Triumph Trident 660 Review - Revisit the Seventies

POSTED: 01/09/2023

Let’s be clear – this bike has been on the list for some time – and I’ll admit – I really couldn’t get motivated. It turns out, that was a mistake. Here’s why:

The ‘bs’ lockdown skewed our ‘Pure Triumph’ test schedule. I had planned to finish the 1200 Tiger Explorer test I started in 2022 – and I still will. Spoiler: it’s epic. But … it wasn’t back from a test ride when I went to pick it up, so, rather reluctantly, I committed to the 660 Trident. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to – more that it’s not something that filled me full of desire – in the way that the 1200 does. But it’s a really important bike for Triumph. And, as it turns out, for motorcycling – as well as for ‘would-be’ motorcyclists. Again, here’s why:

It's simple. It’s analogue. It’s relatively affordable. And, surprisingly, it rides really well – in a benign, manageable sort of way. BeMer than that, it encourages experienced riders to ride it hard most of the time. Scratch that; ALL of them for me. I am a racer – and a helicopter pilot – so warming up an engine – any engine – is hard-wired into me. But as soon as the oil was - is - warm on the Trident 660, it was - is - ‘game’ on. And if you are experienced, it will be for you too.

Triumph Trident 660

First impressions

First impressions upon picking it up – it feels like the Honda Grom I briefly owned in 2019. It is any – well it is, compared to the motorcycles I normally frequent. I found myself immediately winding the throttle around to the stop – oYen. Even when the bike was cranked over, leaving a corner – or a traffic island – because the power delivery is completely linear. In fact – there isn’t a great deal – or torque, for that matter. There is just an ever-increasing turbine-like whine from the 80 hp triple – and a steadily sweeping rev counter needle. Actually, there isn’t a needle – it’s just a series of LCD increments. The Trident has two rider modes – I can’t think you will use anything other than ‘Sport’ – unless it snows – and I confess, that’s where I left it.

But what of the bike’s place in the scheme of things – after all, it’s 80 BHP – hardly a beginner’s bike? I think this is a tricky rider demographic in 2023 – and here’s why:

If you were – are – a style monkey – when you’ve passed your test, a twin would probably be your preference – and I think you might find the extra few grand required. I would, for sure. BUT … if it was a practical ride that appealed to you, in many ways the Trident might appeal even more – its nimbleness, fuel economy, and ease of ride might swing the decision in favour of the triple – and the 660’s willingness to rev. would definitely seduce the rider looking for a sports proposal.

‘Trident’ suggests the ton-up kids of yesteryear – the test bike’s black and white vibe keeps with the edgy style – but, that’s the only way it does – otherwise, it’s a pussycat. The Nissin brakes particularly suit this bike, wiping off speed with ease – granted there is less speed to wipe off – and weight - and the relatively budget suspension easily coped with my 90KG weight – better than my 2010 865 Scrambler by a margin. My issue is I have become spoiled by the brand – after the 1200 RR’s electronic Ohlin’s, anything else seems, well less.

It was whilst eating up a particularly tedious piece of speed-trapped motorway, that I discovered the Trident’s strange foible – holding a steady state throttle, about 6200 rpm caught the fuel map napping – I imagine in pursuit of the bike’s incredible emissions and mpg, the willing little triple ran very lean for a few hundred rpm. Let’s be clear, under hard acceleration, the bike fuels perfectly. I’m willing to bet that this could be reprogrammed in seconds by an engineer – but, I guess, at the expense of the ultimate possible CO2’s. Could this be a characteristic of the ‘one injector for all three cylinders’ push to keep build costs in check?

But I doubt it. Small beer – spoils nothing, just fascinating for a test rider like me. A novice would never notice.

Triumph Trident 660 Review - Revisit the Seventies

For me, the little Triumph was very comfortable – regardless of what type of riding I threw in its direction. Commute? Warm’s up quickly, brilliant for filtering, super light clutch – the usual Triumph Swiss watch mechanism gearbox – in short, easy. Scratching? Needs a pipe – primarily ‘cause this motor would wail through something like a titanium Akrapovic – or even a tuned steel Arrow – plus, as you are going to be playing racers when the weather’s good, you need sleepy car drivers to know you are there. Touring? Didn’t try it, but I did knock off a hundred miles in one shot – and, like always, despite the modest cruising speed, a small cockpit fairing would be a game changer on a long run – the wind blast as you wind the motor out will eventually give you neck and shoulder soreness.

That’s the point of a bike like this; it should be able to do ANYTHING well – and it generally does. Which makes it kind of odd to me, in 2023. A new bike these days is anything BUT utilitarian – it is generally a particular lifestyle choice. Moto GP wannabee … ? That’ll be our Moto2 765. Atlas Mountains? Take a Tiger. London Grammar? You need some sort of café racer Bonneville, we have many flavours. So who buys the Trident – I’m not sure.

My partner threw a leg over it – she’s 5’ 2” – and has just decided, after us being together for 12 years – to get a bike licence. The Trident would be a perfect first ‘big’ bike for her. But, despite all of my suggestions to the contrary, she decided that she wanted a classic Ducati 696 Monster. Because she liked the style. Forget about the lumpy power delivery, heavy clutch, etc.

The first Tridents were delivered during lockdown to riders who hadn’t even tested them – and that speaks volumes about the power – and trust – riders have for this iconic brand. My 2010 865 Scrambler, though I loved it, left something to be desired when it came to component quality. This entry-level bike from Hinckley is MUCH better built, with now proven technology.

During my test ride, I kept getting a sense of Déjà vu. Strange? Eventually, I worked it out. The 660 felt like the CBR400RR I imported from JPN way back in 1998. That bike is now owned by my good friend, British Ladies Rally Champion, Barbara Armstrong. The compact triple felt in many ways like Honda’s iconic baby Blade – spinning freely in pursuit of BHP. But, even more so, the Trident then took me back to 2002 and 3, when I built my turbine hours flying the Kiss FM/Mountain Dew Jet Ranger, flying the traffic reporter Cmmdr. Chuck Street around Los Angeles, whilst he shouted the traffic news to a disposed of people 1200 feet below.

The Trident engine sound is EXACTLY like that of a Jet Ranger Turbine engine turning over at 50,000 rpm. I kid you not.

There’s your demographic: Retired helicopter pilots with a hankering for the old days.

That’s me then – and, clearly, many others too. More than just the name turns the clock back; this bike has enough of everything to work in any decade I’ve ridden through – and has the chops for the next one to come.

Don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried it. And, if you buy it, I have a suspicion you might keep it for longer than Triumph would want you to.

It’s actually all you NEED, as opposed to all you WANT. It’s a bike for intelligent people.

Steve Deeks. June 2023


© Copyright 2024 Pure Triumph. All rights reserved

Cambria Automobiles, Reg. Office: Dorcan Way, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN3 3RA – Reg. No 5754547. England & Wales

Cambria Automobiles (South East) Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - FRN 308872. Cambria Automobiles (Swindon) Limited, Cambria Vehicle Services Limited, Grange Motors (Brentwood) Limited, Grange Motors (Swindon) Limited, Invicta Motors Limited, Invicta Motors (Maidstone) Limited, Thoranmart Limited, SOGO Mobility Limited and Cambria Automobiles (including all trading names) are Appointed Representatives of Cambria Automobiles (South East) Limited.

We are a credit broker and not a lender. We can introduce you to a limited number of lenders who may be able to finance your purchase. We can only introduce you to these lenders and may receive commission or other benefits for doing so.

Powered by DealerWEBS DealerWEBS™