Playing the Hooligan with the all-new 2021 Triumph Trident 660
Growing up, my mother often reminded my brothers and me, “Dynamite comes in small packages.” A prime exemplar of her aphorism was my adolescent chum, Lyle. Slightly smaller than me, Lyle was rather quiet and unassuming yet quite friendly, but was also very athletic, built like a stump, and to top it off, was freaking fearless. Lyle was always up for a challenge, ready for an adventure, rarely backing down from a dare. Like jumping off the roof of a house into a backyard swimming pool, among other shenanigans. He wasn’t really reckless, mind you, but certainly plucky. In fact, we’re both up in our 50s now, and he still possesses a youthful enthusiasm, an intrepid “Cowabunga!’ attitude toward life.
The new Triumph Trident 660 reminds me of Lyle.
Small, simple, and very approachable, the Trident is nonetheless a rowdy little hooligan bike, built rock solid, that will immediately respond to a throttle dare and hurl you into a thrill ride. The bike possesses that same “What do you want to do? Well let’s go!” attitude, which I picked up on the first time I turned the key, thumbed the starter, engaged 1st and launched out down the rural roads surrounding my home in the north Georgia hill country.
Oh yeah, this was going to be fun!
Ah, the colors of Spring in the South.
Adam and Gina at Triumph Motorcycles America had reached out to me a couple of weeks prior with the offer, “We’ve got one of the Tridents coming to our offices here. Would you be interested in riding it for a week?” Oh, heck yeah. I picked the bike up after returning from four days in Tampa, and brought the diminutive Triumph back to our Northeast Georgia home beyond the big city. The Trident is the smallest bike in the legendary brand’s lineup, and Triumph reps tell me its been designed and targeted as an “entry level” motorcycle, for new, returning, female, shorter and younger riders. Okay so, how should an entry level bike feel, how should it perform? And is there built-in obsolescence, as in, a few years on it and the rider will want to step up to, say, the Street or Speed Triple? Or does this little triple have a few tricks up his own sleeve, some shenanigans in his heart, like my childhood chum? I set out to find out.
I had no sooner arrived home with the Trident, when I geared up and throttled off. Upon thumbing the bike to life, the Trident fires with a cool little rev of the engine, like someone blipping a throttle while kick-starting. I was immediately struck by the smooth clutch engagement and roll-on from stop. The Street Triple R we reviewed a couple of years ago was fun but jumpy, a rev monster, yet the Trident starts off very compliant, inviting the rider to ease into the ride. With a short wheelbase of 55.2 inches, a seat height of 31.7, and a rake/trail of 24.6/4.22 inches, I found the bike supremely maneuverable. The Trident tips the scales at about 417 lbs (dry?), yet feels light and flickable right off the line. I’m 5’8”, 155 lbs. “wet weight”, and felt the bike fit me like a glove from the get-go. As with other smaller or middleweight bikes we’ve evaluated, the larger members of the Road Dirt crew felt a bit cramped on it, but for those of us in the mid 5’ range, The Trident offers a nice rider triangle. Slight reach forward to the bar, upright back position, legs on pegs underneath in a posture to easily stand up if rolling over uneven pavement. Nice layout for a midsize chap like me.
Great first impression of this new offering from Triumph.
I spent the next several days blasting all over the hill country where we live, diving the little hooligan through the multitude curvy roads and over the gentle dairy country hills. The Trident sports a six-cog gearbox with a slipper clutch, and snapping up/down through the gears is pure delight with this bike. No missed or muffed gear changes, just crisp shifting. Even if I shifted too early in the rev range, the Trident played along, forgiving my occasional clumsiness, too eager to play to give me any negative feedback on it. The Trident can be thrashed, and loves to rev, pulling hard through each gear when the rider is feeling froggy. My old pal Lyle would quickly bond with this wild-haired little roadster.
Rolling through some Southern-fried Americana.
