Choose Your Weapon: Best of the Best, 2006

2006 Suzuki GSXR-1000 v. 2006 GSXR-750 v. 2006 Triumph 675 Daytona

PAGE 3
Once You're on Top, There's Nowhere to Go But Down: the Conclusion.

If you haven't ridden a 675, you might be confused by our tester's conclusions. "So the most powerful, best-handling 1000cc bike ever lost, and I can understand that because you all ride like little Catholic schoolgirls, but then you should love the 750 for providing the best balance of horsepower and flickable low weight, right?

Well, no, actually. All the above is true, irrefutably so (although Lee looks terrible in a pleated skirt). The GSXR-1000 is an incredible motorcycle, one "So we're thinking about doing a long-term comparison test between the 675, my wife's car, and a BART train..."that will be even better for 2007 (if the USA market gets it) with on-the-fly-adjustable fuel injection maps to address the brutal power delivery, but as-delivered it's just too hard to ride hard, if that makes sense. A sport motorcycle should be friendly and make the rider feel good about herself, like she's using what it has to offer to help her learn and grow as a rider. The GSXR-1000 is designed for very seasoned experts to use every iota of skill they have to go faster than anybody else, and for most of us, that isn't what motorcycling is about.

The GSXR-750 is an incredibly balanced design that is also clearly intended to go as fast as possible on the racetrack. Therefore, the powerband is weighted towards the top, and the seating position is very focused and track-oriented. Were a rider just looking for a racetrack weapon, we could feel very good about recommending this model. But most of you Â- we'd say almost all of you Â- aren't looking to bring home trophies and contingency money next season, so this probably wouldn't be the bike for you. Similarly, it's not the bike for us either; even motojournalists spend the majority of their riding time off the track.

Reading over the last paragraph, we could say the same thing about the Daytona 675, and that would make us hypocrites, as all of us but Gabe voted the 675 first over the GSXRs. Again, you just have to ride this bike. It's the most amazing blend of torquey, free-revving power, razor-sharp handling and soulful exhaust note we've ridden in a long time. The bike inspires passion like the Ducati 916 did when it first arrived, and that's saying something.

When was the last time you sang along with your bike's exhaust note or were truly amazed by its handling? Triumph has a knack for occasionally designing a bike that feels so right you think they designed it just for you. The 675 is one of those machines, and that's why it has been voted the bike we'd most likely buy with our own money, and why it's the winner of this test.

"For Our Money" Table
How the testers would spend their own money.
We scored the bikes 4 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd.

Ole "at least it wasn't my bike" Holter

Lee "You're doing it wrong" Parks

Pete "Will Suzuki take a post-dated check?" Brissette

Gabe "Oy it's hot" Ets-Hokin

Totals

2006 Triumph 675

1st

1st

1st

2nd

14

2006 Suzuki GSXR-750

2nd

2nd

3rd

1st

9

2006 Suzuki GSXR 1000

3rd

3rd

2nd

3rd

5

The only problem is Triumph is a small company and might have trouble meeting demand for this product. Triumph's 2006 Daytona 675 is the best sportbike of 2006. The only problem is Triumph is a small company and might have trouble meeting demand for this product. Let's hope they come close, but if you think you might want one, put your deposit down sooner rather than later. It really is that good.

Now who ordered the corned beef on rye?

What I'd Buy

"What's the best sportbike" is a question fraught with confusing dualism. "Sport" can mean a lot of things when it comes to sportbikes, from plodding along at the speed limit on a mildly-twisty road to AMA-level competition on a real racetrack. Obviously what is good for one activity might not be the best for another, so it's a tough question to answer in either an objective or subjective sense.

That's why The Great One's commandment that MO editors only grade bikes by deciding which one they would actually buy with their own money is actually pretty clever. It makes us choose a bike not by what has the best laptimes or most horsepower, but what works the best for real-world needs, which for some reason seems important to many of our readers.

However, it doesn't really make it any easier for us. In fact, it's harder. What's the fastest bike? The 1000. What's the lightest? The 675. Which one would I choose if I had to purchase one of these three?

