Miles: Almost 96,678. Maybe.
Mods: Front tyre wear prevention
Wow. I don’t want to sound like I’m gushing over this bike, but each time I ride it, I’m still blown away. What puzzles me is why the 600cc sports bike sector is dying on its ass. On the same sunny day out in the mountains of Wales that had me head over heels about the 899 Panigale, I just so happened to have the 675R with me at the same time. Yeah, I know, I hate me too. While the Panny was raw and focused, for sheer riding pleasure the Triumph is hard to beat. They were pretty evenly matched in terms of road pace, but the Daytona eked ahead when it came to pulling wheelies out of the corners and backing it into the next one. Relevant performance measures? I don’t think so. Crucial points in ownership enjoyment? Hell yeah. On that day, on those roads I can’t think of any bike I would have rather been on. A thousand would have been less nimble through the turns and I’d have spent the straights ultimately at the same speed, but getting there in an instant, rather than working at the gearbox until self-control takes over. And the day I spent riding 675s on track this month, again made me question why so many people jump to a 1000 for track riding. OK, I kind of know the answer to that – 200bhp is a hell of a buzz on track and makes passing that guy in front of you a piece of no-skill-required cake. But what happened to getting your cornering, braking and acceleration skills spot on? For me, that’s the best bit of riding on track, pushing yourself and the bike, feeling for the limits of grip and barreling into corners as hard as you dare. Not wobbling around an apex before firing hap-hazardly onto the straight, leant hard against the traction control. I know, I know, each to his own and all that, but sometimes I think we all get wrapped up in the latest innovations and forget what it is we want out of our riding.
Having the 675 and the 899 side by side has been a handy little exercise for me this month. While it has shown that, in fact, the 675 is not too far away in terms of performance, it does highlight a few chinks in the Hinckley armour. In the detail, the Panigale has the Trumpy smashed and so it bloody should, costing two grand more. Now it’s none of the important components – the 675R’s Öhlins suspension makes the Showa/Sachs combo on the Duke look pretty normal. But it’s in the little details that the Triumph needs some help. I’m not talking about covering the thing in the contents of the nearest Rizoma catalogue – anodized mirrors and funny little indicators aren’t really my thing. It’s subtler than that. The powder coated rearsets look bland – a particularly sore point when you remember the stunning polished ones the original 675s came with. The handlebar grips are, well, fine but nothing special, nothing that makes your hands happy each time you grab them. The dash is, well, fully functional until you’ve seen the race-bike style display on the 899, by which point the 675 feels like you’re looking at a black and white telly. And, after seeing those race bikes the other week with their fancy-dan gold chains and lightweight rear sprockets, well, I feel mine needs some ‘80s rapper bling between its cogs. The good news is, none of these mods cost much at all, so my job this month is to get on the phone and give the Triumph some tasteful vajazzle, if there can be such a thing. Shit, just typed that into Google to check the spelling, urrgh, anyone got some mind bleach?