Unique bikes: Triumph T160 + Ducati auction

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars mag, Photography by: Andrew Britten

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Triumph's elegant Triple was a final fling for the Meriden factory

If any one motorcycle sums up the troubles and tribulations of the British motorcycle industry in the early 1970s it is the Triumph Trident T160.

With DNA harking back to Edward Turner’s Speed Twin of 1937, it was Triumph’s last gasp before sliding into oblivion in May 1977.

Although BSA/Triumph was taken over by Norton Villiers in 1973 the British motorcycle industry, and indeed British industry as a whole, was in deep trouble.


With the Honda 750 setting a new benchmark Triumph had been experimenting with an electric start on the Trident since 1969. But the stumbling block was always the lack of room above the gearbox. Using the inclined cylinder block of the BSA Rocket 3 solved this problem nicely, and the Lucas starter motor sat comfortably above the five-speed gearbox.

A new frame was required to accommodate the larger battery and although Triumph did consider a more conventional duplex style frame, ultimately the T160 ended with a traditional Triumph single downtube frame. A longer swingarm, and shorter front forks kept the wheelbase to a moderate 1470mm.


The three-cylinder pushrod engine was displacing 740cc, ran a 9.5:1 compression ratio, and a bank of three 27mm Amal concentric carburettors.

The exhaust header pipes ran a central Y-manifold splaying the front downtube to look like four pipes. Maximum power was 58 horsepower at 7250rpm.


New for the T160 was a left-side gearshift using a crossover shaft, and a duplex primary drive chain instead of the previous triplex unit. Not so new was the ignition, which was still by a trio of contact breakers and three six-volt coils powered by a ballast resistor.

Other modern updates included a rear 250mm disc brake, the same size as the front and with an identical Lockheed caliper, a more modern warning light panel between the Smiths instruments, and a traditional teardrop fuel tank.


There was no denying the T160 was a handsome beast, with performance and handling to match. Still rolling on vintage style 19-inch wheels the T160 may have been a little heavy at 229kg dry but it had surprisingly good handling and was nimble. It also had a fair turn of speed; topping out around 200km/h.

Ultimately a nimble, good-looking, electric start Trident with disc brakes wasn’t enough to ensure its success, particularly in America, Triumph’s traditional export market.
By May 1977 the Trident and Triumph were history.


When it comes to owning one today, they have no problems in modern traffic, while parts supply is plentiful and prices aren’t too painful. A top example will these days fetch $30k. More at AllMoto.com.

Auction block


Over the years we’ve got used to the idea of classic Ducati motorcycles fetching some pretty hefty prices. At the top of the tree of course is the green frame 750 SS, which these days is worth in the vicinity of $300-400k .

However we’re now seeing late-model machinery fetching big money. A few recent sales of post-2000 models have seen prices pass the $50k mark. For example this 25th anniversary Panigale, dubbed a 916 though it’s an 1100 V4, recently fetched $66,000. It was sold through Collecting Cars and is one of 500 made.

From Unique Cars #476, March 2023

More Unique Bikes:

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail + auction news

Triumph T160 + auction news

Suzuki Hayabusa + auction news



Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

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