Ummmm...

Even my romantic, Euro-bike-loving heart can't deny the basic functional goodness and value of this amazingly evolved machine. Were it between the 675 and the 1000 this would be an easy choice. The 675 is much easier to ride fast and has so much character and panache I was practically weeping with ecstasy every time I got on the gas hard. That exhaust note, especially with the "off-road" silencer, is intense and beautiful. At $8,999, the Daytona is a steal.

The 1000 is an amazing piece of engineering, but like we found out last year, it doesn't really translate into a faster, more fun or more satisfying motorcycling experience. I've also found that the more power I have, the slower I go on the track, so why spend the extra money on something I don't need? I don't care how light or easy-steering these liter machines become (and they will keep getting better, oh you bet'cha), 160 horses have a heft and mass all their own that no engineering tricks can hide. I may be slow and timid compared to some riders, but I haven't high-sided in a long time, and I don't want to get any frequent flier mileage in that manner anytime soon.

So here we have the 750 to muddy the waters. 750cc? That's so 1994! But there's a reason it was once the most popular class; it really is an excellent compromise between the middleweight and open classes. This 750 really does feel like the world's most powerful 600. It's responsive, precise and stable, and has plenty of top-end boost for the straightaways. It also has a heartier mid-range than a 600 without sacrificing any throttle response.

It's simply a neutral, solid platform to help you grow and develop as a sporting or track rider, offering the perfect compromise of power, handling and weight. It's also more comfortable than the 675 and will doubtless be better-supported by both contingency money and the aftermarket. Anybody who needs more than this bike -- street or track -- is insane, and a modern middleweight isn't any less intimidating. Plus, at $9,999 the 750 isn't really that much more money than the priciest 600 while offering 20 more ponies. I think that makes it a better value Â- not to mention a better motorcycle Â- than the 675, much as I love Triumphs and enjoy seeing them do well.

Even my romantic, Euro-bike-loving heart can't deny the basic functional goodness and value of this amazingly evolved machine. Good job, Suzuki!

-Gabe Ets-Hokin, Senior Editor

For once in this little, seemingly meaningless addendum that we do in each comparison, I'll get straight to the point. The Triumph is the clear winner for  me. Not because it's perfect, but because it allows me to justify the emotional aspect of motorcycling with practicality.

If I were blowing my hard-earned dough on one of the three, price as it always is, would be a huge factor. It's a full two grand less than that crazy-fast, ultra high-performance 1000 and the great mid-range of the 675 allows me to have as much or maybe even more fun than I do on the big Suzuki. With its slightly taller saddle height and aggressively positioned clip-ons, the Daytona took a little longer to get comfortable on, but once I acclimated I felt more confident more quickly on this bike than on the other two.

Here again, I'll be unusually brief and say in few words that the exhaust note on the Triumph is so freakin' incredible that purchasing the bike just to hear it would almost be worth the cost.

As for the 1000, what else can be said that already hasn't. The volume in which these bikes are sold and their racing history say more than any one person could. The brakes, handling and engine are all stellar. But the more time I spend on this bike I start to realize that the razor's edge performance that it offers makes it less practical somehow. Before many of you start cackling that I might be "afraid of the power", let me just say that I'm not. But what I am, or like to think I am, is sensible. And the ferocity with which the 1000 utilizes its ponies requires the rider to keep a constant vigil against an over zealous use of their throttle hand. Hack the twistgrip open with too much vigor too soon and it'll spin up the rear tire in a heartbeat. When I ride, I like to be able to enjoy the ride as a whole and not spend too much of my concentration on any one operation of the bike.

Before many of you start cackling that I might be "afraid of the power", let me just say that I'm not.

The GSX-R 750, like the 1000 is a highly refined tool. It too can be found just about anywhere on the streets and it deserves a lot of respect. In my opinion Suzuki owes much of its success as a motorcycle company to this bike. Unfortunately the engine was just a little too flaccid at anything below 8,500 rpm (roughly speaking) for my tastes. But the biggest draw back for me about the 750 is the cost. There's just no way I could justify buying the 750 over the 1000 if it were a battle between the two. With only $1,000 difference I'd have to learn to live with all that power of the bigger Gixxer, no matter how impractical.

