Real Classic - - What Lies Within -

A page or two than usual, due to a space con­straint, but we al­ways want to hear from you!

I was in­spired by the ar­ti­cle in RC171 about Tri­umph Tri­dents and the longevity of the own­ers’ re­la­tion­ships with these bikes. I am the cur­rent owner of a very late model T150V which was made in Oc­to­ber 1974, just a month be­fore pro­duc­tion switched to the T160V. Most of our bikes have names and for some rea­son my wife named this one ‘The Beast’.

Lit­tle did I know when, some­what to my sur­prise, I won the eBay auc­tion for a used T150V in Au­gust 2007 that I was ba­si­cally tak­ing on a legacy. What at­tracted me to the Tri­dent was that it was ob­vi­ously a bike for rid­ing rather than pol­ish­ing. It was af­ford­able and only had two pre­vi­ous own­ers at that point. The then-cur­rent owner had owned the bike for ap­prox­i­mately 10 years.

It didn’t oc­cur to me to ask about the mileage of the bike. Af­ter all, a clas­sic bike is only as good as its last re­build. Right? Only once I was handed the thick sheaf of doc­u­ments that came with the bike did I find out that the orig­i­nal owner, one Martin Jones, had pur­chased the bike from Copes of Birm­ing­ham in Fe­bru­ary 1975. He then used the Tri­dent for the next 20 years as his sole trans­port, even­tu­ally re­plac­ing it with one of the new Hinck­ley triples.

Over such a long pe­riod of time, the T150 in­evitably went through a num­ber of it­er­a­tions. An Avon fair­ing, Craven pan­niers and a big bore kit all came and went, while a Hyde seat, ray­gun si­lencers, RITA ig­ni­tion and stain­less mud­guards ar­rived and stayed. I have an ar­ti­cle from the Tri­umph Own­ers Club mag­a­zine of June 1983 when the bike was just eight years old, ex­tolling the fact that it had just clocked 100,000 miles. Then an ar­ti­cle from MCN when the bike hit 200,000 miles in 1994, just a few years be­fore Martin swapped it out.

The se­cret to its longevity? Ob­vi­ously the Meri­den triples must be a tough de­sign and the pre­vi­ous own­ers all added Wynns oil treat­ment to the en­gine oil, which I have con­tin­ued. On buy­ing the bike it needed some recom­mis­sion­ing and fet­tling, but I tried to re­spect the bike’s his­tory. It may not be to­tally fac­tory stan­dard, but many of the re­place­ment parts them­selves have been in place for well over 30 years. The ray­gun si­lencers are not fac­tory orig­i­nal but have been in place for most of the bike’s life. They now have very lit­tle of their orig­i­nal baf­fling, so sound su­perb. The gold paint may be faded, but it still has its orig­i­nal fac­tory paint job on the tank af­ter 43 years of use. The pre­vi­ous owner had fit­ted an ad­di­tional front brake caliper in the fore and aft style of Slip­pery Sam, but these were the orig­i­nal, heavy Lock­heed cast iron calipers which made the steer­ing very strange at slow speeds. I have re­placed these with al­loy Grimeca items, so the ex­cel­lent Tri­dent han­dling is re­stored.

Com­pared with its early life the Beast is now in semi-re­tire­ment, but it still gets used. I have done around 20,000 miles dur­ing my own­er­ship. It’s used for long dis­tance commuting and club runs, has been tour­ing around the UK and Europe, and goes out when I feel the need for the oc­ca­sional blast. Sure, the clutch re­quires the hand of Her­cules, neu­tral can be dif­fi­cult to find (read ‘im­pos­si­ble’) while sta­tion­ary, and both the pushrod tube seals and rocker spin­dle seals leak some oil, but it can still rat­tle along quite smartly enough while pro­vid­ing a great sound­track. With new Avon Road­rid­ers, the han­dling is ex­cel­lent. So, it is now 242,000 miles up and still go­ing strong. One day I will do some work on the en­gine, but noth­ing is press­ing at pre­sent and other projects are ahead of it in the queue.

I won­der if Martin Jones, the orig­i­nal owner, is a RealClas­sic reader?

Paul Dig­weed, mem­ber 5970

Thanks for this, Paul. If any other read­ers have bikes with sim­i­lar high mileages, we’d love to hear about them. Frank W

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