In mid 1978 my partner had learned to ride the Trident, and we figured that warranted a new bike for her. Being of shorter stature than me a smaller steed would be a wise consideration especially while she got some miles up and gained more confidence. I suddenly knew which bike we should get, and shortly thereafter we saw one parked outside a movie theatre while in Brisbane. As soon as I told her what it was she agreed - it was the prettiest thing you could want.

I discovered a shop called "Bike World" in Brisbane were the local agents. I went and saw them and said I wanted to order one. They seemed pretty slack but happily took my $500 deposit. Months went by and no bike. I wrote a letter to Messrs Moto Morini in Italy suggesting that they needed some new agents in Brisbane. A few weeks later I got a phone call from Bike World saying the bike was on its way, and finally confirmation that it had arrived.

We rode down to collect it and even then had to wait while they assembled it and test rode it. When the mechanic came back I asked him what he thought. He said it was pretty revvy at speed. I asked if he had got it into 6th gear. "has it got 6 gears..?".

I decided there would be little point in ever coming back here again, so we headed off to visit a friend before making the 400 mile trip home.

The trip home went very well and the little V twin seemed happy enough cruising at 70-80mph which was my preferred touring speed. Mostly she followed me, but as the highways of Queensland are mostly straight and predictable I waved her on a few times so I could observe the bike from behind. I had always read that their handling was rather legendary so it was something of a surprise to notice during a sudden dip while crossing a culvert that the bike developed quite a distinct wobble. Comparing notes later she had not noticed anything untoward but I figured that was the newness of it all and that something did not seem quite right.

Despite that the bike proved to be a joy to own and ride, the only criticism from a riders viewpoint was that the clipon bars were at odds with the forward footpegs, but then, the Trident was a bit the same as far as riders footpeg placement went. Using the kickstart on occasion just for the novelty was a bit disconcerting. I had to stand on the left side of the bike to kick it with my right leg. Just seemed to work best that way.

When we had collected the bike my partner had been a little overawed by its appearance, as it was quite a big bike for a 350. Even though she was happy enough being in charge of the T160, this one demanded a reasonable reach to the clipon bars, and it sounded pretty meaningful as well.

Considering that the Trident was a fairly big bike in the day, the relative size difference between these two bikes is not that great.

Familiarity overcomes such obstacles, and in short time we were touring on the two bikes. Our first serious haul was up to Cairns and Port Douglas, carting our tent and all manner of stuff which was lashed to the rear of the Trident seat in a precarious fashion.

Apart from daily chain stretch there were no reliability issues and we had a good snoop around the coastal bits and the tablelands. This was heading back to Cairns from further north.

As the miles clocked up the electric start began to misbehave. Kickstarting was an easy affair but my idea is that anything you are paying a weight penalty for needs to earn its keep, so I pulled it apart. There was a centrifugal clutch which had begun to slip instead of spinning the motor, and removing the two small conventional clutch shoes revealed that the lining material was breaking up. It seemed to be a very soft grade material. I purchased a bit of general purpose brake lining of the correct radius, applied araldite between the cleaned up shoes and the linings, wired them together and baked them in the oven for a bit.

Trimming them to a neat shape was easy enough now they were firmly attached, and they worked perfectly from the first start. I believe they are still in there today.

At some point during a trip I suddenly made an interesting discovery. Every time I observed the phantom wobble to occur was immediately after a heavy suspension compression, which Queensland bumps were fond of generating. I began to suspect that one of the rear shocks might be dodgy. I began to remove the right side unit to inspect it, but as soon as I released the tension from the two bolts, the shock moved quite distinctly, and I found that I could rattle the whole thing up and down about 3/8". When I removed it completely it was rather obvious why.

There should have been two steel sleeves fitted inside the mounting bushes, and both were missing. Only on this side. Hard compression was simply moving the shock on its mountings at the initial impact, and while the left side shock did its job immediately, this one had a delayed reaction which was flexing the swingarm. A friendly fitter turned up a couple of sleeves and the Morini never flinched on any type of road surface ever again. Rather slack of whoever assembled this bike.

Late in 1978 we had some one piece leathers custom made. In the same way our crash helmets had serendipitously turned out to be the same colour as the bikes we later bought, the leathers were deliberately striped to match, but the best part of the experience was the freedom from heavy flapping jackets and coats. I would not be at all surprised if they did add an extra couple of mph just by the loss of some wind resistance. The only penalty in the Queensland heat was that you got overheated very quickly when you stopped.

The bikes returned with us to NZ in late 1979, and we soon found a large group of riding companions to cover the miles with. Our leathers were now invaluable as thermal protection as much as physical. We participated in many Hawkesbury runs and the Morini is pictured here in Picton during a Hawkesbury weekend.

The NZ plate was rather apt.

At a later stage there were many BEARS meets and events to attend, and the Morini got entered in the flying quarter on South Eyre Road. I removed the mufflers to dump some weight but this upset the tuning a little on the first run. I took a stab and removed the airfilters and turned the intake hoses towards the incoming airflow. This seemed to please it and I managed 93.5mph, only to be beaten by a 350 Moto Guzzi which did 94.

Close call.

The Morini and I parted company in 1988 but it is still owned locally and by a friend. I have never seen another 3 in NZ.

Extremely capable and fun machine.