Norton Commando or Triumph Trident?

A reader who’s been considering a smaller bike for himself and his wife seeks Keith’s advice on which British bike to acquire.

Reader Contribution by Rob Bowen
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by Keith Fellenstein

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Q: Hi, Keith, I enjoy your column and the entire magazine. My wife and I have been riding large touring bikes for the last several decades and now due to age and injuries we find long distances are no longer on our agenda. So I have been thinking about a smaller bike like a Norton Commando or a Triumph Trident. I had a Commando when my wife and I met nearly 40 years ago but always wondered how it compared to a Triple. I would be looking for a ’75 electric start of either but would like your opinion as to the pros and cons of each (you can’t ask an owner and expect it to be unbiased). Thanks for your help!

– Rob Bowen/Fontana, California

A: Rob, I don’t know how unbiased I can be since I own one of each of those bikes. My Trident is a 1974 model but I’ve retrofitted the 1975 electric start parts. It’s now so easy to start that it gets ridden more than before. I’m hoping to fit an electric start (Colorado Norton Works) to my 1974 Commando this year, and after that I’ll probably sell my 2008 Triumph, affectionately known as “The Appliance.” With two electric start classic bikes, I don’t really need the newer one. Like you, I had it to cover longer distances, but find that I don’t have the stamina to ride the miles I used to. I think for two-up travel you would find the Trident to be smoother running, but nothing really beats the torque and sound of the Norton. Horses for courses is the phrase the British use for this situation. I think you’ll find the Trident to be the less expensive initial purchase, though the 1975 models are rarer and bring better prices. The Commandos are fairly expensive across the years, at least restorations or reliable runners.

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