Triumph Trident T150

Triumph Trident T150

 

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Triumph and BSA

 

 

1968

Triumph Trident T150

 

In 1968, JOMO and TriCor, Triumph’s dealers in the US, had very optimistic sales forecasts for this year, thinking that they could easily reach 35,000 units without effort.

The reality was far from this vision, the factory continued to have manufacturing and reliability problems due to the overexploitation of the factories.

The situation of BSA was even worse, in the golden age of Bonneville, the brand was sliding towards the precipice, it had sales problems due to the success that its sister and competitor, in addition, it had many claims in guarantee of the vehicles sold.

This caused the brand to lose money continuously and the profitability of the group was seriously affected.

The situation of BSA was even worse, in the golden age of Bonneville, the brand was sliding towards the precipice, it had sales problems due to the success that its sister and competitor, in addition, it had many claims in guarantee of the vehicles sold.

 

 

The beginning of the end of the mythical Bonnie

Triumph Trident T150

 

The only news that brought some optimism in the company was that the new 750cc three-cylinder was ready for production, although the decision to make two different models, one for BSA and the other for Triumph, was not efficient and made the production process more expensive.

Finally, after hard deliberation, it was decided to go ahead with the design proposed by Ogle Design, a quite controversial design that generated a lot of internal debate and was quite risky in the weak situation that both brands were in.

Triumph Trident T150

Norton Commando 1971 | Triumph Trident T150

This was the last year of relative calm in the group, things would change a lot in the following years, meanwhile, in April Norton launches its innovative Commando 750cc model and in October Honda launches its fearsome CB750 Four.

For the following year, the Trident 750cc would replace the Bonneville as the brand’s flagship. The era of supremacy of the beautiful Bonnies, was beginning to end.

The only news that brought some optimism in the company was that the new 750cc three-cylinder was ready for production, although the decision to make two different models, one for BSA and the other for Triumph, was not efficient and made the production process more expensive.

 

 

1969. Triumph Trident T150

triumph Trident T150

 

1969 was the year of the superbikes, all the brands were dedicated to designing and manufacturing fast and powerful motorcycles, in this aspect Triumph and BSA were at the forefront with their new 750cc three-cylinders, but sales were not equal to this success, the presentation of the new model in the US market did not generate particular enthusiasm, meanwhile, the sales of two-cylinders reached a record figure.

Triumph Trident T150

BSA Small Heat | Triumph Trident T150

Meriden manufactured 900 units a week, surpassing the 24,000 motorcycles sold in the United States.

The problems in BSA were unstoppable and its value plummeted dramatically. Jofeh fired 1,200 workers from the Small Heath factory and unify all of its U.S. dealers under the management of Peter Thornton. A manager with very little experience in the sector, this increased brand’s problems.

Meriden manufactured 900 units a week, surpassing the 24,000 motorcycles sold in the United States.

 

 

T150 Trident and Rocket 3

Triumph Trident T150

 

The production of the three-cylinders began in August 1968 for sale in 1969. The launch of these models was necessary for both brands, in the case of BSA because it had been 7 years without launching a new model to the market and in the case of Triumph; the Bonneville had already given everything it could give.

Triumph Trident T150

Triumph Trident T150 | Triumph Trident T150

The Trident and Rocket 3 were similar in many ways but there were aesthetic and mechanical details that made them different. This requirement came especially from the USA, the main market of the group; the American dealers expressly requested the manufacture of two different models of three-cylinders.

The three-cylinder engine was designed in Meriden by Bert Hopwood, Doug Hele, and Jack Wickes and was apparently the Tiger’s engine with a third cylinder added to its successful twin-cylinder. While the square tank and silencers designed by Ogle were quite controversial, everything remained as is for the launch of the new model.

The Trident and Rocket 3 were similar in many ways but there were aesthetic and mechanical details that made them different. This requirement came especially from the USA, the main market of the group; the American dealers expressly requested the manufacture of two different models of three-cylinders.

 

 

Expensive and not pretty. Triumph Trident T150

Triumph Trident T150

 

The three-cylinder Trident was a Meriden conception based on existing Triumph designs, most of its manufacturing being done at Small Heath. Many components were extremely difficult and complex to manufacture, for this reason the upgrade was kept to a minimum.

Manufacturing required a lot of labor, the engine assembly required 56 stages, and the Trident had a very high manufacturing cost, $ 1,750 compared to $ 1,439 for a Norton Commando and $ 1,495 for a Honda CB750. In addition, the first models suffered manufacturing failures which led to very expensive warranty claims.

The Trident was expensive and not very pretty, but it was undoubtedly fast. In the Cycle magazine comparison test of seven superbikes in March 1970, the Trident T150 posted the second fastest quarter mile behind the Norton Commando which was significantly lighter.

BSA Rocket 3 | Triumph Trident T150

The BSA Rocket 3 set new speed records at Daytona and other new performance marks were achieved by both models.

All this success of new records was not accompanied by sales, BSA and Triumph sold only 7,000 units of three-cylinders in the US, all a failure compared to the 30,000 units sold by Honda of its CB750 Four.

In a survey of readers conducted by Cycle magazine, only 4.6% rated the Trident as the best super bike compared to 36% who chose the CB750 Four. They were considered really ugly and the American dealers had a hard time selling them, something had to be done to fix it.

All this success of new records was not accompanied by sales, BSA and Triumph sold only 7,000 units of three-cylinders in the US, all a failure compared to the 30,000 units sold by Honda of its CB750 Four.

 

 

Die of success

Triumph Trident T150

 

Towards the end of 1969 there were serious efficiency problems in the Umberslade Hall plant, Lionel Jofeh asked Bert Hapwood to prepare a plan to solve this problem, but after analyzing the situation, Hapwood resigned from the job. Umberslade Hall wasted resources on projects of dubious success and this continually affected the group’s profitability, for example the Ariel 3 Trike.

Meanwhile, sales to the US continued to set records, reaching 638,763 units for the period 1969-1970, BSA built a new Trident and Rocket 3 assembly section in Small Heath, and with Meriden producing at full speed to meet the demand for two-cylinders of 500 and 650cc to the United States, in the first half of 1970 the record for motorcycle exports from the United Kingdom was reached.

However, this crazy demand for motorcycles in the US generated more concern than happiness. The internal problems that had been generated in these years continued to affect production and quality, incidents that seriously affected the fulfillment of deliveries to its main market.

However, this crazy demand for motorcycles in the US generated more concern than happiness. The internal problems that had been generated in these years continued to affect production and quality, incidents that seriously affected the fulfillment of deliveries to its main market.

 

 

 

 

Source: “Triumph motorcycles 1937-today” of Ian Falloon

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