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Getting interested in triples #794724 01/03/20 10:44 pm
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BrettF Online Content OP
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Hi Folks,

I think the triple bug has bitten me as I find myself looking at triple classifieds and reading up as much as possible on them. But still know very little (for example, they are all non OIF , right?)

I was drawn to the "beauty kit" models at first, probably as they are similar to my existing triumphs but the mode I look at the bread-bin ones the more they grow on me.

I'm looking for some advice as to which years are better or worse. I'm looking for a T150 I think as it looks more "triumph" to me and it seems a bit simpler without the starter motor. Is it silly to exclude the T160's? Are they better bikes, they certainly seem to have better brakes.

What should I look for in a used one besides the standard "buying a used bike" stuff, compression, oil pressure etc. (is it easy to check middle pot compression without stripping the sellers bike?) I heard the middle carb can have water problems leading to lean running. Is the primary chan really a problem?

I understand they can be really expensive to work on ( I can do everything except machining) are parts generally available? I've read the sticky on sensible engine mods and many posts that have given me a feel but any advice or insight is greatly appreciated.

Cheers

BMF


3D TV: A format that lost a format war without even having an opponent.
Bikes: '69 T120 on average (1967 rolling frame and 1971 Bonnie engine) + '56 1/2 T110 on average (58 rolling frame - with 55 iron head engine)
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Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #794749 01/04/20 2:32 am
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T160 most popular because of the electric start, rear disk brake and LH shift.T150 more traditional. You pays your money, you takes your chances!!!!

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #794768 01/04/20 3:17 pm
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T-160 pri/chain hard to get. many upgrades, l/s shift, more a pain in the ass to do an oil change. On the T-160 a single fire ignition and a YTX-20 Battery with over 300 CCA will pop one off nice on the electric foot. 74 T-150 are real nice. I have a April 69 T-150 for 30+ years, that has had many upgrades over the years. With EIec-Ign. solid state reg./ret. very roadworthy and reliable. Carbs can be a challenge but there are options. Back in the day at IOM TT the marshalls used T-150 regular. Triples on Line .com www.triplesonline lots of correct info and the Tri-triples & Rocket 3 club also. I will also be the asshat that says if you are a hammer & chisel mo-can-ic stay away! Triples do not tolerate hacks. If you find one spend the $$ for a (same year) factory parts & shop manuals Happy hunting & Happy New Year

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #794790 01/04/20 8:05 pm
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Any R3/T150 can be upgraded(?) with disc brake, modern ignition and electric starter, even OIF (although R3 or T160 engine is easier than T150) if you want to. How close to original do you want to keep it and how much money do you want to spend to make it the way you want it?

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #794791 01/04/20 8:34 pm
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Adam M. Offline
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Originally Posted by BrettF
Hi Folks,
I'm looking for some advice as to which years are better or worse. I'm looking for a T150 I think as it looks more "triumph" to me and it seems a bit simpler without the starter motor. Is it silly to exclude the T160's? Are they better bikes, they certainly seem to have better brakes.
BMF


Facing the same choice 4 years ago I decided to buy 73 T150V, lighter and cheaper than T160, has a beauty kit look I like and better brakes and gearbox compared to earlier models. Makes for better rider in my mainly big city circumstances. I modified some things like 3 phase charging system, Trispark ignition, front fork inner parts.
You need special tools to take it apart and assemble it later, I also used different method of valve timing to get an engine more responsive and cylinder head was slightly ported by my machinist according to Triumph dealer's bulletin ( AM heads have restricted exhaust ports from a factory making exhaust valves overheating and engine sluggish comparing to earlier 4 speed model ).
Valve geometry of these engines is wrong, I used higher quality Kibblewhite valves and guides to withstand it longer than quickly wearing stock parts. Cylinder barrel has it's own problems with very thin iron liners installed in very thin aluminium block ( compare it to old Honda CB 750 ) resulting in deformation of liners on hot engines and problems with sealing between liners and cylinder rings, so some engines smoke excessively. I found Goetze rings coping ok with this problem. However didn't solve another problem of oil leaks from pushrod / rockerbox area, but getting there. One thing is sure - top of the engine has to be solidly built with Cometic head gasket and Covseal rocker box gaskets, I also dovelled rocker boxes to eliminate their tendency to move around on stock paper gaskets generating leaks from this area.
Another difficult area is a clutch, but it can be made to work well and reliable, you just have to be sure what to do during rebuild and later be on the top of things. Tridents don't tolerate a lack of maintenance and make you pay for it.
After 4 years of ownership I found a bike difficult to set up properly from a start ( however well prepared you think you are ) but slowly you learn how to make it work better and fit you better. I had one breakage preventing me from riding home during this time, which I consider my own mistake ( broken clutch pull rod ), other than that bike was more reliable than I expected and nicer to ride comparing to my A65 because of less vibrations, longer frame, bigger but not excessive weight and better brakes.
However front end took some time to be sorted, giving very harsh and unpleasant ride and preventing me from riding faster than 60 mph on any roads. Original front springs have to be discarded and changed for something more supple, not talking about the rest of changes to make this front end work better.

