The 675 cc 3 cylinder motor in both Daytona and Street Triple guise is a peach of an engine and the bikes have won many awards and continue to distinguish themselves creditably on world racetracks. However, you probably have to be a Triumph enthusiast or a sad old git like me to know that the origins of it go back 48 years to 1962! This was the year that two talented engineers at Triumph (Hopwood and Hele) laid down the original design for an across the frame triple. Typically for Triumph at that time, politics and poor management delayed the launch and it wasn't until mid-1968 until they were launched in the guise of the 750cc Triumph Trident and the BSA Rocket 3.
Unfortunately, the production delays only saw it launched weeks before the first Honda 750 4 which was a higher specification bike in all respects. Nonetheless, the 750 triples enjoyed huge racing success in both Europe and North America. I was privileged to attend the first UK Transatlantic Match Races in the very early 70's where the UK's finest competed against the likes of Nixon, Mann, DuHamel, Rayborn and many more. At one stage, both teams had factory-backed Triples and in my humble opinion; hearing the howl of 6-10 triples with unsilenced 3 into 1 megaphones warming up in the pits is still one of the greatest motorcycle sounds ever. I saw a replica Rocket 3 racing in a classic meeting in Auckland early this year and the howl still gave me goosebumps!
Here are two photos I took at the 1971 event. Despite it being nearly 40 years ago, these bikes still look fantastic!
Dave Aldana's Rocket 3
Paul Smart's Trident
Completing the symmetry between the original 1960's 750cc Triple and today's 675, it's interesting to compare a few key specifications. Top speed of the 750 was around 130mph (210km/hr) with a 0-60mph time of about 4.1 seconds. The Street Triple has a top speed about 5 mph up on that but the 0-60 mph time of ~3.3 seconds is far superior thanks to the better power to weight ratio (~220 kg for the 750 compared with ~170kg for the 675). So despite the passage of time being over 4 decades, there's not a huge difference in straight line performance and the same goes for the racebike versions of both capacities too. In the handling stakes of course, there's no comparison!
There's also no comparison in terms of reliability. A close friend of mine in the UK still has an early 70's Trident. Admittedly, it rarely comes out of the shed these days but he has so many memories invested in it that selling is completely out of the question. When he used to ride it regularly, electrical (un)reliability was such that his wife claimed he was on first name terms with every Automobile Association recovery team in half the country!
Personally, it's almost Karma for me having returned to Triumph after an association which started so long ago - long may it continue!