MCN Fleet: Friends de-united

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I’m sad to report ‘my’ Trident’s gone back to Hinckley now, but I’ll never forget my time with Triumph’s triple. It’s been a brilliant companion for the sort of riding I do – mainly B-road blasts alone or with mates.

I went on some longer trips too, discovering the limitations of a naked bike on the M4 en route to Cardiff, but on the way home traffic forced me into the Cotswolds on what was one of the most memorable rides of my life, chasing the sun and enjoying everything a bike has to offer.

My only regret is not having the time to take it on a trackday, because I’m convinced it’d be hilarious fun. The handling is one of the standout points for me, you see: turn-in is so eager you feel like the bike is begging you to ride harder.

The Trident got better as my riding improved

I didn’t ever feel like I was nearing the limits of the chassis, which isn’t a surprise given I’ve been riding just two[1]and-a-half years, but once I’d had some tuition from a certain Michael Neeves I found a completely different level of performance on offer.

It helps that the Michelin Road 5 tyres the Trident gets as standard are particularly impressive, warming up quickly and offering excellent grip.

But as well as handling well, I found the Trident seriously comfortable. The relatively upright riding position combines well with supple suspension and seat, and 100-mile days (quite a lot for me at this stage in my riding career) are a breeze.

I loved heading to Norfolk for fish and chips of a Saturday. Over the year I tried various luggage solutions to help make the Trident a jot more practical, and just after I’d finished experimenting with rucksacks, tail packs and a little fly screen for wind protection, Triumph revealed the Tiger Sport 660, which sees a lot of the same modifications made to the 660 platform at the factory.

A tail pack was one of the changes I made to enhance the Trident's practicality

I’d really have enjoyed putting the pair together to see which is best. And while we’re discussing positives, I just love that triple[1]cylinder engine. Its thrum at lower revs becomes an aggressive bark as you approach the redline, and I was never left wanting for performance.

I found it slightly irritating that the low fuel warning light came on with a quarter of a tank left, though. The other main issue was some rust on the header pipes, which was a bit of a surprise given the bike was kept in my garage and treated to ACF-50 fairly regularly, but it was pretty easy to sort in the end.

Rusty pipes on the Triumph Trident 660

However, there’s one point that you simply must keep in mind when comparing the Trident with all its rivals. It truly is fantastic value for money. The list price crept up £200 during 2021, but at £7395 at time of writing you’re getting a huge amount of bang for your buck for a bike that truly does feel as ‘premium’ as you’d hope.

Would I buy one? I don’t think I would, but that’s no reflection on the bike. It’s more to do with the fact I’ve been bitten by the trackday bug and want to do more, plus I’m keen on doing longer trips so would value a bit of wind protection. I can’t help thinking I’d adore a Daytona 660 if such a thing existed, but alas that’s wishful thinking…

A Quad Lock was my top tweak

Quad Lock smartphone mounting system for motorcycle

I did make a few changes over my year with the bike. The Quad Lock smartphone integration – wireless charging, vibration damper and handlebar mount – was my favourite, but least useful was the Evotech tail tidy, which resulted in road grime in places I really didn’t want it. I’m not sure I’ll fit another, because it seems like a compromise too far for road riding in the UK.


Update 8: A question of costs for the Triumph Trident 660

First published 16/02/2022 by Gareth Evans


With list prices starting with a seven, both this Trident 660 and its main rival, the Yamaha MT-07, appear to offer stonking value. But that’s to buy outright and doesn’t account for how much the bikes actually cost to run, so I thought for this update I’d delve a little deeper.

Fuel economy is an easy one: both return 51mpg and have 14-litre tanks. They cost the same to tax too, and both have a two-year warranty. However, insurance is always a fickle thing to discuss, since risk profiles differ greatly with almost no rhyme nor reason.

I’ve done my best to grab two equal quotes from MCN Compare, our comparison website. I entered my exact details, only changing the bike and keeping everything else consistent – 38-year-old male, bike kept in locked garage in Northamptonshire, relatively low riding experience of a few years, fully comprehensive cover – and the results were interesting.

