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Triumph Trident T150V

A classic challenge

(from the Travels with Guido series #218 circa Aug 2009)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen, ride pic by Lou Martin

There is joy in the adversity of old toys, if you can make them start

For perhaps too long I was a serial cynic when it came to the virtues of classic motorcycles. On a bad day, it’s all too easy to see them as an unreliable and frustrating pit for money that no sane person would undertake.

Let’s admit, however, that anyone who bought Vincents and Indians when they were almost free are laughing loud and long, because, unlike their superannuation investments, they keep gaining in value.
As usual, I’ve come in on the tail end of these rorts and therefore paid good money for motorcycles (Winston the 1947 Sunbeam S7 and Trevor the 1975 Triumph T150V) that have little or no chance of being a rich source of financial joy for my offspring.

However I will admit to having a hell of a time recently with the T150V. Let’s back-track a little. About 18 months or more ago, I asked Phil Pilgrim of Union Jack Motorcycles fame to keep an eye out for a good Meriden Trident. In other words, a functional oxymoron.

While comfortably playing around with Hannibal the Hayabusa and other over-powered monsters in the shed, I got the call. “If you’re serious about a Trident,” he said, “this is the one to buy.” So I did.
It was initially a pig to start, but time proved this had to do with the choke slides being vibrated down into the carbs and sticking during the truck trip down the east coast. A service, plus the fitment of a Trispark ignition system had it firing.

Phil, who was an apprentice at the then huge Frank Mussett dealership in Melbourne when the T150V was new, pulled me aside in a fatherly moment when handing back the bike. “It sounds like I remember them when they were new,” he offered reassuringly, “And here’s how to start one…” His advice was spot-on.

The real test of the relationship was the recent All British Rally at Campbells Creek in Vic. My memories of the event at various venues, going back over 20 years, include noticing how very easy it was to find thanks to the trail of stubborn bikes and emotionally broken riders.

Prior to this year’s version, I seriously considered dumping the T150V in favour of the more modern Hinckley Daytona 1200 – faster and ultra-reliable. The weather was truly awful, black clouds on the horizon, with sheets of rain, hail, and the temperature dropping like a stone.

Then I got a pang of conscience. You see I named the T150V Trevor after old mate Mr Thomas (RIP), a rusted-on Meriden enthusiast and one of the founders of the NSW Classic MC Club. It would be a disgrace to his memory to not ride the auld bike.

So, Friday afternoon, in the rain, I pulled Trevor out of the shed, flooded the Amal carbs, carefully set the throttle and gave the kick lever a prod. He fired first time.

It was not a comfortable ride. An icy sidewind, plus a weather front which turned the world dark grey as sheets of rain hauled in to drown any sense of vision or grip, made sure of that. But we got there. Trevor started first kick the entire weekend.

Two nights later, I ignored the rest of the fleet and took him for a spin to the SR500 club monthly meeting, because I could.

In any rational world, and by modern standards the T150V in the dynamic dark ages.  Arguably an ordinary experience. The real Trevor spent years trying to convince me of the virtues, as did Pilgrim, and it finally took, decades down the road, a ride in the worst possible conditions to convince me that they were right.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it has more to do with your state of mind than the machinery at hand. That said, having a classic which actually starts gives you the luxury to think about these things.

Triumph Trident T150V

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