Running in triple time
The 1975 T160 Trident had more than 200 mechanical modifications over the former T150 model Trident which, when introduced in 1969, had to compete against the Honda CB750. Although it handled well, and had a sub-14 second quarter mile time, the T150 could not match the Honda’s specifications with its disc brakes, electric starter, and overall reliability. Thus, the T150 was not well received and sales were very disappointing.
Enough said there.
With it’s slim fuel tank and angle forward engine, the 1975 T160 Trident was a very different motorcycle than the T150. (<left) Excellent road characteristics, stout handling, disc brake and a new steel frame. From BIKE magazine, May 1975: “If the Trident had been like this seven years ago there wouldn't have been half as many Honda fours on the road now. The world’s best and most exciting heavy road-burners, without looking inadequate or inferior”
The improved handling of the T160 came from their racing experience in the early 1970’s, including the Isle of Mann TT where a famous Rob North prepared Tridents called “Slippery Sam” won five consecutive TT’s from 1971 to 1975. Dick Mann, along with Gene Romero also led a one-two-three British victories at Daytona. It was the last stand for the British triples which were soon outclassed by Yamaha two-strokes. 1975 was the pinnacle of mass produced modern Triumphs. Even though the price was too high, they produced and sold about 7,000 of them in 1975.
Honorable mention also needs to go to the 1973 Triumph X-75 designed by American Craig Vetter (of Vetter Fairing fame, and also the importer of the English-built Rickman) of which about 1200 were produced. A motorcycle that stretched the styling envelope of the era, the X75 was very stylish with their wasp-like tank and upswept exhaust pipes. Today, these are a rare cult-classic and a much sought-after collectible motorcycle.
Unfortunately, the T160 was introduced at a time when the parent company, Norton-Villers was in deep financial trouble, including many labor strikes at the BSA factory in Small Heath, where they were built. The last T160 triples built were white-finished Cardinal Police models and were sold to Saudi Arabia, and were assembled in December 1975. The T160 had genuine superbike performance for its time. With better management and direction, the T160 could have formed the platform for the next, great English super bike, but we'd wait twenty-more years for that...
For a nice example of a 1975 T160 Trident in overall excellent, sorted and running condition, be prepared to pay $7,000-to-$10,000. Supported very well by the aftermarket, the existance of Triumph modern has stabilized the vintage side, no doubt aided by John Bloor's continued comittment to the triple-engine layout. Having owned a 1993 Triumph Trident 900, the modern three owes much to the long and colorful history established by the original. JJ CerilliEngine: 740cc inline 6v triple