The cheapest quote on the Trident was perhaps unsurprisingly through Triumph Insurance, which quoted £288 a year, or a £43.24 deposit and nine payments of £32.69 a month. The MT-07 worked out slightly more expensive. The most reasonable was Bikesure at £323.54, or £48.53 and nine payments of £36.62 a month.

But there’s another factor: servicing. Triumph have made much of the 660’s reasonable servicing costs. Because of the relaxed state of tune, Hinckley have extended service intervals to 10,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first, after the initial 600-miler.

The MT-07 needs a service every 6k miles, or 12 months. Over a three-year period if you extend to 10,000 miles in each 12-month period you’re going to be seeing the dealer more frequently with the Yamaha. How much more it’ll cost depends on your mileage.

Finally, PCP pricing – which I’ve been keeping an eye on because it’s a great way to get onto a bike like this without a huge initial outlay – throws up another curious factor to consider. If you key a £1000 deposit into both firms’ calculators over a 37-month PCP with 4K miles a year, you’ll see the MT-07 is £93.58 with an optional final payment of £3510 a month while the Trident is £102 a month with £3947 payable at the end to keep the bike.

The difference here is APR – Triumph’s is 7.9% representative, and Yamaha’s is 6.9%. And just to confuse us further, companies like to change these deals regularly. Which just goes to show, it’s always worth crunching the numbers before you sign on the dotted line.


Updated 7: Trident tidy-up

First published 13/01/22 by Gareth Evans

The Trident heads into winter riding

I’ll admit it: I’ve been enjoying the Trident so much it’s got pretty mucky. I felt bad and set aside some time to get it up on the paddock stands and give it some love.

This was the ideal time to get my magnifying glass out and see how the Trident’s been coping since the salt arrived. Giving the bike a close inspection highlighted a number of things I found interesting.

The chain is in fabulous condition – like new – and I’ve only had to give it proper attention once this year: I cleaned it with a de-greaser and then gave it a blast of anti-corrosion spray, just like Neevesy told me to do when keeping a bike in a workshop.

However, since I’ve been riding in the wet a little more, I’ve noticed a little rust is appearing on the middle exhaust down pipe. That’s right, just the middle one. I’ve absolutely no idea why only this pipe is affected, but as you can see in the image below, that’s what happened.

Rust on the Triumph Trident

In order to address this, I used the remainder of my FS 365 bike protector fluid on it while cold, and left it to soak in for a while after cleaning the rest of the bike and drying it carefully. Returning to the Trident the next day and it looked new again, so clearly the furry orange stuff hadn’t permeated too far into the metal. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on, though.

And in fact, given how much the exhaust contributes to the – in my opinion – beautiful styling of the bike, they’re certainly a challenge to keep looking box-fresh. Black marks appeared within a few miles on the cat underneath, and these didn’t seem affected by any of the potions I tried, which is presumably because they’ve been baked on by the engine exhaust heat. Furthermore they’re difficult to get to, making it doubly frustrating.

It’s not the end of the world and affects precisely nothing about the way the bike rides, but it’d be nice to find a way of shifting these stains. Do you know how? Let me know please!

While we’re back working from home again, I’ve been using the bike for the occasional supermarket dash too, and I’ve really begun to appreciate the optional tail pack I specced. It adds a pleasing level of practicality to proceedings, and I can confirm it’ll take a four-pack of properly sized beer cans, a few bottles of wine or a small takeaway. I can also confirm you now know where my priorities lie.

The size isn’t the real boon, though. It’s how simple this bag is to use. To attach to the bike it’s a case of pushing the plastic base lip underneath the grab handle on the seat, then strapping it underneath the seat to stop it from moving. It stays perfectly still in all conditions I’ve tried, with the only drawback that I’m giving my hip more of a workout to swing my leg over it. Reader: this hasn’t always been entirely graceful.

Triumph Trident 660 tail pack is very useful

When you’re done you just lift it off the bike and carry like a normal bag. It doesn’t lock onto the machine so you wouldn’t want to leave it there unattended in an unfamiliar location.

As a footnote, I’ll admit to reading Neevesy’s review of the new Tiger Sport 660 and having a proper search of the ol’ soul. Its easy-going, more practical nature appears to overcome many of the issues I’ve complained about this year on the Trident – lack of wind protection and practicality, in the main. But would I find it less interesting on my beloved B-road blasts? I think I might need to try one to find out…


Update 6: ‘Gritney Houston’ is here!

