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The first all-Triumph motor cycles were made in Coventry as early as 1904. Following a number of notable models, not least the 1925 494cc side-valve Model P with its absurdly low selling price of £42, it was in 1937 that Triumph finally took the motor cycling world by storm with the Speed Twin. This guide details six of Triumph's best loved models from the "classic" post-war period.
Triumph Speed Twin
The Triumph Speed Twin was probably the best known motor cycle of the immediate post-war period. Strikingly good looking and built to a high standard, it was chosen as the mount for the London Police. A vertical-twin layout, it featured an all-iron block and head. Light and simple, the engine was virtually a single with two pistons travelling in unison to give even firing intervals and impelled by a 360 degree crankshaft. over output was approximately 25bhp at 5500rpm, which was enough to power the bike at up to 85mph.
Born out of demand from mainly their American customers, Triumph enlarged the Speed Twin in 1946 by 150cc and called it the Thunderbird. Both bore and stroke increased from 63 x 80mm to a nearer "Square" dimension of 71 x 82mm, giving 649cc and a power output of 34bhp @6300rpm. The 8hp advantage over the 500 produced a noticeable surge of mid-range torque and a road performance superior to the Tiger 100.
Triumph on-or-off road bike, the Trophy was first listed in 1949. A combination of the Tiger 100 and Grand Prix detuned to one carburettor, and running on a compression ratio of 6:1, the engine was carried in a specially shortened high-clearance frame with a siamesed exhaust system tucked above the primary case and ending in a lightweight silencer. Light and manoeuvrable, the Trophy was equipped with a detachable lighting set making it a practical all-rounder for everyday use and weekend sport.
Triumph Tiger Cub
Derived from the Terrier, the Tiger Cub came into the post-war world in 1954. Not merely a sports version of the 150, the 199cc Triumph obtained much of its extra speed from its extra capacity. An inclined overhead-valve single with unit construction for a four-speed gearbox driven by a non-adjustable chain, the Cub had an oval timing-side casting and a very neat appearance. It was equipped at first with plunger rear springing, later with pivot-fork type. An excellent performer, top speed was 68mph and with plenty of acceleration, it could outpace most two strokes of comparable size.
Triumph Tiger 110
In the immediate post-war market Triumph got going with the Speed Twin and the Tiger 100 twins and although these were perfectly acceptable to the British, the Americans were soon demanding more performance. Edward Turner obliged with the 649cc Thunderbird and then later evolved from a high-performance edition which he named the Tiger 110. Engine changes included the beefed-up crankshaft, larger inlet valves and a compression ratio of 8.5:1. The T110 in Britain found its niche in production-machine racing, aquitting itself well at Thruxton in 1955.
Triumph Tiger 100
The high performance version of the Speed Twin, the Tiger 100 returned post-war in 1946. Changes were light, and mainly concerned the position of the dynamo, now at the front of the block and a reduction in the level of external oil piping. As before it had an eight-stud fixing for the cylinder block and polished flywheels and connecting rods. Considered as one of the handsomest Triumphs of all, the T100 had a top speed well in excess of 90mph. With the exception of the Vincent Rapide, which had twice the capacity, it represented the fastest standard tourer available.