Triumph Trident Motorcycle Features SMITHS Gauges

Triumph Trident Motorcycle Features SMITHS Gauges

The Triumph Trident motorcycle is widely regarded as the world's first 'superbike' despite being overshadowed by the Honda CB750.  Manufactured by Triumph Engineering and the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), the Trident was launched a few weeks prior to Honda's CB750 in the summer of 1968.  The motorcycle was a technically advanced, high-performance roadster motorcycle, bring a new level of sophistication to street bikes.

The motorcycle was sold under both the Triumph and BSA marques as the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3.  Designed by motorcycle engineers Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele, the UK-built motorcycle was released to combat increased competition from the rapidly expanding and increasingly popular Japanese motorcycles.

The original prototype was ready in 1965, but release was delayed by a cosmetic redesign.  The prototypes had featured a teardrop-shaped tank in the classic Triumph style.  Ogle Design was commissioned for a redesign by BSA/Triumph, delaying release by 18 months.  The new design featured a squarer fuel tank and a less-traditional appearance.  This delay proved to be disastrous, allowing Honda to steal most of the publicity of launching the new era of the 'superbike' with their CB750.

Three-Cylinder Engine

Hopwood and Dele developed a three-cylinder engine for the Trident, developed from Triumph's 1959 5TA 500 cc parallel-twin.  The Trident engine was essentially a vertically split parallel twin with a separate central chamber to accommodate the third cylinder, unlike the Honda CB750 and other Japanese superbikes which had horizontally split crankcases.  The 58 bhp (43 kW) cubic centimetres (45 cu in) air-cooled OHV unit construction straight-three engine had a top speed of 117.03 mph with acceleration times of 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds (Cycle World).


Despite wide critical acclaim, the launch of the Trident was totally eclipsed by the Honda CB750.  Sales, especially in the US market, were disappointing leading to Triumph reverting to a more classic look in 1970.  In November 1974, Triumph launched the Model T160.  It was a final effort to save large-scale motorcycle manufacturing in the UK.  The new T160 was modernised to include features commonly seen on Japanese imports such as an electric start.  They also reverted back to classic Triumph styling.  However, the last classic Trident to leave the production line was in 1975, marking the end of an era for the British motorcycle industry.  Between 1968 and 1975, 27,480 Tridents and Rocket 3 motorcycles were produced.

SMITHS Instruments

SMITHS was the long-term recognised gauge supplier for Triumph and BSA.  They designed and supplied a Speedometer (0-150 mph), Tachometer (0-8000 rpm) and Fuel Gauge for the original Trident.  The T160 featured two gauges:  Speedometer (0-150 mph) and Tachometer (0-10000 rpm).  SMITHS gauges for classic Triumph motorcycles continue to be manufactured in the UK today at the Caerbont Automotive Instruments facility just outside Swansea in South Wales.

For more information on SMITHS gauges for classic motorcycles such as the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3, please contact us on:

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Tags: BSA Rocket 3, Motorbike, Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Triumph, Triumph Trident

Categories: Case Histories

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