First published 13/12/21 by Gareth Evans

Winter woes

Well, it’s finally happened. The start of the Slippy Season. My bike was already filthy before ‘Gritney Houston’, ‘Spready Flintoff’, ‘David Ploughie’ and co. hit the road the other day, and, thanks to my tail tidy, so was my rucksack!

I’m going to have to learn to love cleaning road grime from my rear end, clearly… But the Trident remains impervious. I recently rode to Skegness on my day off for a burger. Since the clocks had just gone back for daylight savings, before I left I changed the time on the bike and I’m thrilled to say it was easy, far more so than some of the other vehicles in my household which require a doctorate in electrical engineering to re-set.

Evotech tail tidy + winter = muddy back

On the Triumph it’s all taken care of by the thumb on your left hand. The menu isn’t the most intuitive to start with, but once you’ve got your head around the method of switching numbers it takes seconds. It also made me think about the things my bike’s missing: there are plenty of add-ons that improve the spec, including a £210 Connectivity Kit to give a Bluetooth connection, meaning turn-by-turn navigation, phone calls and music all via your smartphone.

It would effectively replace of my trusty Quadlock mounting arrangement and allow me to keep my mobile in my pocket. But I’m not the slightest bit interested. My setup offers far more in terms of useful navigation features and does without the music I’d never use anyway. I prefer earplugs and the sonorous thrum of those three cylinders…

I’m also becoming more confident on it now, overtaking more and cornering in lower gears which makes each trip a riot and I’m never unhappy to head back out for another ride. But it’s the comfort that’s impressing most.

It's easy to switch riding modes on the Triumph Trident

A 100-mile ride is child’s play thanks to the supple seat and suspension. I’ve read plenty of owners say the rear suspension should be upgraded for improved handling, but at this point in my riding career will it make a massive difference? I’m not that keen until I feel like I’m being held back by its performance.

Another thing people mention is how difficult is it to clean the rear shock and I can attest to that – it’s properly fiddly to get in there and agitate baked-on dirt. I’ve taken to using a paintbrush (yes, I know) when giving the bike a good wash.


 

Update 5: Don’t talk to me about fuel

First published October 13, 2021

Low fuel warning light at a quarter of a tank? You must be joking!

Do you ever speak to your bike? I do.

Most recently it’s been to shout at the annoying low-fuel warning, which illuminates at a neurotic two bars of petrol remaining in the Trident’s tank. That’s a quarter of a tank, which in my mind is too early. I’ve been doing a max of 140 miles to a fill-up, so I’d have 35 miles left when the orange warning appears on the screen. That feels like a long way left for a ‘warning’.

Ironically, in my opinion this would be a useful feature only when fuel is in short supply. And as ‘luck’ would have it, the public conspired to create precisely that scenario, with panic-buying to the extent that forecourts ran dry. My light was already on from a previous ride.

However, it was a sunny Sunday so I wanted to go out on the bike before settling down to the MotoGP live from CoTA that evening. The fuel issue presented a challenge but I was confident I’d be OK.

Sure enough, a local independent had E10 unleaded, and the £20 max wasn’t a problem as a whisker under £15 brimmed the tank.

Low fuel warning light on the Trident

So where to go? I decided I needed sea air, so set a route for Hunstanton in Norfolk and headed off through the Fens.

I should mention at this point that my riding has transformed since my last update. To celebrate two years since passing my test, I asked Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves for a little bit of tuition on a track (more on that later…). I learnt so much that when I got back the Trident had no idea what had hit it.

Every ride is pure magic, with my newly-found body positioning giving me huge confidence. I’ve come to feel extremely thankful for the excellent Michelin Road 5 tyres it comes with from the factory, too.

Despite more lean-angle than ever before, they are taking the punishment very well indeed, and just keep on gripping whatever I throw at them. I’ve bumped into the traction control a few times, but only because I left the bike in Rain mode after getting caught in a downpour. (The deluge also highlighted a slight problem with my latest modification – an Evotech tail tidy that looks absolutely stunning. However, since removing the rear hugger I’ve noticed my backpack and my bum get much wetter when it’s raining.)

