Motoring: Breaching limits of power for glory: Triumph's Daytona 1200 may be naughty, says Roland Brown, but it is also very nice

TWO YEARS after Triumph reappeared on the motorcycling scene, the Leicestershire-based firm has produced its fastest and most powerful bike yet - and plunged straight into controversy.

At the Motor Cycle Show in Birmingham last November, the launch of the four-cylinder Daytona 1200 sportster prompted roads minister Kenneth Carlisle to criticise the 'short-sighted and unnecessary' policy of building bikes with 'excessive' engine power. Rival Japanese importers were hostile too, claiming the 146bhp Daytona breached the voluntary 125bhp power limit they adopted years ago in an attempt to forestall restrictive legislation.

Triumph countered with the unconvincing riposte that it had not been party to that agreement and that the Daytona's horsepower figure, unlike those of some rivals, was measured at the crankshaft, before power-sapping transmission losses were deducted. (Perhaps unwisely, the British firm feels the need to maximise its power claims to attract enthusiasts.)

All this might soon become immaterial if the EEC's long-proposed mandatory 100bhp limit is imposed, although the likelihood of that happening this year has receded. The irony is that the Daytona's high power output, although hardly necessary, is not excessive. Recent surveys have found no correlation between motorcycles' power and accident rates. Most accidents happen at relatively slow speeds, and Triumph's flagship is as docile as the humblest commuter machine.

Although named after the Daytona speedway in Florida, a circuit where the old Triumph marque scored famous victories in the Sixties, the 1200 is not a race-replica. It has low handlebars, an aerodynamic fairing and a bold yellow colour scheme - a notable improvement on that of the 1,000cc model it replaces. But it is a big machine, fairly heavy at 502lbs, intended to combine high performance and aggressive styling with reasonable practicality.

The Daytona was created by tuning the water-cooled, 16-valve motor from the Trophy 1200 sports-tourer, then bolting it into a chassis that uses the top-specification components available within Triumph's unique modular format. Thus the newcomer wears sophisticated suspension and brakes, but shares much - including its steel spine frame, wheels and numerous engine parts - with most of the others in the expanded eight-model range.

The motor is hugely impressive, despite having lost a little of the Trophy's outstanding delivery at low engine speeds. The Daytona works best above 5,000rpm, and encourages use of the six-speed gearbox. But it is smooth and reasonably responsive at all speeds. Provided the revs are kept up, it gives scorching acceleration to a top speed of around 160mph.

All the new Triumphs are rather tall, with conservative chassis dimensions that make them less nimble than many alloy-framed Japanese race-replicas. But the Daytona's rigid frame and excellent, multi-adjustable suspension (made by Japanese firm, Kayaba) provide very good handling, combining flawless stability with reasonably light steering. The brakes, also Japanese-made, are powerful: the tyres, unfashionably narrow by superbike standards, grip well.

The Daytona is indeed reasonably practical. Its sporty, leant-forward riding position is uncomfortable in town, but works well on the open road. The fairing, complete with powerful twin headlamps, gives good wind-protection, although turbulence can be noisy. Instruments and switches are well designed; mirrors much improved. The comfortable seat and big 5.5-gallon fuel tank allow a generous range of around 170 miles.

The Daytona, which costs pounds 7,899, also benefits from improvements introduced throughout the range this year. Triumph's two-year warranty is matched only by Ducati and Honda in the bike world. There is an owners' insurance scheme, and all models now have additional wiring to aid fitment of an alarm. The quality of finish is superb, much improved since the construction of a paint facility at the Hinckley factory in which Triumph's owner, builder John Bloor, has invested an estimated pounds 70m.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones