Hinckley Howler: Triumph Trident Bobber

Triumph Trident Bobber

Triumph T300 “Tri-Bird” from Chris Forward… 

The early Hinckley Triumphs of the 1990s are quickly becoming modern classics. These “T300” machines brought the great British marque back from the shadows and spearheaded the brand’s many successes straight into the 21st century. They were smart enough to over-engineer the new Trident, Thunderbird, Adventurer, and other models to overcome the age-old perception of Triumphs as character-rich but leaky, maintenance-heavy machines.

The triples, available in 750cc and 900cc variants, were the real honeys of the bunch. Here was an engine quite unlike anything available at the time from Europe, Japan, or the Americas, combining plenty of punch with a heady soundtrack and one quality you can’t manufacture out of thin air…character.

Triumph Trident Bobber

Our friend Christian “Chris” Forward (@Forwardstein) has long been a devotee of these engines. As a veteran motorcycle mechanic, he’s had a chance to test many of the latest rockets out of Japan, but he always returns to these old British-built three-bangers…

“There’s just something about that early Hinckley triple that keeps drawing me back.”

Triumph Trident Bobber

The build you see here started with a Honda CBR600RR swingarm, whose linkage mechanism fascinated Chris from an engineering standpoint. When he realized he could mate such a swingarm to a T300 Trident frame, the project picked up a speed, gaining even more momentum when a regular customer, Aaron, saw the swingarm sitting in the shop.

“I told him I wanted to build a bike that looked a bit like it had a rigid rear end. But in fact had suspension. I drew him a quick sketch of what I had in mind. He took one look at it and said, ‘Can I buy it when it finished?’ And the rest, as they say, is history.”

Triumph Trident Bobber

The resulting “Bobber” — as Chris calls it — is another great example of what can be done with these early Hinckley triples. And unlike a lot of bobber builds, this one has the power to back up its aggressive aesthetics. The fully-built and dyno-tuned Thunderbird engine is now pushing 114 bhp to the rear wheel — 44 ponies more than the stocker!

Below, Chris gives us the full story of the build in his own words.

Triumph T300 Bobber: In the Builder’s Words…

Triumph Trident Bobber

You know how it is when you see something, and your brain says hang on a minute that’s never right. That’s how it was for me when I saw the Honda CBR600RR swingarm for the first time. You see the top of the shock is mounted to the swingarm, so as the arm moves up so does the shock. Something that to this day still fascinates me from an engineering point of view. I know it works and it works very well, but when I look at it my brain still says that it shouldn’t.

Triumph Trident Bobber

Anyway one day I had a CBR600RR in for a service, so I took the opportunity to take a few measurements. Just out of curiosity to see if the swingarm would fit into a T300 frame. Bingo not only would it fit inside the frame but the swingarm spindle is the same diameter. So onto eBay to find a swingarm and rear shock. I got one for a very reasonable price. When it arrived it was in need of a thorough cleanup. So I took it to work and put it in the degreasing tank. After cleaning I put it underneath my work bench.

Triumph Trident Bobber

A couple of days later, Aaron a regular customer of the bike shop where I worked, came into the workshop for a chat. He saw the swingarm under the bench and asked what it was off. So I told him what it was off and that I wanted to build a bike that looked a bit like it had a rigid rear end. But in fact had suspension. I drew him a quick sketch of what I had in mind. He took one look at it and said “can I buy it when it finished?” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Triumph Trident Bobber

This turned out to be the first bike that I built for someone else. Although I had my own ideas of what I wanted to create, I was now building a bike for a customer who had his own ideas of what he wanted. The original plan was to use all the parts leftover from my cafe racer. Engine, forks, wheels etc.

Triumph Trident Bobber

I removed the rear subframe from the standard Trident chassis and tacked a temporary one in place with a bicycle seat just to get the ergonomics right for Aaron. He came over to try it on for size. After a few adjustments we got the foot rests, seat, and bars in the right position. My cafe racer was parked in the corner of the workshop at the time, and Aaron kept looking at it. His next comment was: “it looks much better with USD forks and spoked wheels.”

Triumph Trident Bobber

We got a Bonneville Scrambler front wheel and Tiger 900 rear from eBay along with a set of R1 forks and yokes. So began the build. On Aaron’s next visit, the bike was up on its wheels with the USD forks, CBR swingarm, spoked wheels, and engine in place.

