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

  • Front of Triumph Trident 150
    Sharp-eyed readers may recognize our feature bike as belonging to Q & A editor Keith Fellenstein.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Triumph Trident Engine
    The engine spins up readily, and pulling away the first thing you notice is the Trident's ample power.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Keith Fellensteins Triumph Trident 150
    The Triumph Trident stayed in production for the better part of nine years.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Triumph Trident Oil Pressure Gauge
    An added oil pressure gauge (white gauge) keeps an eye on things.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Richard Backus on Triumph Trident
    Editor Backus enjoying a few curves aboard the Trident.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Triumph Trident Rear
    Twist the throttle hard and the Trident sheds any pretense of civility.
    Photo By Richard Backus
  • Triumph Trident Coils
    Three coils live comfortably under the seat.
    Photo By Richard Backus

  • Front of Triumph Trident 150
  • Triumph Trident Engine
  • Keith Fellensteins Triumph Trident 150
  • Triumph Trident Oil Pressure Gauge
  • Richard Backus on Triumph Trident
  • Triumph Trident Rear
  • Triumph Trident Coils

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.

10/1/2019 7:36:04 AM

My '74 T150V (bought in 1975) DID have electric start. And she started easily every tine whether using the kick start or electrics. I know it was a '74 (besides the title) because it was black/gold while the '75 T160V was magenta/white . My dealer in Freeport, Ill eventually received a T160V into stock. I found the oil leakage which with my example occurred exclusively around the push-rod tubes, could be cured easily by smearing a wee bit of gasket sealant around the white neoprene :doughnut" push-rod seals during assembly, combined with subsequent proper torquing of bolts.

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