'03 Triumph TT600 -- England Knocks off a Japanese Bike


There was one item of journo gossip running loose at an international launch I attended lately that was kinda hard to believe. The story was that Triumph's new Daytona 600 has lapped the Spanish track of Cartagena faster than any other stock SS600. Well, isn't talk cheap? When I saw the first photos of the Daytona, I thought that at least on the looks department those Brits got it right this time, but beating the big four at their own game? C'mon, give me a break.

Then two things happened. First, Bruce Anstey wins the 600 Junior TT at crazy Isle of Man on the new Daytona at record speed, a first win for Triumph since off their total weight. A change to aluminum for internal components in the front fork has reduced the weight of unsprung parts by another two pounds.

Good, especially since the handling manners of the TT were already its forte. A nice touch on the Daytona are the Pirelli Diablo T, a tire specifically developed by Pirelli that has a lighter carcass to reduce gyroscopic effect and heat-up time. A deeper intervention has been done on the engine and its managing system.

As with the frame, these changes might not be noticeable to the naked eye but there are new cams in there and the weight of important components such as the crankshaft has been reduced. All in all, the Daytona weighs in at a competitive 363 pounds figure, says Triumph. With all due respect to Britain, final coup'de grace came via Japan.

The iffy French SAGEM engine management system has been replaced by one developed with good old Keihin. Just like in the GSXR600 and ZX-6, the Daytona uses throttle bodies with double butterflies, one set of them being controlled by the rider, the other by the engine management unit, thus ensuring high air velocity at low rpm and big throttle openings. And it works.

"None of the annoying and hesitant response at low rpm that I remembered from even the latest improved versions of the TT was present."

To help the 38mm throttle bores flow more air, the funny twin snorkels of the TT have been replaced by a sizable central under-chin ram-air opening that supposedly supplies 15% more flow to the airbox.

Hinckley technicians declare 112 hp at 12,750 without the Ram-Air effect. Slightly below class-leading levels for 2003 in terms of outright hp and max rpm, but right there in the heart of matters nevertheless. Luckily, Triumph didn't cut any corners on the design front. The swoopy TT bodywork received a thorough english kick in the arse and ultra angular garments adorn the Daytona. Fuel tank, fairing, seat unit, everything looks like it's been shaped by sharp and skillful knife strokes. Although the Daytona's bodywork follows normal SuperSport practice in terms of proportions, its has a singular supersporty look that is neither Japanese nor Italian.

Pikachu!

Call it Techno-Goth if you wish. So meeting the Daytona 600 face to face was one pleasant surprise and another nice surprise was to see that Triumph didn't try to follow the current trend in SS600 toward track-oriented extremes -- the Daytona's clip-ons are placed above the triple clamp, for one thing. Upon sitting on the Daytona, I was reminded of Much like the F4i -- the sensations are quite similar, sporty though not extremely so.

Wrists are only slightly preloaded but bars are low enough to allow a good crouch when needed. The rear portion of the tank is not the narrowest in existence and the bike feels as a whole slightly bigger that the CBR600RR. On to the track then. On my warm up lap I deliberately let the revs drop, committed to my journalist duty to test the new EFI at impossible low revs--and I am relieved to find out everything is really, really OK. Sure, as with any 600 nowadays, there is nothing to write home about below 5-6K, but response is smooth and positive at last. Problem solved. With Triumph's EFI shame eradicated and warm tires I'm free to start pushing. The Daytona responds with total user friendliness. In almost Honda-like fashion, the Daytona conveys instant cornering confidence while hard on the brakes, while turning in or while running at the tire's edge. With my racing juices at full flow and plenty of riders waiting to be passed it's time to take the Daytona's motor to the upper echelons.

Things get serious at 8K, while for really hot track action you'll find yourself trying to keep the engine between 9 to 13K. The Daytona breaks into a muted R6 like scream that can be stretched up to the rev limiter at 14K though acceleration felt strongest when shifting at 12,5. Nevertheless, the nice and new over-revving headroom allows you to save a gear change or two per lap in short straights.

