The Essential Buyer’s Guide: Triumph Trident & BSA Rocket III 1968 – 1976 (Review)

riumph Trident & BSA Rocket III 1968—1976

Rider’s Library: The Essential Buyer’s Guide: Triumph Trident & BSA Rocket III 1968—1976

Whether buying a classic British bike as a show bike, daily rider or restoration project, one of the worst things that can happen is finding out you didn’t know what you didn’t know—and didn’t know enough to ask!

Let’s face it even those of us who are ardent fans of the bikes from the days of yore often know of them but know precious little about them, at least to the finer details. Details such as their inherent weakness, parts prone to failure, parts that may be particularly hard to source and portions of restoration that may be particularly difficult. And, if you want the real deal in terms of an all-original vintage bike, knowing how to spot a fake can make a huge difference in what you should pay.

riumph Trident & BSA Rocket III

In the case of the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket III there are some examples of where the knowledge of a someone who has gone deep in the technical weeds as author Chris Rooke has can be very helpful indeed.

For example, the right-hand switchgear unique to the T160 Triumph is no longer available—but Rooke reveals that the switchgear from an LF Harris Bonneville will work. Also, the special duplex primary drive chain is now unobtainium, so if the original primary drive is worn out, the only options are to convert to either triplex chain or belt drive.

Rooke travels some ground not often covered, discussing the limited production specials that were built based on the BSA/Triumph triples, such as the Slippery Sam replicas and Legend specials built by Les Williams. The original Slippery Sam was the Triumph Trident that won five consecutive (1971-75) Isle of Man TT production 750 events.

There was also the Hyde Harrier, built by Triumph development engineer Norman Hyde, with a Trident motor in a Harris frame. Hyde also developed the Legend Special based on the T160, which featured purpose-built engines by Jack Shemans.

riumph Trident & BSA Rocket III 1968—1976

In its 17 chapters, Rooke helps the reader take an unvarnished look at the good and the bad of the bikes themselves and of owning one. He provides an in-depth guide on how to shop for a classic triple, what to look for, listen for and feel for on inspection and the test ride, how to determine originality, the right price to pay, the scope of a would-be restoration project, where to go for parts, specific problems that may crop up and some handy vital statistics on these British triples.

Thinking it would be cool to buy that Rocket III basket case you saw online and do a little quick rebuild? Before you buy that, you might want to buy this book!

For a look at the other Veloce Essential Buyer’s Guides we’ve reviewed, see:

Book Data

  • Title: The Essential Buyer’s Guide: Triumph Trident & BSA Rocket III 1968—1976
  • Author: Chris Rooke
  • Published: 2018 Paperback. 64 pages. Measures 5.5” x 7.75.” 90 images.
  • Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
  •   Distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group, USA. Contact Quarto via e-mail at:, by phone: 1-612-344-8100 and online at:
  • ISBN: 978-1-787113-80-0
  • MSRP: U.S. $25.00 U.K. £12.99 CAN $32.99