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Bike Profile - Posted 14th January 2011

Triumph X-75 Hurricane
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Four decades after it first hit the streets, Triumph's astonishing triple still finds fans in all corners of the globe. This Hurricane swept around to the far side of the world and blew Tony Williams away...

The Cambridge dictionary describes a Hurricane as 'a violent wind which has a circular movement, especially found in the West Atlantic Ocean'. So a quick check of the world's ocean maps showed that the ocean that separates the east coast of America from Europe is known as the Atlantic. So 'Hurricane' is an extremely appropriate name for a motorcycle that was built in the UK but designed by a Yank.

Unrestored Triumph X75 Hurricane. Like the shed... Triumph X75 Hurricane

I have to state here, in front of god and everyone, that I think the Hurricane is the hottest looking motorcycle to come out of the Old Dart* -- ever! Of course I can already hear the howls of protest and dissent from British bike purists. But I couldn't give a damn. I'm a self-confessed liar and a hoon**. And this bike oozes hoon.

The bike that is pictured here is unrestored. And it's in exceptionally good condition for its age. The chrome is excellent, as is the paint and all the running gear. It runs like new and sounds awesome. There is something evil about the sound of a British air cooled triple that defies explanation. If you have never heard one, then I feel truly sorry for you. Back in the early 1970s I bought a 1969 BSA Rocket 3. Essentially, the Hurricane is powered by the same motor as my old Rocket 3 even though the X-75 was built by Triumph. But it took American designer Craig Vetter to come up with the Hurricane's very cool custom design…

Unrestored Triumph X75 Hurricane, from the other side. The side you never see Triumph X75 Hurricane

The story goes that the USA was a very big market for both Triumph and BSA (which were one company producing two brands). In April 1969, Don Brown, vice president, general manager and director of BSA Inc, asked Craig Vetter, then 27 years old, to create a motorcycle that would capture a bigger slice of the American motorcycle market, something that the ailing Triumph was keen to do. But I am sure there are many out there that know the whole history of the Hurricane. So I am not going to insult you by pretending I am an expert on the subject. Craig Vetter's own website covers the subject in enormous detail and you can find out everything you want to know about the Hurricane and its development by visiting triumphhurricane.com. I'll just mention the basics…

Unrestored Triumph X75 Hurricane. Here's why you never see the otherside... Triumph X75 Hurricane

In the summer of 1969 (ahhh; I remember it well), Craig Vetter came up with a design that BSA could produce which required few major structural changes to the current Rocket 3, a 750 air-cooled triple. Most of the parts came from existing BSA stores. When Vetter finished his masterpiece, he shipped the bike to the UK where it was re-badged by Triumph and called the Hurricane. Sadly, the demise of BSA came in 1972, but from what I have researched there were 1170 Hurricanes produced, so these machines were rare back then and now they're even rarer some 39 years later. It should be mentioned that even though the Hurricane was squarely intended for the US market, they became popular in the UK, and now they are universally considered very much a collector's item.

Unrestored Triumph X75 Hurricane. Nicely patinated... Triumph X75 Hurricane

So, the example you see before you is, believe it or not, unmolested and unrestored. The bike is co-owned and is pictured here with one of its owners, Chris. The bike gets the occasional outing these days, but spends most of its life under cover in Chris's shed. And for a machine which is nearly 40 years old, it looks and runs like new. The Hurricane has only 24,000 miles on the clock. Chris bought the bike out to Australia from the US. He had imported a few Hurricanes in the past with the intention of keeping one for himself. But every time he brought some out from the States, they were snapped up by other enthusiasts. Hence he never got to own one until the mid-1990s. At that point Chris and the co-owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) decided that this particular bike was not for sale.

Set up and tuned right, these pommy triples were very powerful. They could run with whatever the Japs had out in that era, and could run a Honda Four down out on the open road. The 741cc three-cylinder engine output 58bhp at 7250rpm, but was geared to pull strongly from a standstill and was especially rapid in its original four-speed format.

The pre-production prototype clocked up speeds over 120mph in testing - not bad for a 'cruiser'. You wouldn't want to run at those speeds for long, not with the high bars, ribbed front tyre and kicked-out forks. However the Hurricane was about half a second faster over a standing quarter mile than the standard Triumph T150 roadbike.

Tridents on Right Now......

But as we all know, there were quality control issues back then that had the British bike industry succumbing to the Japanese invasion of the motorcycle world. I was talking to a mate about the Hurricane, and he remembers some Triumph dealers saying that back when the Hurricane was released, dealers had a devil of a time selling them. I bet there are plenty of punters around today kicking themselves that they never bought one and hung on to it. A genuine Hurricane is pulling around $30,000 dollars US for a good example these days. Considering that Hurricanes were selling for around $1400 dollars Australian at the time that's not a bad investment…

Unrestored Triumph X75 Hurricane. Slim and wasp-waisted. Well, the bike is anyway... Triumph X75 Hurricane

Personally, I was disappointed in the styling of Triumph's current cruiser, which they named the Rocket 3. So if anyone from Triumph out there is listening, how about a retro version of the Hurricane based on the very sweet running, current design triple? I reckon it would be a winner. Don't you?

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There's a full length feature which details the evolution of the Triumph Hurricane, plus further photos of this bike, in the February 2010 issue of the monthly RealClassic magazine.

Thanks to Kay Fitzgibbons of Focused Image who took the gorgeous photos. All these pics are her copyright; see http://focusedimage.com.au

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*The Old Dart translates to 'the old country', meaning specifically England, although it can be used to describe much of the British Isles

**Hoon can mean either an aggressive youth engaged in anti-social behaviour, or to travel at great speed in a confined area. Either definition probably does the trick in this case. And don't you learn a lot when reading about old bikes?

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