The most critical check for me, buying a Trident in working condition is hot oil pressure check above 3000 rpm ( should be above 45 psi ) and hot idle ( around 1000 rpm should give 20 psi minimum ) figures on cold engine are irrelevant.
This shows you condition of mains and big ends.
The next would be compression and gear changes during a ride, this covers most expensive areas of a bike to repair.
Charging and braking are next checks, much easier and cheaper to repair.

Buying a bike in non working condition, I wouldn't pay more than $2000 for complete and god looking bike because you can expect engine to be worn completely by previous owners not changing oil in time.

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #794822 01/05/20 5:54 am
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Originally Posted by BrettF
(for example, they are all non OIF , right?)

Correct

Originally Posted by BrettF

I was drawn to the "beauty kit" models at first, probably as they are similar to my existing triumphs but the mode I look at the bread-bin ones the more they grow on me.

The T160s are popular in England. I think that a lot of this is because they finally got a good looking bike.

Originally Posted by BrettF
Is it silly to exclude the T160's? Are they better bikes, they certainly seem to have better brakes.

Certainly better if the bike dies at a stop light and you have the electric to restart.
But, they are slightly heavier with a longer wheel base. A lot depends on your riding style.
'73 and '74 T150s have the disc front end.

Originally Posted by BrettF

What should I look for in a used one besides the standard "buying a used bike" stuff, compression, oil pressure etc. (is it easy to check middle pot compression without stripping the sellers bike?) I heard the middle carb can have water problems leading to lean running. Is the primary chan really a problem?

The center spark plug can be difficult to access, but it's really no trouble to check compression with everything in place. Any of these bikes with AMAL carbs can let water in if left out in the rain. I suppose it could be more trouble on the center carb if you're too lazy to drain it when you drain the others.
A new duplex primary chain for the T160 is very scarce. The T150 uses a triplex chain. Alignment on these is critical, but should be good unless the PO lost the shim from under the engine sprocket.

Originally Posted by BrettF

I understand they can be really expensive to work on ( I can do everything except machining) are parts generally available?

Trident only parts can be difficult to find, but many parts are shared with other models.
If the bike still has points add the price of electronic ignition to the cost. You don't wish to spend half your riding time setting and resetting three sets of points.


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
72 T120V cafe project "Mr. Jim"
72 T150V "Wotan"
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795075 01/07/20 3:29 pm
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Thanks so much for the input guys, it will definitely be a T150, dont want a "wrong" side gearchange :-).

Are new cylinders available or can one resleeve them?

Is it true that valve guides / valves would need to be replaced every 20 k miles?

Cheers

Brett


3D TV: A format that lost a format war without even having an opponent.
Bikes: '69 T120 on average (1967 rolling frame and 1971 Bonnie engine) + '56 1/2 T110 on average (58 rolling frame - with 55 iron head engine)
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795077 01/07/20 5:02 pm
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Why would you need a new cylinder?
You can buy used, or 850 version for lots of money.
They can be resleeved too.

Somebody ( PO ) changed stock valves to Kibblewhite in my Trident years ago and they survived very nicely, however stock guides were shot, so this time around I kept the valves and changed guides to Kibblewhites made from much more resistant bronze.
So far so good, but I still don't have 10k km on a bike yet.

