Classic Experience: Life with a 1974 Triumph Trident T150

Editor-in-chief Richard Backus borrows a lovely original 1974 Triumph Trident T150. Here’s what it’s like to live with one.

| July/August 2013

1974 Triumph Trident T150V 
Total production: 27,000 (approx./all years and versions)
Engine type: 741cc air-cooled OHV inline triple, 67mm x 70mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 60hp @ 7,250rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 125mph (est.)
Carburetion: Three 27mm Amal Concentric
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/57in (1,448mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, dual shock absorbers w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: 10in (254mm) disc front, 7in (178mm) SLS drum rear
Tires: 4.1 x 19in front and rear
Weight (wet): 497lb (226kg)
Seat height: 31in (787mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.2gal (16ltr)/28-32mpg (observed)
Miles ridden for review: 200
Oil consumption: None
Price then/now: $1,930 (1973)/$3,500-$6,500

Sample parts prices 
Baxter Cycle 
Muffler set: $350 (U.K. made)
Air filter: $45
Points and condenser set: $30
Electronic ignition: Boyer, $150; Tri-Spark, $450
Front brake pads: $30
Valve cover gasket set: $4
Top end gasket set: $65

Factory service recommendations 
Oil change: Every 4,000 miles/filter and oil every 8,000 miles
Air filter: Clean/replace every 6,000 miles
Valve adjustment: Check every 3,000 miles
Spark plugs: Clean/adjust every 3,000 miles
Ignition timing: Check/adjust every 3,000 miles

In 1963, engineers at Triumph started developing a 750cc triple. In an era when twins reigned supreme it would have been a standout, a Superbike before there were Superbikes. Had it been pushed into production Triumph, then at the top of its game, would have been miles in front of the competition.

Triumph’s engineering heads Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele were often quoted as saying the 3-cylinder Trident could have gone into production as early as 1965. Unfortunately, it took until 1968 for the production Trident to hit these shores. In the meantime, Honda was busy developing the revolutionary CB750 Four, and when it was introduced just months after the Triumph, the Trident quickly became an also-ran.

And that’s really too bad, because the Trident is an excellent motorcycle and a classic example of what the British did best, which was extending existing platforms and technologies to their absolute limit. Triumph’s marketing hype aside, outside of its 3-cylinder configuration and dry, single-plate diaphragm clutch, there was nothing particularly novel about the Trident. In fact, the first prototype engine was basically a 500cc Speed Twin with an extra cylinder grafted on.

bike on highway

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