TRI, TRI, TRI AGAIN

If at first you don’t suc­ceed… wait forty years and then en­list the aid of an ex­pert. Af­ter an ini­tial se­ries of up­grades in the 1970s weren’t en­tirely suc­cess­ful, the owner of this 750 Tri­umph triple tried again. Rowena Hosea­son re­ports

Real Classic - - Mz Timeline - Pho­tos by Kay Eldridge of Fo­cusedI­mage.com.au, Roy Kil­gour

This bike at­tracts at­ten­tion. Since its most re­cent re­build was com­pleted last year, owner Greg has rid­den around a thou­sand miles while the much-mod­ded mo­tor­cy­cle set­tles down in its cur­rent in­car­na­tion. The T150 turns heads ev­ery­where Greg takes it. ‘I’ve had com­ments that the Trident looks great – and of course I agree,’ com­ments the proud owner. Some­times that at­ten­tion can feel a lit­tle un­com­fort­able, mind. ‘It was even ogled by a high­way pa­trol of­fi­cer who drove be­side me for a kilo­me­tre or two!’ Greg es­caped the scru­tiny of the law with­out be­ing booked or even pulled over – but his fivespeed Trident most def­i­nitely draws a crowd.

The triple was an un­usual ma­chine in New South Wales, even when Greg bought it new back in the mid-1970s. ‘I re­alised from the be­gin­ning that the right-side gear shift was be­com­ing a thing of the past but I wanted a tra­di­tional English mo­tor­cy­cle, so pretty much had to have a Trident. An­other con­tender at the time was a Nor­ton 850 Com­mando In­ter­state, but by 1976 they were the Mk3 mod­els with a left-foot gear shift.’

Greg’s T150 was built in Oc­to­ber 1974 and fea­tures the petrol tank and paint scheme of the 1974 UK ma­chines, al­though tech­ni­cally it’s a 1975 model. Some of its cy­cle parts are com­mon with its elec­tric start suc­ces­sor: ‘ The kick-starter is a T160’s and the clutch outer is par­tially ma­chined for the T160’s elec­tric start ring gear, but this was never fit­ted.’

Back then, the Aus­tralian li­cenc­ing reg­u­la­tions al­lowed learn­ers to ride any ca­pac­ity ma­chine with­out a pil­lion – so the Bri­tish su­per­bike was Greg’s first mo­tor­cy­cle! ‘ There were def­i­nitely lessons learned… to the detri­ment of the Trident, in­clud­ing a num­ber of crashes.’

How­ever, as Greg’s skills de­vel­oped he soon dis­cov­ered the ben­e­fits of rid­ing a sure-footed Brit­bike com­pared to the mul­ti­cylin­dered op­po­si­tion from the Ori­ent. ‘I did en­joy rid­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle. Friends with whom I rode com­mented that the lines the Trident took through cor­ners were more grad­ual than the Ja­panese mo­tor­cy­cles of the day, and they weren’t able to fol­low them. The Trident was able to be hus­tled through the cor­ners quickly.’

There were other ben­e­fits to stick­ing with an air-cooled pushrod en­gine. ‘Whilst it wasn’t to­tally re­li­able, I was al­ways able to get home af­ter road­side re­pairs and fid­dling. The rel­a­tively sim­ple na­ture of the me­chan­i­cal com­po­nents and electrics helped.’ The Tri­umph’s straight­for­ward en­gine de­sign also en­cour­aged a spot of home­grown tun­ing, with rather mixed re­sults. ‘High com­pres­sion pis­tons of stan­dard ca­pac­ity were fit­ted but these stretched the bar­rel base studs, and high oc­tane fuel was hard to find.

‘ Then in 1978 I had the motor and gear­box blueprinted with the ca­pac­ity in­creased to 830cc us­ing 650 Bon­neville pis­tons and the bar­rels sleeved. At the time the motor had done about 12,000 miles and the main bear­ings were found to be down to the cop­per! There was lit­tle metal left at the base of the bar­rels, where it de­vel­oped an oil leak.’ That is­sue should have re­quired some at­ten­tion – but fate had other plans…

‘ That September I high-sided the mo­tor­cy­cle. The left-side footrest arm ro­tated down­ward while I was lean­ing well over into a left-hand cor­ner and this lifted the rear wheel from the road. The re­sult­ing crash left the mo­tor­cy­cle eco­nom­i­cally un­re­pairable. It had only cov­ered 13,126 miles.’

That’s what hap­pens to so many mo­tor­cy­cles: thrashed, crashed and (in this case) stashed…

Dur­ing the 1980s, the Trident’s en­gine was bor­rowed by a friend of a friend to be used for a while in a speed­way side­car out­fit. Over the years the bike was stored with vary­ing de­grees of weather pro­tec­tion and good in­ten­tions to have it re­stored. Three decades later work would fi­nally be­gin in 2010, when Greg set about lo­cat­ing the com­po­nents he would need and some­one suit­able to do the span­ner­ing. With triples, he says, ‘the work must be done by some­one who has a proven track record with Trident and Rocket 3 en­gine re­builds.’

That some­one turned out to be Roy Kil­gour, who we see rid­ing the ma­chine in the pho­tos. Roy was work­ing full time so the Trident project took shape on week­ends – but that’s OK be­cause, over the four years the project took to com­plete, the brief de­vel­oped as Greg came up with new ideas and dis­cov­ered dif­fer­ent com­po­nents. Roy was up for the chal­lenge: ‘Greg wanted this to be his dream bike with a big bore kit, twin front discs with AP racing calipers and al­loy wheel rims. As the build went on, he came up with new ideas and new bits that he had bought, and we worked to­gether to change and im­prove things as we went along.’

