It took the middleweight supersports fight to the Japanese – but did the TT600 and related Daytona 600 and 650 really have what it took to beat them? And what are they like now?
At the end of the last millennium, the news that Triumph was going to battle against the Japanese in the fiercely-fought supersports category was greeted with much anticipation.
Whether or not that bike would be a decent stab at – say – the likes of the Honda CBR600F, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Yamaha YZF-R6 or Suzuki GSX-R600 was going to be painfully apparent during first comparison tests in early 2000.
Codenamed the T806, this could have been the three-cylinder Daytona we know and love today, but the rumour was that research showed in Europe and the USA that we just loved four-cylinder powerplants and it was your typical supersport middleweight fayre: the new TT600 was a 16-valve, liquid-cooled 599cc motor but armed with a Sagem fuel-injection system while the opposition were still running carbs.
Power output was comparable with the competition at around 110bhp at the rear wheel or thereabouts. But when compared to its peers the TT600 was sadly lacking in torque. Rumours of the bike being hurried into production were one thing, but the positive was that the chassis was sublime and the brakes were superb. Another criticism was that of the looks: it wasn’t the best-looking thing at all… and the colour schemes even copied those of Honda (a fact strenuously denied by Triumph at the time who said these were decided on before Honda released their new CBR600F-X.)
The motor did get a series of ‘band-aid’ fixes in the form of changes to the fuel-injection system, which could be done by the dealer. The rumour was that around 13 updates were made, but the real fixes came in the form of top-end alterations to the motor at the end of 2000 and into the 2002 model year. These incremental updates meant that – by 2002 the bike wasn’t that far off the Japanese – but the damage had been done and the looks hadn’t been updated.
Thankfully for 2003 the improved motor was matched to an all-new look with a harder-edged styling. By now, Kawasaki had decided to ‘cheat’ in the class by having a ZX-636 machine, and backing this up with a 599cc homologation model for racing. Triumph went one better and made their four-cylinder into a 646cc ‘650’ which became the Daytona 650 for 2005. There was (ahem) a rumour that the 646cc engine first was used in the British Supersport class. True or not, the team did win the last round of the season in 2004…
The ‘as new’ prices back in the day for the road machine didn’t vary very much, with the TT600 and the Daytona retailing at £6999 until the 650 came out in 2004 and saw around £500 knocked off the retail price. We would have to say the last model – the 650 – is the one to go for. Not only is it a better bike, but there could be a future ‘rarity’ cachet that means the 650 may go up in value.
And go up it should, as currently TTs and Daytonas are cheap as chips. The original TT600s start at a grand for a rough one and £1500 for a nicer one, peaking at around £2000. You needn’t pay any more than that. The Daytona 600 is pretty much available for the same money: and we’ve seen a mint sub-2k miler for just under three grand. The rarer 650 does command a small premium, but we’ve even seen bikes with just 1500 miles on the clocks retailing at £4500. We’d add more miles on and look at under £3k, but either way that’s cheap for a piece of history.
WHAT GOES WRONG?
ENGINE: Even sorted TT600s would only start to pull strongly from around 8000 revs. The Daytona 600 is much improved, pulling from around 7000 revs, but the real oomph comes in at around 9000 revs with the final kick at around 12,000 revs. Peak power was quoted at 12,750rpm. The 650 has drive from just 5000rpm. In comparison to the TT/600 the 650 has around 8bhp more at 8000rpm. It’s worth it and transforms the bike. Only some coolant and oil leaks have ever been reported, mainly centred around breather pipes anc crankshaft oil seals failing. Loose hose-clips were reportedly the coolant issue – so check.
CHAIN: Sprocket size changes from the TT to the Daytona models and it seems the early Daytonas had an issue with the chains would chewing through the soft protective strip and begin to mark the swinging arm. Bikes were later fitted with plastic protective strips.
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Triumph’s with FI often have their engine management lights pop on for no real discernible reason. If the bike’s been stood for some time, then you have to get the bike through three heat cycles, switching the bike off when the fan cuts in.
STARTING PROBLEMS: Owners report either hot-starting issues or loose connections with the kill-switch. There was also a reported ‘hot-stalling’ issue, but – if the bike has been dealer serviced – these should have been sorted by now.
QUALITY OF FINISH: Can suffer if not looked after and perhaps not quite up there with the Japanese back then. What IS good is that it seems the ‘average’ Triumph owner will look after their TT/Daytona where a GSX-R owner may not… And it means – when buying – you’ll see dealer servicing and official Triumph extras bolted on.
Triumph TT600, Daytona 600/650 Specifications;
- Price New: £6999 (TT600, 2000) £6999 (Daytona 600 2003/04), £6499 (Daytona 650, 2005)
- Price now: £1000-£4500
- Engine: 599cc (646cc) liquid-cooled, inline 4-stroke four-cylinder
- Power: 110bhp @ 12,750rpm (650 115bhp @ 12.500rpm)
- Weight: 170kilos dry (650 165kilos dry)
- Wheelbase: 1395mm (650 1390mm)
WHY WE LOVE IT: Was different then, more so now
WHY WE DON’T: Early models gutless, looks average but got better
Useful site: www.triumphrat.net/triumph-supersports/