Tom Mellor’s record-breaking 1969 Triumph Trident T150
The world's fastest Triumph
Tom Mellor and his record-breaking 1969 Triumph Trident T150.
It’s not every day you see a 1950 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn sailing along the high desert highway. And you certainly don’t expect to see one with Canadian plates towing a trailer bearing a strangely-shaped motorcycle strapped beneath a cover, Bonneville-bound.
But it was this unlikely rig that brought Tom Mellor, his wife, Diane, and their 1969 Triumph Trident T150 to the Bonneville Salt Flats last summer, where the Canadian rider set four new World Speed records on the 40th anniversary of the Trident’s first appearance in the summer of 1968.
Each September, the annual Bonneville Speed Trials feature an amazing array of eclectic machines. In a paddock dominated by Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Vincent and Suzuki-powered devices devoted to worshipping the great God of Speed, the Mellor Trident stood out at Bonneville 2008 as the loveliest-looking creation, with performance to live up to its sleek, streamlined
Running in the 750MPS-PG class (750cc Modified Production pushrod, pump fuel [gas], partially streamlined — the front wheel must be visible for 180 degrees below the axle), Tom Mellor was clocked at 180.317mph over the flying mile on the Triumph, fitted with wind-cheating bodywork he’d created himself. The following day, having removed the main front fairing to qualify for the 750MP-PG class (750cc Modified Production pushrod, pump fuel, with no bodywork, but with the rear fairing left on since it counts as being the seat), Tom and his Triumph set two more two-way records of 159.905mph for the mile and 159.916mph for the kilo — proof positive of how effective that homemade streamlining had been. Not bad for a 40-year-old 750 streetbike Tom prepared himself with the help of two British-born mates — aka The Two Bobs — in the workshop attached to his Vancouver home.
The nature of Tom’s former trade gives a clue as to how he came about creating the World’s Fastest Trident — well, one with pushrods, anyway. The late, great Jack Wilson, proprietor of Big D Cycle in Dallas, Texas, and the creator of the twin-cylinder Triumph-engined Texas Ceegar with which Johnny Allen broke the Land Speed Record at Bonneville back in 1956 (which in due course gave rise to the iconic Bonneville model) broke lots of records with twin-engined Triumph pushrod triples, and even set marks with single-engined bikes fitted with turbos — but even he never achieved what Tom has done with his stock, unsupercharged, 750cc Trident T150.
“I was an aircraft maintenance engineer for Canadian Pacific Airlines for 23 years, and then I had two more years with Air Canada after they took them over,” he reveals. “But I didn’t like the way they did things, so I retired. But if you hang around aircraft long enough, you get to know what’s correct aerodynamically. So when people ask me how I made the Triumph go so fast, I tell them there are lots of modern superbikes out there that aren’t even as streamlined as the Sopwith Camel — it’s old technology they all use, for some reason. We aimed to do a little better with this old girl!”
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