In the mid-1960s BSA/Triumph learns that Honda is to launch a 750cc motorcycle that will clearly outclass its 650cc twins. Luckily, Meriden’s top two designers – Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele – have been toying with the idea of a 3-cylinder 750. Could it work? The prototype is fast and intoxicating to ride, but delays mean the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3 have only been on the market a few weeks when the smoother Honda 750 comes along.
The British bikes might be fast, but they lack sophistication and no one loves their oddball styling. Sales are so slow that production is suspended for eight months. BSA/Triumph fights back with a factory race team that sweeps all before it in 1971, including a 1–2–3 at the Daytona 200. And while BSA collapses, Triumph struggles on, launching the factory custom Hurricane and updating the T150 Trident with a 5-speed gearbox and front disc brake.
The Meriden factory sit-in stops Trident production, but a few months later bikes are rolling off the line at Small Heath and the electric-start T160 is launched. To no avail – the odds are against them and in early 1975 Trident production finally stops.
But just as in Hollywood, that’s not the end of the story. Les Williams and Norman Hyde keep the Trident flag flying through the 1980s and beyond. The Trident and Rocket 3 Owners’ Club is formed, bringing together enthusiasts for the iconic triples. And in 1992 (and again in 2020) the reborn Triumph company launches 3-cylinder bikes that carry on the Trident name.
About the Author
Peter Henshaw has had an enthusiasm for anything with wheels from an early age - from bicycles to 500hp tractors. He was the editor of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure for five years before going freelance, and now contributes to a whole range of transport magazines, including MSL, TAG, A to B and Tractor, as well as The Telegraph. He's also written over 30 books, including 10 about bikes, and is an all-year-round motorcyclist who does not own a car.