Think of a Triton, and you probably imagine a sleek, silver-and-black special from the 1960s. A product of its time, infused with the heady aura of the Manx racing scene.
There are some people who believe that the concept of a Triton is still valid in the 21st century. And after seeing this machine from Swiss specialists Britalmoto, I’m inclined to agree. As befits the name, we have a powerful Triumph engine in a sweet-handling Norton frame. But this Triton is no rose-tinted, vintage fantasy. It’s a marriage of the best components provided by the modern-day manufacturers.
Britalmoto’s Ivo Tschumi explains his reasoning. “The situation today is very similar to the 60s. Triumph is building air-cooled twins with a superior reputation. The engines are very reliable and have a large tuning potential. On the other hand, Norton is building the new ‘Commando 961.’ It’s an excellent bike, especially the rolling chassis.
“But one of my customers was unhappy with the engine and transmission of his 961. He knew the potential of the current Triumph twins, so he asked us to transform his Norton into a ‘New Triton’.”
What sounds easy developed into a 450-hour project.
Ivo and his father Fritz extensively modified the Norton frame to fit the Triumph Thruxton engine. The engine mounting points and swing arm supports had to be re-engineered and fabricated in-house. The new swing arm pivot point location is almost identical to the original, so the excellent road performance of the Norton chassis is maintained.
To add to the complication, Britalmoto’s customer wanted more performance from the stock Triumph engine for his dream bike. So Britalmoto boosted capacity to 1087 cc using a big bore kit, Carillo rods, modified throttle bodies and bigger valves. The motor now puts out 96 rear wheel horsepower and 104 Nm of torque.
To keep the gases flowing freely, Fritz and Ivo installed larger-diameter primary pipes made from stainless steel and mufflers from the Italian company QD Exhausts, suppliers to racebike manufacturers such as Zaeta and Pierobon. An EBC Racing clutch with uprated springs handles the extra power.
The stock Öhlins suspension of the Norton 961 is retained, and the wheels are still 17” at both ends. We’re looking at a Norton wheel and Brembo brake system up front, and a Triumph Thruxton wheel and Nissin calipers at the back.
The hand controls are a mix of Norton and Triumph parts, but the headlight and mounting bracket are custom fitments. The foot controls are from Free Spirits. The tank comes from the Norton 961, but the seat unit is new. “The original felt too big,” explains Ivo.
“It was not our intention to build a ‘typical’ custom bike,” he continues. “We wanted to keep the character and the original appearance of the Norton Commando 961. It’s only at a second glance that you see it is not a repainted Norton, but a true ‘New Triton’.”
It’s a fascinating concept and one that works well visually. The appearance is more muscular than the original Triton, but then again, so is the performance.
Is this the bike that Norton should have built in the first place, rather than the 80 hp 961 being sold today?