1973 Triumph Hurricane X75

The first factory special

| January/February 2010

1973 Triumph Hurricane X75
Years produced: 1973 
Number produced: 1,172
Claimed power: 58hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 114mph (period test)
Engine type: 741cc air-cooled, OHV inline triple
Weight (dry): 458lb
MPG: 40-45
Price then: $2,295
Price now: $6,000-$18,000

The Triumph X75 Hurricane has been hailed as the first factory custom and the first cruiser. Its story is unique, and while it’s been told many times, its tellers have often gotten the facts wrong.

In the beginning …

The Hurricane’s roots are in the BSA/Triumph triple, first designed by Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele in 1961 and 1962. Unfortunately, neither dared show the drawings to Triumph boss Edward Turner (who saw no need to update the product line) until 1964, when rumors of a Honda 750 began to surface. If they’d acted with haste, the triple could have been in showrooms in 1965. Instead, BSA Group management, figuring it had all the time in the world, handed the styling of the new design to the Ogle Group, then famous for award-winning toaster design. Ogle played with the triple’s styling for over a year, while Honda perfected its 736cc 4-cylinder engine.

When American dealers and distributors were finally shown the new triple in late 1968, there was widespread disappointment. Ogle had produced two versions, a BSA called the Rocket 3, with cylinders sloping forward and boxy, dark red bodywork, and a Triumph called the Trident, with upright cylinders and boxy, greenish-blue bodywork. Dealers and customers alike agreed the new bikes were ugly. They were also expensive, and sales were slow. Several months later, Honda introduced the CB750.

“When they put their marbles in the triples basket they made a huge mistake,” says Don Brown, then vice president and director of BSA’s U.S. operations, because “they could not afford to design the bike to employ the modern pressure die casting and modern transmission designs that would be great in the market place but proved to be way too expensive to build properly. By comparison, the Honda CB750 retailed for about $1,275 while the Rocket 3 sold for about $1,785. The CB750 had a 5-speed gearbox, the Rocket 3 had [originally] four gears. The CB750 had an electric starter and the Rocket had a kickstart.”

Time for a change

Brown decided something had to be done to boost sales of BSA’s new triple, so he rented Daytona Speedway and hired racers Yvon DuHamel, Dick Mann and Ray Hempstead. With four Rocket 3s at their disposal, the trio set numerous speed and distance records, certified by the AMA and the AMA Competition Congress. Later that year, the Triumph version of the triple set records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. But none of this was enough: The Honda 750 cut significantly into Triumph and BSA sales.

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