1973 Triumph Trident
I have written before about my fondness for the Triumph Triple, I’ve told stories about my friend Ted Toki and his Trident and I have put quite a few miles on the T160. To this day, I still have a Triumph triple, albeit a more modern version, that I won’t give up for anything.
There is a lot of interesting history that comes with the Trident. This was a motorcycle that while being designed and developed was actually ahead of its time. The design and development started back in 1961. At that time there were single cylinder motorbikes, twins and fours, but no three cylinder models. One of the biggest issues with singles and twins of the era was vibration; bone numbing, eyeball shaking, teeth rattling vibration. Norton attacked the problem by developing the ‘Isolastic’ engine mounting system which really worked quite well. Triumph designers came up with the idea for a three cylinder machine with a unique firing order that would quell the vibrations.
Many people believe that the 750cc Trident was originally designed as a ‘Daytona and a half’ (the Daytona being the 500cc twin), but that’s not true at all, the Trident motor design is unique unto itself, more can be read about that on a number of different Triumph websites.
The Trident was and is a great bike and, if all had gone according to plan, it truly would have been the first multi-cylinder superbike on the market, but…squabbling and internal politics slowed bringing the bike to market. This was at a time when Triumph and BSA were living under one corporate umbrella and sharing a lot of the resources. Again there is a lot of interesting information about this time in British bike history out there. One of the things that I found most interesting, even back when I was riding a Trident, was that most people thought that the BSA Rocket 3 and the Trident were the same bike, just badged differently…au contraire. They are very different motorcycles. Now, originally they were supposed to be the same bike rebadged and with a few other minor changes to differentiate the two, but the boys at Small Heath (BSA’s home) didn’t like that idea and wanted something they could call their own and that’s when everything started slowing down.
We have all heard the expression that goes something like ‘there’s nothing sadder than unfulfilled potential’ well, the Trident is one of the great examples of that saying in the motorcycling world. Because of the internal politics causing the bike to be a year late in being brought to market, Honda trumped the Brit’s with the much more sophisticated and, less expensive, 1969 CB750 four cylinder machine. And, on top of that, the first year Trident was probably one of the ugliest motorcycles ever built…period. The design team apparently spent way more time at the pub than they did in the design studio. The slab sided gas tank caused the new Trident to be dubbed the ‘shoebox’ tank design. The mufflers were also derided, called the ‘Ray gun mufflers’ or the ‘Flash Gordon’ mufflers, now, some may call them ugly but I love ‘em and on top of that, they actually gave the engine better performance than the models that followed.
Fast forward a couple of years and BSA goes belly up and Triumph forges on. The Trident continues for few years getting better and better, but is way behind the Japanese Superbikes. The Triumph handled better, and Meriden went back to traditional styling for the Trident. Now, here is a bit of irony for you…BSA didn’t want a rebadged Triumph for their triple, but when they went under there were still a lot of the BSA engines lying around and Triumph feeling the need to do something unique to try to capture some of the US market with the Trident, brought in designer Craig Vetter (of Windjammer fairing fame) to design a motorcycle based on the British three cylinder bike. The result was the X75 Hurricane. Less than 2000 of these models were built and here is where the irony comes in…it is a BSA Rocket 3 badged as a Triumph. The X75 Hurricane is currently one of the most sought after bikes amongst collectors and enthusiasts.
All of this brings me to the bike I found on ebay this morning. A 1973 T150 Trident that is mostly all stock and is a good runner. This bike was bought and then taken apart (not down to the engine internals though), gone over, refreshed and put back together. The bike looks good, it has a set of lower bars vs. the ‘buckhorn’ style that would be original. It is a right side shift, proper for a British motorbike, and kick start only. And so far a good value. But there is more to this bike.
This Triumph Trident is being auctioned off to benefit the Jacobs Journey House in Tempe Arizona. Jacobs Journey Ministries provides shelter and help to the homeless and disadvantaged in the Phoenix and Tempe area. Before recommending this bike and where the money will be going I did some research and did find out that these people do good work in their area and are well worth supporting. So…if you are looking for a cool British motorbike, especially a Trident that has been set up nicely and runs good, click on the pics below for more pictures of the bike and the process that Seth went through freshening up the T150 and, a little more info. The ad does not say if it runs but I contacted the builder, Seth, and he assured me that it runs great. And one more thing…whoever wrote the ebay listing is the worst speller I have ever seen…actually, we all got a good chuckle reading the listing. Don’t let that take you away from a bike that can help a lot of people.