Evotech tail tidy means a dirty bottom

Anyway, all I need to do to switch modes is thumb the M button to change back to Road, close the throttle if riding, and we’re back to the bike’s full potential, which seems to match my riding well since I can’t feel any electronic intervention on the road.

My ride to Hunstanton was a memorable one. It was windy, but I felt it less because I’m spending more time with my chin closer to the bars. But more importantly, the sun was out, cars were thin on the ground (presumably because of the fuel situation) and it felt like the world was in a good mood. I arrived back in my village precisely 140 miles after filling up, and guess what? On flashed the low fuel light…


 

Update 4: Touring toys for the Trident

First published 08 October 2021 by Gareth Evans

Hinckley’s newest sports tourer was revealed in the August 25 issue, with the Tiger Sport 660 promising more comfort than the naked Trident.

However, I’m an impatient sod, so while we’re waiting for Triumph’s finishing touches to that new model, I’ve had a go myself.

My mini project began on the M4, as you’ll remember from my previous update. I’d been crosscountry to Cardiff and it wasn’t all plain sailing – I found the limits of my luggage, discovered trouble with my tech’s battery life and was whacked about by wind at 70mph.

USB connector for Triumph Trident 660

It was time for a few tweaks. The first was a simple £23.45 USB charging connection from Triumph, because my phone runs out of juice on a really long run while using Google Maps. This gets worse when the weather’s warm, too.

I threaded a USB-C cable from where my new connector is under the seat, through the bike to the handlebars, on which I’ve added something else. An Evotech Quadlock mounting kit (£70) is a far neater solution than the generic handlebar mount I was using before.

Evotech and Quadlock work exceptionally well together

It’s a simple mod that takes moments to bolt onto the centre clamp, but it really does look like standard fit. You’d hope so for the price; but be assured it is a well-engineered bit of kit, and furthermore the fully recyclable packaging is a work of art.

More companies should do packaging like Evotech

Onto this I’ve daisy-chained everything Quadlock offers specifically for bikers, so the anti-vibe damper (£15.95) sits below a weatherproof wireless charging connector (£69.95) meaning I don’t need to worry about plugging and unplugging every time I connect my mobile. Simply twist the case on and it starts charging once you’ve turned the key – which itself is simpler than ever because this new setup keeps the phone away from the keys better.

Triumph's fly screen for the Trident 660

I’ve also installed a fly screen £107) in an optimistic attempt to deflect some air. I didn’t want a taller screen to sully the Trident’s lines, but this OEM Triumph accessory looks the part. With my sparkling new Halfords Professional socket set and torque wrench both getting the most minor of workouts (ever torqued a bolt to 3Nm? I hadn’t…), the 18 minutes Triumph claims fitment takes was pretty accurate.

And finally, I’ve got some carrying capacity. The £144 tail bag carries 10 litres, which could make all the difference.

Triumph's tail pack for the Trident 660


 

Update 3: Trident 660 goes on tour

First published 27/08/21 by Gareth Evans

Triumph Trident 660 goes on tour

To celebrate their centenary, Suzuki recently held an event in Cardiff to showcase the scope of their modern range. But why am I talking Japanese in a Triumph update? Because this was my first chance to do decent miles on the Trident, riding there with my mate and fellow recently passed rider, Adam Binnie, and his Honda CB500X, stopping for a bacon roll in the Cotswolds en route. Google Maps says that’s 170 miles each way, split by an overnight stay in Wales.

The Trident has many talents, but storage space isn’t one of them. Instead, I’ve been using Oxford’s Handysack (below). This versatile bit of kit folds away into a 15cm2 pocketsized item but expands into a 15-litre backpack with lid carrier. I dutifully crammed in what must have been 15.1 litres of luggage, including my laptop, clothes and spare shoes. It was heavy, but the zip closed. Just.

The Oxford Products Handysack

Around an hour in I was suffering as the straps aren’t very padded.  The Trident’s nakedness wasn’t helping either, as wind protection is almost nonexistent.

Anyway, I was thrilled to have Adam along when I pulled up to some traffic lights and he informed me I’d lost a numberplate bolt. The plate was dangling on the diagonal and at serious risk of departing the bike altogether.

