Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Triumph T160 Trident

Tue, May 25th, 2010

Featuring a different Triumph street bike each day.

1975–77 Triumph T160V Trident
The T160 is a nice enough motor when it's running right, but it can't live up to the legend which has sprung up around it, nor escape its lineage from a simple 500cc pushrod twin, into a needlessly complex kickstart BSA, to an admittedly improved but still overstressed Triumph with inherently convoluted engineering and glaring flaws. A full point is added just for the sound it makes.
I've had the pleasure of riding one, and while they are no where near as capable as any modern bike, they do have a certain smoothness and precision that its spec sheet can't explain.
Great looking then; great looking now. Few motorcycle designs have aged as gracefully.
Keeping a T160 running is not difficult. Keeping one running properly is a daunting, complicated and unending task.
It's best to think of a T160 as an aging but still glamorous princess. She expects to be pampered and won't cotton to being pressed into such plebeian duties as commuting or touring.
There are better bikes. There are even better British bikes. But in the deepest reaches of many riders' souls, the T160 is the ultimate expression of the ultimate brand.
They should put a picture of the T160 in the dictionary next to the word 'quintessence.' It's not objectively great, but is greatly renowned for being what it is.