1973 Triumph TR5T Trophy Trail 500
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There isn’t much to starting the bike as long as the battery has juice: turn the fuel on, tickle the carb, choke if necessary, pull in the clutch and kick through to clear the plates. Then let out the clutch and reach down to the right side panel to turn on the ignition, kick, and — bang, putter, putter, putter. At higher revs the notoriously noisy overhead valve gear echos off the metal gas tank.
The Triumph TR5T Trophy Trail was introduced in September of 1972 in Southern California, where most of the press wondered just what this thing was for. It did not have nearly enough power for the Barstow to Vegas offroad run, and was a misery on the 75mph Los Angeles freeways. But the East Coast understood the purpose, and the Triumph dealers there sold a good many of them. Also, Triumph had its eye on the ISDT and had a dozen bikes prepared for the Berkshire event a year later, half for the Yanks, half for the Brits. The Brit team came in second overall, and riders won a number of gold medals. However, it should be added that these models were extensively modified, with new forks, quick-detach rear wheels, altered exhausts, etc.
The Trophy Trail had a less than two-year run; by the end of 1973 the outlook at the Meriden works was so dire the factory went on strike, having built only a few 1974 versions of the TR5T. And when the factory did reopen in 1975, the decision had been made to stop production of all the 500 twins. It was the end of the line. Pity, because in its own little way, it was a fine little machine, even if it’s time had passed long before it was built. MC
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