Motorcycles are all about balance (heh, get it), and the middleweight naked bike class often weighs the scales just right to deliver real-world engine performance, versatility, and affordable pricing that many riders gravitate towards. Attractive qualities like that are why the segment is fiercely contested, with every manufacturer throwing their hat in the ring, and the latest challenger is the 2021 Triumph Trident 660.Triumph’s Trident 660 is aggressively priced at $8095—$1305 less than the Street Twin—and takes the budget-friendly Japanese middleweight machines head-on with its spunky triple-cylinder engine, stout chassis, competitive electronics package, and ravishing looks. Now, let’s get on with the Fast Facts.
The inline three-cylinder engine has all the classic British charm you want. Triumph and triples are nearly synonymous at this point, and the 660cc engine produces a welcoming yet plenty sporty 81 horsepower at 10,500 and 47 ft-lbs of torque at 6250 rpm. The 660 is docile below 5000 rpm, comfortably purring along at city speeds. Crack the whip, and all that rev-happy spirit shines through, delivering a serving of low-end torque, excellent midrange, and a zesty top-end rush that begs you to rev ’er up and rip.
The 660 motor is re-engineered and raring to go. Astute observers might recognize the 660’s lump as the same engine found in the Street Triple 675. The most noticeable update is the shortened stroke that’s lowered the displacement to 660cc (the 74mm bore remains). Don’t think the Hinkley would leave well enough alone. Altering the stroke length paved the way for 67 new internal components, including a redesigned crank, new pistons, new cams, updated gearbox ratios, and much more—all to make the 660 a fun-loving roadster, as opposed to wheelie-happy Street Triple hooligan.
An iconic exhaust note sets the tone for the 2021 Triumph Trident 660. The throaty howl of a triple-cylinder engine is enough to get any gearhead’s blood up, and the 660 doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s also underslung, which helps keep the 660’s center of gravity lower and, along with the swingarm-mounted license plate bracket, makes the tail section look pretty tidy.
A slick six-speed gearbox is part of the package. The gearbox features shorter ratios in first-through-fourth gears for improved acceleration, and slightly taller fifth and sixth cogs for highway cruising. Shifting is precise, with a relatively light lever pull thanks to the slipper-and-assist clutch. Although not the lightest in class, it’s nothing overbearing, and an accessory up/down quickshifter is available.
The 2021 Trident 660’s chassis is well-rounded. The tubular steel chassis is one of the 660’s biggest strengths. Breaking down the numbers, the Trident 660 flexes geometry figures on par with most of the middleweight field, with its sporty 55.2-inch wheelbase, steep 24.6-degree rake, and moderate 4.2-inch trail. However, it boasts loads of stability that is extremely encouraging when you start bullying it around the canyons for some entertainment. Steering is precise and controlled, enjoying a bit of direction from its pilots.
Beefy Showa suspension is part of the handling picture. The Trident’s non-adjustable inverted 41mm Separate Function Fork and spring-preload adjustable shock have settings that strike a good balance between everyday riding and canyon carving fun. Its suspenders soak up the rough stuff and keep the Trident in shape while flip-flopping through mountain routes. Compared to its Japanese competitors, the Trident’s damping and spring rates feel much stouter, and an experienced rider can get a lot out of it. That said, if seriously sporty riding makes up your menu, you should probably look at the more aggressive Street Triple 765.
The 2021 Triumph Trident 660 has a big bike feel without the price. There is a certain maturity about the Trident 660. It feels like a full-sized motorcycle, with nice riser handlebars keeping the rider in an upright riding position and ample legroom for my 32-inch seam. Better yet, the knee cut-outs in the 3.7-gallon fuel tank are perfect anchoring points when cornering. The sculpted tail section looks smart but creates a spartan passenger seat—something to keep in mind for those who ride in tandem.
Modern electronics and rider aids are standard. We’re now in an age of trickle-down-electronics, and more middleweight machines are boasting adjustable traction control, ABS, and selectable ride modes. The Trident 660 features two distinct modes, Road and Rain, that radically alter the throttle response. Throttle response in Road mode is crisp and athletic, while Rain tamps things down considerably for damp conditions. To keep costs down, an IMU (Inertial Measuring Unit) isn’t used, but the systems work well and don’t intervene needlessly.
Nissin braking components provide the stopping power for the 2021 Triumph Trident 660. Nissin two-piston calipers and 310mm floating rotors and used in the front, with a Nissin single-piston caliper and 255mm rotor in the rear. Sure, this setup doesn’t have the same amount of attack and performance of much pricier Brembo kit found on the Street or Speed Triples, but that isn’t the Trident’s intention. Feel at the front lever is approachable for riders across the skill spectrum, building braking power progressively after a soft initial bite.
The TFT dash is the definition of clean and to the point. It wasn’t all that long ago that fancy TFT instrument panels were found strictly on top-tier motorcycles. The Trident is bringing a touch of class with a simplistic and stylish TFT display that’s easy to read in any condition. Looking at comparatively priced naked middleweights, the only other bike with a TFT is the Kawasaki Z650.
Michelin Road 5 rubber is a perfect fit for the Trident. Triumph didn’t pinch the pennies when it came to rubber and slapped Michelin Road 5 sport-touring tires on the Trident’s 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels. In practice, the Road 5 is more than sporty enough for a nice rip through the canyons, and will also get decent mileage thanks to its multi-compound construction. If that isn’t enough, the Road 5’s wet-weather performance is one of its strong points.
Triumph has become a master of fit and finish. The rich paint on the Crystal White test unit has a lovely pearl to it. There are excellent finishes on every bit of hardware, and the level of detail usually taxes the wallet much more. Plushy seating elevates comfort, while the TFT display kicks things up a notch. Add it all up, and Triumph has knocked that aspect out of the park.
The 2021 Triumph Trident 660 will keep the middleweight class on its toes. It’s no secret that Triumph is gunning for naked middleweight stalwarts like the Suzuki SV650, Kawasaki Z650, and Yamaha MT-07 with its comparable MSRP—the Honda CB650R and Aprilia Tuono 660 are in a different price category. The Trident 660 takes things a step further with a spunky yet user-friendly inline-3, traction control, and a stout chassis primed for riders with a bit of experience behind them. Importantly, it doesn’t upset its versatility by pushing too far into the sporting spectrum, creating a well-balanced machine.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!