Classic bike logo

Motorcycle Top Trumps!

Classic bike logoYou don’t have to fly the Cross of St. George outside your semi or wave the Union Jack around like a dervish to be a patriot. You could put your money where your mouth is and ‘buy British.’ Here’s our patriotic pick of the top Triumphs from the early Hinckley years…

The first generation…

The new Hinckley Triumph’s launch machines may have been based largely on old tech (some say the bikes were more than heavily based on Kawasaki’s GPz900R, both in motor architecture and chassis/frame design) but that didn’t mean the news of their arrival wasn’t given much fanfare: this was the return of a big name in the motorcycle world.

Half of the range featured long-stroke motors (300cc per cylinder) which were the Trophy 1200 four-cylinder (featuring a square headlight), the Trident 900 triple (a smart-looking naked machine with a round headlight) and the Trophy 900 three cylinder.  You then also had the short-stroke – 250cc per cylinder – range. This comprised of the Daytona 1000 Sport four-cylinder, the Trident 750 and Daytona 750 triple.

It’s fair to say that early bikes suffered on build quality in some areas according to dealers from back in the day but time has shown that they have been pretty much bulletproof, with some bikes going on for many hundreds of thousands of miles.

If you like working on your own bikes, then you’ll find out that Clive Wood runs a series of workshops on these bikes ( 07752 477738) from his place in Bognor Regis. Apparently on these early machines valve clearance issues can be a problem (check every 3000 or so miles, not the 12,000 the factory suggests) as can worn starter sprag clutches.

For the time these early models were pretty rapid, with the 900 Trophy and Trident putting out just under 100 claimed bhp and the Daytona 750 and Trident 750 around 90bhp with the Daytona 1000 hitting a whopping 120bhp. The Trophy 4 1200 took this further still with an impressive (for the time) 135bhp at the crank.

If there was a question mark it was weight. These weren’t lightweights, even back then. The Trophy 1200 was 240 kilos dry and around 270 kilos fully fuelled and ready to ride. The naked Trident 900 was 212 kilos dry before you even thought about filling her up…

Pricing was competitive for the time: the Daytona 750 triple cost £6149 back in 1991 – early Daytonas are rare with only around 1000 of both capacities sold. Other prices from the launch year include the Trident 750 (£5109) the 900 Trident (£5543), Trophy 900 (£6122) and Trophy 1200 (£6604.)

Expanding the range…

As Triumph moved into the mid to late 1990s, Daytona’s now became 900 and 1200cc: the 1200 had a claimed 147bhp at 9500rpm which blew into touch the supposed ‘gentleman’s agreement’ on power caps for two-wheelers in the face of certain EU bureaucrats.

Triumph was also expanding their range still further. By 1994/1995 they now had the rare Super III 900 (£9699) which was a great bike even if it was still being a bit too much of a heavyweight to compete with other 900cc sportsbikes of 1994 such as the Honda CBR900RR FireBlade and Kawasaki ZX-9R.

The Speed Triple of the same year is a classic now – especially the rarer 750 version: beware though. Because, in the same way that RD350Fs are often stripped of their bodywork to become the rarer and more lusted after Ns, so it is with the modular Triumph range. Always check the provenance of any supposed Speed Triple and that counts for later T500 series models, too.

Oh and if you fancy something different but love today’s adventure machines, why not have a look at the first Triumph Tiger? Released in 1993 these bikes are that little bit different and offer brilliant mile-munching ability and comfort. We’d also humbly suggest the likes of the Trident Sprint, Sprint Sport (black and limited-edition) and Sprint Executive (panniers!) No, it’s not the most visually striking machine, but as a solid, do-it-all bike it’s a great all-rounder.