The baby Bonneville
By Alan Seeley • Photography by John Noble
Triumph’s 500cc Daytona has the looks of it’s 650cc siblings, but the riding experience is very different.
Racing, they say, improves the breed, and it was a much-improved 500cc Triumph twin that won the 1966 Daytona 200, beating the all-conquering KR Harleys into submission. With that victory, Triumph had found the name for a new sporting twin and an incentive to build it. It was a shrewd commercial decision, particularly as the company went on to fill seven of the first 12 places at the following year’s race.
That was the Triumph Daytona road bike’s first model year and already the lessons learned on the track were transferring to the macine that the punters could buy - twin carbs, a new cylinder head, higher compression, sportier camshafts and a much revised frame compared to the earlier 500s. Further racing derived evolution would follow.
The Daytona is regularly referred to as the Baby Bonneville. Those svelte lines echo the look of Triumph’s gorgeous export Bonnies and that desirable appearance translated into good worldwide sales for the Daytona. But the nickname doesn’t describe the ride because the Daytona’s engine characteristics are so different to the Bonnie’s. Where the Bonneville is lazy and torquey, the Daytona is buzzy and revvy. With it’s bore and stroke of 69 x 65.5mm the engine is oversquare and so plenty of revs are needed to keep things going.
To read the rest of this review, history lesson and general overview of Triumph Pre-unit 650’s, click here to download the PDF file: Triumph Daytona Dossier