Leak-free legend

The replica racer that gives triple thrills without tantrums

WORDS & PHOTOS BY Marion Thirsk

IN 1971 DAVID BOWIE wrote Moonage Daydream and sang ‘Put your ray gun to my head’. It’s almost certain that he wasn’t influenced by the distinctive silencers on Triumph’s legendary three-cylinder racer, but that must have been how the competition felt every time ‘Slippery Sam’ won yet again.

The fairing hides the engine, but there’s no mistaking a Slippery Sam replica. This bike’s paintwork comes courtesy of Airbrush Antics

In a bid to stay ahead of the Japanese and boost sales in 1969, Triumph made a deliberate move away from twins and onto something fresh and new. Chief engineer Doug Hele was instrumental in creating the distinctive Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3 racing triples using a frame designed by Midlands frame specialist Rob North.

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In 1970 three production bikes were prepared by the Triumph factory for the Isle of Man TT Production 750 class. One ridden by the aptly named Malcolm Uphill won the race lapping at 97.71mph. The bike destined to become known as Slippery Sam, ridden by Tom Dickie, finished fourth after a reportedly awkward Le Mans style start as Tom wasn’t accustomed to the triple.

Slippery Sam was christened following the 1970 Bol d’Or 24 hour endurance race for production based bikes, when teething problems caused both bike and riders to be plastered in oil. Tom Dickie and Paul Smart won the race at Montlhéry on a similarly prepared works Trident, and Slippery Sam, ridden by Percy Tait and Steve Jolly, managed a very respectable fifth place despite being covered in oil.

Read more in February’s issue of CBG – out now!

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