Here’s some more specs for the gear heads among you- Bore/stroke is 74×51.1 mm, compression is 11.95:1, makes 81 horses at 10,250 rpm, and peak torque at 47 ft lbs at 6,250 rpm. The Trident rolls on a Showa suspension, with non-adjustable inverted 41 mm forks up front, and a monoshock in the rear, adjustable for preload. The little Triumph brakes with a pair of Nissin 2-piston sliders on two 310 mm discs fore, and a single-piston slider on a single 255 mm disc aft. Not top-of-the-line spec like found on more premium machines, even in the Triumph lineup, but trust me, they are abundantly sufficient for the Trident, whether commuting or curve carving. I never felt like the brakes were mushy, nor that the suspension was cheap. The Trident ate up everything I threw at it- winding it out in each gear, diving through twisties, hard braking and swerving to avoid the random suicidal squirrel in my path. The Trident’s Street Triple 675-derived powerplant loses some 25 hp of its ancestor, and tips the scales a bit heavier than the mid-2000s Street Triple. But that’s okay in our book. With ABS, TC, a lower seat height, and smoother roll-on, the Trident really is better suited as a beginner/returning rider machine than the older Street Triple. Triumph achieved the 660 cc spec by shortening the stroke somewhat. But I still dig that triple. Had a 1999 Sprint 955 ST myself for years. I love the British bulldog growl of an uncorked Triumph triple.
The Trident sports non-adjustable ABS yet switchable traction control, meaning the bike is supremely confidence-inspiring diving through corners and drawing down hard but controlled when the rider needs to rapidly scrub off speed. Then, should you feel the need to uncage the hooligan within, wheelies, burnouts and drifts with the TC off are quite attainable. By you young bucks, not this old curmudgeon. The TFT display is among the easiest I’ve ever thumbed through, everything controlled by a set of prominent buttons on the left handlebar grip. Some modern motorbike menus I’ve found difficult to find, set, and save anything, even on a few Triumphs I’ve ridden before, but not so with the Trident. Very user-friendly, intuitive, and easily clicked through even while rolling. There are two ride modes, Road and Rain, and they also are switchable on the fly. So much to love about this little dynamo.
Supremely easy and enjoyable to ride.
I cleared the calendar and decided to take the Trident on a two-day road trip, since (1) riders who buy this will likely utilize it in multiple roles, (2) I needed to visit with my aging parents down in south central Georgia, and (3) the weather was beautiful this spring. Time to pack and ride. Here’s where I had an issue with the Trident. Though it will do any and everything else I asked of it, kitting it out for road-tripping was difficult at best. I’ve got several configurations for luggage while traveling, but found the tail of the bike impossible to mount a pair of Nelson-Rigg throwover saddlebags, with no side covers for the bags to rest against so as not to interfere with the rear tire. I settled on a Sedici tailbag I had from an eval we did in 2019 on an Indian FTR, and made it work, albeit with the bag’s wrap-around velcro straps (precariously) clinging to the narrow tail, and a couple of non-abrasive bungee cords to the passenger pegs. I also carried some items in a moto-back pack I own, yet found I had to wear it as a front-pack, resting on the tank, with no room behind me due to the tailbag. But hey, I made it work, hours down and hours back the next day. It was worth it, as other than being cramped for space, the Trident ate state highway miles at speed with aplomb. If Triumph develops a line of luggage for the Trident (which I’m sure they will), it would be a worthy investment to truly make the bike an all-rounder.
We returned the Trident to our friend Ricky Patterson and Freewheeling Powersports in Douglasville, Georgia, who would service and prep the bike for Triumph America, to be demoed at the opening MotoAmerica race weekend at Road Atlanta. I had a terrific time with this terrific motorcycle. Englishman Chris Northover opined in Cycle World about the Trident, “it provides a perfect way to step back from 100-plus bhp bikes to something that doesn’t build speed so rapidly, but still puts a massive smile on your face when you’re in the mood for a blast. The Trident 660 may not have masses of power, but there’s something addictive about using every last one of those 80 horses, holding the throttle open to the stop between bends before hammering the brakes, dropping down the gears and pitching into the next turn. And anyway, when was the last time you held a 200 hp bike wide open on the road?” I couldn’t agree more.
“Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can…” Tolkien
Not surprisingly, these bikes are already on back-order here Stateside, so if you have a chance to see and test ride a demo, jump on it, literally. Then get your name on the list. They’ll go fast, in every sense of the phrase.
Lyle, you reading me?
For more on the Triumph Trident 660, click here:
*Check out our Trident ride/review video on YouTube, without even leaving this page: