A Triumph: John Young’s obscure classic motorcycles

Tell us about yourself …

I’m from a biking family. I bought my first motorcycle, a Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) Bantam, in 1977 at the age of 17, and then quickly progressed onto a 350cc Triumph. My first Triumph Trident was a second hand 1976 T150V. I covered many miles on that bike until studies, marriage, career and family came along. From then on, while I was never really without a bike, motorcycling had to take a back seat.

With the rebirth of the Triumph name in 1991, I bought an early 1200 Trophy. One day, while the bike was being serviced, I noticed the dealer had a 1976 T160 Trident for sale. Without too much thought, the bike was bought and my ‘love affair’ with the original BSA/Triumph OHV triples was rekindled.


“I ride an average of 25,000 to 35,000 miles a year – it’s a great way to see the world!”

Since that day in 1995, Hinckley Triumphs have come and gone (most with abnormally high mileages at the time of sale), but my collection of BSA/Triumph triples has continued to grow. It now stands at 12 (or 13, if you count the T160 powered race car!)

I ride a lot, covering an average of 25,000 to 35,000 miles per year – it’s a great way to travel and see the world!

Introduce us to the highlights of your collection


Name: Triumph Trident Rob North Highboy (Daytona No.8), 1970.

Power rating: 80bhp.

What makes it a highlight for you? It’s one of the original works F750 race bikes, and was in fact the first works Trident to win a major race – at Crystal Palace on 31 August 1970. There were perhaps 17 or 18 (depending on how you define a bike) of these originals made, and such is their significance, you can still buy a brand new replica almost 50 years on!

How did you come to acquire the bike? I bought this bike in 2008. It had been converted into a road bike but had spent the last few years on display in a museum. A three-year full restoration followed, to return it to its original racing specification.

Most poignant moment with this bike: Following the restoration, seeing it back out on the track being ridden as it should be!


Name: Triumph Trident T150, 1969.

Power rating: 58bhp.

Special features/modifications: Modified for long-distance riding.

How did you come to acquire the bike? I bought the bike in 2010 specifically to modify and enter the 2011 Iron Butt Rally in the US. The rally lasts for 11 days and covers 11,000 miles. Riders earn points for reaching checkpoints and ‘bonus’ locations along the way.


Most poignant moment with this bike: This was the oldest overseas bike ever to finish the Iron Butt Rally, and it attracted a lot of attention. Apparently, as I set off on this decrepit motorbike, one of the guys on the organising team, Bob Higdon, turned to his colleague and said something to the effect of: “If that bike makes it to the first checkpoint, you can call me Sally.” Thanks to the internet, within moments the entire world knew about this comment, and of course even now, six years on, people still refer to him as Sally! But the bike hasn’t only been to every state in the USA – it has also travelled all across Europe and even into Russia.


Name: T150 Wasp Outfit, 1968/1976.

Power rating: 58bhp.

Special features/modifications: Off-road sidecar outfit.

How did you come to acquire the bike? I bought it as a Norton Commando-powered Wasp Outfit, but we were always going to put a triple engine into it.


What makes it a highlight for you? This bike was built and modified to compete in the 2016 Tuareg Rally across the Sahara Desert. We turned up there with our shed-built Wasp Outfit, alongside other competitors with £250,000 vehicles – people really warmed to the fact that we were using something completely and utterly unsuitable for the event! It also brought the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3s to a new audience, and that’s basically why we enter events such as these. Most of the people at that rally would have remained completely unaware of the Triumph Trident if it wasn’t for us turning up with one and having a go (even though we were crap!)


Name: Triumph Trident T160 Production Racer ‘Son of Sam’, 1976.

Power rating: 75bhp.

The most important thing to know about this bike: This bike won the 1000cc Production Race at the 1976 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, ridden by Alex George. It was also ridden in the TT in both 1976 and ‘78.

What makes it a highlight for you? Very few motorcycles have ‘names’, and even fewer race bikes survive as originally built. This has achieved both.


How did you come to acquire the bike? I’d been hoping to buy this bike for three or four years, playing a bit of a cat and mouse game with the owner. Then one day, out of the blue, he asked me if I wanted to buy it, and I did, there and then! So it was four years in the making, and five seconds in the doing.

Most poignant moment with this bike: Reuniting the bike with Alex George after 40-odd years and seeing him ride it again. It sort of completed the circle. Even today Alex will very often put up a picture of Son of Sam on his Facebook page.

I think old racing riders and drivers are very different to modern classics. I’d hazard a guess that in 30 years’ time the modern racers won’t have quite the same emotional attachment to the machinery they ride now.


Name: NVT Easy Rider moped (Model ER1), 1976.

Power rating: 1.2bhp (the .2 bit is very important!)

The most important thing to know about this bike: In the dying days of the first British motorcycling industry, when they stopped making proper bikes, NVT (Norton Villiers Triumph) decided to make a range of mopeds. These mopeds, even in their day, were absolutely sh*t.

How did you come to acquire the bike? In 2011, I heard about a ride that was being arranged for Help for Heroes. You had to get a team together, get yourself a moped, and ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End, raising money in the process. So, because I am in the Triumph Trident and Rocket 3 Owners’ Club, and Triumph Tridents are my passion, I came up with the idea of buying one of these really old, sh*tty little mopeds and using that! I bought three mopeds for £120 and got together with some of my friends from the club to dismantle them. We managed to make one good one from the three to enter into this Moped Madness competition. Our team raised £11,000 for Help the Heroes and was voted the best team overall, because we used an old moped.


Having completed that ride, we thought, ‘That was fun!’, so the next year we rode that same moped from the Blackpool Tower to the Eiffel Tower and raised £3,000 for the TT Riders Association and Riders for Health.

We then took it to Switzerland, to Belgium, to France, and at the same time all of my friends started buying them as well. So there are now 30 or 40 of us with these absolutely rubbish mopeds. There’s nothing quite as funny as seeing 16 fat 50-year-olds riding mopeds through the Belgian countryside.

What makes it a highlight for you? Ultimately, that one little moped has raised nearly £25,000 for various charities. And it’s good fun, because it’s so silly! It doesn’t do much more than 15mph – not much faster than a push bike!


Name: Triumph Explorer XC, 2015.

Power rating: 135bhp.

Special features/modifications: Hmm… where to start? Enlarged main fuel tank, auxiliary fuel tank, twin spot lights, uprated seating, Touratech luggage, extra crash bars, repositioning of front mudguard, radiator guard, fender extender…

Suffice to say that, although it still looks like an Explorer, it’s a long way removed from one now.

How did you come to acquire the bike? I bought this bike in 2015 to replace my 2012 Explorer, which by that time had 62,000 miles on the odometer.

What makes it a highlight for you? This is my day-to-day bike, which I ride all over the world. I’ve also won several Iron Butt Association rallies with it. It’s just over two years old, and in two weeks’ time it’s going in for its 60,000 service. So, as you can probably tell, I like riding it a lot (but I LOVE riding my old Triumphs!)

Thinking about getting a classic bike yourself?

If you’re in the market for a classic bike, make sure you choose an insurance specialist like Bikesure. We offer classic and custom bike insurance that suits your motorcycle, as well as specialist insurance for Triumph motorcycles, whether you’ve built the bike yourself or you’ve bought a factory custom.

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August 8, 2023