You’ll find a list of the key com­po­nents in the tech spec, but the heart of the ma­chine is an all-new, Triples Rule 855cc big bore kit, which has proved to be much more suc­cess­ful than the 1970s at­tempt. ‘It looks orig­i­nal and the bike per­forms much bet­ter,’ says Greg. As it should: there’s a lot of thought and no small level of en­gi­neer­ing skill gone into de­vel­op­ing a suc­cess­ful method of in­creas­ing the Trident’s ca­pac­ity while side-step­ping the prob­lems which Greg en­coun­tered back in the day.

The orig­i­nal 753cc (67mm x 70mm) en­gine used a die cast alu­minium cylin­der block which had rel­a­tively thin walls be­tween the bores. Even at the stan­dard size, the bores would tend to dis­tort when run­ning hot for long pe­ri­ods which is why Tri­dents have such an ap­petite for oil. The old-fash­ioned way of big-bor­ing the stan­dard cylin­der block to house big­ger sleeves and pis­tons just ex­ac­er­bated this sit­u­a­tion and fre­quently led to frac­tures around the base flange (which might’ve been why Greg’s T150 was leak­ing lube be­fore its crash in 1978).

These days, there’s enough cash in the econ­omy to pay for a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

Triples Rule sand-cast their big bore cylin­der block with thicker walls around each bore to re­sist dis­tor­tion and en­sure clear­ances are kept sta­ble. They use A356 alu­minium which pro­vides greater ten­sile strength, and have gone to some trou­ble to make sure that the cylin­der head is ro­bustly se­cured with beefed-up screw threads for the pil­lar bolts.

On the road, the com­pany reckon this trans­lates to an en­gine which will ‘pull au­thor­i­ta­tively from lower rpms, han­dle twoup rid­ing with­out strain­ing and have long legs: ac­cel­er­at­ing smoothly from low speeds to cruis­ing speeds with­out a lot of bang­ing on the gearchange lever.’

This is prob­a­bly more im­por­tant to an owner of a T150V than some­one who rides an orig­i­nal four-speed triple. Tested in 1975, the five-speeder no­tice­ably ran out of puff at the ton or around 7000rpm, and laboured its way up to 118mph. By con­trast ‘the older ma­chines hit 9000rpm like light­ning and were ea­ger for more.’

These days, top end speed is al­most aca­demic for road rid­ers – but eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble mid-range grunt is worth pay­ing for. How much? You may ask. Triples Rule charge $2349 plus ship­ping for the ba­sic big bore block kit; and the win­ner of the 2011 Manx GP For­mula Clas­sic plainly thought it was worth every penny…

Greg’s motor’s new-cen­tury spec­i­fi­ca­tion also in­cor­po­rates forged, CNC-ma­chined pis­tons; al­loy, matched weight con­rods from R&R Racing, and a high ca­pac­ity oil pump from Les Whis­ton of Rob North Triples. It re­tains the T150’s stan­dard cams ‘but cor­rectly set rather than re­tarded as it was orig­i­nally sup­plied for US emis­sion pur­poses.’

Greg opted for an hy­draulic clutch con­ver­sion from LP Wil­liams, care­fully in­te­grated by Roy into the an­cil­lar­ies to look like it had al­ways been there. ‘I went to a lot of trou­ble to con­struct a mir­ror im­age Lock­heed mas­ter cylin­der,’ ex­plains Roy, ‘so that the front brake and clutch mas­ter cylin­ders ap­peared as a pair.’ Like­wise, the braided clutch pipe looked slightly out of place so ‘we changed the clutch hy­draulic hose from the sup­plied bare metal to black to look more like the stan­dard ca­ble.’

Up front, the sus­pen­sion has been up­graded with Pro­gres­sive fork springs, but im­prov­ing the ride at the rear end was a lit­tle more tricky. Greg and Roy went for Hagon’s 2810 (28mm, 10 damp­ing op­tions) gas ad­justable shocks, which are 20mm longer than the stan­dard Trident items. ‘As sup­plied, these should be mounted up­side down,’ says Greg. ‘ This was ig­nored be­cause if in­stalled as di­rected, with the Hagon brand­ing ori­ented cor­rectly, the rear brake rod passes through the spring coil.’ A swap to Öh­lins rear shocks and fork in­ter­nals is on the list of ‘fu­ture plans’, in any case.

Above: At first glance, the Trident ap­pears de­cently stock. Then, that closer look re­veals that it’s not

Right: Thrashed, crashed and stashed for thirty years – and then the Trident was re­built to be owner Greg’s dream clas­sic

That sec­ond, closer look re­veals that the clutch ‘ca­ble’ is in fact a hy­draulic line

The heart of the ma­chine is an all-new Triples Rule big bore kit

This is to­tal at­ten­tion to de­tail. The hy­draulic clutch con­ver­sion ini­tially looked a lit­tle out of place with its shiny braided hose. So owner Greg and Roy fig­ured out a way to use black

Al­though the fac­tory didn’t fit ray gun si­lencers to later triples like this one, many own­ers pre­fer their sound and the way they ap­pear to im­prove the per­for­mance

A neat bracket holds both big clocks and the ad­di­tional oil pres­sure gauge. Many triple own­ers swear by – and in­deed at – such a gauge

Tri­umph con­trolled the width of their triple en­gine by sit­ting the al­ter­na­tor in the tim­ing case rather than in the pri­mary chain­case. And the oil cooler is not an or­na­ment

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