Two-Wheeled Tuesday: Triumph X75 Hurricane

1975 Triumph Trident 1973 Triumph Hurricane
The 1975 Triumph Trident and 1973 Triumph Hurricane are two of my favorite bikes

For a long time, the Triumph X75 Hurricane was my ultimate dream motorcycle. As previously noted, I grew up in a house full of classic British motorcycles. Sure, 1960s and 1970s BSAs and Triumphs weren’t quite as “classic” in the 1980s. They were mostly thought of as old, leaky, unreliable has-beens compared to the more advanced Japanese motorcycles of the day.

1973 Triumph Hurricane Dodge Challenger
The Hurricane’s fiberglass bodywork flowed from its tank to the side panels

But any enthusiast with foresight knew, even back then, these bikes told a compelling emotional story flush with timeless design elements and an engaging man-machine interface. And within the massive spectrum of classic British two-wheelers there were bikes like the Vincent Black Shadow, the Norton Commando and the Triumph X75 Hurricane. I appreciate all legendary British motorcycles, but I personally loved the Triumph X75 Hurricane.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike

1991 Ducati 851 Superbike
The Ducati 851 Superbike was among the most advanced bikes sold in the U.S. in 1991

On July 15th, 1992 I bought a 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike. This was my second Ducati, after selling my 1987 Ducati Paso a few days earlier. I had graduated from CU Boulder a couple months earlier and couldn’t normally afford a near-new Italian motorcycle, but I sold the Paso for $4,600 (a nice profit after buying it for $3,200) and the same dealer in Fort Collins, Colorado, offered me this bike for $8,700. A 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike cost over $12,000 new, and only a couple hundred were imported to the U.S. Getting a year-old 851, with 1,800 miles on the odometer, for $8,700 seemed like a deal I couldn’t pass up.

1991 Ducati 851 Superbike Gauges
The 851’s gauge cluster, controls and riding position were designed for aggressive performance

These Ducatis had an impressive spec sheet for the era. In 1991 there were only about four bikes offering fuel injection, two were Ducatis and two were BMWs. The 851 Superbike’s 90-degree V-twin also featured four valves per cylinder and water cooling. Horsepower was rated at 93 and weight was about 460 pounds. The Ducati 851 Superbike’s technology and performance was a big step up from my 1975 Triumph Trident and 1987 Ducati Paso. It’s capabilities on Colorado’s twisting mountain roads were, quite honestly, above my skill level at the time, though I slowly expanded my riding prowess. It’s red paint and Italian styling were also quite exotic in 1990s Colorado.

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Two Wheel Tuesday: 1987 Ducati Paso

1987 Ducati Paso Profile
The Ducati Paso was sold from 1987 through 1989 in the U.S.

In 1990 I was in college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My personal fleet consisted of two muscle cars and one vintage British motorcycle. At that point I had zero experience with Italian motorcycles, but I’d always been fascinated by Ducatis and MV Agustas. In November of 1990 I had an opportunity to buy a 1987 Ducati Paso from a BMW motorcycle dealer in Fort Collins. I remembered when the bike was new a few years earlier and this Ducati Paso was being offered at what seemed like a low price — $3,200.

1987 Ducati Paso Rear
My Ducati Paso had an orange tint to what should have been deep red paint

I went and looked at it, took it for a short test drive, then bought it and drove it back from Fort Collins to my apartment in Boulder. One issue I spotted immediately was an orange tint to what was supposed to a be deep red paint. The dealer told me the bike was originally from Alabama and was kept outside. He said the paint had faded from the sun exposure. I later discovered rust throughout the clutch system that had to be drained and cleaned to get it to work properly (presumably also from sitting out in humid Alabama). I had the local Suzuki shop in Boulder perform the work, which they completed without issue.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: 1975 Triumph T160 Trident

1975 Triumph Trident T160 Front
The 1975 Triumph T160 Trident was the last stand for vintage British triples

The first bike I’ll be featuring on Two-Wheel Tuesday is a 1975 Triumph T160 Trident. This was the last year of the vintage Triumph three-cylinder motorcycles that started production in 1968. I’ve actually owned two of these motorcycles, one when I was still in Colorado and one after I moved to California. They were identical, right down to color (both had the purple-and-white gas tank). The Triumph T160 Trident was a fabulous ending to a tragic story.

1975 Triumph T160 Trident
This final Trident featured disc brakes, a 5-speed transmission and electric start

In its final year the Triumph T160 Trident finally offered a 5-speed transmission, front and rear disc brakes and an electric starter. It was fully competitive with the Honda CB750, the Japanese motorcycle that essentially killed the British bike industry. Unfortunately, the Honda offered all those features years before the Trident, and by the time the T160 arrived its parent company was already in dire financial straits. The Triumph Trident T160 is the epitome of too little, too late. A few hundred stragglers were produced in 1976, dubbed Triumph Cardinals and sold to Saudi Arabia to serve as police bikes, before Triumph halted all production of its three-cylinder motorcycles.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: Motorcycles are Cool, too

1975 Triumph Trident T160 Karl Bandana
I mastered my non-corporate look about 30 years ago. This photo is from 1990

At a recent press event I used a bandana on my head after driving on the track with a helmet. Normally I would wear a traditional hat in that situation, but I didn’t have one with me. The only head covering in my bag was a bandana, which I’ve used to protect my scalp from sun and wind for over 30 years. I usually wear something over my head after wearing a helmet, both to protect my scalp from the elements and to protect my appearance from helmet hair.

Karl Brauer Bandana
A “bandana-wearing-Karl-Brauer” caused quite a stir at a recent press event…

However, this was the first time I’d worn a bandana at a press event, and it sent the other automotive journalists into quite a tizzy. “Dude, when are we gonna start rappin’?” “Yo man, where’s the smack down?” “Karl? I didn’t recognize you! You need to get a tattoo now.” Get a tattoo?…

1971 BSA Firebird Scrambler Karl Brauer
The classic British bike bug bit early; I was riding them all through college

Anyway, these and several similar comments were made in good fun, though it reminded me I’ve been doing the corporate thing so long none of my current industry colleagues have an awareness of my motorcycling past — and all the “hooligan-ism” that goes along with it.

Karl Brauer Talking Motorcycles Bandana
Check out the ultra-cool Honda RC30 at this motorcycle gathering in Denver in 1993

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