Middleweight bikes are like the middle child of the motorcycle world; Often overlooked, seldom acknowledged, and sometimes outright ignored. That’s because middleweights are considered transition bikes to bigger and faster machines after stepping up from smaller displacement bikes. But middleweight bikes play an important role in our journey up the displacement ladder.
They help prepare us for the speed and handling characteristics of a bigger machine without being overwhelmed with too much weight and power. In fact I know of some experienced riders who gravitate back to middleweights after years of riding bigger displacement bikes because they offer real-world performance they can fully exploit for riding in Philippine roads. Proof that sometimes it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than to ride a fast bike slow.
This was exactly my thoughts after riding the 2021 Triumph Trident 660, the newest middleweight offering from the land of Hinckley, United Kingdom that should make other motorcycle manufacturers, especially the Japanese, take notice. Not only is it priced competitively with their middleweight offerings but also packs quite a punch in terms of refinement, attention to detail, performance, and technology coming from a premium European motorcycle brand.
Introduced sometime in 2020 as a 2021 model after a four year development program, the Trident 660 was developed as Triumph’s entry-level motorcycle for new riders. And it’s quite evident when you look at its specs sheet; 80 bhp at 10,250 rpm, 47 lb-ft of torque at 6,250 rpm, 189kg curb weight, just to name a few, putting it on par with its middleweight counterparts. But specs sheets only tell us one side of the story, how they translate to the road is entirely another. After spending several days with the Trident 660 I can honestly say that Triumph hit the proverbial nail in the head.
Powering the Trident 660 is a new 3-inline cylinder motor derived from the Daytona 675 but with a slightly reduced stroke for an overall capacity of 660cc in a mild state of tune. It’s also got a new crankshaft, camshafts, pistons, cylinder head, cylinder liners, crankcase, oil sump, cooling system, radiator, alternator and stator, air intakes, and exhaust system that qualifies it as an all-new motor. Rounding up the package is a slip and assist clutch to reduce engine braking and a lighter clutch lever action. Fuelling benefited from a modern ride-by-wire system that controls everything from fuel delivery to the two preset riding modes; road and rain.
80 horsepower may not sound very much in this day and age when people are obsessing over near 200 hp sport naked bikes (Triumph has the Speed Triple 1200 RS if that’s what you want). The Trident 660 on the other hand is all about finding the right balance; power to weight, sportiness and practicality, comfort and agility, price and equipment. Combine all of these in one handsome package and you have all the right ingredients for a fun middleweight motorcycle. If that sounds bland to you, wait till you twist the throttle.
Press the starter button and the 3-inline motor springs to life and settle to a smooth idle. Crack the throttle a little and the familiar triple sound makes itself audible, but just barely. Give it a handful, however, and the motor roars into a melodious triple symphony. An aftermarket exhaust system will definitely do wonders in the sound department if you find it, shall I say, too polite. The triple layout isn’t known to be the smoothest among engine configurations and the 660cc inline-3 on the Trident have some vibrations that somehow make their way to the handlebars and foot pegs at high rpm. But thankfully it’s not intrusive and doesn’t detract from the fun factor of riding the Trident 660.
For an entry-level offering Triumph certainly bestowed the Trident 660 with plenty of premium features worthy of more expensive models, and the attention to small details adds to its premium feel. You will find, for instance, small Triumph logos on the leg pads, handlebar clamp, fuel filler cap, headlight, and tail light. There’s also LED lights, self-cancelling signal lights, an immobilizer, span adjustable brake lever, five spoke aluminum wheels shod with Michelin tires.
Switches have a high quality and tactile feel to them. The round instrument panel blends well with the overall styling and is divided into two. The monochromatic screen on top displays speed, revs, and fuel. The color TFT screen below it displays gear, odometer, trip meters, clock, calendar, set-up menus, and when used with Triumph’s mobile app can be used to display turn-by-turn sat nav, music, and call functions.
Swinging a leg over the Trident 660 for the first time, I was delighted that the 805mm seat height allows me to reach the ground with both feet, and I’m just 5’7 in height. Nervous new riders will certainly find this helpful in boosting their confidence. The foot pegs are placed a bit high but leg room is plentiful even for taller riders and the reach to the handlebar is short with a slight forward bias. Overall ergonomics is comfortable for short hops across town or even on long rides but being a naked wind blast at elevated highway speeds can be bothersome after some time.
Expressways are a boring place to ride anyway, it’s on twisty mountain roads where you really want to ride the Trident 660. The short ratios of the first 3 gears provide lively acceleration at low speeds while the tall 4th to 6th gear ratios provide a more relaxed cruising at higher speeds, making good use of the triple’s modest 80bhp power and 47 lb-ft of torque, 90 percent of which are available across the rev range according to Triumph. And they are probably right because you always feel that you’re on the right gear.
Steering is light and very accurate when you’re stitching a series of corners. The chassis is forgiving when making mid-corner corrections, when let’s say you overcooked a corner. Just put on a little more counter-steering pressure on the inside handlebar to tighten up your line and the Trident 660 will oblige without drama, making it friendly and accessible for developing rider skills.
The KYB upside-down fork, although basic and lacks adjustments, provides supple damping characteristics for a generally comfortable and well controlled ride. Although not readily apparent, the rear shock absorber is adjustable for preload and has a linkage instead of directly bolted onto the swingarm. This setup provides more progressive damping characteristics throughout the suspension travel.
The Nissin brake calipers in front are of the sliding caliper variety and not radially mounted like most of its competitors but they provide plenty of power to stop the 189kg Trident 660. Braking forces are controlled by the Trident’s ABS and ride modes of which there are two; Road and Rain. Paired with the standard fitment Michelin Road 5 tires provide confidence inspiring grip ABS are hardly triggered even on wet riding conditions on road and rain modes. The riding modes also control the Trident’s traction control system, which can be switched off if for some reasons you gather enough courage to pop a wheelie.
With the Trident 660 Triumph created a motorcycle that’s well equipped and friendly to new riders even experienced riders will truly enjoy riding at a very competitive price point. Most middleweights, especially entry-level offerings, are often compromised because manufacturers need to find the right balance of price and level of equipment. You don’t feel that with the Trident 660, especially if you keep your expectations in check considering its place in the big bike hierarchy. Kudos, Triumph.
Engine: fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, Inline-3, dohc, 12 valves, 4 stroke
Max Power: 80 bhp @ 10250 rpm
Max Torque: 47 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm
Seat Height: 805mm
Fuel Capacity: 14 Liters
Tire, Front: 120/70 x R17
Tire, Rear: 180/55 x R17
Brakes, Front/ Rear: 2 Disc/Disc ABS
Curb Weight: 189 kg.
Top Speed: 209 Km/h
Price: PhP 506,000
+: Characterful triple cylinder motor, superb build quality, newby friendly
-: Not much, but it could use some mounting points for luggage.
C! Rating 10/10