Thankfully we were just passing Barrington Filling Station on the A40, and a helpful mechanic gave me a replacement bolt completely gratis. That was the only issue on the run there, which I was thankful for because it was a big journey, particularly on the M4 with its HGVs weaving this way and that.

Numberplate almost fell of the Triumph Trident 660

The return trip wasn’t quite so direct, but it was enjoyable. It was Friday afternoon, and Google Maps said the M4 had three junctions closed, and the M5 was showing a 1.5-hour delay. I told the phone to avoid motorways, instead sending me up the A48 then through the Cotswolds before picking up the Fosse Way around Rugby.

On a naked motorcycle that’s a truly wonderful way out of Wales. My mobile nearly died on this leg, but again my bacon was saved by Dave at Fosse Way Garage, who allowed me to plug in for a charge and a chat after I filled up with fuel.

I’m seeing around 130-150 miles per tank right now, and to be honest I don’t want to ride any further without a break anyway. I’ll make a few tweaks before I do another longer ride with luggage. More on that next time.

Triumph Trident 660 V Suzuki SV650

Triumph Trident 660 vs Suzuki SV650

In Cardiff I tried the Trident backto-back with a middleweight rival – the SV650. I passed my test on one, so it was brilliant to revisit it. 

While the SV remains sensational value, with its thumping V-twin and addictive handling, you can tell without riding where the £900-ish difference in RRP has been spent on the Triumph. Its fixtures and fittings are much higher quality than the Suzuki’s, also highlighting the fact there’s a five-year gap between launch dates for this pair. The TFT screen is miles more modern on the Trident, and the seat, suspension and controls are comfier too.

Its engine is just as characterful, but with a smoother power delivery, while the gearbox feels more solid. As a new purchase the considerably more premium Trident would remain my choice, despite a recently announced summer saving of £500 on the Suzuki. If I were buying used, I’d struggle to ignore the brilliant SV650…


 

Update 2: Training on the Trident

First published 13 July 2021 by Gareth Evans

Every day’s a school day. It’s a phrase that’s right at the front of my mind when I consider my relative inexperience, and why I was happier than most at the opportunity to have my riding assessed by a real expert – Ian Biederman, Director at BMW UK Motorcycle Road Skills Centre.

On MCN we do this periodically to ensure that we’ve not fallen into bad habits, and of course to learn what to improve.

But more than that, it was also among my first opportunities for a full day out on the Trident. An adventure; and on work time!

Ian’s premises is roughly 40 miles south from my house and it was my first visit, so I had no clue where I was going.

Gareth coupled his Google Pixel 5 mobile phone with the Triumph Trident 660 using the Quadlock mounting system and vibration damper

A quick check of the location online showed it wasn’t worth the risk of winging it with no nav, but thankfully I’d thought about this and planned ahead. I’ve been testing a Quadlock for a while now, and once my phone was mounted to the bars I fired up Google Maps, and made sure my Bluetooth was connected to the Cardo intercom system in my lid.

This way I can get periodic audio nav instructions, cutting down on the amount I need to glance down at the device. I’d made sure all this was up and running days before my assessment, but as the big day approached, so did a huge weather front. Storms were on the way, and it didn’t look likely I’d avoid them.

Rain mode on the Triumph Trident 660 dials back the throttle response and sharpens the traction control's intervention

Fast-forward to the day and I had 20mph winds and a decent amount of precipitation to contend with on the way down there. There’s a Rain Mode on the Trident, which turns up the traction control’s intervention and dials back the throttle response a little, so I thumbed the M button to switch. This made the journey far more palatable – particularly since I was wearing an all-in-one rain suit that acted like a sail at speeds over 60mph.

Triumph will sell you a fly screen for £105 if buffeting is a concern, however, and of course there are the usual aftermarket suspects on hand too. I’m not a massive motorway fan so personally, it’s not a huge drawback for my riding.

Still, I made it to Ian’s in one piece, and indeed around his test route as he imparted words of wisdom.

By the time we were done, the sun had come out, I’d switched back to Road mode and I had a brilliant blast home, primarily because I took the time to programme a waypoint that meant I avoided the A1.

  • Miles: 1456
  • Likes: Tech, flexible drivetrain
  • Dislikes: Motorway-speed mayhem


Update 1: Three’s company!

First published in MCN 26 May 2021 by Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans alongside his 2021 Triumph Trident 660

When I learnt I was to be the custodian of the new Triumph Trident 660 for 2021, I was fizzing with excitement.

It’s the second big bike I’ll have spent decent time with, and on paper it looks like a fantastic step on from last year’s Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. It has a good dollop more power (thanks in part to its extra cylinder), with 80bhp on offer from the Daytona 675-derived triple, and costs a little more too, at £7195.

That extra cost accounts for additional kit, too – the Enfield didn’t have a colour TFT screen that displays speed, revs and fuel level. It didn’t have a range indicator, LED lighting, an adjustable brake lever or a pair of wonderful Michelin Road 5 tyres as standard, either.

The TFT screen on the Triumph Trident 660 looks far more premium than you'd expect for a bike at this price point

This is an altogether betterequipped motorcycle, then. The ‘starter Triumph’ lines up against the perennial class leader in the middleweight naked class, the Yamaha MT-07, flanked by the similarly priced Honda CB650R and Kawasaki’s cheaper Z650, leaving the likes of the Interceptor firmly in the retro class.

But I wouldn’t have picked any of those. I’ve been hankering for a Triumph since I started working on MCN back in 2019 for many of the same reasons I wanted to run a Royal Enfield. I’m impressed by  historic British brands that have survived financial turmoil and turned their fortunes around by making use of modern, international manufacturing standards and methodology.

It’s the reason we’re able to buy bikes like the Thailandbuilt Trident at such approachable prices, and frankly I’m already bored of people seemingly denigrating it a ‘Thaiumph’. Where it’s made should have no bearing on its build quality in 2021 – and it was designed and developed right here, at Hinckley. 

The Triumph logo on the Trident 660 shows how proud the firm is to design bikes in the UK

My first impressions backed that up:  when it arrived in a van during lockdown it was hammering down with rain, but the bike looked wonderful, fit and finish impressing right from the get-go.

I swung a leg over and right away noticed how comfortable it was as the suspension (Showa at both ends) compressed and my bottom settled on the seat.

Flicking the key rightwards, the screen lit up and I couldn’t help but thumb the starter – I didn’t have time to ride it there and then, but I had to hear it running and it barked into life with the enthusiasm of a year-old Labrador, settling into a pleasing thrum.

My first ride on the Triumph Trident 660 was a rather memorable one

Fast-forward to my first actual go, and the sun was out. Time to don the gear and hit the road. My first thought as I trundled out of my side street at low revs, soaking heat into the engine before winding on a bit, was just how eager this bike is to turn. I’d been warned by Editor Rich that “the handling will feel in a different league to the Interceptor”, and he was bang on. It simply wants to duck its nose and get stuck in.

Once confident the oil’s viscosity had loosened enough for more enthusiastic revs, I gradually upped the ante, using more of the area under the torque curve by hanging on to ratios in the precise, slickfeeling, gearbox. The bike’s peak 80bhp arrives at 10,250rpm, and while I didn’t get anywhere near that on the first ride, anything above 6000rpm is enough to discover what this triple is all about.

The eager, buzzing din becomes a roar, scenery blurs and it’s utterly intoxicating. Tie that adrenaline together with the brilliant handling and cossetting suspension, and the result is a bike I’m itching to get out at ride at any given opportunity.

Let’s hope for a few more miles than last year, eh? 

Miles: 963

Triumph Trident 660 front wheel and brake


As only my second ‘big bike’, the new Triumph Trident 660 triple seems to tick all the boxes, and I’m delighted to be running it this year. Neevesy and the test team have raved about it, plus I love the way it looks. I can’t wait to get going!

The rider Gareth Evans, MCN Online Editor, 37, 6ft. Riding two years, likes engineering, bad jokes and digital publishing. Gareth.evans@motorcyclenews.com

Bike specs 660cc | 80bhp | 189kg | 805mm seat height


Watch our in-depth Triumph Trident 660 launch video below:

 

Gareth Evans

By Gareth Evans

Online editor, engineering enthusiast, historic motorsport fan