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Bike Profile - Posted 23rd April 2010

Triumph Trophy Merlin Outfit
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This extraordinary outfit has been through at least three incarnations, and in its current form it's a concours winner...

Michael Hardy first met his 1994 Triumph Trophy 900 Triple when it was a year old and he needed something practical for family transport. The outfit looked to be ideal, because it was fitted with a Hedingham XL sidecar to accommodate Michael's wife and two children. Since that purchase in 1995, the family have clocked up over 60,000 miles on the outfit, and it's gone through something of an evolution…

How to make a Hinckley Triumph look small... 1994 Triumph Trophy 900 with Hedingham sidecar

Four years later Michael fancied something more radical and replaced the Hedingham chair with a Merlin F2 sidecar, with its 15-inch wide sold rear wheel. Merlin, based in Durham, produce custom-built sidecars for everything from touring to racing, normally using leading link forks, multi-adjustable Spax shocks, a heavyweight steering damper and their characteristic, swooping fibreglass bodywork. So Michael's Triumph sprouted a Merlin sidecar to start with and he ran the outfit in that form, with the Trophy still clearly visible as a separate motorcycle, until 2003.

How to make a Hinckley Triumph look even smaller (that's not a dog, it's a scraggy polar bear)... 1994 Triumph Trophy 900 with Merlin sidecar

Then the outfit underwent its next transformation to incorporate the sidecar and motorcycle into one smooth, sleek unit. The result is the blue beast you see before you, which won an RC concours award at last autumn's Sleaford Show.

Micheal Hardy picks up the award for the smallest looking Hinckley Triumph.... 1994 Triumph Trophy 900 with Merlin sidecar and integrated body

'We love riding it' says Mike, and he and his good lady use the outfit for touring all over Europe, including going to the Elephant Rally in the snow and impressing the Germans at the Nurburgring. Michael also enjoyed getting some laps in at the Festival of 1000 Bikes and the Beezumph Rally at Cadwell Park - and as you can see from the photo, they don't exactly take things steady…

Passenger leans out to check tread wear rate on sidecar wheel; 'Good for another three laps yet'... 1994 Triumph Trophy 900 Outfit in action at Cadwell Park

In normal use the six-speed Triumph-Merlin outfit is also practical for travel and touring, and the 885cc engine returns around 34mpg. In Trophy tune this early Hinckley triple generates just under 100bhp at 9000rpm, and a very useful 83Nm of torque at 6500rpm.

Michael is handy with the spanners and has needed to wield them a few times over the past 15 years; the sprag clutch was the first thing to go at 32,000 miles, probably because the original battery was struggling to start the engine. The problem was solved by fitting a more powerful car-type battery.

Then the Trophy needed an engine change at 58,000 miles; 'the two inlet valves were mushrooming into the valve seats' explains Michael 'so we changed the engine for a 22,000 miles one. It cost £350, so was cheaper to change the engine than to rebuild the old one!'

However, 'it's never let me down on the road. The triple motor is a really strong engine for sidecar work and with the Triumph 595 exhaust can on it sounds great.'

Michael reckons this is the final incarnation of the outfit; 'there's no need to develop it further and anyway my wife wouldn't allow it! We love it like this'


En-route to the NW200. They had to add a 5 mile diversion as the sidecar wouldn't fit through that tunnel. Probably....

Merlin Sidecar Club:

Sleaford Historic Show:

Sidecars on Right Now......


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