Thankfully the 675 is in the mix and it has all the power, mid-range, handling and excellent braking that most people will ever need. Let's not forget that great symphony that the triple makes. And it all comes in with lowest price tag. See, emotion justified by practicality.

-Pete Brissette, Managing Editor

At first I thought that picking which bike I'd buy from the Best of the Best would have been a quite daunting task. At second thought (based on all my preconceived notions about each of the three Best Bikes) I thought it would have been quite an easy decision.

"In a gadda-di-vida, baby, don't you know that I luh-uh-uhv you..."I'd already pretty much decided that the Gixxer Thou' was a "Pure Poser Machine" for hanging out at Saturday night cruises, polishing, and cruising up and down the Sunset Strip at one am with my floss-wearing wife hanging on for dear life. I'd also decided that the Gixxer 750 was every man's perfect sportbike Â- totally focused, race rep ergonomics, as light as any of the best sportbikes in the world, and unfortunately having that typical ultra revvy four cylinder power band Â- screaming ballistic power which is only available at the stratospheric end of the rev range. Everything I already knew about the Triumph Daytona 675 made this test a done deal Â- I had already decided that the little Triple was the Best of the Best. In reality though, once I got to see, smell, feel, touch, and ride all three bikes side-by-side, my decision became much more difficult.

The Gixxer Thou is an amazing machine, and much more than I expected. It is incredibly well balanced, not at all "heavy feeling"; light, flickable, and incredibly composed at all times. It handles and drives like one of the Best of the Best sportbikes which it truly is. It is also by far the most comfortable bike in this group. After getting off of the Triumph and onto the Gixxer Thou, it felt like moving from an overly cramped and painful torture device to a bike with ST1100 like comfort levels. On the other hand, this bike is mental! It has so much power that since I'm not a competing Superbike racer (on the track), I ended up spending far too much time and focus continuously trying to compensate for the fact that I had over-accelerated my comfort levels. Not that I couldn't get used to a bike with this much power, I'd really just prefer a bike that has enough power, handling, and feel to be perfect for every day that I'm on the track or out in the twisties. Even without having ridden most all of the middleweight sportbikes offered for 2006, I would have easily chosen any of them before I'd have considered buying a Gixxer Thou.

After everything which I had read, heard, and seen of the Gixxer 750, I had quite high expectations for how it would do in this comparison. I was also quite certain that it was going to come down to a "99.95 vs 99% perfection" type of decision between the G7 and the T675. When I got onto the G7, it was immediately evident to me that it fit perfectly right between the under-torqued, screaming revvy Gixxer Six and the mental, torque-laden and overpowering Gixxer Thou. Similar to the T675, it had a wonderful-feeling fistful of torque which started to come on at 6,000 rpm.

The comfort level of the G7 is also set "dead center" between the torture chamber of the 675 and the "sport touring" Gixxer Thou. As far as handling goes, the G7 is in a virtual tie with the T675 (maybe it's even better). It is difficult for a mere mortal such as my self to describe how truly perfect this bike handles and rides. I was in absolute comfort and "twisty bliss" as I followed Lee, Gabe, and Pete up Hwy 33. The Gixxer 750 has a wonderfully perfect balance of handling and power that would make any sportbike junkie easily have a love-at-first-ride experience. Although once I got back onto the Gixxer Thou, it instantly hit me that the Gixxer 750 really felt like just another under-torqued, over revvy inline four with a silly high powerband which could only be enjoyed on the track. And yes, I'd say that on the racetrack the Gixxer 750 is 100% the best bike.

After riding all three of these bikes in both conditions, it really is no contest at all.

