Working Class Hero: 1958 Triton for Sale

1958 Triton L Side

One of my favorite things about motorcycles is the seeming endless ways there are to mix and match parts to create new machines. Chain drive and fairly simple frames mean that it’s no big deal to say, sling an RD400 motor into the old GS500E you have lying around. But while many of these creations are born of necessity or just to see if it can be done, the classic Triton was a very functional motorcycle that actually managed to achieve some legitimacy among the motorcycling community.

1958 Triton R Side Engine

The Triton was a hybrid that used a Triumph parallel-twin engine and the famously excellent-handling Norton “featherbed” frame to create a seriously nimble motorcycle with good power and endless tuning potential. It also happens to be the name of the half-man, half-fish son of Poseidon in Greek mythology, something that the motorcycling community has sadly not capitalized on.

1958 Triton Dash

The choice of a Triumph engine might seem odd at first. After all, in stock form, it was actually a bit more powerful than the Triumph. But the Norton’s longer-stroke engine had a much higher piston speed and was considered less reliable, and a wealth of performance parts and tuning expertise were available for the Triumph as well.

1958 Triton L Side Engine

Interestingly, the non-unit design of both bikes meant that either four-speed gearbox could be used, although the Norton’s was generally considered superior. Really, all it took to make a Triton was a couple of donor bikes and a set of engine/transmission mounting plates, so it wasn’t too difficult to build one if you were reasonably competent with a set of tools, and plenty of these were built then and are being built today, so “authenticity” is hard to define and hard to verify.

From the original eBay listing: 1958 Triton for Sale

Ultimate Cafe Racer

1958 Norton Featherbed frame (Model 88)

1971 Triumph T120R engine with 4 speed transmission.

  • Unity Special Equipe UNAX2 Polished aluminum, Lyta style, 3 Gallon Short Circuit fuel tank.
  • Unity Wideline oiltank w/ battery holder
  • Unity Wideline Seat
  • Unity Fiberglass Fenders
  • Gold Star Silencers
  • Converta Engine plates
  • 4 Leading shoe Brake hubs
  • Akront Rims laced by Hagon
  • Far too many parts to list them all. For more information please feel free to contact us with your inquiries. 
  • Clocks show 269 Miles. Actual mileage is unknown. 
  • Was acquired from a museum. Rides and sounds wonderful. 

1958 Triton R Side Rear

I don’t know all that much about Tritons, but I know enough to know that they naturally vary a bit from bike to bike, since there’s no such thing as a “factory” example. These really do take the best bits and incorporate them into one of the most beautiful bikes of the era: everything is on display here, and looks purposefully industrial, but hand-crafted and decorative at the same time… So far, bidding is very slow, with the Reserve Not Met at $5,000 which is obviously well below where I expect this to sell, but maybe someone will manage to scoop a bargain with this one…

-tad

1958 Triton L Side Riding

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2 Responses

  1. sr88 says:

    “But the Norton’s longer-stroke engine had a much higher piston speed and was considered less reliable” When the Norton engine and Triumph engine are running at the same RPM. The Triumph engine could be modified to rev at higher RPM’S that still produced a safe maximum piston speed than the longer stroke Norton engine. So the reliability issue only occurred at the high engine RPM a modified Triumph engine could turn.
    I don’t even want to get into the Triton/Poseidon/motorcycle thing. LOL

  2. tad says:

    Right? Shouldn’t a Triton have had a Trident motor?