First Ride: 2004 Triumph Daytona 650

The Daytona 600 has always had the legs; it's one of the best-handling 600s around. With an extra 47cc - and a load more mid-range - the Daytona 650 might nearly be the perfect middleweight.

Posted: 30 March 2008
by Niall Mackenzie

When, in 2002 Kawasaki suddenly broke the rules and released the 636cc ZX-6R our British sense of organisation, not to mention fair play, was slightly offended. How can it be a supersport 600 when it isn't 600cc? That's just not cricket, surely that's cheating.

But what actually says that a middleweight sportsbike has to be 600cc? Yes, World Supersport racing dictates a limited capacity but if you have no intention of racing the bike why stick to a capacity limitation? Which is the point Kawasaki proved. The ZX-6R sold well, and as a road bike the extra mid-range was more than useful.

For 2005 Triumph has taken note of this and followed suit with its new Daytona 650. Somewhat given away by the name the new bike is basically a Daytona 600 with a 3.1mm longer stroke engine taking the capacity out 47cc to 646cc.

Why this move? Well unlike Kawasaki, who has a 599cc homologation bike as well as the 636cc model, Triumph are leaving the racing game to concentrate on the road side of things. As a well-place Hinckley insider told me, "the extra capacity has made a huge difference to the Daytona as a road bike and if we kept racing we couldn't have had this. And what would be the point?"

According to Triumph the Daytona 600 is currently its best selling model in the UK, not bad going when you consider how competitive the 600 class is. Against radial brakes, underseat pipes and MotoGP inspired technology the little British firm has stood firm. And not just in the sales side of things. Group testing the latest 600s the Triumph has always been there or there abouts on track and easily the best day-to-day road bike, although it lacked power. Well, not any more.

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