How David Grey became one with his 675R
At the beginning of 2012, the ApexMFG.com racing team made some big changes. The decision was made to switch from Yamaha to Triumph. Team owner Richard Harris had decided to compete in AMA Supersport racing and by doing so, was chasing a lifelong dream. At that time, no one in the states had any experience with the Triumph 675R. Not only was the machine unproven but in the eyes of some it was inferior. Over a six-week period, we engaged in one of my favorite parts of racing: building the bikes. In the process, Richard and the rest of the team learned a ton about the Triumph. I did whatever I was told and tried to absorb as much of what was going on as possible. In addition to the machines built for Richard's AMA effort, there was another bike prepped for me to race in WERA and other organizations at the club level.
Our first outing was at Barber Motorsports Park. We went to a Sportbike Track Time event there to get some testing in before Richard competed in the 2012 season-opening round at Daytona. When I rode my 675R for the first time, I was incredibly surprised by how the bike felt. It was unbelievable under braking. Engine power was excellent throughout the power band. The torque started low and built to a very strong midrange. With any new bike, it takes time to get up to speed. You need to find the right suspension setup, figure out the gearing, perfect the riding position and most important of all, the rider needs to learn the motorcycle's unique characteristics. At that point, my entire ten year riding career had been spent aboard inline four cylinder 600cc machines, so the 675cc triumph triple was a new experience for me. First impressions had me grinning from ear to ear.
My new 675R was fast and as I got the suspension dialed in, everything started to gel. It didn't take long for the machine to show me that we could win races together. 2012 was one of my best seasons, with one large and nagging issue. I blew three engines that year. This was not a good thing. Not only was it hard on my wallet but at the same time, it made the Triumph look like an unreliable bike. Something had to change.
As it turned out, the problem was the nut holding the handlebars. That would be me. The turning point came when I discovered that I had been over-revving the engine like crazy. The inline fours I had ridden before made all their power at the top of the rev range. Twins are strongest down low. The triple is unique because it makes power everywhere but the most pull can be found in the midrange. Spinning a 675R to redilne and banging the limiter is not only totally unnecessary, it is also a slower way to ride this particular machine.
I had a fourth engine built, then refocused my riding style around the bike's midrange torque. The result was that I went faster than ever and the engine didn't give me a single problem during the 2013 season. That same engine is still in the bike as I prepare for 2014. Acclimating myself to the needs of the Triumph was a real learning experience. I found out just how different various engine styles can be, as well as how important it is for a rider to adapt to those differences, both to maximize performance and also to preserve the machine.
My own learning curve has paralleled that of Apex Mfg. which began as a privateer team originally envisioned to support Richard Harris's Supersport effort and has since grown to become Triumph's North American racing department. Jason DiSalvo and Elena Myers are the team's riders now. Many of the special bits required to take a 675R from streetbike to racetrack weapon have been designed and are manufactured by the company. If you're interested in track riding or racing a Triumph or if you already have one and want to make it faster, Apex Mfg is the place to contact. The best aspect of the Apex crew is that they see all their triumph riders as a family. They're happy to share what they've learned at the AMA level, making their parts and knowledge available to Triumph trackday riders and club racers across the country.