Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: Alan See­ley

Tri­umph Day­tona 600: the one that didn’t look aw­ful and ac­tu­ally fu­elled quite nicely

Tri­umph had a shot at re­demp­tion with the 2003 Day­tona 600, and this time, fol­low­ing the poor and poorly re­ceived TT600, the mar­que hit the mark.

Tak­ing the base en­gine from the TT600 with a new head, pis­tons and crank and re­plac­ing crotch­ety Sagem fuel in­jec­tion with a Kei­hin sys­tem got Tri­umph into the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive 600 game from a me­chan­i­cal per­spec­tive. Tri­umph had been first to in­ject a 600 with the TT but it’s an his­tor­i­cal claim to fame that’s prob­a­bly best for­got­ten.

The Kei­hin kit was a huge improve­ment if still a lit­tle fluffy at the bot­tom-end, and Tri­umph claimed 110bhp for the Day­tona. Al­though the rear-wheel re­al­ity was a lit­tle way down on the com­pe­ti­tion with the Day­tona in low 90s on the dyno.

The Day­tona 600 got more con­tem­po­rary body­work than its pre­de­ces­sor. From an ero­go­nomic pointof-view the Day­tona of­fered a lit­tle more ac­com­mo­dat­ing space for the larger, Western rider than Ja­panese su­per­sports bikes of the day did.the rid­ing po­si­tion of­fered a sen­si­ble mix of ag­gres­sive stance with day-long com­fort. Fully ad­justable sus­pen­sion in the form of right-way up forks and rear monoshock helped carry over the TT600’S rep­u­ta­tion for de­cent han­dling. How­ever it was heav­ier than its Ja­panese ri­vals: the Yamaha YZF-R6, Honda CBR600RR, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Kawasaki ZX-6R.

Less power and more weight aren’t al­ways the disad­van­tages they might ap­pear to be on pa­per when it comes to the road.as a pack­age the Day­tona 600 works as well as any other turn-of-the­cen­tury su­per­sports bike for most rid­ers most of the time. If you feel you need a lit­tle more power, par­tic­u­larly in the ever-wel­come midrange, there’s al­ways the 646cc Day­tona 650 re­leased for the 2005 model year.

Nei­ther does the Day­tona seem to have been too dis­ad­van­taged on the track ei­ther. Kiwi Isle of Man TT leg­end Bruce An­stey won the 2003 Ju­nior TT, es­sen­tially a su­pers­port 600 event, in record time on one. His win­ning mar­gin on the fac­tory-sup­ported Val­moto Day­tona was a mas­sive – es­pe­cially by IOM stan­dards – 10.96s. This was the first time a Tri­umph had won a TT since 1975. Team mates Jim Moodie and John Mcguin­ness were 10th and 11th re­spec­tively to clinch the Team Award in the event.

Grown, pa­tri­otic Bri­tish men were again re­duced to tears when the late Craig Jones took Tri­umph’s maiden Bri­tish Su­pers­port win in the last race of the sea­son in 2004, Tri­umph be­ing in­el­i­gi­ble for the fol­low­ing sea­son as the road bike was get­ting a ca­pac­ity hike.

So do you want one? Given how cheap they are at the mo­ment and their sig­nif­i­cance in the Tri­umph line, it could be time to look be­yond the de­fault po­si­tion of just buy­ing some­thing from the Ja­panese Big Four.

An­gu­lar, roomy and cheap. Try one

A proper al­ter­na­tive (at long last) to a Ja­panese 600

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