MCN Fleet: 'Gritney Houston' is here!

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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 five: 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 four: 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:

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in MCN Fleet…

Gareth Evans

By Gareth Evans

Online editor, engineering enthusiast, historic motorsport fan