The current big news in reborn motorcycling makers is Norton, especially now that the reborn company is rolling out its new V4 superbike but back in 1991, it was John Bloors relaunch of Triumph Motorcycles that had everyone's interest. Triumph began with a series of both 3 and 4 cylinder engines but after a few years decided it would focus on the 3-cylinder engine configuration, in part due to cost but also due to Triumph's long history of producing 3 cylinder machines. When it came time for the company to roll out their first new 3-cylinder sportbike the result was the Daytona series powered by a 955cc 3-cylinder engine.
When it was launched in 1999, the new Daytona got very positive reviews but wasn't a a huge sales success. There were several reasons for this; the competition such as the Fireblade and R1 were more sharply focused/delivered better performance, Triumph was still a bit of an unknown brand due to its long absence, and an odd branding moniker of T595 that was confusing to many people. A decision was quickly made to rename the bike to to the 955i and to also re-position the bike away from the lightweight competition. The 955i would instead be positioned as an option in the so called "sportbike-for-adults" segment dominated by the Honda VFR.
Wrapped in a very attractive design, the second generation 955i came with a Lotus designed engine that produced about 128 bhp. In other words, not slow but not an equal to the Fireblade or R1. Riding position was upright and comfortable, handling was neutral and build quality was excellent. And perhaps best of all, while other bikes of the era were still being clad in graphics packages that could make your eyes bleed, all the Daytona models came in mono-chromatic paint schemes with simple and subtle graphics. Today's listing is clad in perhaps the best of the these and seems to be the most sought after by collectors, Aluminum Silver.
Perhaps the key thing about the 955i was that it really did meet its goal of being an alternative to the VFR. While not a pure hyperbike, it was sporting enough to deliver speeds that met the needs of almost all riders while also able to handle daily street duty, excel at weekend canyon corner carving and be comfortable enough for medium level touring. Unfortunately, Triumph was unwilling to wait for the market to develop and after only a few years Triumph revised the bike again/rolled out a 3rd generation machine. The new machine had an improved engine and was lighter and the bodywork was a more angular style. While these changes moved the 955i closer to the compeition it was still no match and the new style made the 955i look similar to most other bikes of the day, thereby losing a large part of its appeal. The effect on these changes was the opposite of what was intended and this misstep together with the development advantage of the larger Japanese companies led Triumph to discontinue their larger sportbike effort entirely in 2006.
Now lets turn our attention to this particular 955i. Mileage is just below 10,000 miles and condition looks to be excellent. However the seller (who seems to be a dealer) indicates some damage to the front rim but will include a new front wheel with the sale of the bike. Unfortunately there is no information about service history and some of the pictures are a bit blurry. Also I think the front windscreen might be aftermarket but this would need to be verified by the seller.
Here is what the seller has to say
- Has a Black Widow performance exhaust system - a $1200 upgrade
- Minor scuffs and scratches as shown in the pictures.
- Small repair as noted in bottom fairing, see pictures. This is a typical area for damage.
- Also a ding in the front wheel from a pothole. An extra front wheel comes with the bike.
So now let's go to the question; what is this bike worth? Well its not perfect, isn't the fastest machine of the period, had no significant race success and didn't really introduce any significant new technology. Also the front wheel issue mentioned by the seller on this one is concerning, a VIN check is probably in order. But on the plus side it is probably the best looking edition of the entire Daytona lineup and seems to be the model and color scheme most likely to appreciate in value over time.
I will admit that this one is tempting, especially since the current bid price is slighly over $2,000 USD while previous listings on RSBFS of this same model and color scheme have gone for around $4,500 USD. But price is not the only point of appeal for this bike; the 2nd gen Aluminum silver edition seems to be akin to the 1993 Honda VFR 750 in that even though it wasn't the best bike of its time, it just looks right. Sure the next generation bike 955i was technically a better motorcycle, but this is the one that would always put a smile on my face and really, isn't that a large part of the fun of a sportibke?