For me the Triumph Daytona 675 is truly the Best of the Best Sportbike for 2006. It is awesome-light, narrow, compact, and flickable. It is unbelievably composed at all times, and blessed with the sound and feel that only Triumph could achieve in the perfect cross between the feel of a Ducati 999 and that of a Yamaha R6. In directly comparing the G7 and the T675, the G7 wins in the handling department, 99.95 to 99%. In the powerband/sound/feel department, the Triumph wins 100% to 90%. The wonderful feeling of "all the time" torque that the Triumph gives easily beats the top-heavy powerband of the G7. When I consider which one of these bikes I'd buy, I also have to think of its intended usage. I want a sportbike which will keep my adrenaline pumping and my grin-a-grinning the entire time, whether I'm on a 400 mile blast through the California mountains, or when I'm thrashing it on the track to the best of my abilities. After riding all three of these bikes in both conditions, it really is no contest at all. The Triumph Daytona 675 is the Best of the Best Sportbike for 2006.

-Ole Holter, Contributor and Loaner of Triumph

When Gabe originally called and asked if I'd be interested in helping with the annual BOTB review, I couldn't decide if I was more excited to try the all-conquering Gixxer 1000 or the sleek, new Triumph 675. The little brother 750

This used to have the stars-and-stripes bodywork all over it. We say put it back on!didn't even register as something I'd like to ride. It therefore came as quite a shock that on both the street and the track, the ¾-liter competition-less wild card would be both the fastest -- and easiest -- bike to ride. Even a die-hard small-bike aficionado such as I couldn't help but be wooed by the effortless nature in which this middle-child machine was able to straighten twisty roads. Interestingly, with MotoGP downsizing the premier class to 800cc next year, the GSX-R750 becomes the closest thing you can buy to a factory prototype.

Ergonomics is one of those black arts that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. In the case of the 750, it didn't just fit me; it became an extension of my own body. Neither too quick steering nor too lazy, putting the Gixxer where I wanted, when I wanted it, was almost a telepathic experience. I think, therefore I turn. The 750, in fact, replaces Ducati's venerable 999 as my all-time favorite handler.

As it would turn out, the 750's 130 rear-wheel horse power is the perfect blend of acceleration and controllability. It's enough horsepower to launch me through to the next turn, but not so much torque as to overpower my mental capacity or the tires' ability to put it to the ground. Yet motorcycling is at its heart an emotional experience, and though the 750 has no equal in capability, it came up just shy in the smiles per mile department.

The 750's big brother also came up short. With a seemingly endless supply of power, the GSX-R1000 proved that you can have too much of a good thing. Like a porno star sporting a pair of aftermarket EEE headlights, an impressive dyno chart is cool to look at, but not really practical for everyday use. In both cases, they can be a handful at full lean. It was notable that the 1000 was a little more comfortable than the 750 for street riding due to the ergonomic differences, but didn't inspire as much confidence when throwing it hard into a turn.

At this point we are left with Trumpet. While one could argue that the 1999 Triumph Speed Triple was the first model that the English could truly call their own without trying to look like a Ducati (Daytona 955i), Honda (TT 600) or BMW (Tiger), the 675 redefines the brand as world-class. How Triumph was able to produce a high-performance motorcycle that outperforms the Japanese at the same quality and price point is beyond me, and perhaps unprecedented in any industry.

Like a porno star sporting a pair of aftermarket EEE headlights, an impressive dyno chart is cool to look at, but not really practical for everyday use.

While the 675 has neither the handling of the 750 nor the brute force of the 1000, it, nonetheless, is the first bike since the original SV650 that I would want to shell out the needed clams to add to my personal collection. With the exception of some poorly designed handlebars, and the resultant ergonomics (see sidebar), the Triumph makes me giddy like a little girl every time I ride it. This cannot be explained with dyno charts, spec sheets or lap timesÂ-only by experiencing its unique blend of performance, feel and style will one understand. With all of the current year's production already spoken for, you'll have to beg a lucky owner for a test drive, or just take our advice and put a deposit down on an '07. Just make sure your helmet is up to current standards to help make sure it doesn't crack due to excessive smiling.

-Lee Parks, Contributing Editor and Person of Great Renown

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