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Triumph TRX 75 Harricane

Triumph TRX 75 Harricane

Triumph TRX 75 Hurricane

Were the British motorcycle manufacturers too conservative or did the Japanese catch them napping? Whatever it was, the arrival of the Honda 750 in 1969 was followed bay a flood of other multicylinder bikes that dealt a devastating blow to the British industry.

Desperate Measures
In one last desperate effort, the leading British makers attempted to reestablish themselves, particularly in what had been their leading export market, the United States. One of the most spectacular ventures in this field bay the Triumph-BSA group was the 1972 Hurricane. Starting with the three-cylinder Triumph launched in 1968, the well-known American designer Craig Vetter proved remarkably successful in combining contemporary American styling with muscular British machinery.

Triple Exhaust System
The naked engine kept no secrets, with three separate exhaust systems on the right the machine giving the Hurricane a fabulous sporting appearance. It’s said that its makers banned photos of the left side of the Hurricane, devoid of exhaust pipes, from being published. The tiny (2.4gallons) teardrop-shaped tank and the lengthened front forks placed the Hurricane firmly among the ranks of the then-fashionable choppers. Produced in limited numbers, the Triumph Hurricane is today highly collectible.

What we have here, friends, is the brand-new, limited-production Triumph X-75 Hurricane. You all remember the Hurricane, don’t you? You don’t? Well then, how about the ever-popular BSA Vetter Rocket? Surely you . Oh? Okay, would you believe a basic BSA Rocket Three with a lot of fancy trimmings?

But enough frivolity. Let us start at the beginning . . . or at least back in 1968.

Those were the days shortly after BSA and Triumph had joined corporate forces, and both the Triumph Trident and the BSA Rocket were introduced to the American public. Both were 750cc Triples and both were pretty good machines. They had this one basic problem, though, the kind of problem guaranteed to cause a bit of concern back in the executive offices in England. They didn’t sell.

Consensus: the styling was not right for appealing to the U.S. market. Solution: find an American designer and instruct him to come up with something more in keeping with his countrymen’s tastes.

Enter Craig Vetter, professional designer and very American (a Midwesterner, don’t you know). He was given a BSA Three and told to go to town.

Vetter, it turned out, had some pretty strong ideas about how a motorcycle ought to look: a motorcycle should be simple and clean, and the chassis and engine parts — the very essence of the machine — ought to be clearly visible. But he was also very taken up with the chopper influence in bike styling, with the customized and very personalized kind of appeal generally associated with the big Harley-Davidsons.

As he saw it, choppers stressed the “animal” nature of the motorcycle, the feeling of raw power. Further, he argued, they were part of a new feeling sweeping the country, a vanguard movement which was challenging the system and elevating the concept of personal expression. In his view, the motorcycle was as much a manifestation of personality as it was a means of transportation. “You can buy your identity if you buy the right motorcycle,” he told one reporter in a fit of exuberance.

By 1970, Vetter came up with a preview model, still identified as a BSA. 750, which was received with some appreciation by the American press. In retrospect, everyone seemed more taken with the fact that the bike was a radical departure from existing standards—and from the English, yet—than with the basic question of whether or not the bike might function desirably.

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At that point, the Vetter model virtually disappeared from the public consciousness. Then, in early 1972, word came that it would be marketed as a limited-production model under the name BSA Vetter Rocket. This was a real coup for the designer, of course, since public credit is rare if not unprecedented. By summer there was a change, reflecting the deteriorated economic fortunes of the two manufacturers. Now, officials reported, the new bike would be marketed under the Triumph name as part of a company-wide belt-tightening measure. That belt became tighter still this past spring when a strike drove BSA out of business entirely. By then, though, the Hurricane was already out and on the market.

Given the length of time between Vetter’s prototype and actual production and all the financial machinations, you might logically expect the Hurricane to have been tampered with severely, to have had the concepts and influences of several people built into the basic design. This committee-type approach is almost always a disaster.(“A camel is a horse designed by a committee,” goes the old saying.) It didn’t happen here, however; the Hurricane is pure Vetter, and he’s the man to blame if you consider it a disaster.

And that is probably the most significant aspect of the Hurricane: it is a controversial piece of equipment. It can be seen as an exciting breakthrough for the breed or as a laughable expression of bad taste. You pays your money–almost $2300, as a matter of fact–and you takes your choice.

The Hurricane is striking no doubt about that. It comes in a flashy orange color with sweeping yellow trim lines and a trio of wild and impressive exhaust pipes which curve down along the right side in shiny splendor. The overall appearance might best be described as semi-chopper, with long front fork stanchions, extended cylinderhead fins and a custom front fender. Underneath it all, though, hides your basic BSA Triple (or Trident, if you prefer, since the engines are fundamentally the same).

What you’ve got, then, is a three-cylinder, OHV four-stroke motorcycle. Actual displacement is 740cc and top speed is somewhere over 110 mph. Like the Trident, the X-75 has a five-speed transmission, with the dry, single-plate automotive-type clutch unique to BSA-Triumph. It has a 2.6-gallon gas tank and weighs just under 470 pounds with the tank filled. There is a 57-inch wheelbase with a Ground Clearance of about seven inches.

Both tires have alloy rims to cut down on weight. Up front is a 3.25 x 19; in the rear is the K-81 Dunlop (4.25 x 18) that was developed for the Trident and Rocket. Brakes front and rear are the internal-expanding drum type rather than the discs you might expect (or want), but they get the fob done.

But the Hurricane is not trying to make it on all these technical and mechanical points. The thing the hike offers to the consumer is style: a look, a feel, an impression. And that’s too bad, because it appears that the stylistic touches Vetter has introduced tend to wipe out, or at least reduce, some of the efficiency of the Rocket or Trident which are the Hurricane’s ancestors. In simple language, the rider who wants a good, reliable piece of equipment rather than a traveling billboard would do well to steer clear of the X-75.

Let’s take the exhaust system as our first example. Those three swooping stacked pipes create a hell-bent-for-leather feel of excitement for those who are drawn to such things, and they sound just fine. There’s even been an improvement over the companies’ two earlier triples. On the Trident and the Rocket, the three pipes were run through only two mufflers, which was quiet enough but generated far too much heat. On the Hurricane, there are three separate upswept mufflers.

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Ah, but there is a price to pay. Try and take the Hurricane around a right turn with any kind of speed at all. Go ahead, try it. Those lovely pipes restrict the lean angle severely, and your choice is either slow down and stay straight up or hit the pavement.

Now consider the front forks. To give the X-75 that pseudo-chopper look, the stanchions are an inch longer than on the average Triple, and the new, specially designed alloy triple clamps are stepped down a half-inch. The end result is a front end about an inch higher than it would be otherwise.

There’s more. That lovely fiberglass unit which covers the gas tank and then swoops under the seat is an outstanding piece of work. It is covered totally with a strong coat of epoxy to prevent the paint from scratching, and aside from the unsightly rib down the center where the one-piece unit was joined together, is as nice as anything you’re going to come across.

But to achieve this bit of beauty it was necessary to restrict the steel fuel tank underneath to a mere 2.6 gallons, which is good for only about 75 miles at moderate speed between fill-ups. Further, to get down at the oil tank beneath the seat, you have to unscrew the seat from where it’s bolted onto the upper mounting of the rear shocks.

There are other little delights waiting for the unsuspecting buyer—it is worth your life to try and get the Hurricane up on its center stand, for example—but there’s no need to belabor the point. It is sufficient to realize that this is not a motorcycle designed to fulfill what would appear to be the basic functions of a motorcycle. If your gas tank is small enough to limit you to a 75—mile maximum, your bike surely isn’t designed for touring. If the placement of your exhaust pipes created problems on leaning right hand turns, your bike definitely isn’t meant for whipping along on curvy country roads. The only thing that’s left is sort of tootling around town and having people stare at you, which doesn’t sound like much fun after the first time, if at all.

And that brings us down to the basic issue. The Hurricane is supposed to be a mass-produced “custom” bike. All right, not really mass produced, in that there were only 1,200 in the first run, but the concept is there. Is it possible to manufacture a run of “personalized” bikes, to create a saleable customized motorcycle which lacks the very essence of the custom bike, originality? Past history indicates that any such attempt is doomed to failure.

If you’re the kind of rider who is into that sort of thing, you’d rather do it yourself. The bike may look absolutely awful to the rest of the world once you’re through, but that’s not the point (or maybe it is). It’s your bike, done your way, and the public be damned.

It would appear doubtful, then, that the X-75 can make a real breakthrough in the market for custom bikes. And we’ve tried to point out here that stylistic demands have cut sharply into the bike’s appeal for the serious rider. The hurricane is almost always an ill wind, and in this case it doesn’t appear to have done anyone any good.

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Triumph X75 Huricane

Vehicle Specs


The Triumph Hurricane X75 was a bit of a mongrel from the word go. Originally a BSA design, ith very sleepy, riumph Bonneville-esque style, he honchos felt it was way too conservative for American tastes. Famous designer Craig Vetter was tasked with a stylistic redo, nd the resulting bike was different, o say the least, ith a very 60’s chopper style and a distinctive triple exhaust slung along the right side of the bike. When BSA went under, 200 engines were put aside and the bike was rebranded as a Triumph.Three cylinder motorcycles in general are pretty neat sounding machines. Not quite as brutal as a thumping twin or single, ot as smooth or refined as a four [or six!], riples make a very raw, ron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove kind of roar.

Vetter was commissioned by BSA’s US distributor to customise the BSA Rocket 3 to appeal more to American tastes.

When, n 1968, he new BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident triples were shown to the American BSA-Triumph management, hey were underwhelmed. They knew Honda had an important bike (the CB750) coming along, nd they felt the triple’s price of $1800 [4] was too high and that technical details (like vertically-split crankcases and pushrod ohv valve train) were far from “cutting edge”. However, hey acknowledged that the bike was fast, nd a sales team led by BSA Vice-President Don Brown decided to launch the bike by using a Rocket-3 to set some records at Daytona, ecords which were broken in 1971 by the Kawasaki Z1.

Brown felt that the BSA/Triumph triples needed a different look to succeed in the USA, nd he engaged designer Craig Vetter to give the BSA A75 a customised face-lift, ith a brief to make it “sleeker and more balanced”. (Brown revealed the Vetter project to Peter Thornton, resident of BSA/Triumph North America, ut as Brown’s initiative had not been authorised by BSA, etter had problems being paid, aiting two years for his fee).

Vetter created the Triumph Hurricane in the summer of 1969,[5] and in October 1969 he unveiled the prototype with “BSA” on the tank as the new ‘Rocket Three’.[6] Thornton and the American officials were impressed, nd Vetter’s bike was then sent to the UK, ut the bike arrived in England just as the BSA marque was about to be ended. At BSA-Triumph’s design facility at Umberslade Hall, he design was seen as too “trendy” by chief designer Bert Hopwood; but after very positive public reaction to the design when it appeared on the front of US magazine Cycle World in October 1970, he UK managers changed their minds. They realised they had a large stock of obsolete BSA Rocket-3 parts that could now be turned into a premium-priced motorcycle.

Engineer Steve Mettam was given the job of supervising production for the 1972/3 season; and the Vetter BSA Rocket3 became the Triumph X75 Hurricane. 1,183 engines were put aside for X75 production. However, SA was facing bankruptcy and the design went into a limited production run of 1200 as the Triumph X-75 Hurricane in 1972. Production stopped in 1973 after the X-75 was unable to meet new American noise standards.

Here are the specs:

1973 Triumph Hurricane X75

Years produced: 1973

Number produced: 1,172

Claimed power: 58hp @ 7,250rpm

Top speed: 114mph (period test)

Engine type: 741cc air-cooled, HV inline triple

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