Now I’m sure that I said somwhere in these ramblings that I wasn’t getting back into biking to recapture any notional lost youth — I ‘m well rid of most of that part of my life. Bikes are about the now and the appreciation of the performance that the finest modern engineering can deliver. No intention of staggering around the countryside on any under-tyred, flexi-framed nostalgia special. Absolutely not. Right?
Now step back twenty years — when I was first getting into motorcycling in the late 1970s, there were three seminal bikes — the aspirational machines of an era, with a mystique and majesty of their own, especially for those of us who couldn’t afford them. They were the Laverda Jota (brute force and ignorance in equally large doses) the original Ducati 900ss (pure thoroughbred), and the Triumph Trident (sublime style and attitude). Of all of these, the machine I most coveted was the last of these — the combination of power, handling, style and the glorious whoosh of the 750 triple was spellbinding. Although the cheapest of these bikes, a T160V would have cost my entire student grant for the duration of my university days, so was obviously out of the question. Besides, I’d already spent my grant on hi-fi.
I’d a brief flirtation with getting one in the early eighties — I was sharing a house at the time with a chap who’d managed to, er, liberate a couple of the last T160s from a Meriden warehouse in the chaos of Triumph’s final collapse, but I didn’t really feel I could come up with a legally watertight enough set of reasons for my possession of an unregistered (and possibly unregisterable) machine.
Fast forward to last weekend: I now make a habit of looking up Ducati dealers in various bits of the world I find myself in — all in the cause of finding interesting cool and shiny bits to bring back. In this case, I was in Munroe Motors in San Francisco, checking out their MV Agusta Oro, the Y2k Dukes and buying a very nice Marsee tankbag. I was about to wander off to my next meeting when I peered briefly into their workshop, only to spot, sitting in the middle of the floor, a 1976 Trident. Excellent factory condition — not concours, but what you’d expect a good clean street machine to looki like, full engine rebuild and all receipts. At half the price I’d pay in the UK. If I hadn’t just forked out for the breathing job on the Duke, it would have been a done deal.
I think it’s still sitting there…