Triumph Trident T160V
If it ain't fixed, break it
Our bikes came from Norman Hunters in almost standard form. We took Norman's advice and had them fitted with Rita transistor ignition right from the start because the heels of the contact breakers were reputed to drag on the cam. It was a sensible choice because it was a fit-and-forget solution to ignition. Almost.
Problem with our Rita ignition was that the box was placed where it took all the spray off the back wheel. In torrential rain, water would inevitably find its way into the box and, as a 'sealed' unit, there was no way to clean it out. On one such occasion I was heading out on the M69 through a downpour when it crackled and died. I coasted to the hard shoulder and waited patiently for it to dry out. A BMW (of all bikes!) rider pulled in to see if I needed help. I explained the problem and said it was just a matter of waiting a few minutes for it to dry.
Oh, I can fix that! he said cheerfully, pulling a blue and yellow aerosol can from his pannier. A couple of sprays and the Trident burst back into life. After that, a can of WD40 was added to my growing tool roll!
Another mod that we soon found was necessary was to fit a racing style hinged cap to the fuel tank. Original twist-on caps had the annoying habit of weeping petrol that ran down the fuel tank's white flashes, staining them. Cleaning off the stain was going to rapidly erode the paint. My new fuel cap added a crowning sparkle to the petrol tank that I still think has a very sexy shape. (I know, but it is a consenting motorcycle!)
I also asked for the bike to be fitted with a Craven carrier. Norman Hunter fitted carriers to both bikes and I took some stick from Kevin who hadn't asked for one!
Club run pause for refreshments somewhere down the Fosse Way.
Tramping about at high speed wearing an open face helmet is not the most comfortable thing so I looked for some kind of fairing or screen. In the back of the garage was an old nose fairing off my 1952 heavyweight AJS 500 single and, heaven forbid, it went onto the Trident! I even toyed with the idea of fitting leg-shields, would you believe. The strange thing about that huge black handlebar fairing (apart from the look of it) was how damn effective it was! But it had to go, such are the trials of fashion.
Luckily there aren't many photos of the Trident in 1950s attire but Trevor Evans took a couple on our camping trip to the Mosel.
In the interests of sartorial elegance and general street cred the fairing was very soon changed to the less effective but trendy nose fairing with twin headlamps that became my bike's trademark.
Screen and goggles kept the flies outta my eyes. But what about them blinking headlights?
Twin quarz-halogen bulbs spread light in front and reduced anxiety associated with bulb failure when night-time foot-peg scraping round country bends. But at slow speeds the alternator barely kept up, especially if you expected to use the electric starter. Solution 1 was a switch that turned off the nearside light in town and elicited many a helpful
Yer lights gone orf, mate from other road users. Solution 2 was the far more sensible fitting of a high output alternator and matched Zener diodes.
Front aspect of the bikini nose fairing. Note the twin Zener heat-sinks underneath.
Wishbone's RE on the background.
Other mods were made as need arose. The bike had a tendency to start a tank-slapper. Maybe the aerodynamics of the handlebar fairing caused that. To save on laundry bills it was fitted with a hydraulic steering damper and Koni shock absorbers.
At one stage it suffered the indignity of a three into one exhaust into a turnout with appropriate up-jetting of the carbs. A more civilised silencer was fitted when neighbours mentioned they could hear me coming home five minutes before I arrived (not because the bike was slow!) It eventually returned to the standard three-into-four-into-one-into-two plumbing and proper silencers in stainless steel.
In its later form with non-standard black and cherry tank and other mods.
The wheels were eventually replaced by Borrani alloy rims, stainless spokes and a fat 18 inch rear tyre. That didn't help the speedometer much but it usually behaved like a windscreen wiper anyway. Front brake remained as a single disc but it was improved greatly by stainless braided hoses.
When it started to blow rear bulbs too regularly I decided to fit a twin bulb Kawasaki light (I have a thing about twin lights). As I was fitting it, I discovered the reason the bulbs were blowing; the mudguard was cracked and shaking violently on bad road surfaces. Oh well, belt and braces.
I must also mention the pair of red Fiamm horns given to me by Maria Luiza von Bloedau, that were the only things salvaged from my written off Commando.
Keeping the Show on the Road
Maintenance was carried out on a rolling basis. I reached home and then spent an hour fixing summat.
Les Williams in Kenilworth had anything I needed. Every time I called in Les would ask
Has your frame broken yet?. He was of the opinion that I should have a Rob North frame.
I was confident in the reliability of my bike considering the miles I did and the haste they were covered in. But it did break down occasionally. In the report of the BMW K100 I mention the time the battery was buggered. Earlier I said about the clutch pull-rod breaking and how water could short out the Rita ignition.
They all pale into insignificance compared to my return from work in Birmingham on the M6 when I threw the conrods through the crankcase. Ouch!
That was beyond my skill to fix. But luckily I knew a man who could. Jack Shemans. My Trident came back better than ever!
To be continued...
- Ben Crossley