Triumph Motorcycles

29 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Triumph Motorcycles
Triumph T 100 R


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES are at the center of the Classic British Motorcycles universe. Names like the

Triumph Bonneville, Triumph TR6, Triumph Thunderbird, the Triumph T100 T110 Tiger, and Triumph Trident are just part of the story. One of the first motorcycle companies in England, and the last one to go belly-up in 1983, Triumph Motorcycles have always been (since WW2, anyway) the best-selling, and most well-known, and some would say the best looking of all the Classic British Motorcycles.


Great performance, exceptional handling stunning good looks have always been the hallmarks of classic Triumph Motorcycles. In the 1950s, before anyone had even heard of a Honda, if you wanted a fast bike, you bought a Triumph. Nothing else could touch them. Whether on the race track, blasting across the desert, or prowling the streets, Triumph Motorcycles defined high performance and had their own brand of ‘cool’.

So cool in fact, that Marlon Brando rode a black Triumph Thunderbird in the movie “The Wild Ones”, not a Harley, as one might expect.


Triumph literally rocked the motorcycle world in 1937 with the introduction of the 500 Speed Twin, a radical departure from the status quo at the time. Most bikes were single cylinder designs, other than a few big V-twins and 4-cylinders. Singles were hard to start and vibrated badly, and they had reached their practical limit at around 500 cc.

The Speed Twin took engine design in a whole new direction. It was the brainchild of designer Edward Turner (who also designed the

Ariel Square 4). Rather than making the cylinder bigger, he split it into two smaller cylinders. By making them parallel, they kept the weight and engine width down to about the same as the singles, allowing Turner to shoehorn the new engine into an existing single frame.

It was an instant hit, and set the standard for nearly every British twin cylinder motorcycle built for the next 45 years! Even the mighty Soichiro Honda liked the basic layout so much that he copied it many times.

This 1965 Triumph T120R Bonneville 650 twin is a good example of Triumph’s seminal model represents Triumph Motorcycles at their peak, both in popularity sales.


The Triumph Speed Twin had just been launched in 1938 when war broke out all civilian production was curtailed. Triumph Motorcycles began building side valve motorcycles for the British Army. But, as soon as the war ended, despite severe rationing of everything from steel, to rubber to electricity, Triumph resumed production, but only twins would be built. The 5T Speed Twin (500) was reintroduced in 1946, followed soon after by the hotter T100 Tiger (500).

Soon, this was not enough, so the 500 was bored stroked out (another Turner idea) to 649cc the Triumph 6T Thunderbird was born in 1950. A hotter 650 Triumph Tiger, the T110, would follow this in 1953 the hotter-still Triumph TR6 (650) appeared in 1956. Of course, the pinnacle of twin performance, the twin-carb Triumph Bonneville, made its debut in 1959.

All during the 1950’s through the 1960’s, Triumph Motorcycles were preeminent among high performance bikes enjoyed roaring success in the showrooms. Triumph, as it turned out, was one of the few British Motorcycle Companies that was actually doing well. AMC (with Matchless, AJS Norton) failed was gobbled up by Manganese Bronze Holdings.

BSA Motorcycles, parent company to Triumph Motorcycles, once one of the largest multinational corporations in the world with vast holdings including many other motorcycle companies, had thrived throughout the 1950s, but began floundering herself in the 1960’s. Triumph Norton seemed like the only two players that would survive. But would they?


Unfortunately, even the most brilliant design of 1937 must ultimately be cast aside as newer, more sophisticated designs come along. Even the ultimate development of Triumph Motorcycles vertical twin, the Triumph Bonneville, and the radical Triumph Trident 750 triple weren’t enough to stem the tide of progress.

As better, faster, cheaper motorcycles began pouring into the marketplace from Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki, Triumphs just weren’t relevant anymore as high performance motorcycles. 1960’s performance couldn’t hold a candle to 1970’s performance and it just wasn’t possible to pump much more out of the venerable old 650/750 twin. Even the mighty Trident wasn’t enough to counter Honda 750/Fours and Kawasaki Z-1s.

All that, plus bad management and labor problems spelled the end to the old classic Triumph motorcycle company in 1983. By this time the entire British Motorcycle industry had failed, Triumph had been the last one standing. The good news is that Triumph is back in business and building wonderful new, modern motorcycles in England.

They’re even building a new Triumph Bonneville. BULLY!


