Tag Archives: daytona 675

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!

Brands Hatch GP 22 May 2014

brands-GPDespite recently complaining about Brands Hatch and its pricing, I none the less decided to visit and ride the GP circuit again. While the shorter Indy circuit can be a little boring, the GP circuit is faster and more interesting. No Limits were running this track day, and it featured three groups instead of the four that appears to be the norm at Brands this year.

The forecast was for a dry morning with showers after lunch. With a little luck it would be possible to get at least four dry 20 minute sessions completed before lunch. Any dry afternoon sessions would be a bonus.

After signing on, I proceeded to the mandatory noise test which is required for all bikes. The GP circuit has a static noise limit of 101dB which the Daytona passed easily despite having no baffle in its Arrow can. After visiting Silverstone twice recently, where no noise test is required, I forgot what a pain queuing up for noise testing is.

No Limits is a no nonsense track day organiser, and their briefing was short and to the point with an extended briefing for novice riders. This is a good briefing format which other circuits and track day organisers would do well to follow. Their track day format is also different in that the Inters group (which I was riding in) go out first followed by the the fast and then the novice group; most other organisers send the fast group out first.

This cause me a bit of a consternation as I was still in jeans during the briefing and I only had 10 minutes to get into my leathers before heading out for the three mandatory sighting laps! I sprinted to the van to get changed and collect my gear. The rush to get out on time meant that I had no time to switch on my data logger nor my cameras.

The first session was mostly taken up with the sighting laps, and I think we got another couple of laps after them before the session ended. I returned to the pits feeling unconfortable on the track as I couldn’t seem to find any rhythm; my riding felt a bit stop and start and I made many silly gear change mistakes including often changing down one gear too many for a couple of corners causing the back of the bike to fishtail around wildly.

In the second session, I managed to do half a lap before the session was red flagged by the most bizarre crash. Someone managed to total their bike on the long back Minter straight which leads into the Hawthorn Bend. Crashes going into corners are common, but this one occured on a long straight section of track well before the fast right hander.

As I passed the incident (which you can see above), I saw the rider lying in a foetal position at the side of the track with debris everywhere – I wished him well as I rode past. Luckily he was OK although his bike looked a complete mess. Speculation in the garages later was that the bike may have been dropping fluid and this might have been the cause of the accident.

It took a while to clear the track and cart the rider off in an ambulance. But once done, our second session was restarted afresh effectively delaying all the subsequent sessions by 20 minutes. I continued to struggle to find any decent rhythm that session and so afterwards I went down to the No Limits garage to see if I could ride with one of the instructors to get some help. In the event, I bumped into Simon, a No Limits instructor who offered to ride with me in the next session.

chainI was told to follow for a couple of laps to learn the lines and then Simon would follow to critique my riding in a debrief after the session. We managed to get two laps in before the session was red flagged because someone’s bike had thrown its chain! You can see the chain in this photo and the video below.

Following Simon was really helpful. It always amazes me how instructors ride round the circuit one handed spending 10% of their time look over the shoulder at you when you’re struggling just to keep up with them! The red flag caused us a few minutes delay in the pits while the bike and rider were recovered before we headed out again. This time Simon would follow me for the remainder of the session in which we got about another three laps in.

Talking with Simon afterwards was really interesting because although he could have faulted me on many points, he focused on two things only in order not to overwhelm me. Firstly he wanted me to concentrate on the lines through two specific corners; the lefthander at Surtees and the righthander at Sheene Curve. For Surtees he wanted me to follow the radius of the turn more instead of turning in deep, straightening the corner and then squirting straight out of it; a technique more appropriate for litre sports bikes. At Sheene Curve, he wanted me to run further over to the left on entry and carve through the corner instead of treating the corner as a 90 degree right hander (because it isn’t). He felt that improving my lines through those two corners would yield a significantly better lap.

For the session after, he wanted me to work on my body position. He confirmed what I suspected; that I am still crossed up on the bike. He noted that I generally moved my bum and legs correctly to the inside of the turn while often incorrectly positioning my head and shoulders to the outside of the turn instead of the inside where they should be. Sitting on his bike, he demonstrated that I needed to bend my arms more and move my helmet as close to my inside hand as possible; effectively forcing my torso over to the inside to position it correctly. Sorting out my body position would allow me to be more relaxed and to take corners faster with less lean angle. He did actually also compliment me on two aspects of my riding though. He was pleased that I was accelerating hard after Grahan Hill bend and changing up along the short straight and then down again for Surtees. He also was impressed that I was treating the right handed Clearways and Clarke curves as a double apex turn – this is the way he teaches students to ride that section of the track and that I was doing that without prompting.

In talking with Simon, it was obvious that here was someone with a tremendous amount of track experience who could quickly analyse a rider’s strengths and weaknesses and give bite sized chunks of information to work on. His was really was a spectacularly impressive, simple and thorough debrief. In the next session I determined to work on those two problem corners he identified and to focus more on body position in the other corners where my lines were better. I was just starting to get into it when the session ended; seemingly not long after it had started! The reason being that this session was being cut short to make up for time lost earlier in the day.

Over the lunch hour between 1 and 2pm, I nestled down in my camping chair for a rest and ended up dozing a little. I’d had a busy week, and the early start that morning contributed to a general feeling of tiredness. If I’m honest, lethargy had set in and I didn’t really feel like riding that next session after lunch although I figured that I ought to make the most of the decent weather while it lasted. While I focused on body position this time as per Simon’s advice I still found that I wasn’t travelling that smoothly round the track – the lack of rhythym had come back to haunt me again and after 15 minutes of the session with spots of rain beginning to fall, I decided that I’d had enough and headed back to the pits early before I ended up crashing. I figured a short rest and I would be good to go for the final two sessions of the day. However the weather had other plans… because just after arriving back in the garage, the heavens opened and the track was deluged with torrential rain.

With only two sessions remaining and lightening and thunder likely for the remainder of the afternoon, I decided to abandon the day and head home. If I’d been feeling less tired, I would probably have done at least part of one of those sessions in the rain to see how the Michelin Power Pilot 3’s I was running fared in the wet conditions.

My times for the day were as follows:

Session Laps Fastest Comments Video
1 - - Didn’t time this session
2 7 2:02.57
3 6 2:01.18 Riding with Simon youtube
4 2 2:09.36 Short session due to earlier incident
5 6 2:06.93 Stopped early
6 – 7 Abandoned due to torrential rain

The last time I was on this circuit, I managed to post a time of 2:08, so my new fastest time that day of 2:01 (although still slow) is quite a significant improvement. Brands GP is a fantastic track – it has a little of everything; some decent straights, tricky corners and downright amazing corners like Paddock Hill at turn 1. If I’m being totally honest I now prefer faster and more open circuits like Silverstone where you have more time to relax and think between the corners but you probably learn more on these tricker circuits!

A three group track day on the Brands GP circuit is always a special treat and No Limits run their track days really well, so apart from the weather spoiling the end of the day, it ended up being a pretty successful and fun day.

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.

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!

IMG_20121215_141942_C

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.