Triumph Trident Bobber

On the bench next to it was a Thunderbird engine that I had just finished building with 955 liners and pistons, Daytona 955 cams, port flowed and skimmed cylinder head and a six-speed box. He took one look at the Thunderbird engine and said, “Wow that looks so much better than the Trident one. Can I have that engine in my Bobber?”

Triumph Trident Bobber

The cafe racer had a similar spec engine in it and that was putting out 117bhp and 69ft lbs of torque at the rear wheel. There was no reason not to expect a similar output from the Thunderbird engine. It was then decided that with all that extra power, perhaps a twin disc set up for the front would be a good idea. So back onto eBay to find a Tiger 900 front wheel with twin discs.

Triumph Trident Bobber

Aaron wanted to introduce a bit of modern technology into the old carbureted Trumpet. So he opted for Motogadget’s M-unit blue, digital switches, anti gravity lithium battery, digital speedo/tacho, and LED lighting. The M-unit blue is a very clever little box of tricks. It replaces all the fuses, relays and allows for keyless ignition via your smartphone.

We did however fit a bypass key switch, just so Aaron didn’t have to leave his phone at the bike shop while getting it MOT-ed or tyres fitted. Aaron wired the whole lot up with a custom loom he made. Having done such a good job of it, he now handles all the electrical side of Forwardstein’s custom builds.

Triumph Trident Bobber

The wheels were stripped down to bare hubs, powder-coated black by La Carousel (who also did the frame after all the fabrication was finished). New bearings fitted then sent off to Hagon to be laced to black alloy rims 5.5x 17 rear and 3.5×17 front with stainless steel spokes.

Although I have an English wheel, it’s more cost effective for me to buy ready-made mudguards. Richard Robinson at Causeway Motorcycles is a good source for these, and very reasonably priced.

Triumph Trident Bobber

The thing I like about building custom bikes is having to overcoming the problems that you create for yourself. I wanted the rear mudguard to fit as close to the tyre as possible, almost like a hugger, which also adds to the illusion of being a rigid rear end. Of course the wheel needs to be able to move back and forth for chain adjustments. I had to find a way to mount the rear mudguard so that it would move with the wheel. This was achieved by mounting the main stay to the rear caliper bracket and putting a slot on the front mount of the mudguard, enabling the mudguard to move with the wheel when adjusting the chain.

The seat was fabricated from 3mm aluminium. It was then handed over to Jane at Lucky Foot Trimming, who worked her magic on it. The long term plan is to make a small rack, which will mount to the bike utilising the seat mounting bolts and poke out behind the seat just above the tail light. Just haven’t found the time yet to do that bit.

Triumph Trident Bobber

We wanted the bike to have a minimalist look about it. So that meant trying to hide as much as possible. The coolant expansion tank has been placed inside the frame tube on the left hand side, and the rear brake reservoir is in the right hand side of the frame. The tail light wiring runs through the frame. Battery is tucked in behind the fairing. Replacing the standard coils and HT leads with stick coils so we could use the space under the fuel tank to mount the M-unit and starter relay.

Triumph Trident Bobber

As mentioned earlier the swingarm fitted straight in, just needed to turn some spacers and make some new adjustable tie rods. As the R1 forks are shorter than standard Trident ones, the whole bike has been lowered to keep the rake and trail the same, hence the adjustable tie rods. The exhaust is a cut and shut job. Early 595 3-into-1 down pipes welded to T300 headers and an eBay silencer. Carbs are standard Mikunis with K&N pod filters.

Triumph Trident Bobber

Time for a trip to see Keith and Andy at Dynotech. They used to work on Jack Lilly’s race bikes so they know a thing to two about setting up the triples. When they finished the Bobber was kicking out 114bhp and 70ft lbs of torque at the rear wheel. Quite impressive for a Thunderbird engine that’s normally about 70bhp and 50ft lbs!

Follow the Builder

Facebook: Christian Forward

Instagram: @Forwardstein

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One Comment

  1. I’m absolutely loving this. The design ethos is similar to what I’ve done with bikes I’ve had. The rear end makes me think of Confederate Bikes. The front end is good, not outstanding. The engine looks very nice with its classic curves. The tank is wonderful. The front fairing and seat are both odd but not egregious, and then again the rear end comes back into play and really cements the visual stance for the bike. This is a somewhat subdued build that looks like it would make someone over the moon happy.

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