No wonder Triumph motorcycles are so loved and revered! Not only do they have a rich history full of innovation and design leadership, and not only are they fast, good-handling, and fun to ride, they’re just way cool!

Triumph Motorcycles MODEL-BY-MODEL:


1937-40. Tiger 70 (249cc OHV single)

1937-40. Tiger 80 (349cc OHV single)

1937-40. Tiger 90 (497cc OHV single)

1937-40. 5T Speed Twin (498cc OHV twin)

1938-40. Tiger 100 (498cc OHV twin)

1940-45. World War 2 halts civilian production

1946-58. 5T Speed Twin (498cc OHV twin)

1946-59. Tiger 100 (498cc OHV twin)

1949-58. TR5 Trophy (498cc OHV twin)

1950-66. 6T Thunderbird (649cc OHV twin)

1954-61. T110 Tiger (649cc OHV twin)

1954-68. Tiger Cub (200cc OHV single)

1956-70. TR6R/C Trophy (649cc OHV twin)

1957-66. 3TA/Twenty One (348cc OHV twin)

1957-66. 5TA (490cc OHV twin)

1959. T100 Tiger (490cc OHV twin)

1959. T120 Bonneville (649cc OHV twin, 2 carbs)

1960. TR7A/B Bonneville (649cc OHV twin, 2 carbs)

1961-72. T120C/R Bonneville (649cc OHV twin, 2 carbs)

1960-61. T100A Tiger (490cc OHV twin)

1962-65. T100SS Tiger (490cc OHV twin)

1963-69. T90 Tiger (348cc OHV twin)

1966-67. TT Special (649cc OHV, 2 carbs, racer)

1966-74. T100R Daytona (490cc OHV twin, 2 carbs)

1969-74. T150/V Trident (740cc OHV triple)

1970. T120RT Bonneville (750cc OHV twin, US only)

1971-72. T120RV Bonneville (649cc OHV twin, 5 speed)

1971-72. TR6R/RV Tiger (649cc OHV twin)

1973-83. TR7RV Tiger 750 (744cc OHV twin, 5 speed)

1973-83. T140RV/E Bonneville (744cc OHV twin, 5 speed)

1973. X75 Hurricane (740cc OHV triple)

1975. T160 Trident (740cc OHV triple, elec start)

1977. T140J Bonneville Jubilee (744cc OHV twin)

1982. T140 TSX factory custom (744cc OHV twin)

Triumph T 100 R

1982. T140 TSS (744cc 8-valve twin)


350 twin. First year of Unit Construction: 1957

500 twin. First year of Unit Construction: 1959

650 twin. First year of Unit Construction: 1963



Triumph’s top line twin. When you say “Triumph”, most people think “Bonneville”. Twin carbs, fast, sleek sexy, the Triumph Bonneville personifies the Classic British Motorcycle.

TRIUMPH TR6 – 649cc OHV Twin, 1956-73

TRIUMPH TR7 – 724cc 744cc OHV Twin, 1973-83

Some called it the Bonneville with one carb, even though the TR6 arrived first. The 650 TR6 thundered through the late 50’s 60’s as a dirt bike, a street scrambler a roadster, then grew into the 750 TR7 in 73.





The original ‘fast Triumph’, Tigers were the hot bikes of their day, even when they were still 500s.




Triumph Trophy started out in 1949 as the 500cc TR5, a stripped-down competition model, made for off-road use. Displacement jumped to 650cc in 1956. They ruled US desert racing most other forms of off-road racing.


650cc: 6T,TR65

Introduced in 1950, the Triumph 6T Thunderbird was the top-of-the-line Triumph, and the first to arrive with the new 650 engine in 1950. Marlon Brando rode a black one into history in ‘The Wild Ones’, creating the Triumph Blackbird.


500cc: 5T

The bike that started it all for Triumph Motorcycles the British Motorcycle Industry. The Triumph 500 Speed Twin was the first vertical twin (1937) every other British marque soon followed suit. Brainchild of Ariel Square 4 designer Edward Turner.


750cc: T150,T150V,T160

The world’s first multi-cylinder Super Bike, the 3-cylinder Triumph Trident was as fast as it was unique. The British motorcycle industry’s last great gasp, it was faster than the Honda 750 Four and handled better too.


Eye-popping photos of gorgeous Triumph Motorcycles, arranged by year. What makes Triumphs so luscious to look at? You be the judge.

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