo.

Michelin Pilot Power 2CT vs Pilot Power 3

2CT-front-usedI’ve been running a set of Michelin Power Pilot 2CT’s on my track Daytona 675 for the past year. In that time I have done 15 track days in all weathers from cold wet to super hot and these tyres have never missed a beat. I’ve done nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) on them and as you can see from this shot of the front taken after first session of my 15th track day on them, they still have quite a lot of rubber left on them.

I’ve found the 2CTs to be brilliant in the dry in temperatures ranging from 12C – 35C (53F – 95F). Some users report that the tyres grip, grip and grip and then break away suddenly. I’ve personally never found this to by the case but this could be helped by a combination of the following:

  1. I always warm the tyres up for one to two laps depending on the track and temperatures
  2. The Daytona 675 only puts out about 112 horsepower at the back wheel so the rear isn’t be likely to be suddenly overloaded by 150+ horsepower of a litre sports bike
  3. my riding style is pretty conservative and I’m not overly aggressive on the tyres in corners and out of them

Despite the above, I have occasionally been quite aggressive on the front tyre under braking and I’ve never had the slightest scare from the front end. In fact I can sometimes hear the front tyre “howl” when turning in for a corner. In short the 2CT is an amazing track day tyre. If you’re the kind of rider that is likely to encounter both damp and dry conditions and is starting out on track days as I was last year, then I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value for money and competent tyre than the 2CT; a pair of which will set you back around £185 (US$ 300) in the UK.

Because I’m off to Spain next week for four days on track at Cartagena, I decided that I would fit some new tyres before I went out because I didn’t think my existing 2CTs would last 4 days on such an abrasive track. Since there’s always a strong chance of rain in October and November, I wanted a track tyre that would offer me good handling in both dry and wet conditions. I initially looked at the Michelin Power Supersport, but I figured that as good as this would be in the dry it wouldn’t be much fun in the wet. That left me one choice in the Michelin range, and that was the new Pilot Power 3.

Coming up with a better all round road/track tyre than the 2CT must have been a hard task for Michelin. The result of that effort is the Michelin Pilot Power 3 which essentially replaces the Pure. Don’t confuse this new tyre with the road going Pilot Road 3 which is not designed for track use (although some riders do). I have some Pilot Road 3s fitted to a Street Triple and they are without a doubt the best wet weather tyre I have ever ridden on. They inspire huge confidence and provide amazing grip levels in either the wet or the dry.

tyresWhen the Pilot Power 3 launched, Michelin recommended it as a 50:50% road:track tyre. That message has recently changed because the tyres are now recommended as 85:15% road:track use instead. All the rider reports that I’ve read for the tyre rate it as a better tyre than the 2CT in all areas but especially in the wet. However I did read one user test report from a track day rider who complained that the tyre became “greasy” under hot and hard track riding conditions and that they thought that the 2CT was still the better track tyre of the two.

PP3-2CT-comparisonTechnically there are quite a few differences between the two tyres even though both use a dual compound. Visually you can see that the 2CT has fewer grooves cut into the tyre but that the grooves run to the edge of the tyre. The Pilot Power 3 has more grooves for better water dispersal but these grooves don’t reach the shoulder of the tyre. The design of the new tyre makes a lot of sense for wet weather. In the rain, you typically keep the bike upright – even in corners you’ll be trying to limit your lean angle. The extra grooves should dispel water from under the tyre more effectively than the 2CT.

My only real concern with those extra grooves is that there could be less contact patch at lean angles less the 40 degrees which might mean less confidence as you’re rolling into the turn or getting the gas on rolling out of the turn. Beyond 40 degree lean angles, the tyres will be running on the slick section near the edge which also has the softer shoulder compound (compared to the middle).

2CT-plusOne aspect of the Pilot Power 3 which is different to the 2CT is the new 2CT+ technology which extends the harder middle section under the softer shoulders (on the rear tyre). This should give more stability and reduce any “squirm” when accelerating out of corners despite the lighter weight and more flexible nature of this new tyre.

PP3 RubberAccording to Michelin, the Power Pilot 3 lapped 4 seconds a lap faster in the dry and 4.5 seconds a lap quicker in the wet compared to the older 2CT tyres (presumably on their test track). I’m not sure what percentage lap time improvement that is because Michelin don’t quote the absolute original or new lap times. If you assume a 100 second lap time, then a four second reduction in lap time equates to a 4% improvement which is pretty significant.

For the first day at Cartagena with mid-afternoon air temperatures around 26C (79F), I started with tyre pressures of 31 psi front and 30 psi rear. Because I spent the first day learning the track, my pace was pretty sedate (more so than normal!) and I wasn’t really giving the tyres a hard time. As you can see from the photos below, these pressures were probably a little too high as the tyre appears to be showing some tearing.

Day1-PP3-Front
Day1-PP3-Rear

Day2-PP3-RearFor day 2, with similar air and track temperatures to day 1, I reduced the tyre pressures down to 30 front and 29 rear. I haven’t included a picture of the front as it looks pretty similar to the previous day.

