Thanks to those nice parallel importer chappies (see the ads in MCN if you’ve been asleep for the past few years), prices for used Triumphs of recent vintage are at a level to interest even the most miserly of UMG readers. As they are generally reliable and tough even the oldest ones are worth a look if money is tight yet lust still high.
Triumph started off in 1991, with the mass of machines making it on to the market in 1992. Doesn’t time fly? A six year old 750 Trident triple being the cheapest deal available. They go right down to two grand on the private market – expect lots of cosmetic rot, crunchy gearbox and marginal electrics from a machine with more than 50,000 miles under its wheels for that kind of money. Oil spewing engine gaskets are a sign of a well neglected bike, which in that state will in all probability include shot chassis bearings.
We know of one chap who bought a far gone but running 750 for £1600, swapped the engine for a 900 and did the chassis up – total cost around £2500 for a fine running bike! Worth thinking about. There’s nothing really wrong with the 750 engine, just that the 900 had much more grunt without adding any extra mass. On the weight front (480lbs stock), large savings can be made from fitting a 3-1 exhaust and dumping a lot of the induction plumbing which is really only there for emission control. Poor routing of the watercooling pipes does ruin the butch looks on one side and there ain’t much you can do about that.
There’s absolutely no need to pay more than four grand for an absolutely immaculate, low mileage and newish 750 Trident. Three grand will buy a really nice one with not much more than ten grand on the clock and chassis in fine state (the early ones don’t like British winters, but no worse than the cheaper Kawasakis). Really, it should look like it’s just been well run in.
Some Triumphs do burn out their electronic ignition at as little as 25,000 miles (and the factory sometime replace them for free even if the guarantee’s finished) but there’s no way to suss this – they either work or don’t. There are some available from breakers so it can’t be that common. Obviously, anything with the wiring starting to rot is a prime candidate for this, if not electrical self-immolation.
The 900 Tridents run from £3000 to £5000, with a similar range of conditions. However, the 750’s did appeal more to the mature rider after a thoroughly sensible motorcycle and they seem to be a bit less neglected. Some 900’s even survived the despatch circuit and there are a couple still rumbling around with over 100,000 miles on the clock. Not a sensible buy as they very rarely come up for less than three grand even when thoroughly wrecked!
The combination of spine frame and stressed engine’s pretty tough in crashes – much more likely to crack up the wheels or bend the forks. Look for the usual things – we’ve seen a couple of really bodged 900’s with straightened forks and welded wheels. In a bike capable of 145mph and carrying so much mass this is a quick way to experience the death dance! If you see such an example do something nasty, like phoning the cops or trading standards office.
The usual winter weather shit does for the brake calipers, although the swinging arm bearings and linkages have grease nipples. These are often ignored with the usual bearing demise – and a big Trident’s not the kind of bike you want to ride on shot chassis bearings; the top heavy mass fights back with a nasty vengeance! Worn tyres have a similar effect, prime rubber being a costly necessity; don’t expect more than 5000 miles – hard ridden ones only manage half that! Sorting out worn chassis bearings, tyres, brake pads and calipers can add up to over three hundred notes – check them out carefully and bargain down accordingly. The Sprint has a useful half fairing but doesn’t really fetch much more on the private used market, though dealers do mark them up hopefully.
The basic spine frame and engine layout were retained in many different guises. Not that successfully as far as the speed merchants were concerned – not that something like the 120hp Super 3 Daytona was lacking in power, it was still burdened with excessive mass, especially compared with something like a Fireblade. The coming of the T595 made a whole host of wannabe speedster Triumphs obsolete.
Which means bargain time on the private market with all kind of interesting deals. Five grand will buy an absolutely prime Super 3, though six thousand notes is often demanded. Something rough around the edges will go for £4000 and we know of one lucky chap who bought a 1995 Daytona for £3450! Although the Triumphs had their fair share of poseurs, most ended up being hard used. Most often shown, as in ageing Tridents, in the clutch and gearbox. The latter was never much better than Honda’s rougher efforts whilst the former wasn’t really up to the wheelie antics of the more mad riders (neither was the T595’s, for that matter). Easy enough to check and evident in its wear and nastiness even in a mild charge through town. It’s hard to disguise wear and neglect on these fast Triumphs, the genuine low milers standing out with the sheen of their easy life. Hunt around, for the same kind of money there’s a great variety of machinery and no need to tolerate anything with more than 20,000 miles on the clock.
The Speed Triple was more a styling effort than a reinvention of the triple idiom but its raunchy looks go well with the grunty engine, its appearance in most ways still superior to the T509 which sports one of the ugliest front ends in the motorcycle world and has still failed to clean up the watercooling tubing. Prices reasonable rather than bargain basement, with at least five grand needed to pick up the really decent stuff. A cheap and cheerful 750 version appeared in 1997 which can be had for that kind of money, these days. Malone, of UMG fame, got his 900 up to 73000 miles under a regime of religious neglect, so don’t be put off with stuff quoting fifty grand (as long as the price is around £4000 or even less). Many think this model the definitive old style triple. Who can argue with that?
Both the custom and trail markets are also well catered to by the sixties inspired Thunderbird and the threateningly large Tiger. The latter had a passing popularity with the despatch crowd – one lad revelled in daily tales of the excessive number of cages he’d damaged! Expect the usual neglect and decay from such types, though they still demand three grand for them. A good Tiger can be had for around £4500, paying more might buy something newer and lower mileage but the condition or longevity won’t be noticeably better. The Thunderbird’s still prime meat in classic circles, not much available for less than five grand – not that bad as it has as much style as a Harley yet’s much more usable. The new sportier version of the ‘Bird will eat into its value over the next few years.
The four cylinder range never had the same effect on the punters and ought to be dumped. There are some bargains around – two grand for an early 1000 Daytona; twice that for a ’95 140hp 1200 Daytona and £3200 for a 30,000 mile 1200 Trophy, are just some examples we’ve seen recently. Insurance and running costs aside (if you need to ask…), the whole range is worth a look.