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#496245 - 07/02/13 2:56 pm Trident vs. Commando  
Joined: Nov 2011
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OBXMike Offline
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Outer Banks NC US
I notice many of you on the forum have several bikes. I would appreciate your input on my next possible purchase. I have opportunity get a fairly good deal on both a Trident or a Norton Mk III. I love the sound of a Brit twin, owned 2 650 trumpets (also a '04 rubber mount Sportster), but simply no longer want the vibes. Never ridden a Commando. I live on the end of the earth and you rarely even see one let alone ride it. Most of my riding will be 60mph and slower. I have read the old threads about dialing in the iso's ,and the MkIII was the best, but even with that am I not going to get the benefit of the rubber mounts at relatively slower speeds? The triple has the reputation of relative smoothness but local mechanics say they are a pain to work on and get parts for. Perhaps they are twin biased. I have good circa 1970 mechanical skills and I realize this probably boils down to personal preference but what is your opinion of the Trident vs. the Commando. Thanks in advance.

#496246 - 07/02/13 3:15 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
Joined: May 2005
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shel Online content
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shel  Online Content
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ohio
I can't comment on the Commando but I do have a Trident. It is smooth compared to a twin, parts availability is good and the exhaust note is awesome.
They're really not that difficult to work on, the clutch adjustment and valve clearance is a bit more fiddly than the twins though.


When given the choice between two evils I picked the one I haven't tried before
#496259 - 07/02/13 4:55 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
Joined: Jun 2002
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Stuart Online content
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Stuart  Online Content
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Scotland
Hi Mike,

You might've been better off posting this in British Motorcycles In General rather than here, it might get missed

Originally Posted By: OBXMike
I have good circa 1970 mechanical skills
The triple has the reputation of relative smoothness but local mechanics say they are a pain to work on and get parts for.

Triples are no harder, or easier, to get bits for than late-1960's-on twins; in the US, Mitch Klempf (site sponsor) and Triple Tecs are your first go-tos, also Triples On Line for help. Triples aren't any harder to work on, there's just three of most things. smile

Can't help with an opinion on the Commando, not enough cylinders. grin However, if you find posts by 'L.A.B.' and pm him, he has at least one each of triples, Commandos and oif twins; he also writes on the Access Norton forum.

Hth.

Regards,

#496261 - 07/02/13 6:13 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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GrandPaul Online content
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Laredo (South) Texas, USA
I've had 4 Tridents and 8 Commandos over the years, now down to 3 Commandos, gave my last 2 Tridents to my sons. The last to go will be my Dreer prototype monoshock Norton w/ 850 e-start engine.

Having overhauled both engines, the Norton is BY FAR easier to work on when it involves getting inside the cases and down to the crank.

Other than the engine itself, the two bikes are quite similar mechanically, main difference being some additional fettling of the isolastics on the Commando (easy with modern adjustables).

As far as comparing e-start Triumph to e-start Norton, Triumphs are finicky with battery draw especially with electronic ignitions, Nortons are reputed to blow sprague gears.


GrandPaul (does not use emoticons)
Author of the book "Old Bikes"
Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, some BSA & European
"The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
#496262 - 07/02/13 6:13 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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British Ironwork Offline
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England
A Commando will put you off of Triumphs maybe, completely different beast all together. Where a Bonnie does it with revs, the Norton seems to use brute force to get the job done,
I would think a Mk IIa is the one, got all the stronger cases and late mods without the weight of the electric assist of the MkIII.
Having said that I sold a MkIII last year after some 12 years of ownership and I never really liked it, in a proper one man and his machine kinda way..................and it didn't put me off Triumphs either.

#496269 - 07/02/13 7:03 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
Joined: Dec 2004
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kommando Online content
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Joined: Dec 2004
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Scotland
850 Commandos have loads of torque at low revs and rapid acceleration, never ridden a Triple but reviews at the time had the Triple slower off the line but once on the cam catching up.

I have 6 motorcycles, last one to sell will be my 850 Commando MK2A, with the addition of the MK3 isos and the extra spring on the headsteady the vibes dissappear at 2500 revs like turning a light switch. For twisty roads just keep it in 3rd and its like riding an electric bike, no need for any gearchanges.

If I win the lottery then a Trident would be close to the top of my shopping list but I would be looking for a few extra cubes to gain some torque.

#496300 - 07/03/13 1:39 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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DMadigan Online content
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ca, us
Kommando, what about a 980cc triple? After putting the XS650 crank in the A65 I was toying with putting one in a triple. Two possibilities, use as many XS crank parts as possible (webs/crank pins/rods) changing the two mains to rollers (right) or reproducing the crank parts except making the webs and plain mains one piece and use the XS crank pins/rods (left). Stock pistons are 75mm with 74mm stroke. It would probably need a new cylinder but the head will be the limiting factor on power. XS parts are amazingly cheap compared to triple parts.