You can see how the rear tyre is now showing a lot less tearing despite the fact that I was now running (slightly) faster lap times than the previous day and a greater lean angle. The tyre shows a much nicer wear pattern with that slight “rippled” surface running from the center of the tyre towards the point at which the rubber compound changes.

Day3-PP3-Rear-AllFor day 3 with air temperatures of around 27C (80F), I reduced the tyre pressures down to 28 psi on the front and 27 psi for the rear. These pressures were recommended by the tyre services guy that was onsite at the track.

Although I was slightly dubious about these lower pressures, it turned out that they were fine and the tyres performed really well on track, and the rubber looked better for it at the end of the day.

Just as a point of reference, other (fast group) riders running Metzeler Racetecs were using tyre pressures around 22-24 psi for the rear and 24-27 psi on the front.

Day3-PP3-Rear
Day3-PP3-Front

Before I ventured out on track the first day, I was worried that these new Power Pilot 3s would be too road orientated and wouldn’t really be a good track tyre. However, by the second day, I really started to trust them and used increasingly greater lean angles. Despite the hot conditions, and super abrasive track surface they performed superbly. They never once squirmed, twitched or felt greasy despite the high air and track temperatures. In fact it felt like I was going around the track on rails; even when I inadvertently applied the throttle or brakes too suddenly mid-corner.

In those four days at Cartagena, I estimate that I rode over 400 miles with plenty of heat cycles (up to 7 per day) as I was not using tyre warmers. After all that abuse, these tyres still look in amazing condition with plenty of tread and rubber left on them. The grippier tyre shoulders do exactly what they claim, and the neither the front nor rear tyre ever gave me any heart stopping moments.

The real question is whether I would buy the Power Pilot 3s again, and whether I would buy them over the 2CTs which are around 20-30% cheaper. The answer is a definite “yes”. I think all Michelin’s claims for the new Power Pilot 3s are true, and that they really have produced a brilliant supersport road tyre that is also perfect for track day use.

Update: May 2014

pp3-rear-10daysI’ve now used these tyres on 10 track days; eight in Spain and two in the UK at Silverstone. The tyres have now done approximately 1,000 miles. 800 miles of those miles have been ridden on the abrasive Cartagena track and the remaining 200 miles have been ridden on the faster Silverstone circuit. I’ve now also run the tyres with and without tyre warmers and I’m still really impressed with them.

pp3-front-10dayYou can see from these two photos that they still have lots of tread left, and despite many repeated heat cycles, they still feel as good now as they did when I first fitted them last year. I’ve now used them in hot and cold dry conditions but I’ve yet to ride them on track in the rain. When I do, I’ll report back again.

Update: October 2014

I recently switched to a set of Pirelli Rosso Corsas and you can read my comparison review of the Michelin Power Pilot 3 vs the Pirelli Rosso Corsa.

Daytona 675 Race Track Transformation Part 2

I ran out of time last weekend to complete the removal of some additional road items that aren’t necessary for the track and detailed those changes in a previous post. This includes the rear footrests and the whole number plate assembly.

IMG_20121219_144904_CThe footrests are simple to remove, although you are left with two ugly looking mounting points on the subframe. However I’m too tight to pay for a small bracket to cover the lugs, so they’ll just have to remain visible.

Removing the tail light assembly involves taking off the seat, the tail piece and the carbon fibre heatshield that sits between the exhaust and the subframe. Once that is all off you can get access to the two bolts each side the hold the tail assembly in place. The whole assembly can be removed as one once you disconnect the single block connector under the tail piece.

IMG_20121219_144915_CThe tail light assembly is really ugly, and the looks and lines of the bike are hugely improved once it is removed. You especially notice the slimness of the bike when looking at it from the rear. Obviously a better looking bike isn’t going to help you go any faster, but there’s no harm in hoping!

While removing the above items, I also disabled the alarm system. This is because the bike is going to be stored for 4 weeks before it heads out to Spain by lorry for a 3 day track event.

I didn’t want the alarm draining the battery unnecessarily without any means to recharge it abroad.

IMG_20121219_144759_CI also fitted the final crash protection item that I purchased a few weeks ago.

This is a bracket that fits over the air scoop and is designed to protect the headstock in the event of a crash. Without it, there is a chance that a bad crash can tear the stop lock and damage the frame – this would be very expensive to sort out.

The bracket limits the amount of travel of the yokes which is why it isn’t a good idea to fit on a road bike. But for a track bike where you don’t need a lot of steering lock, it’s absolutely fine. It was easy to fit even with the fairing in place, and took less than 10 minutes to do so. It would have been quicker if we’d managed to find some longer bolts to replace the existing ones more quickly.

That’s it! The bike is now ready for the 2013 track season.

Update for 2014: You can read about my 675 gearing changes for better drive on track

Daytona 675 Race Track Transformation Part 1

IMG_20121215_142026_CThe biggest problem with a standard Daytona 675 used on track is that even a minor spill (crash) could leave you with a repair bill anywhere from a few hundred to one or two thousand pounds (or dollars) depending on how unlucky you are.

