The Triumph Trident, the Original Rocket 3, Is Coming Back

The current Rocket 3 isn’t Triumph’s only three-cylinder bike, though it does have the biggest engine. And soon, it will be joined by one more triple, bearing a familiar nameplate. The British motorcycle company has already successfully re-introduced the classically-styled Bonneville and Thruxton to a modern audience. Now, it’s the Triumph Trident’s turn.

The history of the BSA Rocket 3 and the first 2 Triumph Tridents

The side profile of a red 1969 BSA Rocket 3
1969 BSA Rocket 3 | Bring a Trailer

The name ‘Rocket 3’ didn’t originally belong to Triumph, Classic-British-Motorcycles.com reports. Instead, it was first used on a 1968-1972 BSA three-cylinder motorcycle.

A silver 1975 Triumph Trident T150V
1975 Triumph Trident T150V | Bring a Trailer

However, the BSA Rocket 3 still has a Triumph connection, Rider explains. At the time, the two brands were owned by the same company, much like Rolls-Royce and Bentley once were. And under the styling, the 1968 Triumph Trident is very similar to the BSA Rocket 3, Silodrome reports.

The original Triumph Trident uses an air-cooled 740cc three-cylinder engine, rated at 58 hp, Motorcyclist reports. The T150 model has a 4-speed transmission, and the T16 uses a 5-speed. However, the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3 have different frames, Classic Bike Guide reports, and position their engines slightly differently. And while both bikes have drum brakes and a kick-starter, only the BSA model has an oil cooler.

1976 Honda CB750 Four
1976 Honda CB750 Four | Bring a Trailer

Unfortunately, the Triumph Trident and its BSA cousin arrived just before the industry-shaking Honda CB750. Not only did it have four cylinders, but it also came with a front disc brake and electric starter. Plus, it didn’t leak oil like the British triples, partially due to an easier-to-assemble crankcase, Revivaler reports. The Triumph Trident eventually gained both an electric starter as well as front and rear disc brakes, but it wasn’t enough. Production ended in 1975.

The Triumph Trident nameplate was briefly revived in 1991, MCN reports. Available with 2 three-cylinder engines, in 900 trim, it used an 885cc engine rated at 100 hp and 61 lb-ft. In many ways, the 1991 Trident was arguably a preview of the Speed and Street Triples, TOMCC.org, and Motorcycle.com report.

And now, the Triumph Trident is back for another round.

The 2021 Triumph Trident: details and speculations

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The rumors of the Triumph Trident’s return started in 2019, RideApart reports, when the British company trademarked the name. And now, it’s released not just more details, but a physical prototype.

A white 2021 Triumph Trident prototype in front of a garage
2021 Triumph Trident prototype | Triumph

As far as styling’s concerned, this is basically the production bike, just sprayed white, Cycle World reports. That styling comes from the same designer who worked on the reborn Suzuki Katana. Triumph is positioning the new Trident as a middle-weight naked/streetfighter bike, similar to the Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha MT-07. That segment’s seen strong recent growth, due to its relative affordability and all-around capabilities.

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In terms of the 2021 Triumph Trident’s powertrain, the only detail is that it will have a three-cylinder engine, Visordown reports. CW muses that to comply with European licensing horsepower restrictions, it will likely make no more than 94 hp. It’s possible the Trident will use the 675cc engine used in the previous-gen Street Triple. Or, because of European license rules, it may use the 660cc version of that engine developed to comply with said rules.

Front dual Nissin brake discs on the 2012 Triumph Street Triple R
2012 Triumph Street Triple R front brakes | Matthew Skwarczek

Speaking of the Speed Triple, CW reports the Trident appears to use some of its braking and suspension hardware. Specifically, the Showa fork and Nissin brakes found on the entry-level S model. My own 2012 R has Nissin calipers, and even without ABS, they’re easy to modulate and very effective.

Pricing and availability

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The new Triumph Trident is scheduled to release in the spring of 2021. Before then, the British motorcycle company will likely release more details. That includes pricing. Triumph claims the bike will be cheaper than its current three-cylinder bikes. In the US, the cheapest model is the Street Triple R, which starts at $10,500. And in 2018, the S sold here started at $9,950.

The rear-3/4 view of a red 1969 BSA Rocket 3
1969 BSA Rocket 3 rear | Bring a Trailer

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It’s possible the new Trident will only be slightly more expensive than a classic one. Several 60s and 70s examples have sold on Bring a Trailer for $7000-$8000. The BSA Rocket 3 can be even more expensive, with some going for almost $10k, BaT reports.

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