The Triumph Trident was produced at Triumph Engineering at Meriden from 1968 – 1975 and was among one of the last motorcycles to be produced here. This fact alone makes it an important machine in British motorcycle history. However, it is the features of the bike that makes it a classic, albeit a rather underestimated one.
The Triumph Trident was one of the first motorcycles in the world to use a three cylinder engine. The idea behind this was to create a larger and more powerful engine that would improve the speed and performance of these new motorcycles when compared to other bikes that were currently on the market. Vibration in the engine was also reduced by having the crank pins of the engine orientated at intervals of 120 degrees.
This type of engine was considered to be very innovative at the time as it was not found in other motorcycles. The use of this engine came as a surprise to some as Trident, and its parent company BSA, was considered to have a conservative approach to management and were not known to be experimental in the design of their motorcycles.
The gearbox in the Triumph Trident was also different to those found in other bikes at the time. A dry clutch was used which was single plate and housed between the gearbox and the primary chain-case. A wet multi-plate clutch was a more popular choice for British motorcycles during this period. Behind the gear shaft in the location where the clutch would be expected to have been found, the Triumph had a large transmission shock absorber in its place.
Success In Racing
The Triumph Trident won the Isle of Man TT Race for five consecutive years between 1971 and 1975. This would have been an outstanding achievement on its own, but there were two other factors that meant that this feat was actually quite surprising, and therefore also more celebrated.
During this period, motorcycle racing along with most other motor sports was dominated by vehicles that were produced in Japan. The fact that this was a British motorcycle winning a British event was considered to be an excellent achievement.
Alongside this, both BSA and Trident were suffering financially during this period and there was not a great deal of money to invest in developing motorcycles specifically for the purpose of racing.
Any investment that was available did not come close to matching what the Japanese were doing for their bikes. To create a bike as good as the Trident on a shoestring was nothing short of miraculous.
It’s the opinion of most motorcycle enthusiasts that the Triumph Trident never really reached the commercial success that it deserved, even though it was the fastest motorcycle on the market at the time.
Delays in production meant that by the time it was released, the Honda CB750 followed just four weeks later, undermining the achievement that Triumph had made. The Honda had a five speed gearbox and quickly outsold the Triumph in the United States and elsewhere.
If the Triumph had been released on schedule then there is no doubt in the minds of many that sales of the motorcycle would have been substantially higher. These hold-ups were caused in large part due to the restrictions placed on Triumph by BSA, who ultimately paid the price for these delays when the Trident sales did not perform as well as expected.
Despite these problems, today the Triumph Trident is considered one of the best classic British motorcycles available, and they are still celebrated by enthusiasts across the world.
One of my friends who runs a motorcycle clothing shop in Surrey sent me a link to this video which gives a really good overview of these amazing bikes.