Have any of the US mags gotten a D650 yet and done a dyno test on it? Several of the British bike mags have but they're dyno numbers are always down and it's hard to compare...they usually rate the new GSXR below 100rwhp and the ZX6R at 101rwhp.
Roadracing World tested the 650- and the result- two blown engines- out of only six bikes at the press introduction. Still, RW found some nice things to say in the article. They said in essence that (1) they felt that stroking the engine was perhaps pushing the limits of reliability (2) it was a nice engine when it ran (3) it was a good road bike but was at least two generations behind the current 600SS's.
Really, this is not a good thing even if the Daytona 650 is not geared toward the same type of customer as for instance a CBR or R6. Triumph have got to be aware that questions regarding reliability are one of the major reasons people don't purchase Triumphs. My S4 is a step above the 599, FZ6, and SV in suspension sophistication and is priced very competitively- but to the best of my knowledge the other bike outpace it in sales- Triumph should be asking why? More bikes sold equals more development money and better bikes amongst other positive things (such as making more $$$$$ for the company).
Also having two bikes blow at a press intro seems very bush league to me. I have in the past ten years not read in any article about another bike that I can remember blowing an engine at a press intro. Such an occurrence is embarrassing at the very least. Plus, when you read comparisons done with 600's in other magazines the Daytona is conspicuously absent in many of the comparisons. Is this because either Triumph does not have enough press bikes or because they don't want their bike to be compared with other 600SSs because they know it will come out lacking-or is it that the Triumph USA press department/ PR department can't get on the stick? Any of these answers are bad ones.
Really, I don't mean to rant even though this post is coming out like one. I own and love my S4 and say nothing but great things about it- the bike has been stone reliable and the dealer Manayunk Triumph has been a pleasure.
Nevertheless, this reliability issue- as false a perception as it might be- is an unavoidable issue that must be overcome for Triumph to be anything other than a niche motorcycle builder. Cheers.
Claudius, I think you are right on in your assessment that this really damages Triumph's reputation. As someone who spent some time as an editor and road tester for a motorcycle magazine (San Francisco's "Street Bike/Independent Biker") in the late '90s I think I can speak to this somewhat.
IMO, Triumph just doesn't have it together when it comes to their press fleet. The bikes are often delivered to magazines with very poor preparation. I once received a Thunderbird Sport test bike from them that had over 6 quarts of oil in the engine, and the coolant was overserviced as well. As a result of the excessive oil in the engine (which was not noticed until the bike had been ridden several hundred miles) the engine was constantly blowing seals and leaking oil. When a British company is trying to cement a solid reputation with American riders, the very last thing they need is a magazine reporting oil leaks.
Likewise, the reputation of the TT600 was scarred from day one when the first test unit at Motorcyclist magazine fragged its engine. The cause was a foreign object that got ingested into a cylinder through the throttle body - clearly someone preparing the bike left a loose bolt or something in the airbox. It was a dumb mistake that could happen to any brand of motorcycle, but a couple hundred thousand Motorcyclist readers saw, "The Triumph's engine blew up," and the damage was done. There are other examples.
The sad thing is, my direct experience with Triumphs is that they are very well engineered, on par with anything from the Japanese manufacturers. If Triumphs are usually a step down the performance ladder, it's often because they chose reliability over bleeding-edge performance. Again, I point to the TT600. I've never heard of another failure like the one at Motorcyclist magazine, and there are now many TTs out there with 30k, 40k, and even 50k+ trouble-free miles on them. It has proven itself as an incredibly durable motorcycle.
But, these problems keep happening to magazine test bikes. Is it bad luck, bad press-fleet preparation, or something else? I doubt that it's because the 650cc displacement presses the limits of reliability on the engine, however. It is generally believed that Triumph initially planned a 750cc variant of the TT, but scrapped the idea when it became clear that buyers wanted big Triumphs to be I-3s, not I-4s. The engine itself is pretty overengineered for a 600 IMHO.