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795080 01/07/20 5:15 pm
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Depending on what your perception of "wrong" is the engine can be changed to either left or right shift. Requires some parts and internal plugging of holes (left to right).
I believe both the '73 and '74 T150 went back to the earlier teardrop style tank but you can retrofit the breadbin.
Oversize pistons are available and the cylinder can be resleeved. You have to find a shop that knows what they are doing.
Replacement of guides and valves depends upon the quality that you put in and getting the guide/valve clearance right. Correct orientation of the rocker shaft and changing from the stock adjusters.
Early perforated band around the air cleaner had holes all around which let water in from the top. Later bands only had the bottom perforated.
Added expense over a twin is the extra cylinder plus the damage done by previous owners who knew nothing about working on them.
Chrome has to be removed from the disc to make them work properly. Smaller master gives a more modern feel.
You need a spark plug socket that is narrowed above the hex to clear the inspection caps. Otherwise remove the caps to get at the centre plug.
Primary chain, as with the twins, will have a problem if not kept correctly adjusted. Eats through the cases and wears sprockets.

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795086 01/07/20 7:12 pm
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htown Online Content
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As mentioned oil pressure is critical on these as it is an indication of bearing wear. Unlike twins the crank on triples has automotive style plain bearings on the inner two mains. If these are significantly worn oil will leak past them and starve the rod bearings with a rod through the cases a likely outcome. On a twin the oil feed is directly to the rod bearings. You should see above 50psi at 4000 rpm on a hot triple engine at a minimum. A newly rebuilt one will show 80-90 psi. Also, if the crank needs turned undersize it has to be done by someone with triple experience and there are just a few places that have the expertise to do this. Big D cycle in Dallas did mine.


1978 Bonneville T140E
1974 Trident
1970 BSA Thunderbolt
1971 Norton Commando
1972 Norton Commando
1973 Norton Commando
1974 Norton Commando
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS


Everything will be alright in the end. If its not alright, its not the end.
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795493 01/13/20 1:21 am
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Just a few personal thoughts in answer to Bretts original question.
The triples have often been described as 1 1/2 of a twin but that is not really the reality IMHO.
The twins have torque and a certain character.
The standard 750cc triples have a characteristic more akin to a race bike.
There is not much power until about 4500 rpm but then it takes off.
It takes off with a kick and the exhaust wail at that point is addictive and makes your whole inner being thrill to be on that bike.
Sure you can poodle along at 40-50 mph on these bikes but very few triple riders can resist for too long the hooligan temptation to let her rip and hear that wail.
All my personal view of course.
So if you are interested in a triple--which model to choose?
The original 1968/69 models (T150/T150T) with the breadbin tanks and raygun mufflers went down like a lead balloon at the time.
Certainly when they were introduced I thought that they were big, heavy and ugly.
But over the years the design has grown on me and I have now have a few of them.
The "Beauty Kit" models were introduced initially for dealer conversion from the originals because the original design did not sell well in US -- "didn't look like a proper Triumph"
So the beauty kit bikes had a more traditional tear drop gas tank, revised side covers and traditional looking sausage mufflers.
Otherwise in terms of power etc as per the original.
The next change was in 1972 when the conical brakes were introduced.
These brakes are much maligned but can be made to work pretty well.
However what cannot be achieved is to prevent the front brake from fading fast if you really start to use your right hand (throttle and brake!).
The triple is a heavy fast bike and the fading characteristic of the front conical brake is quite frankly not up to the task.
Part way through the 1972 model year came the introduction of the 5 speed gearbox.(T150V)
IMHO the 5 speed box is ideally suited to the standard triple engine.
When I have ridden a 5 speed bike and then ride a 4 speed bike it always feels as if the gearing is wrongly spaced on the 4 speed box.
Because IMHO the 5 speed ratios suit the engine power curve so much better.
Next change was in 1973 when the front disc brake was introduced.
People criticize this brake as being wooden and there are various changes that can be made to give it more feel.
However at the time it was a really massive improvement on the conical brake.
The next change was the introduction of the T160 in 1975.
Sloping engine similar to the BSA Rocket Three, disc brake at the rear as well as at the front and an electric starter.
For the current day purchaser the T160 is expensive as it is attractive to those who still want to ride British but have leg or other medical problems necessitating an electric start bike.
The 68/69 models are quite expensive because of relatively low numbers (not a good seller in the first place and then many were converted using the beauty kit)..
So what is the best buy in terms of models?
I like the originals and I like the T160s (I also like all those in between!).
But as a starter triple I think that I would recommend a 73/74 T150V as these have the 5 speed box and the front disc brake.
Note that as they were not great sellers some of these, particularly in US, may not have been titled/registered until 1975.
HTH and please let us know how you get on.
.