#496306 - 07/03/13 2:38 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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OBXMike Offline
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Outer Banks NC US
The XS650 I owned vibrated terribly. I assume you are taking what you need from 2 XS cranks. Will you have to add weight to counterbalance it or is this pretty much a race only, fast revving, vibes are no problem engine? Any idea how many hours of machine work you will have in it?

#496310 - 07/03/13 2:56 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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Norton Commando is way easier to work on than the Triumph Trident. Stock form the performance is close.

#496324 - 07/03/13 5:35 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: DMadigan]  
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DavidP Online content
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Gnashville
Originally Posted By: DMadigan
Kommando, what about a 980cc triple?

What about a Laverda Jota? laugh


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
#496327 - 07/03/13 6:18 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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Originally Posted By: OBXMike
I have opportunity get a fairly good deal on both a Trident or a Norton Mk III.

MkIII tells me about the Norton. What year is the Trident?
Originally Posted By: OBXMike
Most of my riding will be 60mph and slower.

I guess the Commando would handle this better. Tridents will accept slower running, but they only come alive above 70mph and their weight is a penalty at low speed. Just my opinion, but what's the point of either bike if all you need is 60mph? You don't say where in the US you live, but Tridents can get unhappily hot without enough air going past the engine, and the clutch can be a bear puttering around town.
Originally Posted By: OBXMike

The triple has the reputation of relative smoothness but local mechanics say they are a pain to work on and get parts for. .

Yes indeed, a Triple can be a PITA, but a lot of normal maintenance is actually easier than other Triumphs. Setting the valves on a triple is a bit of a pain (especially with later, floating ball adjusters), but not much more than any other Brit bike (actually easier than my OIF A65.) The real pain is the points. A Commando with points is not much trouble, but I wouldn't own a triple without electronic ignition, you spend more time setting timing than you do riding with three sets of points. mad
I've lusted after, but never owned, a Commando. I spent some great years with a '74 T150v. However, when I had the Trident my best bud rode a '73 Commando. I spent more time with my valves, he spent more time with his gearbox, we never had to slow down, or speed up, for each other.


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
#496338 - 07/03/13 8:25 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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kommando Online content
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Dave, you tempter you, just have to buy extra lottery tickets !!!!

120 degree apart crankpins like the orginal I assume.

#496367 - 07/03/13 4:39 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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bon Online content
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If you only want to travel around the 60mph mark , why not forget both bikes and buy a nice bsa pre unit single, eg b31 in 350 or b33 in 500 ? easy spares availability, lovely riding position, cheap to run and look great.

#496398 - 07/03/13 8:40 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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GrandPaul Online content
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Laredo (South) Texas, USA
Easiest solution: BUY BOTH!


GrandPaul (does not use emoticons)
Author of the book "Old Bikes"
Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, some BSA & European
"The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
#496421 - 07/03/13 10:07 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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OBXMike Offline
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Outer Banks NC US
Thanks to all for your input. It's a tough decision.

#496447 - 07/04/13 1:40 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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DMadigan Online content
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OXB, yes two XS cranks to one A65. It needs two #2 female webs. I do not have an XS but my neightbor does. No reports of vibration from him. Race engines need better balancing since they spend more time at high RPM and it is tough to see your braking markers when your eyeballs are vibrating around in your head.
No idea of the number of hours, certainly would be only a few on a CNC. The most expensive part was having the splined crank pin broached. The crank pins are 90 degrees apart so counter balance is not as critical as matching weights.
On the bikes, an isolastic Commando is smoother than a triple except at the natural frequency of the rubbers. Triples always have a bit of a buzz from the rocking couple.
Kommando, it would not be that expensive. Yes, 120 crankpins with steel rods and needle big and small end bearings (stock XS). As soon as I get my CNC built I can start making wax molds for major engine parts. Webco makes 80mm XS pistons for the 744cc XS which would make a 1116cc triple but the triple cases will not allow it.

#496523 - 07/04/13 6:34 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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Peter R Online content
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Netherlands
As a long time owner of a Commando and a Trident, I think I can speak from a reasonable amount of experience here.

The first thing that you will notice when you ride the Trident is that it feels much heavier than the Commando, in spite of the fact that the actual difference in weight is not that much.

the Trident also lacks the torque in the lower rpm range that the Commando has, In this department the Commando is the sure winner.
Handling of both bikes is good, The trident will handle well forever, while the Commando will loose its edge when the isolastics, and swingarm maintenance is neglacted.
The stock front brake of the Commando is barely up to the job, but several upgrades are available.

