Comparison test: Triumph T160 V / Speed Triple
Brands, Myths and Engines
In 2012, Triumph looks back on 110 years of motorcycle history. Until 1968, Triumph motorcycles stood for fast, sporty two-cylinder engines. But today the brand is more associated with the famous three-cylinder. A search for clues.
Siegfried Bettmann, a German, founded the Triumph bicycle factory in Coventry / England in 1887. The long-established company has been building motorized two-wheelers since 1902. In the twenties, the English motorcycle manufacturer became one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world and held this position for decades. The Speed Twin from the genius designer Edward Turner was the first English two-cylinder 500 ever in 1937. Triumphant rides by Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen in the movies “The Wild One” and “Broken Chains” became legendary.
Triumph’s parallel twins were the epitome of a sports motorcycle for the road in the 50s and early 60s. Cafe racers converted into backyard garages by the English rockers and a special event cemented this reputation: in 1956, a streamlined, fully faired Triumph Thunderbird with a tuned 650 engine ran 214.7 miles per hour (345.45 km / h). Location of the record: a dry salt lake in the US state of Utah near the city of Bonneville. One of the most illustrious names in motorcycle history, a myth was born. In August 1958, series production of the Triumph T120 “Bonneville” started.
D.Oh the world, it kept turning rapidly. In the mid-1960s, 250cc and 450cc Honda came to Europe. They were lighter, faster, cheaper. To make matters worse, their twins kept all of their engine oil with them permanently and vibrated much less than the British shakers from AJS, Norton and Triumph. A whole, not very versatile national industry was threatened with extinction. In 1968 Triumph launched the T150 Trident. Named after the trident of the Greek / Roman sea gods Poseidon and Neptune, the 750 three-cylinder was supposed to save what could still be saved. The almost identical BSA Rocket 3 also powered this triple.
In the Triumph the cylinders were vertical, in the BSA they were inclined slightly forward. As with the Trident T160 V from this story from 1975. It symbolizes the final rise of triumph. Because with its 58 hp, it should hold its own against Honda’s CB 750 Four motorcycle of the century, Kawasaki’s super-powerful Z1 and BMW’s solid, sporty R 90 S. A hopeless fight. Especially since the complicated inner workings of the triplet require a technically competent hand. It is no coincidence that Bernd Neitzert, owner of this model, is a retired engineer.
He knows how to maintain his motorcycle. Open both fuel taps. The two outer Amal round slide carburetors also supply the float chamber of the middle one. Then dab heartily until it overflows – and go! The three-cylinder comes on the first kick. Or optionally at the first push of a button. Despite, or perhaps because of, the low mileage of just 850 miles, blue oil clouds accompany the awakening of the three-cylinder. The bend of the middle cylinder forks around the joist of the single-loop frame. Both middle manifolds unite with the two outer ones below the gearbox housing. From there it goes into two elongated, chrome-plated silencers on the left and right.
The old engine is clearer in structure and more beautiful, more worth seeing. It has more charisma. On the other hand, the black lacquered (Speed) Triple looks unadorned, almost dreary. On the other hand, the mechanical background noise of the past is not quiet. You can hear the gears on the right crankshaft stump driving the camshafts, a small drive gear and a large idler gear. The primary chains run rattling on the left. In contrast, the dampening water jacket of the modern, more effectively designed injection engine does a full job.
Triumph Speed Triple.
Inimitable here and there: the three-cylinder soundscape. The Trident sounds more dignified, hoarser. It’s even more reminiscent of air-cooled Porsche 911s. Very special, very typical, very British. That is even more true of the current Triumph. This snotty, hissing pipe puts up all the hair on the back of the neck. Firing order: one-two-three. Emotional consequence: cheering with happiness. When this engine grumbles to itself at 4000 tours, you come to life. Wait a minute, the Trident still needs some getting used to on the first trip. You have to get used to the pressure point of their single-plate dry clutch, which can often become oily. At least the gear shift is on the left.
