TRI­UMPH T150 TRI­TON ‘You could spend hours look­ing at this bike’


Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

If you want power from an old Bri­tish bike you buy a Tri­dent. Never mind that it was a stop-gap de­sign to turn a twin into a multi, and is there­fore heavy, over-com­pli­cated and frankly daft; these days you can get all that sorted at Brent­ford’s P&M Mo­tor­cy­cles.

Owner Jim Hodges asked them to throw ev­ery­thing at his en­gine: 850cc ma­chined-from-solid bar­rels, forged Omega pistons, Car­illo rods, a cross-drilled and bal­anced crank, Me­ga­cy­cle 51135 cams, a gas-flowed head with cen­tral 10mm plug con­ver­sion, hard­ened ex­haust valve seats, plasma ni­trided valves, high ca­pac­ity Morgo oil pump and Pa­zon ig­ni­tion. The re­sult is 80-85bhp, no oil leaks af­ter three years and the most dra­matic power de­liv­ery you can imag­ine: all revs and vibes, thresh­ing pistons and howl­ing ex­haust. With the Bob Newby clutch and belt pri­mary drive the pow­er­plant is 10kg lighter than stock.

The in­cred­i­ble three-into-three ex­haust was made by Shrop­shire cus­tom house Metal Malarkey, lightly mod­i­fied, and fin­ished with F1-spec satin black Zir­cotec. Stafford­shire fab­ri­ca­tion house Made in Metal did (among many ex­quis­ite de­tails) the alu­minium seat unit, which hinges up to re­veal a su­perbly fin­ished cus­tom wiring job by Ge­off Chilton. Clocks are new Smith Chrono­met­rics, while the mag­ne­sium yokes, forks and the front brake come from Mol­nar.

And be­fore you rush to judge it as a cheque book spe­cial bear in mind that Jim, a de­sign en­gi­neer, made many of the ma­chined parts on his Warco lathe and mill. He also used a life­time of rid­ing Brit bikes to de­sign the func­tion of the en­tire build; from the po­si­tion of the en­gine in the Featherbed frame, to the in­vis­i­ble rear brake switch, and the sin­gle-ca­ble throt­tle sys­tem which com­bines a light ac­tion with an un­heard-off tick­over from the race­spec Amal carbs.

In fact you could spend hours look­ing at this bike, grad­u­ally re­al­is­ing why lit­tle de­tails are the way they are. “All that non­sense un­der the tank (Jim waves a hand to­wards the im­mac­u­late ar­range­ment of ig­ni­tion coils and CNC­ma­chined head steady) – no­body sees that. But I know it’s there. It was P&M who put me onto the fact that it needs a lat­eral head steady, and not just an in­line one. So I de­signed some­thing which al­lowed ac­cess to the plugs and used rose joints so it was ad­justable, and ex­act.”

Al­though the lit­tle black-and-white Tri­ton uses the same Featherbed frame as the T150, it feels com­pletely dif­fer­ent: dart­ing, sweet-steer­ing, fast­turn­ing. Ob­vi­ously it’s lighter than the triple, but it’s also got an inch shorter swingarm, and less rake. “The Nor­ton forks looked too long, so I made a spacer un­der the top yoke to take up the length,” says Jim. “That had the ef­fect of steep­en­ing the head an­gle a lit­tle.”

Jim is con­vinced of the link be­tween good de­sign and good func­tion. “Ask a child to draw an aero­plane and they’ll draw a DC10. Ask them to draw a house and it’ll be Ed­war­dian. With a bike, if it’s built prop­erly and looks good it should work well.”

The last part of the lit­tle Tri­ton’s agility is the tiny tank. It came with the jalopy donor bike, but to start with was the usual five gal­lons. Jim got Made in Metal’s Neil Adams to lower it, and fab­ri­cate an alu­minium seat unit to suit. It gives the bike a feel­ing of al­most to­tal free­dom from bulk – but there is a snag. “It’s got a range of about 30 miles!” ad­mits Jim. “It’s down to the shape of the un­der­neath, and where the petrol taps are. It’s only about a gal­lon and a half any­way, and it runs out when it’s still a quar­ter full. So I’m go­ing to get Neil to do an­other ver­sion, about three and a half gal­lons.” Like the ex­ist­ing tank, the new one will be mounted with rub­ber bob­bins rather than the tra­di­tional dodgy strap.

Most of the de­tail­ing comes from the big Tri­ton: dou­ble gear­box ad­justers for ac­cu­racy and sta­bil­ity; milled footrest brack­ets; en­gine sprocket as close as pos­si­ble to the swingarm spin­dle to min­imise chain ten­sion variations; a hinged seat unit; and an­other Ge­off Chilton cus­tom loom, this time hid­ing inside the frame tubes: “You just pull the wires through with weld­ing rods,” says Jim.

to­gether with ev­ery sin­gle nut and bolt re­plated. Then I was out on it some­where and some­one said, ‘The plat­ing’s wrong. It should be cad­mium.’ And I thought: ‘I can’t be both­ered with all this’. At the time I had a hand­ful of Bri­tish bikes so I went about chang­ing all of them from stan­dard, in sub­tle ways.” John Jones “I rode them since I was 15. I thought Ja­panese bikes were crap. We used to think they were made of scrap Amer­i­can cars. My mates were on RD250S, which were fan­tas­tic and re­ally quick, while I was on my 500 Tri­umph and couldn’t get it run­ning right.”

Why stick with drum brakes and old forks?

John Jones “Where do you stop? It’s a slip­pery slope, so you’ve got to per­se­vere. Oth­er­wise, why not put a Honda en­gine in, be­cause it has elec­tric start and is to­tally re­li­able? So you just love them. If I was com­mut­ing I’d have a Honda. In fact, I did have a Honda.” Thanks P&M Mo­tor­cy­cles: 0208 847 1711 Andy Mol­nar: Ge­off Chilton: 07872 995934, madein­ www.zir­ malarkeyengi­neer­ The Bridge Bake­house in Wha­ley Bridge

Re­duce weight Newby fi­nal drive helps fork Mag­ne­sium yokes grip Mol­nar Tri­ton rewrites the rule book on leaky, creaky old Bri­tish bikes Born in the 1960s and per­fected in the 21st cen­tury, Jim Hodges’s Tri­ton is the real deal

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