Triumph Daytona: the models, the rivals and the verdict
The Triumph Daytona name has been used by the British brand’s range-topping sportsbikes since 1997 when the T595 was launched. But the name can trace its roots back to 1966 when Buddy Elmore won the Florida Daytona 200 from 46th on the grid riding a Triumph T100 prototype.
Modern versions of the Daytona have taken championship wins in domestic British, German and French Supersport Championships, as well as World Supersport and, more recently, on the roads at the hands of riders like Peter Hickman.
Triumph’s position as engine supplier to the Moto2 World Championship in 2019 has led to the creation of the high spec Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 Limited Edition, which uses the same 765cc triple as official Moto2 bikes (in a different state of tune and with stronger components).
The Triumph Daytona 500 and Tiger Daytona were produced up until the early 70s, before the name was dropped. Then, in the early 90s, the Daytona 750, 900, 1000 and 1200 were launched, resurrecting the name.
Triumph Daytona 900
The Daytona went through many changes and versions in the early nineties.In fact, in under three years from 1992 they brought out the 750 and 1000 models, followed by their 900 and 1200 successors and then an exotic Super III version.
The 900 found fame from an unlikely place when adventurer Nick Sanders used one to circumnavigate the globe in record time in 1996.
The 900 used an outdated tubular steel frame but the tried and tested technology worked well and it handled and steered just as well as its rivals.
The only negative effect this had was on the bike’s weight and high centre of gravity which made for an awkward ride at low speed. Once you get moving, though, the bike feels comfortable and nimble, with the impressive suspension coming into its own.
The great success of the bike was the brilliant three-cylinder engine. Although it was smaller than the power unit in rival machines, you didn’t feel that you were lacking until you reached speeds far beyond the posted limit.
Triumph Daytona T595 and 955i
The Daytona T595 was a revelation for the British marque and was topping the sales charts within a month of its release with its 128bhp triple and lithe handling. The T595 wasn’t without its problems, however. Early customers complained of snapping frames, and although Triumph strongly denied a problem (even letting MCN pick a frame at random from the production run to be tested) they still issued a recall.
The engine also suffered from a flat spot at 5000rpm, and the exhaust system design meant that the downpipes could ground out when the bike was leant over, in extreme cases, lifting the back wheel.
All of these problems were ironed out for the following model, the 955i, which was launched in 1999. The 955i was a good bike, but unfortunately the competition had upped their game and it struggled against the likes of the Yamaha R1, Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a new-generation FireBlade.
Despite coming up short in terms of all-out performance against the competition, the Triumph Daytona 955i was still a brilliant motorbike, especially on the road where its softer approach meant you could feasibly tour on one. It also coped better than the competition with the bumpy reality of UK roads.
Triumph Daytona 600 and 650
In the year 2000, Triumph introduced the TT600 as a middleweight supersport with impressive handling and brakes. Unfortunately, the power delivery and looks left most cold and the bike couldn’t compete with the competition from Japan (all of which was cheaper).
Triumph replaced the TT600 in 2003 with the Daytona 600, which was then bored out to become the Daytona 650 in 2004. The new bike was much prettier and used an uprated injection system to iron out power delivery.
Whatever issues the TT600 had, its handling and braking abilities were very impressive and when this was coupled with a stronger engine it made for an impressive overall package.
Rather sensibly, Triumph priced the Daytona 600 more aggressively pitching it around £1000 under the Yamaha R6 of the day.
As with the Daytonas of old, the 600 enjoyed sporting success when Bruce Anstey rode it to an Isle of Man Junior TT victory in 2003.
The 600 was only produced for one year before being replaced by the 650, which was itself replaced by the 675 after just one year.
Triumph Daytona 675 and 765 Moto2
The Triumph Daytona 675 burst onto the scene in 2006 and put Triumph at the top of many supersport riders’ and track day enthusiasts’ shopping lists.
The upgraded 675cc engine produced a claimed 123bhp, which was plenty in a small, 165kg bike with sharp brakes and handling. Where the Daytona 600 and 650 had struggled against Japanese competition like the Honda CBR600RR and Yamaha R6, the 675 more than held its own.
The flexible power and torque characteristics of the triple engine also made for a useable road bike. This version was updated in 2009 with slightly more power, less weight and revised bodywork and ECU.
The Triumph Daytona 675R was then launched in 2011 with Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, a quickshifter and carbon fibre front mudguard, hugger, exhaust cap and fairing infills.
Both the 675 and 675R Daytona models were updated again in 2013, but Triumph opted not to fit the larger 765cc engine they had fitted to their naked Street Triple RS model when they updated it in 2017.
But that would all change after the firm won the contract to supply power units to the single-engine Moto2 racing championship for the 2019 season. Triumph needed to build a test mule to prove the 765cc lump, and the obvious place to start was with a Daytona 675 chassis.
The prototype proved to be so popular that it led to the creation of the final iteration of the current Daytona platform, the Moto2 765 Limited Edition.
Just 765 bikes were built for the European and Asian markets to share, complete with carbon fibre bodywork, a Union flag paintjob plus traction control and riding modes for the first time.
We got the chance to test the bike earlier this year, both on road and on track and you can read the full review here.