One of the main contributory factors to that bill is the Daytona’s rather beautiful fairing. It comprises three main panels; the top half with the screen, and two lower panels; one on each side. In order therefore to reduce accident damage costs, it therefore makes sense to replace this fairing by a cheaper item. But by what?

Some riders buy used original Triumph fairings to act as a sacrificial set replacing their existing ones. Since a fairing swap takes less than an hour, this is a good solution for a Daytona that is used mainly on the road with the occasional track day. It’s easily possible to swap fairings the night before a track day in less than an hour and then to replace your original fairings afterwards.

Since my Daytona is likely to see more track time than road use, I decided to replace the entire fairing with a race item instead. T3 Racing (in the UK) sell a fairing set comprising a single upper fairing, a screen and single lower belly pan for around £340 (US $545). The fairings are available in three colours; white, red and black. Unlike a typical race fairing that you need to paint, these fairings are a solid colour which means that if scratched, all you need to is polish the scratch out. Nice!

Removing the standard fairing is relatively simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Remove the left and right infill panels in the upper fairing
  2. Remove the upper LHS Allen screw that retains the voltage regulator
  3. Loosen all the lower fairing retaining screws on both sides
  4. Split the two fairing lowers where they meet at the bottom by removing the four plastic retaining screws
  5. Remove either side lower fairing completely, and then do the same for the upper fairing
  6. Remove the mirrors, and undo the two shiny screws on either side of the headlamp unit
  7. Pull the whole upper fairing forward and off the bike disconnecting the light block connectors as you do so
  8. Bag up the screws and fastners; preferably using one bag for the left hand side and another for the right – it will simplify reassembling the fairing later

IMG_20121215_124951_CThe first thing that you’ll notice when you remove the top fairing and headlamp assembly is how heavy it is. I estimate that removing that one item alone probably shaves around 3kgs (7lbs) from the bike.

You’ll probably also notice that the wiring loom hangs down on both sides of the bike too. Don’t worry though as that all gets tidied away when you fit the race fairing.

IMG_20121215_125012_CThe regulator (hanging down) on the right hand side of the bike is fairly heavy and not something that you want swinging around inside the race fairing. Unlike the standard fairing there isn’t provision for fixing it to the race fairing.

IMG_20121215_140132_CTo overcome this, T3 can supply a small bracket to support the regulator. This bracket fixes to the right hand side of the front air intake scoop. Once fitted you can attach the regulator to it so that the regulator sits centrally beneath the air scoop fully fixed and out of harms way.

The first thing you notice when you pick up the T3 race fairing is how light it is. And while it comes pre-drilled and trimmed, I found that some of the edges required filing down for a perfect fit on the bike. This involves offering up the fairing on the bike, attaching the fixing screws and seeing if any parts of the fairing are likely to chafe on the bike. But before you do any of that…

IMG_20121215_141929_CIt is simpler to attach the screen to the upper fairing before you even attempt attaching the fairing to the bike. I used for black platic number plate fixing screws fixed in the top and bottom screen holes to initially attach the screen.

Although I had bought a screen with the fairing, Matt (the master mechanic at Oval Motorcycle Centre) gave/lent me a clear double bubble screen from a damaged 675 race fairing. The (second hand) screen I had bought from T3 was too badly damaged to be used, and will be going back.

With the screen attached, the upper fairing is pushed onto the bike from the front, carefully lining up the mounting holes. There are two fixing points each side; one through the screen to the existing fairing frame, and the other near the cam cover.

Once the upper fairing is fixed (but without tightening the screws too much), the lower fairing is added. This attaches to the upper fairing using two Dsuz fasteners which seem to be nice quality items. The belly pan also has two rear mounting points that match the ones on the standard fairing.

IMG_20121215_142037_CWith the fairing fixed in place, look for any edges that are going to chafe and mark them with a marker pen. Remove the fairing and use a Dremmel to grind away at the edge. This process took 2-3 goes to get right but wasn’t onerous because the entire race fairing can be removed in less than 5 minutes even working on your own.

While you could in theory reuse the fasteners from the original fairing to fix the race fairing in place, Matt suggested using new screws with rubber grommets containing a metal spacer. If you do the same you’ll need four of these; two each side. The pre-drilled holes were too small for the new rubber grommets, so they had to be enlarged. Once this was done, the fairing was fitted and all the screws tightened for the final time.

IMG_20121215_142008_CWhile the wiring loom fits into shelves built into the upper fairing on both sides, it’s still a good idea to cable tie the wires into place to stop them potentially fouling the controls. I will probably bag the fuses and other items on the left hand side of the bike in the fairing before covering the whole lot with insulating tape.

IMG_20121215_141955_CThe T3 fairing is made in the UK by Skidmarx and seems to be a high quality item. It doesn’t look significantly different from the standard fairing and has a nice glossy polished finished to it. The black one I purchased is a perfect colour match to the rest of the Daytona and with the exception of the missing lights, looks as though it could even be an OEM item!

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A big thanks for Matt at Oval Motorcycle Centre who gave up nearly three hours of his time helping me get a perfect fairing fit. For those of you have haven’t heard of Oval, go and visit, it will be an enlightening and rewarding experience.

I’ve now added another post about the next stage in the transformation.