Pros: Great mechanics, well balanced, great ergonomics, reliable, beautifully designed, and a joy to ride.
Cons: On the heavy side, factory de-tuning at 2,500-5k rpm and heavy exhaust silencer.
First off I would like to explain that I have yet to read a review about this bike written by someone who actually understands the last generation of Daytona 955cc motorcycles. There are some very important changes that took place in 2002 that need to be explained.
In 2002 Triumph built two different models of Daytona 955i's--I see that only one other review mentions what kind the owner is reviewing. Triumph built a Daytona 955i with a DSSA (duel sided swing arm) and a CE (centennial edition) with a SSSA (single sided swing arm). They are very similar bikes, but there are differences. The DSSA weighs in at 416 lbs dry while the CE SSSA is 421 lbs. This difference is due to the SSSA being heavier than the DSSA. In my opinion, the weight is overlooked by the sex appeal that the SSSA gives the bike. Also, the only color that the CE came in was Aston (British Racing) Green. The DSSA, nor any model since, did/has not come in that color--only the 02 CE. The CE also sports some carbon fiber bits: filler panels going from the tank to the tail fairings and a rear fender/hugger. The CE were more expensive new and tends to hold their value better.
Now that the distinction between the two bikes has been made, I will explain what happened from the 01 Daytona955i's to the 02's. The 02 Daytona955i's have a 955cc three cylinder engine that is a beast compared to the 01 model--and to many other manufacturers bikes in general. It cranks out a claimed 149 HP and 100 Ftlbs torque. The major advantage of the 02 model is that the engine is comprised of forged components (pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft), while the 01 has cast iron and aluminum parts. The 02 also has larger intake and exhaust valves, stainless valves, larger intake and exhaust ports, and higher lift, duration, and lob-overlap camshafts. This is the major reason that the 01 went from a claimed HP of 128 up to the 149 HP in 02. Aside from engine differences there are some suspension differences and improved part designs which I won't go into. In all, they are two totally different bikes. I'll now describe the 02 CE Daytona 955i.
Me, the Rider:
I am 5'6" and weigh 135lbs. When sitting on the bike I cannot flat-foot it. I am not quite on my tippy-toes, but this is as tall a seat height as I can go. This really doesn't cause too many problems; I just have to be cautious of were I park and how I approach uneven pavement like driveways and whatnot.
Power and Related:
The bike is a technological marvel. It has a computer controlled engine management system that works like a charm. The power-band is quite smooth and there is a great deal of well balanced HP and torque from 2K all the way up to the redline of 12K. This bike only takes a flick of the wrist to bring the front end four feet off the ground, so self restraint is definitely a must. The engine is pretty raspy and the gear driven camshafts has an awesome whine to them. As is customary for 1997+ Triumphs, there are a few mysterious engine noises that add to the feel of riding a real beast rather than a scooter. These noises have been associated with the transmission gears having a rougher cut, which adds to HP but are louder than smooth cutbut I dont know for sure if this is the cause.
If you were to get on the gas hard from a stop just after shifting into second gear at 9k rpm you might be surprised when looking down at the speedometer to see that you are going 90 mph! The engine of this bike is de-tuned from the factory in order to pass noise regulations. I will explain: if you are to look at Dyno charts of a stock engine you will see that there is a HUGE power gap from about 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. This causes some surging when cruising around town in second gear while in that rpm range. The engine max power output is obviously smothered here. I will explain how this can be corrected later on.
Engine and Transmission:
The engine is both water-cooled and oil-cooled. A typical running temp when over 40 mph in 70F weather is 190F. In traffic it is not unusual to see the temp get up to 214F, but this is very normal for Triumphs. The factory setting for the electric cooling fan to go on is at 218F. The radiator filler neck is very easy to get to and the overflow tank is located under the seat. The oil filter is very easy to get to and the clutch cover has a dipstick built into the oil filler cap. This all makes regular maintenance easy.
The transmission is a 6 speed and has very well balanced gear ratios. Cruising around town can be done in first or second gear. At 70mph the engine is revving 4k rpm. The tranny shifts are smooth and crisp and can easily be done (upshifting of course) without the use of the clutch.
The stock muffler has a great sound to it and is louder than other stock liter bikes I've heard; but the muffler is very heavy at 12 lbs. It is also restrictive due to noise regulations. An aftermarket muffler would definitely benefit the power and weight of the bike.
Rider Controls and Tools:
The bike sports reliable and bright headlights and turn signals which are all located with safety in mind. The instrument cluster is fully electronic, showing you MPH, RPMs, Odometer, Tripodometer, Check Engine Warning Light, Low Oil Warning Light, High Beams On/Off, Turn Signal Indicators, Neutral, and Low Fuel. The clutch lever is nonadjustable but is positioned well. The brake lever has 4 optional adjustment positions and is also positioned well. The clipons are located in a very nice position which helps with the ergonomics of the bike.