Al in all, the Trident feels a bit more "civilized" than the Commando,(ifI may use this term)

As far as maintenance is concerned, the Trident engine is more complex to work on, although no rocket science is involved, and only a few special tools are required.(clutch hub puller, and clutch hub holding tool)
Working on a Commando engine will also require some special tools (clutch diafragm tool is a must have) and some other pullers etc. The Commando engine has mostly Withworth size fasteners, while the Trident has all American size A/F bolts and nuts.

Which one of the two do I like best ? difficult question.
They are actually both very different beasts.(I personally like both).

You say that you will ride your bike with 60mph or slower.
In that case I would opt for the Commando.(low speed torque)
Parts availability is very good for the Commando., for the Triple the parts availability is still ok, but not as good as the Commando,althoughI can not comment on the parts availability of the Trident in your part of the world.

Hope this will not confuse you, at the end it is of course your personal choice.


Peter.
1974 Commando 850
1972 Trident T150T
1961 Goldie DBD34
1969 Benelli 250 sport special
#496552 - 07/04/13 10:35 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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MarksterTT Offline
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MarksterTT  Offline
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San Francisco Bay Area
Ridden both, owned neither but per your parameters of below 60 mph, smooth and ease of maintenance, I would probably go with the Commando considering that both bikes start out in good shape, no major work required.

1. Commando with iso's goes smooth above 2500-2800 rpm, real smooth and once you let the clutch out you're almost always in the iso's working range even below 60 mph, gear dependent of course.

2. Commando has probably the easiest pull of any Brit clutch, was amazed compared to my Triumph 650/750's.

3. Commando feels smaller, lighter then Trident, esp, if you're just bonking around town at slow speeds.

4. Commando feels much torquier than Trident as the triple needs to rev up to accelerate. I was disappointed on my first Trident ride at the lack of low end feel, didn't feel as fast as Honda 750's of the day but was deceptive in that it would spank the Honda heading out on the freeway, top end also. (Neither the Honda nor Trident gave me the same thrill as 750cc cammed Bonnie.)

4. Commando less complex, fewer parts to me equals less to wear out, replace, maintain. Norton with EI and single Mik even easier. Belt drive? Why not? Even less maintenance.

5. Commando's biggest drawback to me was lack of brakes, two up I've slid through an intersection or two while fully standing on rear brake and pulling front for all I was worth, perhaps this borrowed bikes poor set up was partly to blame but the weak brakes are often mentioned. The front can be upgraded I hear and should be.

6. If you're working on your bike alone, then you can pretty much dismantle and remove the Commando engine yourself whereas the Trident, even with top end off is still a pretty heavy lump, this is neither here nor there, may be of little concern to you if someone else is doing your maintenance.

They're both interesting machines and I really like both but you asked and given your conditions, I'd say Norton...Mark (a Triumph guy)


Last edited by MarksterTT; 07/04/13 10:39 pm.
#496619 - 07/05/13 12:37 pm Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: MarksterTT]  
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Hillbilly bike Online content
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Running from demons in WNY
I've had both about 30 years ago...Power differences aside,the Trident is a Triumph and feels that way,very mechanical and a bit crude.The Commando feels more sophisticated and less mechanical.Not better or worse,just different.


650 Triumph modified production LSR record holder 133.1 MPH... Twin 650 engine Triumph LSR that goes sorta fast...
#497142 - 07/09/13 11:04 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: Hillbilly bike]  
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Julian Offline
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Julian  Offline
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Belgium
My Commando will be the very last bike I would ever part with!
Do like the Trident and would not mind an early Rocket 3 but only for the looks. Find the triple engine a bit to "modern" and the bike feels quite heavy. The Commando on the other hand is a torque monster with sublime handling. Very little vibration felt through the bars and the brakes on mine are well up to normal use but are lacking if ridden hard though. Still fine for a 73 bike.

Julian


Royal Enfield Works Trials
BSA Super Rocket Scrambler
BSA Gold Star Scrambler
Triumph Bonneville 1966
Laverda 750SF
Laverda "1000"SF
BSA Rocket 3
Norton Commando 850
Moto Morini 3-1/2 Sport
Moto Guzzi Le Mans 1
Ducati MHR 1980
#497382 - 07/11/13 1:21 am Re: Trident vs. Commando [Re: OBXMike]  
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Pre Unit Offline
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terra Australis
The T150 is likely better past the ton on dirt roads .

Theres twice as many parts , so you need to be twice as meticulous .

Big room for souping up , but near stocks no bad thing .
Bar the bottom pipes & most mufflers . Let it breat.

Of course , Theres ' Tridents ' 7 theres ' TRIDENTS ' .

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jano2106/7503916012/in/photostream/



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