MCN Fleet: Trident 660 goes on tour

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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.

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

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

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Gareth Evans

By Gareth Evans

Online editor, engineering enthusiast, historic motorsport fan