This triple has become one of the most popular classic Triumph motorcycles
The year was 1968 and it looked like Triumph had hit the bull's-eye with its 58hp Trident.
Triumph Trident T150
Years produced: 1968-1974
Number produced: 20,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 58hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Engine type: 741cc air-cooled OHV inline triple
Weight (dry): 468lb (212kg)
Price then: $1,765 (1970)
Price now: $4,000-$10,000
When Triumph launched its new-for-1968 Triumph Trident T150 triple, the magazine motorheads took notice: “For you performance buffs, let us state that the Triumph Trident is the fastest street machine we have tested, bar none,” Cycle Guide enthused.
Brit mag Motorcycle Mechanics boasted: “What a fantastic machine! From a standing start to 100mph and back again in approximately 600 yards, plus a top speed of 130mph through the electronic timing gear!”
Back stateside again, Cycle World opined: “The Triumph Trident is a prestige motorcycle. An awesome number of people will find that third cylinder irresistible. It will mark its owner as surely as if he were to drive a 427ci hot pink Corvette Sting Ray among the swarming minicars of Triumph’s homeland. Single and twin cylinder bikes are commonplace; even Fours are offered by more than one manufacturer. But there is only one Three.”
The year was 1968, and it looked like Triumph had hit the bull’s-eye with its 58hp Trident T150.
As early as 1963, Triumph engineering bosses Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele discussed the then-radical idea of a 3-cylinder road bike, but it wasn’t until the threat of a 750cc Honda loomed on the horizon that they got the go-ahead to develop the concept. Housed in a Bonneville frame, the first prototype Trident was completed in 1965, and Hopwood claimed that it was so good from the start that it could have gone into production immediately. But it wasn’t until the end of 1968 that the Triumph Trident T150 and BSA A75 Rocket 3 motorcycles were finally in U.S. dealer showrooms, while European riders had to wait until 1969.
But why BSA and Triumph versions of the triples? American importers needed something to replace the aged BSA twins and, as the BSA group owned Triumph, it was time for a little “badge engineering.” So there were two triples: one with the engine mounted vertically and the name Triumph on the tank, and the other with the cylinder block leaning slightly forward and the tank adorned with BSA badges.
Order the May/June 2010 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read this article in its entirety. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.