As good as the revitalized engine is, it's at those stratospheric revs where you can feel a few missing horses. Where the new for 2003 Japanese SS600s give their last vigorous banshee kick, the Daytona power tapers off somewhat, a bit like with Suzuki's GSXR600. That said, it's a friendly engine to work with at the track, with well-sorted responsive EFI and well-spaced gear ratios. Shifting is good, not stellar. One bike I rode had a false neutral, it never happened on another bike, so maybe those were my new boots playing tricks or a matter of just getting accustomed to the Daytona's shifting action. Speaking of footwork, although the pegs don't feel sky-high, there is plenty of ground clearance with very light scuffing of peg feelers by the end of the day. On an extremely hot and humid day, I never felt tired after my stints on the track.

"The Daytona is really easy on the body and mind."

The double bubbled screen does a notable job protecting your helmet from buffeting, flip-flopping the thing at the chicanes is a cinch, and the excellent front Nissin brakes coupled with Sun-Star discs are utterly dependable lap after lap (the rear one less impressive). When well heeled over, the Diablos keep the Daytona tracking accurately, allowing me to make some untypical mid- turn passes on the outside or inside of people or to change trajectories without much concern.

What more can an occasional track rider ask for? Good suspension? Even without touching the settings, the Daytona felt well poised, controlled and predictable on this slow-medium speed track. After riding the tiny CBR600RR some weeks ago I was a bit more sensible to the size of the fuel tank between my legs, which forced my thighs apart while hanging off, but it wasn't a real problem.

The only concern I had when really going for it was a slight reluctance of the Daytona to turn in with binders applied. I ended up doing most of my braking with the bike straight. It's left to be seen what would happen with some suspension tweaking. I would love to test the Daytona on the street next because after my track stints on the thing my verdict is, as Brits would put it: a real scratcher's tool.

"With its relaxed ergos and comfy seat the Daytona could even turn out to be the better road oriented machine of the 2003 crop."

When Triumph decided to join the SS600 circus with the TT600 just three years ago, more than one eyebrow was raised.The triples were nice and unique, carved their own niche and even created a cult following. Why go head to head with Japan in the hottest contested class in the world? The 600TT seemed to be living proof that European manufacturers should better stick to their esoteric market segments. The Daytona 600 is proof that we can be wrong sometimes.

 


**SPECS PROVIDED BY TRIUMPH**
Engine
· Type 599cc liquid-cooled, DOHC 4v/cyl. inline 4-cylinder
· Bore/Stroke 68 x 41.3 mm
· Compression Ratio 12.5:1
· Fuel System Twin-butterfly, multipoint sequential electronic fuel
injection with forced air induction
· Ignition Digital - inductive type - via electronic management system
Transmission
· Final Drive X ring chain
· Gearbox 6-speed, wet multiplate clutch
Cycle Parts
· Frame Aluminium beam perimeter
· Swingarm Twin-sided, aluminium alloy
· Front Wheel Alloy 3-spoke, 17 x 3.5in
· Rear Wheel Alloy 3-spoke, 17 x 5.5in
· Front Tyre 120/70 ZR 17
· Rear Tyre 180/55 ZR 17
· Front Suspension 43mm cartridge forks, adjustable preload, compression
and rebound damping 
· Rear Suspension Monoshock with adjustable preload, compression and
rebound damping
· Front Brakes Twin 308mm floating discs, 4-piston calipers
· Rear Brakes Single 220mm disc, single-piston caliper
Dimensions
· Length 2050mm (80.7in)
· Width 660mm (26.0in)
· Height 1135mm (44.7in)
· Seat Height 815mm (32.1in)
· Wheelbase 1390mm (54.7in)
· Rake/Trail 24.6 degrees/ 89.1mm
· Weight (Dry) 165kg (363lb)
· Fuel Capacity 18 litres (4.7 gal US)
Performance (Measured to DIN 70020)
· Claimed Maximum Power 112ps (110bhp) at 12,750 rpm
· Claimed Maximum Torque 68Nm (50.5ft.lbf) at 11,000 rpm

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