The seat height is higher for shorter people at 32 inches and is nonadjustable. The seat itself is pretty comfortable, although shorter people might become somewhat uncomfortable due to the location of the edges were the foam goes from being horizontal to vertical--not bad though. The fuel tank is a bit long, so the reach to the clipons tends to make one have to lean forward putting weight on the arms and hands. The foot rests are well placed from front to back, up and down, but they do seem a little to far out from the mainframe. This doesn't really cause issues, but it does take getting used to. The rear brake lever pedal is a little too low in the front and has no real adjustment for that. Again, this isn't a huge problem but does take getting used to. Overall, the ergonomics are very comfortable for people 5'5" and taller (this is when sitting for the shorter people), although I do think a perfect height would be approx 5'8".
The bike handles extremely well both on the twisties and as a daily rider. The front forks are standard, as Triumph had yet to change to inverted like they currently use. There is plenty of preload, compression, and dampening adjustment both for the front and rear. The brake calipers and master cylinders are made by Nissin and work pretty well for a bike of that year. The front duel rotors definitely have bite and will put the bike up on its nose and the riders "lower parts" into the tank if one were to get a good grab on them. The bike is very stable in turns. If it is set up properly the bike does no unexpected moves like diving into or out of a turn or hopping around when hitting bumps or uneven pavement. The bike is somewhat nimble but being approx 460 lbs (wet) it does take some effort to throw it around. Stock, the bike came with a 120/70/17 front tire and a 190/50/17 rear. This is a good setup but for quicker steering on the twisties a 180 rear works well.
The fairings on the bike look awesome and have great body lines. The windscreen gives plenty of visibility and protection. The bike does seem wide when looking at it, but that is just the plastics; as the Speed Triple which has the same frame and bodywork shows, the bike is not that wide and bulky. The fuel tank is plastic which has not appeared to be a problem leak-wise, but some shallow waves have appeared on the top. They are not noticeable to the naked eye, but if you were to feel across the tank you would find them. The paint is superbly done with no orange-peel, dry spots, or fish-eyes. The decals are stickers which are placed over the Green basecoat and then the clearcoat is applied over them. This gives a smoother look and feel to that area and also protects the decals from the elements and chemicals.
As for two-up riding and long distance touring I have no input--sorry.
So now that I've described the basics of the bike I will tell you what I have done as far improvements go. First off, the issue explained concerning the gap in power which is a factory de-tune is easy to correct. There is an aftermarket tuning program made by a mom and pop operation in Australia called "TuneBoy". This is a computer program you buy and load onto your PC/Laptop. You then plug in the USB cable included in the kit into the computer and into your Triumph service plug on the bike. What this allows you to do is everything that the dealership can do. If you've ever heard of the dealership "updating" your ECU or loading an aftermarket exhaust "tune," this is exactly what Tuneboy does. You can upload ECU maps (tunes) which are provided by Tuneboy or can be found online. These maps are often made by Dyno shops who tweak with the different fuel, air, ignition, and other variables which eliminate that gap in the RPM range and also add a good deal of HP. Dealerships usually charge around $100 to flash the ECU with a new tune. The other great thing about this program is that it allows you to retrieve CEL (check engine light) error codes which can then be looked up online to tell you where the problem is located. The dealership usually charges $50 to do this. You can also test all the sensors on the bike and adjust the rev-limiter, cooling fan start/stop temp, and a multitude of other adjustments can be made. My bike now runs like a bat out of hell and has smooth clean power from idle up to redline.
The other change I made was to put aftermarket exhaust on. I went with a hi-mount system made by Blue Flame. The model is the EVO3 silencer with duel outlets. The mid-pipe and silencer weigh in at 8 lbs, shaving off 4 lbs from stock. This almost makes up for the added weight of the SSSS. The exhaust sounds excellent and is a hi-flow can which cranks out more HP with the appropriate ECU map loaded. And as if that was not enough, a hi-mount system opens up the right rear of the bike allowing that beautiful SSS to be shown in all its glory!
I hope I have given prospective 02-06 (they are practically the same in that year range) Daytona 995i buyers a little info into what kind of machine it is. Triumphs had a bad name back in the earlier years which still lingers. My friend to this day comments, "Ah, a Triumph...where's the puddle of oil?" The fact is, however, that Triumph went out of business in the 1980s and was recently revived. 1997 was the first year for the kind of motorcycles they are now building--although there was a 1996 Speed Triple but it is nothing like the 97-01 and 02-04 Speed Triples. The 02-06 Daytona 955i's are a far cry from a 1969 Bonneville. They are up to par with the worlds best bikes--whether you are a fan of Ducati, Buell, Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha, or any other make, the Triumph Daytona will hang with them on the straight-aways, twisties, in longevity, anddare I say--might just beat them at some of those and in the maintenance/parts cost department. There are many great bikes out there which are just as nice as this one, but I have really been impressed with the modern Triumphs. Ride safe and maybe Ill see you in the R.A.T. pack!