21 February 2001 15:57:32GMT
By Ben Purvis
Triumph's new Daytona has finally arrived !
A BRITISH-built superbike with the potential to take on the best Japanese and Italian machines is enough to get any rider's mouth watering.
And Triumph reckons its new 955i Daytona is exactly that.
The firm's best-kept secret is due to be officially released today.
But MCN's exclusive photos of this pre-production machine show you exactly how the bike will look when it reaches the showrooms in April.
While the new Daytona is clearly a close relation to the current machine, Triumph's engineers have reworked every aspect of the bike in a bid to bring performance closer to rivals like Yamaha's R1, Honda's FireBlade, Kawasaki's ZX-9R and Suzuki's new GSX-R1000.
A lack of power was the old bike's biggest drawback.
Though its claimed 128bhp was more than enough for most riders, it wasn't even close to the R1's claimed 150bhp, let alone the GSX-R's 160bhp.
The new 955i does not quite reach those heady figures,
but with a claimed 147bhp on tap it's within spitting distance of the best Japan can offer.
The 19bhp increase comes from a reworked version of Triumph's three-cylinder motor.
Though the capacity remains the same at 955cc, the cylinder head has been redesigned to have 1mm larger diameter inlet valves and 1mm smaller exhaust valves.
The angle between the valves is reduced to improve gas-flow and allow the combustion chamber to be reshaped for more efficiency.
Compression ratio goes up from the current machine's 11.2:1 to 12:1.
The crankshaft bearings have been made smaller and the lubrication system is revised.
The result is a higher rev ceiling, with the new bike's limiter set at 11,000rpm - 500rpm higher than before.
The injection now has larger, 46mm throttle bodies to allow more air into the engine.
Extra sensors let the engine management system gauge the correct amount of fuel to inject more accurately - a revision that should improve power, fuel consumption and rideability.
The old ignition system is replaced by a new design featuring coils that are integrated into the spark plug caps - saving weight and giving a stronger spark.
Triumph has reworked the exhaust system to optimise power delivery.
The firm says the manifold improves mid-range performance without cutting top-end power, while the silencer - which is far bigger than the old bike's - is freer-flowing and gives the bike a deeper, throatier exhaust note.
Extra power means more heat, so Triumph has had to rework the cooling system to cope.
The fairing allows more air get to the motor, while a bigger oil cooler results in nearly twice the oil flow of the old version.
Oil is also squirted on to the underside of the pistons to keep the temperature down.
Despite the extra top-end power, Triumph claims it hasn't had to compromise on mid-range torque.
The bike makes the same 75ftlb as the old machine, though the peak comes 600rpm higher up the rev range at 8200rpm.
To save weight, the model now boasts redesigned crankcases made using the casting system Triumph first used on the TT600 - cutting 2.5kg (5.5lb) off the total weight of the motor.
Even with the power to match Japanese superbikes, the Daytona would never be competitive unless the chassis was better - so Triumph has reworked that, too.
While the basic frame layout remains the same as the old bike, wide-ranging alterations make it lighter, shorter and quicker-steering.
The most obvious change is to the swingarm.
The previous bike's beautiful-but-heavy single-sided item has been consigned to the skip and replaced with a conventional double-sided swingarm.
It is stiffer than the old one and saves 3.3kg (7.3lb).
To sharpen the steering, the wheelbase is cut to 1417mm - 14mm shorter than the old bike, but still 22mm longer than the R1 - while the steering head angle is now a tight 22.8¡ compared to the lazy 24¡ set-up used before.
The back end also sits higher to raise the centre of gravity and offer more ground-clearance.
Britain's biggest Triumph dealer, Jack Lilley based in Shepperton, Middlesex, has offered a kit to raise the rear of the old bike for the last five years, and it seems Triumph has picked up on the success of this mod.
The firm's Steve Lilley said: "Raising the back end should make it a lot sharper and liven up the handling, but without making it uncontrollable."
In what looks like a strange move, the new 180-section rear tyre is actually narrower than the old one's190-section rubber.
Triumph claims its testing showed the slimmer tyre speeds up the steering with no noticeable reduction in grip.
Bridgestone's acclaimed BT010 rubber will be fitted as standard.
The 17in front wheel is the same as the one used on the TT600, and since it is 450g (1lb) lighter than the old version it should help further speed up the steering.
The front suspension is virtually unchanged, with just slightly less rebound damping as standard from the fully adjustable 45mm Showa forks.
The rear shock - also from Showa - is totally new.
Triumph claims it saves 1kg (2.2lb) over the old version.
There were never many complaints about the Daytona's brakes, so the firm has stuck with the same combination of 320mm front discs and four-pot calipers at the front.
At the back, the two-piston caliper of the old bike has been swopped for a single-pot, sliding caliper version - again saving weight.
The latest Daytona tips the scales at 188kg (414lb) - 10kg (22lb) lighter than the old bike.
While it isn't as light as the GSX-R1000, which tips the scales at just 170kg (374lb), the saving should give the triple a useful performance and handling boost.
MCN road tester Marc Potter reckons the new bike should be a significant step forward for the firm.
He said: "I've ridden a 955i tuned by John Wilcox to make around the same power as the new Daytona and it was fantastic.
The three-cylinder engine has loads of mid-range.
"The new bike's steering head angle is very steep, but I don't think tankslappers will be a problem as Triumph's suspension is good and the weight should help keep the front under control."
The changes under the skin should be enough to give the Daytona a fighting chance against Japanese superbikes, but the firm will be relying on the new bike's styling to initially attract customers.
After the poor reception to the bland TT600, the firm has gone all-out to give the Daytona an aggressive look.
Every body panel is new, moulded from thin, 3mm plastic to save an extra 1.2kg (2.6lb) over the old version.
The nose gains a pair of slanted lights - with more than a nod to bikes like the R1 and ZX-9R - while separate, black plastic air scoops result in a family resemblance to the TT600, but look far more purposeful.
Larger air ducts in the fairing sides hint at the engine's extra power.
Even though the new fuel tank is three litres (0.65 gallons) bigger than the old one - it now holds 21 litres (4.6 gallons) - it is slimmer to improve rider comfort.
Triumph is only offering the bike in two colours this year - the same "caspian blue" and "aluminium silver" as the old version. Expect prices to be similar to the bike it replaces, which has an RRP of £8449.
These include replacement steel or carbon-fibre cans for £219 or £299, including remapped injection for even more power, a seat cowl to replace the pillion pad (£119), or a grab-rail at £89.99.
Triumph is being cagey about its latest launch, and would only say it is releasing a new model "towards the end of the month".