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795509 01/13/20 10:08 am
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Stein Roger Online Content
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They said it all didn't they!

I can only add that since I went triple in 1993 I haven't looked back. Admittedly, I ran a new triple from 96, and have had several of these,, but bought a 72 Trident in 2013. I love it.
It's a 72 with the conical hub, but with a little tweaking it works well and has at least one panic stop in it! Mind you, the tests of the day applauded this brake, it's not bad at all.
I still use my 900 Daytona a lot, but find that the old triple is quite capable of longer trips, and is the bike I mostly use when I ride with my wife on her Street Twin.

It must be modesty that prevents David Madigan from mentioning his "Elephant Foot" valve adjusters. I have these on mine for a few seasons now, and they keep their adjustment for a very long time, are quiet and I believe they contribute a lot to less wear on guides and stems. I opened the head this summer, due to a rebore, and found no wear at all after some 8000 km. Not a significant mileage I know, but still. They consist of a cup with a flat towards the valve, with the ball end of the adjuster mating with the ball shape cup. The cup collects oil at all times, which makes for a very sweet tappet sound, more of a rustle than a racket. The flat will slide over the stem rather than try to dig in as a point contact will (even the "mushroom" type gives a point contact). This imparts much less lateral forces on to the valve, which must bee good.

I still love old twins but hesitate to take them on longer trips. The triples are much nicer for that, except maybe on very tight back roads.

SR

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795579 01/14/20 11:17 am
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Thanks for the replies guys vey helpfull!


3D TV: A format that lost a format war without even having an opponent.
Bikes: '69 T120 on average (1967 rolling frame and 1971 Bonnie engine) + '56 1/2 T110 on average (58 rolling frame - with 55 iron head engine)
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795582 01/14/20 12:10 pm
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I had a 74 Trident in the late 1970's...It was neglected and had piston slap...I rebuilt the engine on a 4x8 sheet of plywood in my basement..My only previous bike engine expereince was rebuilding a 650 Triumph..I had only a Haynes manual..It ran great but smoked at idle,I installed valve guide seals from an Isuzu ,hand filing the guides for fit. Bought a three into one header and used one inch balance pipes about 12 inches from the head that helped with the soggy midrange.Laced up wider Sun rims. I ran the bike hard including a lot of drag racing..The clutch always dragged a bit...But the bike never broke ....I sold it to buy a used 850 Norton...big mistake ,lol....

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79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795669 01/15/20 2:01 pm
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Why Norton was a big mistake?
My idea about them is 850 bike was really pinnacle of their development, much more reliable than Combat engine.

Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: Adam M.] #795683 01/15/20 3:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Adam M.
Why Norton was a big mistake?
My idea about them is 850 bike was really pinnacle of their development, much more reliable than Combat engine.

It was a 74 850 with about 10,000 mile bought in 1981...It ran well and had decent rush of power, no problem kickstarting...But..I did not care for the rubbery vibration below about 3000 rpm.. And perhaps the Isolastics were out of the adjustment,and not that it handled badly, but the handling lacked the direct feel of a Triumph and certainly the Ducati 750 I also had.I just never liked the bike all that much..I suppose it's a personal preference.....


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Getting interested in triples [Re: BrettF] #795724 01/16/20 2:59 am
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The one big advantage that the triple has over the twin range is its ability to upgrade. Sure the twins can get better electrics, clutch, suspension, braking, and some tweaks to the motor, but the triple can do all that and be bored to 850cc or bored and stroked to 1,000cc [or more if you have the skills]. This potential lets the bike and your expectations grow together....even if you don't do it, you know its a future option. As you demand more, the bike can deliver.

And I agree, the '74 T150V with the front disc is the best choice for a T150. The T160's are OK but generally more expensive and have that gear lever issue we right footers hate smile.


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