What makes a motorcycle worthy of being called the “motorcycle of the nation?” One might be quick to say that it’s the fastest or most comfortable bike you can buy that should be crowned. The truth is that most of the bikes that are the “best” at something will spend much more of their time on a poster on your wall than they ever will in your garage. That is because bikes that push the extremes tend to miss the more important things like rideability or attainability. Our 2022 Motorcycle of the Nation is a bike that somehow has it all––the 2022 Triumph Trident 660.
Bikes like the Suzuki GSX-R1000R are marvels of modern engineering, but not every rider wants to watch reality blur and hear the blare of heavenly trumpets because they accidentally unleashed all 200 hp while passing a Prius going 10 under the posted speed limit––all while curled up like a watchful gargoyle due to the bike’s aggressive race-oriented ergonomics. Most of the time, it is nice to have a bike you can really thrash on without getting immediate tunnel vision.
This is where bikes like the Triumph Trident 660 come in. It has filled a niche in the brand’s lineup, sitting right below the Triumph Street Triple in terms of power and price. This model makes for an entry-level addition to Triumph’s lineup, albeit one that is a little bit spicy for a rider fresh out of an MSF course. The Trident 660 has just the right amount of power to keep you from getting bullied by traffic but not enough to give you daily religious awakenings (looking at you, Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR). It’s a comfortable sport standard sporting a street-tuned 660cc triple that makes ample power throughout the rev range.
Power Meets Character
You might ask why a slower version of the amazing Triumph Street Triple 765 is our bike of the year? It mainly comes down to one big factor: value. The 2022 Trident 660 starts at a sweet $8,395. That puts it in the same price bracket as bikes like the Kawasaki Z650, Yamaha MT-07, and Suzuki SV650, all of which are twins that make between 67 and 75 hp. The Trident’s 660cc triple, derived from the engine in the Daytona 675, generates a healthy 80 hp and simply oozes character. Triumph has managed to make the engine keep producing power all the way to 10,250 RPM while still making over 40 lb-ft of torque from 3,500 to 9,000 RPM. This, combined with the extremely low gearing, makes for a bike that is more than happy to wheelie on command; happier than a middleweight bike with more than two cylinders should be.
When it comes to middleweight motorcycles, you are usually forced to choose between bikes that have either top-end power or low-end torque. This is because most bikes in this category have either two or four cylinders. The four-cylinder bikes have all the top-end power that one could ever desire, providing an exhilarating ride. However, they lack any form of low-end torque, making them a bit exhausting for the daily ride. The two-cylinder motorcycles in this class have tons of low-end torque, making them a breeze to ride around town, but they tend to run out of breath in the top end. With its three cylinders, the Trident 660 splits the difference between the more common motor setups, making for a ride that has plenty of top-end power to thrill and enough low-end torque to make riding around town (or the occasional wheelie) a breeze.
Fun for the Right Reasons
There are two ways to make a street bike fun. Way number one is for our brave Kawasaki Ninja H2 riders and Suzuki Hayabusa boys of the world, and that is an unholy amount of power that can send you redshifting through spacetime. Way number two, however, is a combination of two things: low weight and low gearing. Triumph went for way number two with the Trident 660. With a wet weight of just 417 lbs and an extremely low gear ratio, this bike is an extraordinarily reactive and snappy ride.
Compared to the competing two-cylinder naked bikes, the Trident 660’s top speed of 127 mph is right in the middle of the pack. However, when you compare it to the old Triumph Street Triple 675, which reaches a top speed of 145 mph, you start to understand where Triumph was going with the little Trident 660. All that power that was once going toward the top-end is now reinforcing the Trident 660’s broad powerband, making it a much more fun bike for the road, despite having a 25 hp deficit on its larger sibling.
For a bike sitting just over the $8,000 mark, the Trident 660 is absolutely packed to the brim with features. The sleek dash combines an LCD that displays the tachometer and speedometer and a color TFT to help organize settings like rider modes and traction control. It even has built-in GoPro integration to easily document your rides. The entire module is elegantly disguised as a classic pod cluster gauge.
The Trident 660 comes standard with traction control, ABS, and two different rider modes: road and rain. As you might expect, rain mode dulls throttle response and makes the traction control more sensitive, making riding in the wet less of a white-knuckle experience. When the sun comes back out, road mode fully opens up the potential of the Trident 660 for extra fun in the dry.
Triumph did a great job making the Trident 660 a genuinely all-inclusive package. Even a slip and assist clutch is included standard to help control engine braking and create an even smoother ride. The only optional performance feature for the Trident 660 is a quick shifter, which we cannot recommend enough to get those buttery-smooth clutchless shifts.
The ergonomics are a great balance of sporty and comfortable. While the bike doesn’t have the extremely upright stance of the Yamaha MT-07, it is by no means uncomfortable on long rides. The Trident 660 is also quite small and approachable. With its 31.7-inch seat height and 417 lb wet weight, the bike shouldn’t be too big for any rider. For added comfort, it comes with built-in tank grips that flow nicely with the design of the motorcycle.
Quantity vs Quality
If you were to look only at stat sheets to determine the best-performing bike around the $8,000 mark, you would likely come up with the Suzuki GSX-S750. It is a bargain at just $8,549 and is equipped with a street-tuned variant of the legendary K5 GSX-R750 motor that makes 115 hp and 60 lb-ft of torque for a top speed of 142 mph. It is an inline-four spitfire of a middleweight naked with serious heritage backing it.
So why would someone pick the little 80-hp Trident 660 over the 115-hp Suzuki? It comes down to one thing: quality. While the GSX-S750 makes a whopping 35 more hp, it lacks most of the features that the Trident 660 offers. The Suzuki comes standard with traction control, but lacks a TFT dash, is missing a slipper clutch, has no quick shifter option, no ride-by-wire throttle, and even ABS does not come standard. To get ABS on the GSX-S750, you need to shell out another $400 for the “Z” variant.
Another big factor is build quality. While Suzuki motorcycles are by no means fragile, they are cheaply made. The fit and finish of the Trident 660 are pristine and well thought out, and all of the switchgear feels solid and tactile. While the throttle on the Suzuki feels loose, and the fuelling can be a little uneven at times, the throttle on the Triumph is tight and precise, and the fueling is smooth as silk. All of these little factors add up to make the Trident 660 simply a more pleasant ride.
Breaking the Rules in a Game of Compromises
It used to be when you wanted an affordable middleweight motorcycle, you had to decide what you wanted to sacrifice. Triumph has somehow broken the rules with the Trident 660 by making a motorcycle that manages to be affordable and doesn’t do anything poorly. It has high build quality, competitive performance, and approachable ergonomics, and it is a fun ride to boot. You can’t go wrong with the Trident 660. Triumph has managed to cram a ridiculous wealth of character into a bike that most people can afford, and that’s why CarLifeNation has chosen the Triumph Trident 660 as our 2022 Motorcycle of the Nation.