The sitting position is indecisive. The handlebars wide, the seat narrow, the knees up. Wonderful for how soft and fine the 35-year-old Triple hangs on the gas. The oldie runs smoothly in the entire speed range, even in the shallows of the lower speed range. So this excellent engine concept has always been uniform and elastic. Today’s 135 hp triple takes it to the extreme. This motive power machine pushes and pushes tremendously, puts the Speedy slightly on the rear wheel when accelerating. The downer: the otherwise refined injector jumps hard on the gas from overrun.
If a V2 is too rough for you, but a four-cylinder acts too smoothly, the three-cylinder is spot on. Emotion in motion. The front-wheel-oriented, broad-shouldered driving posture and the chassis from the future play a big part in this with the Speed Triple. The Trident’s beautiful Dunlop Roadmasters were better than ornaments. They are worlds apart from today’s tires. And for the current Brembo ABS brakes, you would have given your bride in the past. Which, however, would be better placed on the classic car. Nowadays everything is more radical. Ideally embodied by the Speed Triple, this hooligan in a tailored suit.
She became a real icon of the island, the Speedy. Including the small, bold sister Street Triple with the no less exciting 675 three-cylinder. For the first Speed Triple, the British simply removed the fairing of the basic Daytona 900, and that’s it. But in 1997, with the T509 ex works as a double-headed streetfighter with double-headed lights, a real trendsetter emerged. The 500,000th Hinckley triumph produced in the summer of 2011 was a Speed Triple, what else?
After the revival of its production in 1990, Triumph only achieved great success with the return to the famous three-cylinder. Few want an English four-cylinder. The ghost in the machine, you have found it again.
Shiny engine housing parts, narrow cylinders, four manifolds (!), Oil cooler, Amal carburetor, kick starter.
Triumph T160 engine
In principle, the slightly long-stroke triple of the Trident T150 in 1968 is based on tried and tested two-cylinder technology. A 67 millimeter bore with a 70 millimeter stroke results in 740.4 cm3 of the gray cast iron cylinder liners. The 120-degree crankshaft has four bearings: two plain bearings in the middle, one ball bearing on the left and one roller bearing on the right stump. The valve train is very complex: -Gear wheels on the right drive the intake camshaft behind and the exhaust camshaft in front of the cylinder base. From there, short rockers and bumpers lead to the upper floor. Here, a rocker arm shaft rotates on the inlet and outlet side in order to control two valves per cylinder using a rocker arm. Mixture is provided by Amal 27 round slide carburetors. The oil tank for the dry sump lubrication is located behind the right side cover. A triplex chain takes over the primary drive, in the T160 V from 1975 a duplex chain. It also has an additional electric starter for the kick starter. A five-speed gearbox was already available from 1972.
Triumph Speed Triple engine
The water-cooled injector has a simpler structure than the air-cooled ancestor. With this it only shares the number of cylinders, 120 degrees of the crank pin offset of the plain-bearing crankshaft and an even firing order of 240 degrees. If the right piston moves upwards, the left one slides down in the coated aluminum cylinder. All 1050 triples have a balance shaft that rotates at crankshaft speed. The engine is identical in the Speed Triple, Tiger and Sprint ST / GT – including a six-speed gearbox and double overhead camshafts. Only airbox, exhaust and mapping distinguish the three models. What they have in common: bucket tappets with external shims operate the twelve valves at a fixed speed. Furthermore: short-stroke design (79 mm bore with 71.4 mm stroke), wet sump lubrication with dipstick. Plus primary drive via gears, ignition coils in the spark plug sockets. Oil and water coolers and 10,000 maintenance intervals are modern.
Classic line, with chrome mudguards, spoked wheels and two-tone paint. The handlebars are high, the pillion seat is comfortable.
|Triumph Trident T160 (1975)
|Triumph Speed Triple
|Type of engine
Three-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
Three-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
|Round slide carburetor, Ø 27 mm
|Injection, Ø 46 mm
|Single-disc dry clutch, mech.
|Multi-disc oil bath clutch, mech.
|Bore x stroke
|67.0 x 70.0 mm
|79.0 x 71.4 mm
|42.6 kW (58 hp) at 7250 rpm
|99.0 kW (135 hp) at 9400 rpm
|57 Nm at 6200 rpm
|111 Nm at 7750 rpm
|Weight with a full tank
|193 km / h
|248 km / h
|12 310 euros (including Nk. And ABS)
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